The Scottish Highlands - 2005
 Part 4

June 18

Map of northern Scotland & the Hebrides

Drive to Stornoway and ferry to Ullapool

The harbor of Stornoway and the ferry we are going to take to Ullapool a little while later.
Leaving the harbor of Stornoway behind as we set out for the mainland and Ullapool.

We are getting close to Loch Broom off Ullapool and seeing the mysterious coastline to the north with the rounded sideway glimpse of Suilven - on the right.
We could see the Rua Reidh lighthouse in the distance, which had been our very pleasant first walk from Ullapool - and a nice surprise with the climbing up and down, up and down of the somewhat boggy hills beyond the lighthouse.

We are driving north from Ullapool and alongside Loch Assynt well on our way to Lochinver and our next B&B. It's been an overcast day from the very beginning, but the next day it is going to clear up some.

June 19
Our first walk from Lochinver was to be a 4-mile walk to the Falls of Kirkaig.

On our way down south by car to the beginning of our trail, I got out to take some pictures of the gorse and broom, overpoweringly yellow on the road side. A lady came along on the road and I asked her if she was doing the Scottish Highlands on foot. It turned out that she was a real walker but this morning she was just on her way back from Lochinver to her house up the road. She and her husband who was still in London had bought a house up here for their retirement and she just loved to walk.
We set out on our path to the Falls of Kirkaig following the river that ran along the valley after the falls to run into Loch Kirkaig on the coast after a few miles.

We saw a lot of white orchids on this walk. Here is John taking a picture of one with a zoom lense, the lone orchid in with the fine leafed fern that was abundant on this walk. A close-up of two white orchids in among the not yet blooming heather. In fact, we saw our very first heather blooms on this walk, but very few.

Here we are on our way down the steep side of the small canyon. Just as I had taken this picture, my battery ran out. So the picture from the landing a bit further down where you could see the entire water fall, including the churly pond at the bottom, was taken with John's camera. The short climb down the side of the canyon was well worth the small effort.

June 20
We take a walk along the rocks and peat bogs north of Lochinver leading along a couple of small lakes and out towards the sea.

We pass the first small lake on our way out to the coast north of Lochinver, uphill and downhill. Mouse-ear hawkweed (or possibly dwarf hawkweed). Their flat flowerheads and squarely cut off petals made this kind of hieracium a  particularly pleasant beauty alongside our paths.

Orchids close up among the delicate fern that impressed us on these last couple of walks. Peat had been cut out in huge lumps, possibly in order to dry out. White orchids were growing all over the bog.

We walked up on a couple of the surrounding hills, across wet bogs and loads of orchids. Here is the view north-west from the top of one hill under a heavy cover of clouds.
View from the end of the walk out towards the ocean - (Achmelvich?)

The weather has finally cleared up and here we are on our way back after having climbed up on several of the surrounding hills to get the view in different directions.
At last we can see Suilven, the magic mountain that had eluded us since the day before on our way to the Falls of Kirkaig. We had seen it from the long side the previous year from Stac Polly and we had eagerly been looking forward to seeing it from this angle. Here it has finally emerged from the clouds. The double peak was clearly visible towards the end of this walk.

Pretty rock shows in front of the tourist office in Lochinver. Wild rhododendrons in masses alongside the road on the drive across the mainland to Inverness.

Overwhelming amounts of gorse and broom were all along the roadside on the way towards Inverness. The Falls of Shin where we stopped at an enormous tourist trap before turning south to get on to Inverness.

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