My last week of the summer holiday was spent in the Ross-shire town of Ullapool, staying with my friend Will Copestake and his family in their amazing house on the shores of Loch Broom. After almost having to sleep in a bus shelter in Inverness for a night due to forgetting to book the one and only bus to Ullapool that day, it was safe to say I was immensely happy to actually get to there.
We managed to pack a lot into my visit which began with a morning trip to Knockan Crag, at which I got very excited about the geology, due to it being a site showing a part of the Moine Thrust belt. It consists of the Moine Schists that have been pushed over the younger Durness Limestone and is thought to be the site at which the Moine Thrust was first identified.
That afternoon a plan for a short sea kayaking trip around the loch quickly escalated into paddling over to a nearby canyon, armed with hundreds of metres of climbing rope and assorted climbing equipment, to go canyoneering. The canyon consisted of 4 waterfalls dropping into pools which enabled the set up of a continuous 100m abseil all the way down to the bottom. All seemed well until we came into contact with the common Scottish foe, the midge, which proceeded to render us looking as if we had contracted a serious case of chicken pox. With the abseil set up Will descended into the gorge and successfully completed the 100m drop, I clipped in on the lower falls to have a try only to be thwarted by some badly placed concrete covering the lower portion of the rope. A speedy pack up and a run down the hill to escape the midges we paddled back finishing the day with much-needed cups of tea and a canoe out to see the sunset.
The next day rain, a commonplace in the Scotland landscape, had very much so arrived. But not to be deterred we headed off to on a 20km mountain bike trail along Loch Achall up to Rhidorroch House, crossing over a suspension bridge straight into what can only be described as a bog. Sensing that the bikes could go no futher we hiked up along Allt an Luchda taking a look at some of the waterfalls, experimenting in the ways of river cycling and managing to adopt two collie dogs that seemed intent to follow us all the way home. Cycling back towards Ullapool we were greeted with some nice downhill sections complete with a big pot of tea upon arriving home.
One of the highlights of the week began with unsuccessfully trying to start a bonfire on the beach at Ullapool Point…Whilst waiting for the boys to try and start the fire we noticed that you could faintly see the Aurora Borealis in the sky to the north which is very unusual at this time of year. We quickly hopped in the car and drove out to Ardmair Bay to capture photographs of the tail end of the aurora before it died away.
I was also lucky to see bio-phosphorescence after going for an evening sail around the loch. It is caused by the thousands of marine plankton that are present in the water at this time of year making the water glow whenever it was moved around.
It was a great way to end an amazing summer of travelling and I will definitely be returning when I can as there are many places I didn’t manage to get to in my short time there.