North Coast 500 day 3

After lunch at Shieldaig, the trip north involved a lovely drive along the shores of Loch Torridon and on through Glen Torridon, where I stopped several times to shoot the landscapes which were stunning in the early afternoon light.

After the village of Kinlochewe, the route followed the shores of the beautiful Loch Maree but an approaching heavy rain storm curtailed any photography for a while as I rushed to try to outrun the rain.

By the time I reached Gruinard Bay the storm was far enough behind us to allow a little break in the sun at the beach. 

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At Gruinard i saw something I’d never seen before, two red deer sunbathing on the beach!

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While the time spent at the bay was lovely, it also allowed the storm to catch up again…

It finally hit as we were crossing the high mountain road on the flanks of An Teallach high above Loch Broom. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced rain like that! Thankfully it passed just as quickly as it fell from the heavy sky and by the time we’d reached the Corrieshalloch Gorge it had moved on but I’ve got to say those were some VERY difficult driving conditions!

The Corrieshalloch Gorge is terrifyingly stunning! A suspension bridge crosses the Gorge high above the 130ft waterfall (Falls of Measach) which crashes into the Droma River around 300ft below you. The motion of the bridge coupled with the view straight down through the wooden walkway makes the whole experience quite unnerving and this, plus the knowledge that it had already been closed twice in recent years for emergency repairs, meant I couldn’t bring myself to spend too long on that bridge! Others did though, even stopping to video straight down over the edge!

Back in the car, it was a short trip to Ullapool, ferry terminal for the connection between the mainland and the Isle of Lewis in the outer hebrides,  then on through Strathcannaird and the high pass which flanks Ben More Assynt and down to the shores of the beautiful Loch Assynt.

Loch Assynt is stunning and the late afternoon sunlight combined with dramatic clouds thanks to the rain storm which had now passed over and out to the sea meant quite a while exploring and photographing the ruins of Ardvreck Castle.

Back in the car it was time for the long drive to the Kylesku bridge and along the north western coast to Scourie.

The long drive, mostly over single track roads which weave in and out hugging the contours of the various hills and skirt the shores of lonely lochs was beginning to take its toll and with another 25 miles across the barren, almost moonlike landscape of this North western tip of mainland Britain ahead, I decided to pack away the camera for the night and head straight to the village of Durness on the north coast.

The bleak landscapes of this part of the route, composed of some of the oldest rocks on the surface of the earth (many are more than 4 billion years old) will have to wait just a little longer before I get to photograph them! Definitely an excuse to return as soon as possible though – as is the prospect of a trip out to Cape Wrath and the rugged north western tip of the country.

Road weary and hungry, it was time to pitch the tent, grab something to eat and a quick beer at a local pub before falling into the sleeping bag for what turned out to be a very brief but well needed sleep…

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