Today’s plan is nice and simple, get up, see if there are any dolphins down at Chanonry Point, and then head over to Clachtoll Beach on the west coast, stopping off along the way. The day could go one way or the other!
Once we’d packed up we left the site and headed for the car park down by the lighthouse at Chanonry Point. Today must be a good day for spotting dolphins as the car park was full and not many cars leaving. We eventually got a space and then set off for the beach. There, right in front of our eyes was a school of bottle nosed dolphins no more than 15m from the water’s edge. Our biggest problem was finding a good spot to watch them as there were so many people on the shoreline.
When something like this happens you lose track of time, all you seem to be doing is taking more and more photographs, hoping that there will be a good photo in there somewhere! But what a sight and what a privilege!
After gorging ourselves on watching dolphins at play we went back to the van and pointed Betty in the direction of Clachtoll Beach, some 90 odd miles away on the other coast. Up through Bonar Bridge and then the A837, our first taste of an ‘A’ road with passing places. In 25 miles we probably met less than 10 vehicles and the narrowness of the road meant that we went at a pace to savour the scenery. By lunchtime we had got to Ardveck Castle on Loch Assynt and took our time reading the various information boards and wandering out the castle itself. One amusing incident involved a car that came roaring into the car park, the driver leapt out, engine still running, and ran over to the information boards whereupon he photographed each one. he then ran back to his car and was last seen heading towards Durness! Clearly taking his time to enjoy the sights or was this a game of treasure hunt?
Before arriving at the campsite we took some time to wander around Lochinver and to buy some beer and food. We also noted the Lochinver Larder for a visit the following day.
Now off to find the campsite. The distance from Lochinver to Clachtoll is only 5 miles but it seems to take a while to get there. It’s single track and pretty busy so progress is relatively slow, but we’re not here to race around. Once we had checked in to the campsite at Clachtoll Beach, we parked up and went for a walk out to the beach and rocks. It might have been a bit damp but the views were none the less fantastic over towards Suilven, Stac Pollaidh and Canisp.
The campsite itself has great facilities, is close to the beach and is run by people who really care for their customers.
We awoke on Tuesday morning to more rain. What to do? Not a good day for going for a long hike, so we headed out to the Stoer Lighthouse. There we found people with large binoculars and specialist scopes looking to Orcas, Minke Whales, Dolphins etc.. As the weather had abated slightly we decided to walk up to see the Old Man of Stoer. The guide says that the path is easy to spot, we’re a bit slow on the uptake and it took us a few minutes to find the actual path. As ever with these sort of situations the further we walked the heavier the rain. We eventually crested a ridge and there in front of us was the Old Man of Stoer. To complete the walk we should have continued to Stoer Point but decided that due to the weather it was prudent to head back. Upon arriving back at the car park we enjoyed a warm cup of tea from the food stall there and sat in the van hoping that there would be sighting of a whale or dolphin. Unfortunately not but earlier in the day a Minke Whale had been seen.
On the way back to the campsite we pulled over into a passing place to let an oncoming VW camper through. As they came closer we realised that it was the couple from Great Barr that we had been chatting to on the beach at Rosemarkie. Soon both vans had found somewhere to pull up and their owners had time to swap notes and stories from the respective trips so far. We now know them as Jon and Jennie. It’s a small world!
Now time for a pie from the Lochinver Larder (gorgeous) and a detour to see Achmelvich Beach. There it was a bit blustery, I failed in an attempt to take a photo of Sal having to lean into the wind to stay upright! It might have been damp but a good day was had by all.