Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Tour d'ecosse - stage 3, Ratagan to Applecross

A glorious day! Not a breath of wind and the sun is shining. A welcome change. I had my porridge outside the youth hostel with the mountain range of the Five Sisters Of Kintail as my backdrop. A perfect start.

The road from Ratagan over the Mam Ratagan pass is steep and winding and no problem to the monstrous machine I'm sat on. The views back down to Loch Duich were picture postcard stuff.

Before long I was over the pass and decending down into Glenelg and the ferry I had not seen for 40 years.
When I arrived a young collie dog came to greet me as I stood and waited for the Glenachulish to come across the water. There was a tear in my eye as it drew closer, and the sound of it's engine was familiar, as if asking how I was. By sheer luck Peter, who runs the ferry on behalf of the community, turned up on his way across to Skye, and we chatted a while. For just £2 you can join the community that looks after the ferry, so you can guess already what I'll be doing on my return!

I know there were two other ferries from the Ballachulish days, but Peter didn't have any information on them. One of the ferrymen reckoned they had been taken to some fish farms as supply vessels, their turntables having been removed. Further investigation is needed I think.

The trip across was short but thoroughly enjoyable. I watched as she continued to do what she was built to do, her engines powering strongly against the current to take cars and their passengers across safely. I wonder if anyone else appreciates the old girl as much as I do?

The next leg took me onto Skye briefly, before heading back onto the mainland across the Skye Bridge, then turnng north at Kyle of Lochalsh to the pretty little village of Plockton.

The weather has remained glorious and it has been a joy to ride with the visor up. The air is filled with the sweet scent of ferns and heather in blossom, and the rush of the wind brings an added thrill. Now I understand why dogs stick their heads out of car windows on the move!

Next stop was Attadale Gardens, recommended as a must-see by my best friend. And I can see why. What a fabulous place. Scattered among the gardens themselves are various sculptures, my favourite of which has to be the cheetah caught in a high-speed-turn pose. It looked as if at any moment it would spring to life!

Lunch was beef lasagne just a short distance up the road at Carron Restaurant, and if you are ever by this way I can definitely recommend it.

Next stop Applecross, but I decided to go past the first turn off that goes over the Bealach na ba and instead continue north to follow the coast road 24 miles round and approach Applecross from the north. I'd been advised that the Bealach na ba is far more impressive taking it out of Applecross, so that will be tomorrows route.

I reached Applecross at 4pm, just as the first drizzle started, and I was tucked up inside a little cottage with my friends before the heavens opened, being licked all over by their pet puppy springer Spaniel Lotte!

Dinner was haggis starter followed by a local lamb casserole at the Applecross Inn. Great food but to my shock and horror no coffee machine!!

Now, where is that suggestion box?

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