Sunday 21 October 2012--Headed north today, up the west coast. It might seem odd to go from Plockton to Ullapool by first traveling two-thirds
of the way to Inverness, but this relatively straightforward triangulation is actually quite a bit shorter than following the zig-zagging coastal route (and
is much better road, to boot). I'm in Ullapool by midday. It's a pretty town, sitting on a peninsula jutting out into Loch Broom. It's impossible not
to like it, even if, like me, you've had great difficulty finding a reasonable place to stay there in October. I'm only here for lunch and a walkabout
I stop first at a small park at the east end of the front street, to take a few photos. I've never really noticed this park before, and it seems a very odd happenstance that I've stumbled onto it just now. There is a signboard commemorating those Highlanders who boarded the Hector near here, along the shore of Loch Broom, bound for Nova Scotia. I just visited the Hector Heritage Quay in Pictou in August. The Proclaimers' Letter From America is rattling around my head: "I've looked at the ocean, tried hard to imagine the way you felt the day you sailed from Wester Ross to Nova Scotia...."
Lunch is at the Seaforth. My pint of An Teallach costs a shocking £3.90. The four-pound pint is at hand...wasn't it just a year or so ago that the three-pound barrier was broken? Whatever the case, the price of a pint has more than doubled since I first came here, fourteen years ago.
North I go, stopping briefly to photograph Ardvreck Castle and its succeeding manor, Calda House. This latter was built in 1726, and burned down in 1737. A 275-year-old ruin of a house that stood but eleven years is a peculiar thing.
From Loch Assynt, the road ascends and passes by tri-peaked Quinag. The shoulder of the nearest peak, Spidean C̣inich, looks to me like a fairly straightforward ascent. The weather is supposed to be good tomorrow.
My B&B for the next two nights is about a mile south of Kylesku. I check in and go to see the neighborhood. A buck is blithely munching on the grass by the car park at the north end of Kylesku Bridge. Completed in 1984, the bridge was the last link in the road up Scotland's wild northwest coast, replacing a ferry across the kyle, a narrow passage in the fjord-like sea loch. The ferry slip is still there, in the now-bypassed village of Kylesku. So is the Kylesku Hotel.
The hotel is a major reason I've chosen to stay here. Its rooms are a bit beyond my budget, but the kitchen is highly regarded. Dinner is not cheap, for that matter, but I have no complaint--it's worth it. My pint of Kildonan, from the An Teallach brewery, is 20p cheaper than the one I had in Ullapool.