July 13 & 14, 2016
Ullapool was the next largest city on our NC500 route. It is known as a picturesque fishing town with ferry service to nearby islands. Unfortunately, we could not find any accommodations in Ullapool. We ended up in an area called Lochbroom about 10 minutes from Ullapool. I say area because there was no real town, just a few spots along the road.
There was a B & B in Lochbroom, but even that was full. However, the owner offered another option for travelers. He had a separate building called a bunkhouse that had a kitchen and two separate sleeping quarters. The rooms were on each side of the kitchen and each contained two sets of bunk beds. The price was appealing (accommodations in the UK are quite expensive), so this is where we stayed for the next two nights. We had the place to ourselves for the first night. We made a quick trip to town for groceries and got settled in to our new accommodations.
One of the great advantages of being outside of the main city was the surrounding Lael Forest. After we prepared our own dinner, we simply crossed the road to enjoy a beautiful early evening hike.
Another natural attraction near Lochbroom is the Corrieshalloch Gorge. This gorge was formed 2.6 million years ago by glacial movement. It is a great short hike that includes a suspension bridge and walkout area to enjoy the views of the waterfalls and flora. We managed to get the kids out to explore the gorge after breakfast.
So I am not sure how we pulled this off, but we somehow got the kids on board for another hike on the same day. This one, however, was a substantial undertaking for the family. Stac Pollaid is a highly recommended hike (one of the finest in the northwest Highlands). It is a 2000 ft. mountain about 30 minutes from where we were staying. With a hardy lunch in our bellies, we set off on our quest.
It was a gorgeous, but challenging endeavor. Liam loved it, but Maeve complained a fair amount during the ascent. We missed the option to skip the summit and circle around on a trail just below. That was a little frustrating, but I think Liam would have found his way up there anyway.
This entire hike took about three hours. I knew we would be sore the next day, but we could recover in the car to our next stop on the following day.
When we returned from our hike, we met some fellow travelers who were sharing our bunkhouse. Meeting folks from all over the world is one of my favorite parts of traveling. We stayed up chatting with a young couple from a northern island of Scotland and a man from another area of Scotland. While the varying accents were hard to understand at times, we had fun. We discovered that some Scottish folks cannot easily say the words 'burglar alarm'. They have difficulty with the ur and ar sounds as they roll their r's. The single man traveling got pretty frustrated with it, but we all had a good laugh. We don't get too many opportunities to stay up and talk with local folks, so we certainly enjoyed the evening. Everyone left early the next morning on their way to new adventures.