This part of our trip began in a tiny little village and ended up at a much smaller one!
We had stayed overnight at the Old Smiddy Guest House at Laide, near Garloch. When we booked it the owner, Julie, suggested that we should eat in and what a good choice it was. We had a fantastic 3-course dinner. We offered Julie the option of emigrating to Australia and cooking for us permanently, but she didn’t think that the employment conditions were very suitable.
In the morning, we backtracked a few miles and spent some time at the Inverewe Gardens which were started by Osgood Mackenzie, born in 1842, the son of Sir Francis Mackenzie, laird of Gairloch. These gardens cover over 50 acres ad were planted on a once barren and rocky promontory in Loch Ewe. They now have one of the finest collections of temperate plants from both Northern and Southern hemispheres in Scotland.
Throughout the day, we travelled through almost constant rain and very strong winds. The best pictures to take were of streams and waterfalls.
We braved the weather for a quick stop at the Ferry Bridge Inn at Ullapool for lunch. This rather cute town has a row of tiny cottages fronting the harbour. There appears to be some rather splendid peaks around this area, but we could only see a few grey outlined suggestions of them though the cloud and rain.
We came across the ruins of Ardvreck Castle which had a rectangular-shaped keep comprising three stories. It now looks quite unimposing, but it was apparently once a large and imposing structure and it is thought that the castle included a walled garden and formal courtyard. Unfortunately, all that remains today is a tower and part of a defensive wall. When the waters of the loch rise very high, the peninsula on which the castle stands is cut off from the mainland.
Our B&B tonight is near Lochinver, an area characterized by rocky crags, lots of small lochs and remote settlements. We drove 6 miles further on to find our accommodation a long way up the road and miles from anywhere. We were beginning to wonder whether it actually existed. The house is the old manse in what was once a thriving settlement, but is now just a collection of houses spread widely across a rocky and rather barren landscape. Fortunately, Maggie was able to cook another dinner for us. This saved us from a long drive along a narrow, windy road to the next town.