Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Holiday in Gairloch: Day 6: Journey Home Via Fort William

We awoke at 6.00 am, when Henry wanted to go out, and we decided to stay up, pack the car, have breakfast and clean and hoover the apartment before leaving. The manageress commiserated with us about the bad weather as we handed in the keys. We said 'Cheerio' to Mr McCloud, the resident cat, and headed off down the west coast, for Fort William. The drive took us past Kyle of Lochalsh on a mixture of rough, single-track roads and better 'A' roads.


Ready for our lunch when we arrived, we headed straight for the French-style bakery/cafe that we have visited often in the past, only to find out that it had closed down :(

We plumped instead for a rather nice-looking bistro/restaurant called No 4. It was horrible. Read my scathing review here! We headed straight for another cafe for a consolatory cappuccino. The rain was coming down in buckets by now, so it was nice to be in the dry.

As we headed back to the car park, we saw a flock of beautiful swans heading silently along Lochbroom, flying low to the surface - a wonderful sight.

The rest of the journey was fairly straightforward, except for a brief interlude when Henry had a tantrum. He was annoyed at being kept in the car for so long (despite two walks!). Rob took him into the front seat, where he kicked and yelped until we stopped at a service station. We finally arrived home at 7 pm - all relieved to be back.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Holiday in Gairloch: Day 5: Gairloch Beach, Ullapool, Corrieshalloch Gorge

5 October 2011. Henry had his walk and ride on the beach at Gairloch before we drove on to Ullapool.

Lunch was in The Gallery Cafe above a mountain gear shop. The picture below was taken in March of this year, on our last visit. Rob had the cooked veggie breakfast, I had baked potato, cheese and beans. The food was good, but the waitress was a bit miserable.

The photo below (also taken in March) shows the harbour at Ullapool on rather a grey day. We had a walk round the town and found a lovely bookshop with lively cafe attached, and rather wished we had eaten there.

We stopped off at Corrieshalloch Gorge on the way back. It was a fairly steep run down to the wobbly suspension bridge, and viewing platform, but we managed it with Henry in his buggy. The views were a bit terrifying. The gorge was deep, with steep sides and rushing waterfalls of dark, peaty water - quite spectacular.

A nice man at a vending stall in the layby gave Henry a couple of sausages; one for now and one for his breakfast. He gulped one down in two bites and seemed very keen on having the second one straight away, so we had to hide it.

The weather was sunshine and showers - some rather heavy - luckily while we were driving, rather than walking. The proprietor told us there was snow due tomorrow, so we decided to head home a couple of days early. The photo above shows the view from the front of the hotel.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Holiday in Gairloch: Day 4: Kyleakin, Kyle of Lochalsh, Plockton

The weather was grey and overcast today (4 October 2011) and it was still windy. We drove off to Kyle of Lochalsh, but got onto the Skye bridge by mistake and ended up in Kyleakin. We stopped to have a look at the port and had a very welcome coffee and cake/ice cream in Harry's Coffee Shop. The ruined castle below is Castle Moil, an ancient fortress. The Castle was once known as Dunakin, and dates back to the 10th century.

We had a curry for lunch at Spice Tandoori in Kyle of Lochalsh, back on the mainland. I had onion bhaji, followed by vegetable shatkora with pilau rice and a Cobra beer. Rob ate vegetable samosa, followed by vegetable jalfrezie with steamed rice, and a coke. The staff were friendly and they generously gave us an extra starter of vegetable pakora. Unfortunately, we were so full up after all that deep-fried fayre, that we couldn't finish our (somewhat tastier) main courses. The shatkora contained the fruit of that name that come from Bangladesh. They had a pleasant, sharp, citrus flavour. Quite a nice meal (except that we ate too much!), it cost £26.95.

We drove on to the pretty village of Plockton and walked around it for half an hour or so, with Henry in his stroller. There were lovely views over Loch Carron, and it felt like being at the seaside with the palm trees that grow here with the relatively warm climate.

We had a hot drink in the Plockton Hotel (above) while browsing websites for property in Plockton. It is obviously a desirable location judging by the prices!

After that we took a scenic drive home, taking in the long village of Lochcarron, spread out along the side of the loch.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Holiday in Gairloch: Day 3: Rogie Falls and Inverness

The weather on the west coast was horrendous today - wet, with gale force winds. We decided to beat the rain by heading for the east coast. We stopped at the Rogie Falls and gave Henry a walk, and ride in his stroller, as far as the first waterfall view point.

We had lunch in the Pizza Express in Inverness, where Rob ate the Fiorentina pizza (with egg and spinach) with a coke, followed by coffee. I had the Warm Vegetable and Goat's Cheese Salad, Peroni to drink, with a small portion of Semi Freddo Reale (gelato dessert with nougat, praline, marsala wine) and coffee. It was a good meal and I liked being able to have a small version of the dessert. Rob thought that the furniture and furnishings looked a bit scruffy compared to our last visit. The staff were good, though, and service was quite fast. The meal cost just over £30.00.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery was our next stop. It has free entry with an optional donation box. We were just in time to watch a strange movement/music/light show of automata called "Sharmanka: Gothic Kinetic". There were lots of weird sculptures with moving parts. Some had a rather sinister edge to them, with strange creatures and skulls peeping out of little doors that opened and shut. Quite entertaining!

After a quick look round the shops, it was on to the River Ness Islands walk. This is a lovely circular walk along the banks of the Ness, passing over picturesque bridges and islands in the water, with distant views of the city. The weather was warm and sunny and it was very enjoyable.

Rob pushing Henry in this buggy.

A fisherman with a beautiful, turreted house in the background.

View of Inverness from the walk.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Holiday in Gairloch: Day 2: Gairloch, Inverewe Gardens, Ullapool

Redpoint Beach was our first stop this morning. Unfortunately, we couldn't get Henry down to the beach because it involved a hike across a rough field. But it looked beautiful!

Next, we headed to Gairloch, where we went down to the harbour. We were amazed to see huge shoals of whitebait swarming around the quayside. They were being eaten by mackerel, that were jumping out of the water to catch them. The beach at Gairloch was lovely and sandy with a boardwalk down to the sand. Perfect! Here is Henry enjoying the walk.

It was on to Inverewe Gardens after that. We had a cake and cold drink in the cafe (rather pricey!). The gardens cost £9 per adult entry and it is well worth the fee. There are over fifty acres to explore, well signposted to the different areas - pond, walled garden, jetty, view points, beach etc. We spent a couple of hours here and covered most of the pathways. There were lots of plants, shrubs, trees and flowers to see - even in the vegetable garden. What makes the garden, though, are the wonderful sea views. The weather was hot and it was the definite high point of the holiday for me.

We drove on up the coast to Ullapool and were lucky enough to spot a couple of seals basking on a rock.

Every corner turned brought a new stunning landscape and seascape into view.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Holiday in Gairloch - Day 1: Journey up, Dunkeld, Inverness, Arrival at Glendale House

We left home just after 9.00 am on 1 October 2011 for our 6 - 7 hour trip north, to South Erradale, near Gairloch.

At lunchtime, we stopped at Dunkeld and ate in Palmerston's Cafe (interior and exterior shown below).

We both ate baked potato with cheese and chutney, served with very nice salad garnish, which included mixed, possibly home-grown, salad leaves, salad dressing and toasted seeds. We both drank green tea. Everything was good, and the bill came to under £17.00.

Tescos at Inverness was our next stop, for petrol and a bottle of wine! It was absolutely packed: I think everyone in The Highlands must shop there on a Saturday afternoon! As we drove west, and neared Gairloch, the scenery changed, to look boggy, sparsely populated with heather, small, scrubby trees and shrubs. The mountains dominate the landscape, with picturesque lochs and rocky outcroppings around every corner. The road gradually dwindled to a single-track road with passing places.

We arrived at Glendale House, where we had booked a self-catering cottage for a week. It was completely locked up and dark, but we could hear voices from an upper apartment. Not being able to make ourselves heard, and with no mobile phone reception, we couldn't even ring anyone, we decided to explore the rocky shore 200 yards from the hotel. Our first disappointment was to discover that the beach was completely unreachable with Henry in his buggy. There was a high, steep slope, rough ground and fence to negotiate. Our dreams of early walks on the beach every morning with Henry were shattered. (The beach shown on their website is several miles away, and also reached via a rough field.) When we returned to the Hotel, the manageress appeared and showed us to our apartment (the cottage we had booked was still occupied by a long-term tenant). This proved to be another upset, because instead of being at ground level, the flat was up a flight of stairs and poor Rob was to spend the next 6 days carrying Henry up and down every time he needed to go out. (Which is quite often in a 16 year old dog!)

The view from the apartment (above). The main hotel (below.)

The apartment was fine, with comfortable bedroom and sitting room. The kitchen was equipped with a dishwasher and washing machine; but on the downside, there was no shower in the bathroom and someone appears to use the downstairs entrance lobby as their personal smoking room :(


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