Into the Hills

We had a lovely peaceful nights sleep other than at 23.00hrs a car full of excited girls, speaking what sounded like Mandarin, pulled up, had an animated conversation, and then just as suddenly got back into their car and left. The rest of the night we had an uninterrupted slumber, only to be woken by the sun peeking round the curtain and the birds chirruping their morning songs.

We performed our usual morning routines and set off to seek out what had been reported on park4night, a new local facility with services for campers. This was a mere three minutes drive away from where we were and was indeed a great little find, with lovely loos, drinking water and waste disposal points, all free of charge but seeking a small donation, which we happily gave.

We then embarked on our onward journey, and were initially following the north coast 500, but then left it behind as we headed for Ullapool as we knew that there was a laundry facility there; it had been a little while since Morecambe and we were running short of smalls!

The countryside became more rugged as we drove on to Ullapool and is quite spectacular. We found the laundry after an initial satnav error that it turned out had us at it’s back door, Mr V in his concern at us seemingly driving into someone’s front garden asked me to check that I did not have the google maps setting at cycling. It was not (this time!) but after a hasty re-route to the supermarket that the laundry was supposed to be next to, we found our quarry. Not sure of the exact nature of the facility, we had expected something similar to that of Morcambe, however this was a proper laundry, which did a service wash and dry for a reasonable £10. My initial pleasure at the find was dashed, when the lady in charge said that Monday was her busiest day and she would be able to turn our load around for about 15.00-16.00hrs. It was only 10.30hrs and nice as Ullapool is, there really is not much there to occupy you for that length of time other than the myriad seafood restaurants or the ferry over to Stornaway. A hand wash of enough smalls to tide us over was clearly on the cards.

We did have a little meander around Ullapool, a place that we have not been to together since not long after we were married, and was the last trip that we took with Mr V’s father before his death so it was a bitter-sweet revisit. We had parked up in a large free car park with other motor homes and trucks etc, so decided to move on before having coffee and drove onwards, stopping at a lovely bay with the intent to sit out and enjoy a cup of tea and the scones I had bought the day before. Lovely and sunny though it was, unfortunately the breeze had enough of a bite that we enjoyed the view and our tea and scones in the cab of the van. So very middle-aged.

We had identified a couple of possible stopover locations on the basis that we would be in Ullapool for about a couple of hours to do our washing, however getting to them now would be a little early to be settling in for the evening, but we stopped at the most promising sounding one, which was at the Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve and turned out to be a real find. The parking area itself has stunning views all around, but the Knockan Crag it transpires, is of world significance as it was here that the perceived wisdom of geology was turned on it’s head. There is a fascinating information centre and informative as well as scenic walks around the Crag which educates the walker as you puff up the hillside.

100 footsteps through time

This is an area of Scotland that Mr V is familiar with from his days as a professional personal development trainer & outdoorsman, and he reminisced about his time walking the surrounding hills, pointing out the distinctive outline of Suilven for which he has a particular fondness. We followed the marked route all around the crag, taking the little detours which added nuggets of information to our rudimentary geological knowledge.

Suilven – distinctive in the distance

By the time we had returned to the van it was about 15.00hrs and we were thinking of moving onwards, however the spot was so lovely we thought ‘why not just stay here and relax for the rest of the afternoon and evening’. It was a good decision as we have enjoyed soaking up the clean mountain air in the sunshine. The Heath-Robinson midge nets that I made for the van have been unrolled as a precaution as we are entering prime midge territory, however the slight breeze does seem to be keeping them at bay. So all in all it has turned out to be a lovely day as we lounge in our comfy van, freshly washed smalls drying in the breeze, and it’s almost time to open the wine. Chin-chin 🍷

Alfresco supper ☀️

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