Highlands Trip ( Day 2 ) June 19th 2012

It would have been good to post this in real time but I hope you enjoy day two of my recent trip.

The sun was not exactly splitting the skies as I awoke to begin my first full day to be spent in the glorious county of Sutherland in north west Scotland, it does not take long to break camp, the beauty of a ” pop up ” tent, once you have mastered how to pop it down !

I did not have far to travel to my starting point for this days excursion, a four mile trek to the beautiful  beach at Sandwood Bay, reputedly the most isolated beach in the country.

First view of Sandwood Bay today

The walk is not that arduous and was made all the more interesting by hooking up with a fellow traveller for the journey which really made the time fly past, I have been here before but am still filled with a wonderful sense of anticipation when you finally reach the dunes before the beach and know that it will soon be spread out before you, with its miles of golden sand, lagoon and most impressive sea stack in the distance.

Today I was going for a close up look at the sea stack so began to make my way up on to the cliffs to follow the sheep tracks along the headland, the views across the bay changing all the time as I gained height.

The full expanse of the beach and bay

Watched a passing cruise ship make its way past on its way around Cape Wrath and its lighthouse.

Cruise ship sailing past the bay

The clarity and lovely azure colour of the sea far below me was a joy to observe as I made my way further along the headland.

Lovely azure colours of the sea in Sandwood Bay

Soon I would have the sea stack back in my sights as it had disappeared from view as I rounded the cliff tops towards it and what a sight it is, nearly 200 feet of sandstone reaching up from its base in the sea.

Am Buachaille

Am Buachaille, gaelic for The Herdsman, is a most impressive stack and terrific views are to be had from the cliffs directly behind it, you can clearly see the fixings for abseiling ropes left behind by those adventurous enough to have climbed it.

I spent an hour just lying back in the sun by the cliff edge watching the occasional sail boat drift by and the constant swirling of sea birds below me. Was joined by an Australian couple after a while, clear proof of the attraction of this place I would say, enjoyed listening to where they had been so far on their travels and how much they had fallen in love with Scotland.

Looking across to Am Buachaille from the nearby cliff top

The sky had cleared nicely since the morning and I became enthralled watching the display of Cirrus clouds high above me racing one and other towards Cape Wrath in the distance.

Cape Wrath Cloud Race !

Time was marching on and I had not as yet decided on where I would camp for the evening and it would now be around six miles back to the car at Blairmore so I decided to set off cross country directly across the heather behind me knowing that at some stage I would rejoin the path I had followed to get here, it was quite hard going traipsing across what would usually be peat bog but due to the lack of rain in the far north-west this summer it was surprisingly pleasant walking over the spongy peat.

I headed south passing through Scourie where I stopped for a pint at the Scourie Hotel in most pleasant surroundings.

Looking across Scourie Bay

A quick detour off the main road, to Tarbet and Fanagmore allowed me to rename the Sound of Handa ” Goose Bay ” with this pic approaching sunset there.

Geese taking to the water at Tarbet near Handa Island

This would be my final pic of the day as I headed further south to Kylesku to set up camp for the night, not many miles covered in the car today only 41, felt as if I had done just as many on foot, a wonderful spot just beside the outstanding bridge which spans the narrows there

Kylesku Bridge

Dusk had fallen as I set up the canvas house for the night but was not alone as a couple of foraging deer had come really close by to join me !

Until the next time…..


Highlands Trip, June 18th 2012

Would have been nice to post this in real time but it still serves the purpose of sharing my travels and photography albeit a little after the event.

Set off at a quite an early hour from my base in the far south-west of Scotland in the knowledge that it would allow me time to reach my planned destination without having to be too heavy on the gas, always takes an age though to load everything including the kitchen sink in the car for a nine day trip.

Camera stayed in the bag until I was north of Inverness and most of the pics here will be from my iPhone.

Travelled a road I had never been on before from just north of Lairg, to Laxford Bridge and was rewarded with some splendid mountain scenery on entering the North West Geo Park.

Ben Stack

Came across this combination of flags flying on Loch Merkland which amused me.

Jolly Scottish Roger

I stopped for a while to stretch my legs beside Loch More and take in the views across to Arkle which was enhanced by the boathouse and reflections in my next image.

Arkle across Loch More

Although early evening now there was still plenty of light as Northern Scotland is practically the land of the midnight sun in mid June. As I headed further north I was able to enjoy the view of the conical peak of Ben Stack from a different perspective.

Ben Stack from Loch Laxford

The scenery was now beginning to take on a subtle glow from the now setting sun, my final destination on the first day of this trip would be the most north westerly harbour reachable by road on the British mainland at Port Chaligaig in Sutherland. As I navigated the ever narrowing road I was greeted by an excellent sunset.

Port Chaligaig

As the sun does not set until 22:30 and is up again at 04:15 it never really gets dark one of the reasons for taking the trip north at this time of year.

After an enjoyable walk along the cliffs with only a few sheep for company I made my way to the little pier and enjoyed taking in the isolated beauty of the place, the peacefulness only disturbed by the shriek of a passing sea bird.

Droman Pier

It was now well after sundown and feeling tired after notching up 359 miles on the road I set up camp for the night, right beside Droman pier, a final cup of tea for the day and I was soon fast asleep under a cloudless sky with the temperature quickly falling to as low as 4 degrees, cool for June but helps keep the biggest nuisance of all, the midge at bay !

All Mod Cons

Until the next time…….