Every so often I look back through my image archives and almost always I come across an image that I have either not processed or not released and that is the case this week. It was also from one of my favourite destinations, that being the Gairloch, Poolewe, and Kinlochewe areas of Wester Ross on the northwest coast of Scotland.
At the same time as coming across this image, I was also trying to decide on a subject for this post. I realised that although I have used images from this area in the past I have never actually put together a post on Wester Ross itself. So here goes with the majority of the images newly released. The image that started all this off is this one of Loch Maree with Slioch dominant in the background. If you are approaching the area from the south or east this is the sight that will welcome you and what a view it is especially on the day I captured this image.
Wester Ross is a land of stunning loch and mountain scenery, magnificent white sand beaches, abundant wildlife, wide-open spaces, and peace and tranquillity. This is the region referred to as one of the top five “Lonely Planet” places to visit in the whole of the UK!
It is featured in the lyrics to the song “Letter from America” by The Proclaimers. Lyrically, the song reflects Scotland’s long history of emigration with Scots leaving behind an economic depression in their own nation to start new lives in America and Canada.
During one of my visits, I was fortunate enough to take the relatively flat walk from Achgarve to the abandoned village of Slaggan and its wonderful bay beyond. Many years ago there was a small crofting community here. Some 50 or so years ago the last family moved away following the destruction of their property by fire. There is a local rumour that the beach is probably more famous as the “Queen’s beach” and was where Her Majesty came ashore by tender for beach picnics during her Western Island cruises aboard the Britannia. Although I can’t be certain that this is correct I suppose it is a possibility bearing in mind its remoteness.
When visiting this area of Wester Ross I would normally base myself in Poolewe and from there is a wonderful round walk of Loch Kernsary with good views of the distant mountains and part of Loch Maree. The ruined house at Innisabhaird (place of the bard), northwest of Kernsary, is said to have been the home of Am Bard Sasunnach (the English Bard), a descendant of one of the English workers that came to the area in the 1600s to work the iron foundries.
Moving inland we visit Torridon where its mountains are very nearly the highest in Britain, rising in places almost vertically to 3500 feet from the deep sea lochs. The rock is almost 3000 million years old – that predates life itself. Volcanic outpourings, massive climate changes, movement of the earth’s crust, erosion, forestation, and finally the influence of mankind have all played their part in the scene that you see today. The landscape is in a permanent state of change and not, as we sometimes think, here forever. The vast tracts of Scots pine trees which spread and covered more than half the landmass have receded to a few acres.
The image above was captured on one of the most scenic low-level walks I have completed. The route follows the east shore of Loch Clair before doing a circuit of Loch Coulin and returning. The valley containing the two lochs is dominated by the backdrop of Beinn Eighe and Liathach, two splendid mountains. As the relationship between them and the two lochs keeps changing there is the urge to take another photo every few hundred feet.
Looking back I am pleased that coming across that image gave me the initiative to put together this post on wonderfully wild Wester Ross and I hope that if you are ever in the area you will follow the walks I have mentioned so that you can see this magnificent scenery for yourself. More images from the area can be seen in the Wester Ross and Cromarty gallery.