Skip to main content

The Coastline of Wester Ross

As with yesterday's blog, there isn't much point in me going in to much detail of where I visited as very few people will have heard of any of the places (I hadn't). It was mainly a local day and a coastal day. This was due to the long drive I'd had the day before, it tired me out a bit. I don't think I strayed more than twenty miles from Gairloch the whole day but still managed to visit some amazing beaches.

First call was Opinon Beach, a sweeping bay of white untouched sand. Not a footmark to be seen, how come no one has discovered these places! Then to Red Point a few miles down the road with it's broad beach of reddish sand backed by dunes. I presume that is how it has got it's name. I then back tracked to Gairloch and followed the coast road North West to a place called Melvaig which had spectacular views across to Skye. The drive was quite airy and hairy at times as most of the journey was along clifftop roads with sheer drops down to the sea below.

A bit more back tracking and then it was Northwards again to the best beach of the day. Mellon Udrigle with its wide white sandy bay. The view from it was just spectacular. Unbeknown to me until I got there, the hills I was going to visit the next day could be seen in the far distance across Gruinard Bay. Warm sunshine, blue skies, no people...I though I was in heaven! It was a time to chill and relax on the beech.

However these quiet moments never seem to last too long as people always arrive either in caravans or motor homes and this proved to be the case. It was time to make a hasty exit and head just a few miles further North to my last port of call for the day, Little Gruinard Bay. Another white sandy beach which is quite popular as it is at the side of the main road to Ullapool. Still it is quiet by Blackpool standards! A bit of interesting info on the area -

"Gruinard was the site of a biological warfare test by British military scientists from Porton Down in 1942, during the Second World War. At that time there was an investigation by the British government into the feasibility of an attack using anthrax: to test the vulnerability of Britain against a German attack and the viability of attacking Germany with a British bio-weapon. Given the nature of the weapon which was being developed, it was recognised that tests would cause widespread and long-lasting contamination of the immediate area by anthrax spores. In order to limit contamination a remote and uninhabited island was required. Gruinard was surveyed, deemed suitable and requisitioned from its owners by the British Government.
The anthrax strain chosen for the Gruinard bioweapons trials was a highly virulent type called "Vollum 14578", named after R. L. Vollum, Professor of Bacteriology at the University of Oxford, who supplied it. Eighty sheep were taken to the island and bombs filled with anthrax spores were exploded close to where selected groups were tethered. The sheep became infected with anthrax and began to die within days of exposure. 
Scientists concluded after the tests were completed that a large release of anthrax spores would thoroughly pollute German cities, rendering them uninhabitable for decades afterwards. These conclusions were supported by the discovery that initial efforts to decontaminate the island after the biological warfare trials had ended failed due to the high durability of anthrax spores.
In 1945 when the owner sought the return of Gruinard Island, the Ministry of Supply recognized that the island was contaminated as a result of the wartime experiments and consequently it could not be derequisitioned until it was deemed safe. In 1946, the Crown agreed to acquire the island and to take on the onus of responsibility. The owner or her heirs and beneficiaries would be able to repurchase the island for the sale price of £500 when it was declared "Fit for habitation by man and beast".  
Starting in 1986 a determined effort was made to decontaminate the island, with 280 tonnes of formaldehyde solution diluted in seawater being sprayed over all 196 hectares of the island and the worst-contaminated topsoil around the dispersal site being removed. A flock of sheep was then placed on the island and remained healthy. On 24 April 1990, after 48 years of quarantine and 4 years after the solution being applied, junior defence minister Michael Neubert visited the island and announced its safety by removing the warning signs. On 1 May 1990, the island was repurchased by the heirs of the original owner for the original sale price of £500."

It made a refreshing change to have the chance to photograph something different. Usually my photography consists of landscapes so the beaches were a bit of a challenge for me.

Then it was back to the Hotel for some food before setting off for a late evening drive back down Torridon. I raved about the place in my last blog so wont bore everyone again. The conditions were brilliant for photos but unfortunately brilliant for midges as well but I suppose you can't have everything. I watched the sun go down behind the hills before heading back up Loch Maree to the hotel for a few beers.

Badachro, Gairloch.

Opinan, Gairloch

Opinan, Gairloch

Opinan, Gairloch

Opinan, Gairloch

Red Point, Gairloch

The Minch

Melvaig, Gairloch

Melvaig, Gairloch

Melvaig, Gairloch

Mellon Uldrigle

Mellon Uldrigle

Mellon Uldrigle

Little Gruinard Bay

Little Gruinard Bay

Little Gruinard Bay

Little Gruinard Bay

Wester Ross Coastal Route

Upper Loch Torridon

Upper Loch Torridon

Laithach, Torridon

Scots Pines, Torridon

Popular posts from this blog


These are just a selection of photos I took a few weeks ago. The first bunch are of Linton Bridge and the River Wharfe just outside Grassington. The concrete retaining walls of Linton Mill by the side of the bridge now support a housing development called ‘Linton Falls’. A corn mill has probably stood on this site from Medieval times. In 1788, Robert Hargreaves & Co of Addingham built a worsted-spinning mill there. Soon after a new tenant, Samuel Gill, and until 1804, his partner James Parker, turned the mill over to spinning cotton. By 1830 it had returned to worsted spinning under the ownership of J & W Birkbeck. Birkbecks then built a five-storey cotton mill on the site in the mid-19th century. This mill burnt down in 1912 and was replaced by a smaller structure. This went out of business during the 1950s. It was demolished in 1983 apart from the houses facing onto the footpath that crosses the river. Prior to demolition, the mill’s rare uniflow steam engine was rescued an…

The Old Brown Horse :

On the minor road to Scarness Bay in Cumbria, there has been a small stable where 2 two horses have lived for years. On passing it the other week with Dave and Chris, we noticed an R.I.P sign and only one horse. He or she looked so sad and forlorn.

As shown in it's eyes, it was obviously missing it's old mate. Thanks to Sal for the verse which it is rather apt.

The Old Brown Horse :

The old brown horse looks over the fence
In a weary sort of way.
He seems to be saying to all who pass:
“Well, folks, I've had my day-
I'm simply watching the world go by,
And nobody seems to mind,
As they're dashing past in their motor-cars,
A horse who is lame and half-blind.”

The old brown horse has a shaggycoat,
But once he was young and trim,
And he used to trot through the woods and lanes
With the man who was fond of him.
But his master rides in a motor-car,
And it makes him feel quite sad
When he thinks of the days that used to be, and of al…

Derwent Valley, Castleton and The Devil's Arse!

I had this day out and took these shot's at the beginning of June when all the rape was in bloom in the fields above High Bradfield. The cloud cover was kind to me as well, letting the sun burst through intermittently,  lighting up the yellow fields beautifully.

I love this area which is on the edge of The Peak District and can't thank Sal enough for introducing me to it. The view over Bradfield Dale to the distant Derwent Edge is one of our favourites and has to be one of the loveliest in the area. Coupled with this are a pair of nice pubs, a beautiful Church and a brewery which makes Bradfield an ideal stopping off point. No pubs for me today though.

Sal had often mentioned The Derwent Valley so I thought I'd go and have a bit of an explore and then drive on to Castleton. The moor road over to the main A57 passing Strines resounded with the call of the Curlews so I presumed it was their mating season. I love their call, it is an unmistakable, plaintive, and lonely …

Snow in Ribblesdale

Yet another one of those days when I leave Bradford in sunshine and, by the time I do the twenty odd miles up to the Dales, the blue skies have disappeared and the cloud has moved in. This has happened to me every time bar one this year. I did manage to see a few glimpses of the sun just outside Horton in Ribblesdale and then just for a fleeting moment at Ribblehead but apart from that it was pretty gloomy. I was very fortunate at Ribblehead as the sun lit up Whernside beautifully.

I parked the car on the edge of Horton and had a walk around the network of country lanes in the vicinity. All lead up to Brackenbottom Farm which is the usual start for walking up Pen y Ghent. There weren't many takers which I thought was a bit strange as the weather would have been ideal. Mind you, it was midweek so I suppose most people will have been working. It was pretty damned cold though and I was glad to get back to the car and head for Ribblehead.

I had thought of going all the way up to Hawe…

To Lochinver via Coigach

Again, I don't really think many words are needed for this blog. The photos tell the whole story of one of the best drives in the UK.

The route chops and changes from mountain to coastal and back again and is possibly the best section of the Wester Ross Coastal Road. I was fortunate enough to be at Gruinard Bay when the tide was out so I more to less had the whole beach to myself, th the mighty An Teallach (widely regarded as the best hill in Scotland) towered above me as I drove down through Dundonnell.  Then it was through the Dundonnell River gorge and across the Dundonnell Forest to Loch Broom and Ullapool. Even Ullapool looked good with the morning sun and blue skies. I hardly met any traffic at all from the moment I left my hotel on the shores on Loch Maree which meant driving was a sheer pleasure.

The last section of the route through Coigach to Lochinver is the reason I keep visiting these parts. It may only be about twenty miles in length but it goes through what is, in m…

The Old Coal Road.

The Old Coal Road runs between Cowgill in Dentdale and Garsdale high up in the Yorkshire Dales.

There were twenty-five coal pits which formed part of the extensive coal workings and lay on the moorland either side of it. These coal pits were worked by local people, initially to produce domestic fuel, but by the 18th century, the poor quality coal was also being used in lime kilns. Commercial coal mining went on in Garsdale until the 1870s when the Settle-Carlisle railway started bringing in cheaper, higher quality coal from the Lancashire and West Yorkshire coalfields.

If you aren't adversed to a bit of  road walking then I should imaging a trip up on the Settle-Carlisle train, getting off at Dent Station and then walking up to Garsdale Head (or Hawess Junction as it was once known), would be a grand day out. For good measure it should include a couple of pints in The Moorcock Inn before getting the train back down.

On Garsdale station stands a statue of Ruswarp, a collie. Ruswarp…

A Farewell to The Trossachs

I had a rather disappointing day in The Trossachs last weekend. Talk about not feeling welcome.

I used to park up at two places on the shores of Loch Chon and then go for a wander in the forest with my camera. The first place had been ruined by tree felling and was a right mess and the other place had been turned in to a campsite! At the first spot, I just about managed to park my car and clamber around fallen trees and debris to take a few photos but couldn't even get in to the second spot!

The new campsite is all to do with The Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park's attempt at trying to stop wild camping which they say is becoming a problem on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond from where people used to wild camp and climb Ben Lomond. Their solution is to have purpose built campsites miles away from where they are actually needed. It makes you wonder if they really want visitors at all. The consensus of opinion is that they are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut and var…