Scotlands Highlands 2020: Part Twelve
2 August 2020
Today was a very lazy start to what was going to be another moving/crossover day. My next stop would be the Ross and Cromarty part of the Highlands, but for today it was all about having a reset. I started by washing my hair, a few bits of clothing, had breakfast, a cuppa, swept through the floor area and spent a bit of time playing games on my phone, basically a super chill start just plodding through the routine parts of it all. Finally I headed off to sort Freds water and loo out. On the way I passed a cottage with angry notes in its window telling tourists to ‘Go Home’ and to ‘Stop the NC500’. They claimed that tourism was killing the community – which while I don’t live in the area, and therefore don’t experience the disruption they may have to suffer, it did leave me feeling very sad to read such an unfriendly sentiment. Whilst they may not want the tourism, it IS happening, and its likely here to stay. Rather than just putting angry notes in their window demonstrating a grumpy demeanour, I feel they would have been better served trying to find effective ways to utilise it, or help control the upsetting parts of it. There is without a doubt an element of scummy, inconsiderate, selfish and dirty people who simply don’t care about the actual location that they are holidaying in. These people exist in the world and there’s nothing we can do about them. They can see only their wants and cannot stretch themselves beyond their own ignorant little bubbles to see the effect their selfishness might have on people, or the environment, around them. But from my observations, if the things they need are easily accessible to them, people are more likely to use them than to just ignore them. So for instance, are they dumping rubbish?>maybe put a bin there; are they are openly toileting?> perhaps putting a public loo nearby would help them be more hygienic; parking inconsiderately?> how about putting a fence up blocking them, etc. A local shop will encourage people to pay back to the community to help fund some services too. Tourism encourages money, and money can help support the infrastructure. There are many ways to help manage, or benefit from, the situation. Simply putting angry notes up and being negative will stop nothing, and just keep you simmering when its ignored..
Anyway opinionated rant over…
Eventually I drove to Clacktoll campsite to emptied the loo, grey water, rubbish and filled with fresh water. For a lockdown, I was a bit surprised at how packed this campsite was, and found some of the services a bit wanting. I couldn’t get the fill up hose to work, even fully unravelled, and although the guy running the site saw me waiting to ask him about it, he just walked off and ignored me after he finished chatting to the gardener. I ended up just disconnecting their one instead, and putting my own hose in. No idea what was up with theirs, but felt a bit miffed to have been totally ignored like that. All their other services were standard, so nothing complicated or special, and to my mind a little pricey at £10 – next time I will go to Kinlochbervie and just leave this one unless I am desperately in need.
I then drove back to Lochinver to refuel, and from there I just drove towards the Ross and Cromarty part of the Highlands. I took my time, stopping at a few nice viewpoints, one being a gorgeous view that I spotted as I drove over the brow of a hill on the A835, just before Drumrunie. Unusually for me, I reacted quickly, parked up as soon as I could, grabbed my kit, the dog, and quickly hiked up a small hill to capture the downpour just off to the distance. The lighting looked spectacular to my eyes, with a bright glow being diffused by the haze of the weak rain just ahead of the following downpour. The ground underfoot on the hill was a little unsteady with erratic bushes of heather mixed with thin muddy gulleys, but I managed to get to a good viewpoint in time. Catching several images with the light quickly changing, I couldn’t leave in time before the rain finally reached me and dumped everything it had. The drenching was well worth it, because the image I ended with made me very happy for one that was SO unplanned – I am not so sure River agreed with me however.
Another brief unplanned stop happened because as I drove past, I recognised the name of the place and thought it was on my list. It wasn’t – and I only realised why once I started on the short hike. I recognised the name Corrieshalloch Gorge because it had featured in the last Gary Gough video of the set that brought me to Scotland in the first place (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–igZY4ifNs&t=3s&ab_channel=GaryGough) The reason I had left it off was because I have a fear of heights and this one being a suspension bridge over a deep deep gorge was not one I thought I would like!! I confess I am glad I did stop by – No, I didn’t like the suspension bridge, it wobbled as anyone took a step, so badly at one point I wanted to crawl over (!!) and the drop truly was immense… However the view really was worth the quick glance, and I was able to laugh at myself and the stupidity of my fear at least. I walked round to the viewpoint, and again had to stomach terror, as I stood on a metal rung extension platform, sticking out over the gorge below. (WHY do they make these so that you can see the sheer drop directly down under your feet?!!!) The view back to the suspension bridge was fabulous however, and I managed to ignore the drop long enough to snap this shot quickly. Although it was pretty when I went, I have since seen that there are sometimes waterfalls pouring over the side edges too. There weren’t any at this time of year, so my fear now is that since they really seem to add to the view here, do I have to return to capture those ???!!
The hike doesn’t go any further this side, so I gingerly made my way back over the bridge, and did a short circular walk back around to the car park. I passed a really pretty viewpoint (see the header on this post) and with the gorgeous deep pink flowers as a foreground decided to take this image as well. The midges were beginning to gather here though, so I didn’t stop for long, aiming now to just drive to my overnight stop for tomorrow mornings’ location.
My aim for tomorrow was going to be Ardessie falls. However, I found finding a parking spot really hard to find as the lay-by for the waterfall here was blocked off for some reason (couldn’t see anything, just orange cones). After driving along further for several minutes looking for another spot, I turned round, drove back trying to find somewhere and did this a couple of times up and down the road. It seemed that the lay-by was the ONLY spot nearby. Eventually I found a small spot for one vehicle, and thankfully Fred just just fit. I walked along the road to try and find the start to the hike, and was pleased to see it was just 5 minutes away, not far from a little bridge with the bottom segment of these falls. This was quite pretty in itself, though I felt it would have been really nice to have been able to get the other side of a barrier for a shot lower down. The snap I took on my phone didn’t do it any justice sadly. As it was already half past 6 I reaffirmed to myself that I would do the hike in the morning, despite my excitement at the look of this one and eagerness to get up there to see more! I knew it was going to be a boggy walk, and I didn’t want to get stuck in the dark. Sense told me that evening +boggy ground+early August= Midges.. Nope! No thank you!!! I wanted to enjoy this one!!
I walked back to Fred and cooked myself a bit of dinner. As I finished a lady very angrily knocked on my window and told me to move as apparently I had parked on her property. I hadn’t realised as it looked like waste land next to a derelict cottage, but I was happy to do so. As we talked, she calmed down, realising I was not going to be a problem. I asked if there was any parking close by so that I could do the walk in the morning, mentioning the bay a bit further up having cones there. She explained that they had been having severe trouble with tourists since the relaxation of the Covid rules and how that they had been parking inconsiderately, blocking the road both sides of the bridge. She said this had been causing severe trouble for lorry drivers so the locals had put the cones there to stop people parking in the area. I told her of my plans and she offered me the use of this spot in the morning for just a few hours, so that I could do my photography, and suggested parking at the hotel for the night. I happily thanked her and drove off to try and find the hotel, but must have missed it somehow, coming instead by a lovely lay-by a little further down from the village. It was a gorgeous spot, so I thought I would simply stay here. As I prepared to settle in for the evening, the heavens opened, and shortly afterwards the sun beamed through and I was blessed with a stunning evening rainbow that arched across the road next to me. I hurriedly jumped out and grabbed a photo on my phone, trying again with my main camera, although half of it had gone by the time I set up.
Looking at the photos back at home, I wasn’t too excited with them as a shot, because they seemed to lack a subject under the rainbow itself. I think Fred parked under it would have been fabulous, so maybe next time I park up in a lay-by, I might consider how positioning the camper might aid a photograph in the event the weather produces something this beautiful again.
When I finally settled down it was a very comfortable and quiet night.