Scotland, May - June 2017 - NW Coast. Scourie, Handa Island, Inverewe and Gairloch.

From Dueness we started heading south along the NW coast. For nearly 2 weeks, apart from a couple of days near Ullapool, we had lovely weather.

Loch Inchard.

Scourie & Handa Island.

We had a great site at Scourie campsite, overlooking the bay. Below are 2 views from our site.

Handa is a small island near Scourie which is a Nature Reserve run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. We took the passenger ferry across to the island and then followed the walkway around the island where you get thousands of birds nesting in May/June.

Waiting for the ferry to take us across to Handa Island.

There was a boardwalk for much of the route as much of the land was boggy.

The NW part of the island has high cliffs where there were thousands of seabirds - particularly guillemots.

Arctic Skuas were nesting on the grassland.

A pair of noisy oyster catchers.

Great Skuas sometime dive-bomb people who get too close to their nests.

We saw a few puffins from afar.

 

Loch Ewe and Inverewe Gardens.

Ardvrek Castle, which we passed as we were driving south.

After a couple of wet and windy days at Ardmair Point and Ullapool we headed towards Gairloch. Below we are approaching Loch Ewe.

During WW2 Loch Ewe was an important Naval Base and a collecting point for the Arctic Convoys to Russia. Nowadays Loch Ewe has a NATO refueling pier. 

Inverewe Garden is on a peninsula at the edge of Loch Ewe and is full of colourful, exotic plants from around the world. The plants flourish here, despite the northerly latitude, thanks to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream and the foresight of its creator, Osgood Mackenzie, who planted over 100 acres of woodland to shelter the garden. Nowadays it is run by The National Trust for Scotland.

The walled garden faces south and is a formal garden. It contains lots of flowering plants from different regions of the world.

The rest of the gardens are informally planted with winding walkways through trees and shrubs with occasional pools.

 

Gairloch

We spent several night at Sands Caravan Park, a few miles north of Gairloch. Approaching the campsite you get a lovely view of the beach, which is accessible from the site.

One day we cycled to the Rua Reidh lighthouse (now b&b accommodation), 10 miles each way with quite a few hills.

Another day we cycled into Gairloch and visited the Heritage Museum - very interesting.

Approaching Gairloch.

One of the Museum exhibits.

One drizzly morning we drove to Red Point passing a couple of attractive harbours.

Red Point beach - just before it started raining!

We stopped here for lunch, overlooking Opinan harbour.

After Gairloch the weather changed and we had low cloud and rain. As the forecast for the Western Isles was for that to continue for the next couple of weeks we decided to head south towards Northumberland where the forecast was a lot better. We'll visit the islands another time.

A few 'atmospheric' photos that I took on the way south.

Loch Maree.

Eilein Donan Castle.

Glen Coe

 

SE Scotland. Edinburgh, Dundee, Falkirk Wheel and North Berwick.

NE Scotland. Fort Augustus (Loch Ness),Culloden, Fort George, NE Coast.

North Coast. John O'Groats, Dunnet Bay and Durness.

Orkney Islands. One day coach tour.

NW Coast. Scourie, Handa Island, Inverewe Gardens and Gairloch.

 

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Lunch stop at Loch Lomond.