The rain was hammering lightly on the roof and windows as I came to, it felt delightfully cosy tucked up in the van and I felt like I had had a good night’s sleep. Peering out of the window, the scene was just as grey and shrouded in mist and cloud as it had been the previous day. It was the perfect excuse for a somewhat lazy morning – tucked up in our sleeping bags we read our books, listening to the weather come and go outside.
When the time came to pack up the weather had eased, and we headed back into Glenelg. The village has a great little community centre which is open during the day, the locals use it for various events but it also has toilets, and nice clean shower and a couple of bookshelves of second hand books available to take for a small donation (which was perfect as I was had just started the second book of my holiday with no third lined up!) We always leave a donation and write in the guest book, little gems like that a worth giving to, to ensure they stay open in the future.
We decided to go and have a nosey at the two Iron Age brochs in the village, they were only a short way down a narrow lane and seemed like a decent way to spend a rainy morning – so it was waterproofs on and off we went! The brochs are a dry stone constructed building, which would have been a house back in the day. They are almost dome shaped with an inner and outer wall, offering stairways and small corridors around the outside, with the main living area in the middle. Only half of each broch remained however they are interesting structures, even more so when you consider they have survived the last 2000 years.
The second (which was about half a mile away) was smaller but better preserved; we spent some time having a nosey in all the nooks and crannies of both. There were a couple of awesome ancient trees in the immediate area, they caught my eye as being extremely impressive, and then I realised that this stone structure was there long before those trees even started growing… it made me realise how lucky we were to be able to poke around something so historic, with no red tape and no barriers, it’s great!
Back in the dry of the van we made our way back over the Mam Ratagan pass, the Five Sisters still brooding amongst the swirling clouds. Journeying north we drove past Loch Carron, the road follows the train track passing through dark, foreboding forests and sheer rock cliffs, climbing steeply just to descend the other side. As with the theme of the day the peaks which loomed over us were veiled in white mist, whisping at the fringes.
We took a 10 minute detour to visit Strome Castle, a tiny ruin on a cliff edge in Strome Ferry. It was a short visit as there isn’t too much exploring to do, only two stone walls remain, one with a circular doorway leading out onto a small grassy ledge with a lovely view. We had visited a couple of years before and were treated to an awesome sky, this day, however, was grey and mildly unappealing – but never mind… you can’t win ‘em all, especially not in Scotland.
Back on track we made our way towards the Bealach Na Ba Pass, this easily one of my favourite roads to drive. It is the third highest pass in Scotland, offers some great hairpin bends with some unsettling drops and subsequently amazing views. We drove up into the clouds as we ventured along the narrow, crumbling road (the passing places only just big enough to squeeze by). As we twisted and turned our way to the top we could see the outline of the fantastic terrain, but no detail. A torrent of white water surged down the valley in a number of streams, looking rather spectacular through the mist and rain. The top levels out for a short way, before descending less steeply into Applecross, it wasn’t raining on this side and we eventually dipped out of the cloud to a bright but overcast day.
The tide was on its way in but there was still a big expanse of beach by the village, the pools and streams created shimmery blue, green stripes across the rippled sand. We bought a poke of chips from the vendor outside the pub and wandered down onto the beach. Whilst ambling slowly we happened across a bright orange starfish and it was huge! At about 25cm in diameter it was by far the largest I have ever seen, you could see its hundreds of tentacles moving as it slowly writhed around on the surface of the sand. Before too long the water was lapping over him as it made its way up the bay.
We ambled for a while longer, collecting a couple of perfect razor clam shells on route – I try to abide by a ‘leave no trace, take nothing with’ approach but sometimes I cannae resist, especially when I can feebly justify it by the fact the there was an abundance on the beach. It was nice to be outside, with the fresh salty air catching on the breeze, and not being rained on!
Moving on we opted for the coastal road, enjoying the sea views until we found a decent little spot for the van with another big view. Positioning the van for the best possible view out the side door – the long grass and thistles immediately in front of us danced and quivered in the wind, the uneven grassy slope undulated away from us before dropping off into the sea. The water itself was down further still and ranged in colour over the course of the evening – from a light steely blue, to lighter silver reflecting in patches on the surface and then later darkening into moody blue/grey tones. The wind was whipping along, but we had managed to position ourselves that we were sheltered even with the door open.
Across from us was the Isle of Rasaay, the details of the white lighthouse and rocky shore plainly visible in the bright moments, other times it would completely vanish into the grey and between these it remained a ghostly mass behind a veil of mist. Further than this there were a few small islands but generally nothing but sea to the horizon. Every so often a large fishing boat would chug past slowly, fighting against the wind and the general direction of the waves.
We had our usual chilled out evening reading and writing, Callum was sampling a couple of local beers we had picked up on route as we watched the rain crawl across the sky towards us, only to skirt pass with minimal impact. The wind picked up as the evening wore on and the sky darkened accordingly. We had planned to go for a wander before bed, however the rain came in heavily before we mobilised ourselves and we decided to settle for playing cards instead. Callum won… continuously.