Inverasdale to Ullapool: Saturday 3 Oct

img_5101Given that today’s intended destination was the much-lauded and allegedly cosmopolitan harbour town of Ullapool (a comparatively short distance to the north), we knew we could spend most of the day based around what had become known as Our Beach, so after a simple anniversary breakfast, we tackled-up our fishing gear with positive anticipation and clambered onto the rocky promontory to assume superb fishing positions, casting lures and spinners a considerable distance into a rising tide.

Our excitement, however, seeped gradually away over the next 2 hours, as we caught nothing, although we were rewarded for our efforts with crystal clear seawater glugging, swirling and sucking around the rock crevices beneath our feet. An inquisitive seal poked its suede-grey head up to observe us momentarily and small unidentifiable seabirds flitted around us at alarming velocities until we eventually decided to pack-in, return to the van for a spot of lunch, and then – suitably fortified – set off on foot toward the topmost point of the promontory which – according to map and signpost – seemed to culminate in a place (or maybe just a location) called Cove.

Within 5 minutes of setting off, we decided our destination was going to be too distant to reach on foot so we returned to the van, demounted the bikes and set off again under pedal-power, enjoying sea views at every turn and eventually reaching the end of the road, to discover a surprisingly ramshackle collection of derelict concrete military pill-boxes, all set around the headland guarding the mouth of the sea Loch.

Incongruously, a monument to Russian convoys added to our confusion until a couple of handy information boards provided an insight into Loch Ewe’s strategic importance as a natural safe harbour from where convoys of ships would set off across the Atlantic during World War 2.

Thus enlightened, and as gentle rain began to fall, we set off to retrace our route back to the van, cycling up hill and down dale and even managing en-route to receive anniversary congratulations on a very mobile phone from Mum & Dad.

Back to the van where cycles were re-racked and preparations for departure were made, before turning our backs on “our” beachside campsite and retracing our route back along the headland – pausing for road-congesting cattle herding – then back to Poolewe, passing the official Club campsite, waving en passant at Inverewe Gardens (which we’ll save for a future visit) and gently onwards, still headed north with Ullapool in our sights.

As we entered Ullapool, a large Caledonian McBrayne vehicle-ferry docked alongside the main Quay dwarfed the town’s waterfront. We drove gently through and around the whole town looking out for any suitable location for an Anniversary dinner, which we had promised ourselves, but recognised that zero-tolerance drink-driving laws dictated that we ideally needed to park the van in close proximity to our chosen venue.

With the local campsite closed down for the season (in the week prior to our visit) we parked up in the town’s municipal car-park (No Overnight Camping Allowed!) and walked the streets of the compact town seeking both a suitable overnight parking spot and matching sophisticated location of hotel, café, bar, restaurant, whatever in which to enjoy our dinner.

Little choice found us eventually in an atmospheric restaurant-hotel-cum- bookshop called the Ceilidh House, where friendly (English) waiting staff said they could provide us with a table á deux in about 90 minutes at 7:30pm.

Buoyed-up by our find, we returned to the van and conducted a quick essential shop in a surprisingly unique Tesco store where Leonie managed to enquire about their parking regime, to learn that there were no overnight restrictions.

So the van was moved to Tesco’s car-park, where we drew the blinds and freshened-up, dressing for dinner and emerging like film stars before sauntering down to the Ceilidh House to find a warm welcome, a vase of sweet peas specially cut just for our table and an enjoyable meal with smiling service, seafood, wine and entertainment from an elderly couple on next table. Back to the van replete and warmed for a night cap of Glenlivet acquired from the shelves of our overnight hosts, along with a locker-full of Paterson shortbread as souvenirs then a comfortable night sleep as a fitting end to an actively enjoyable wedding anniversary.

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