Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 10 Northwest Scotland

Nature and ferry rides provided our venues of the day. Coach A departed Stromness on Orkney while Coach B departed Stornoway on Lewis very early in the morning. Since we are so far north, it was light at 4:30 when many of us arose. 
Nickie, Linda R., Beth, and Judy have different takes on the early morning
 What do we do on the ferry crossings? Sleep and knit of course. Again both groups had smooth sailings
Robyn T. concentrating on her sock
Lida C.
Linda. B. and Beth F. and their four cups of coffee?
This drive across the North and the Northwest of Scotland is no ordinary journey. This is the least populated, remote and rugged and least visited are on the mainland. It is my favorite landscape in all of mainland Scotland. It is mile after mile of rocks, beach, hills, water, heather, birds, gorse, and grazing sheep.The road often narrows to one lane. The vehicle heading downhill pulls over in passing spot. Both drivers always give a wave of the hand in acknowledgment.

Gorse in bloom

Just outside of Durness, we visit Balnakeil Craft Village.
Once a military base, it was taken over by hippies when the military left and now is inhabited by small shops and craft studios.
Tile shop at Balnakiel

Karin S. at Balnakeil
Lochcroispal Book Store at Balnakeil
 A stop at Cocoa Mountain has become tradition. They specialize in truffles with unique flavours like strawberry, lemon pepper, and serve the most decadent hot chocolate. You can't miss this heavenly stop if you like chocolate.
Julian H., Tammy and Jenell P. at Cocoa Mountain, Balnakeil
 Along the west coast the Assynt area is famous for hill walking. The ruin of Ardvreck Castle sits in a valley at lochside surrounded by mountains.
Ardvreck Castle ruins

 Just down the road is Lochinver, famous for  homemade pie from the Lochinver Larder. Their savory or sweet pies are in such demand, they post them around the country.
Savory or sweet, we ate both!

Lochinver Larder
 Coach B had a break in Thurso before our second ferry crossing of the day. I walked along the river to the town’s peaceful terraced cemetery.
A variety of Celtic crosses at the Thurso cemetary
 This bench along the river is typical of the kind of stone used for dry stone building of fences, benches, and buildings in this area of Scotland. A true art, one skilled at this technique today will never go without well paid employment. The Dry Stone Conservancy in Kentucky keeps this tradition alive in the states.
In Scotland visit
Dry stone built park bench in Thurso
Although much of the day was overcast with periodic rain showers, the sun always manages to shine by evening in Ullapool.. No one ever wants to leave this idyllic spot. Coach A called this place home for the night A hearty thank you to Charlotte at Dromnan Guest House
View from Dromnan House in Ullapool

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