So last week you may have noticed that I had no internet connection. No, Sky did not cut me off for over use, I actually ran away to the most remote place I could think of for a week after the 3 insane work weeks I’d just had. I got the go ahead on the Friday morning, by lunchtime I’d booked the cottage, and by Sunday morning I was on my way…
I blame the whole thing entirely on Maureen, because we were having a conversation on the Wednesday night about how far away I’d have to go to get somewhere as nice and remote as she has to take her photos. Idly I started looking around the closest place I could think of, 3-4 hours away, day dreaming of escape (is it still day dreaming at 3 am, or is that hallucinating?!). My dad pushed me over the edge on Thursday night over the phone, finding me holiday cottages and directing me all over the interwebs…
See that red X? That’s Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, the most westerly point on the UK mainland, 160 miles drive and 1 ferry crossing away from Glasgow. The last 40 miles were on single track roads too, which were obviously built by the ancestors of the modern day rollercoaster designers! I’ve been to the lighthouse once before, a few years ago when I was passing through from Mull, to the south, heading to Skye, to the north, via the ferry at Malaig, but this time I was actually living in it for a week. At Latitude 56° 43.6′ N Longitude 6° 13.4′ W, it was designed by Alan Stevenson, one of a family of Stevensons reknowned for building lighthouses all over Scotland. Oh, and you might know his grandson, Robert Louis… The lighthouse is in an Egyptian style, because, you know, that would obviously bring a little warmth to this frozen outpost?!
The journey up was beautiful, although it was quite literally freezing when I left Glasgow, and I passed a chilly Loch Lomond and up through a snowy Trossachs and Glen Coe (where I had limited internet access, although some of the journey is on Instagram), arriving just before sunset at the lighthouse. By the time I’d lugged in half my sewing room, food and drinks for the week, the light was done, and the howling gale outside put me off venturing outside again, although it was a tropical 7C there.
The forecast for the week wasn’t the best, but Monday was meant to be good, albeit windy, so I ventured out for a walk from Portuairk, the next populated bay round the headland, about 4 miles away by road. The walk should have taken me to Sanna, the next bay round again, except I couldn’t find where it was meant to be! The guide book in the cottage assumed you had an Ordnance Survey map of the area, but I thought really, in somewhere so remote, how important could that be? Err, yes, very as it turned out! There was nothing for it, but to venture down to the bustling metropolis of Kilchoan, home of the most westerly shop/post office on the UK mainland, where I could get a book of walks, but no map of Ardnamurchan (I could have got both north and south Mull, and the Malaig area, you know, if I wanted to venture further afield for my walks!) There was nothing for it but to go over to Tobermory, the main town on Mull, a short ferry crossing from Kilchoan. Mercifully short because I was feeling more than a tad queasy by the end of it! The good forecast turned out to be overcast and windy…
|Don’t be deceived by the calm water, this is not what the ferry goes through, that’s on the other side of that hill!|
Anyone with small children in the UK will recognise this as the setting for Balamory, a pre-school kids program that ran for a number of years (and coincidentally I’m friends with the guy that was the Music Man in it, although I’ve never seen an episode!). I got a nice photo of some boats too, but it seemed to be getting darker…
What was that you said, you can see blue? Yeah, the clouds are heading rapidly over that blue, and about 5 minutes later the heavens opened! Still, I did get to visit the distillery, the chocolate shop, the cafe (where I briefly got the last internet access I had for the week), oh, and the book shop to get the map.
Tuesday was still meant to be relatively okay weather wise, so I decided it was time to do my first 5 mile round trip walk to the ‘open-year-round’ cafe and brasserie down the road, which also happened to have wifi. Apparently someone forgot to tell the owners what ‘open-year-round’ meant on their advertising because it was, well, shut. Permanently. Until April anyway. Hmmmmm. Oh, did I mention that the wind from Monday had picked up more? Yeah, so as well as having to walk over hill and down dale, I was getting nearly blown off my feet on that journey. Then it started to rain, torrentially. That was on the way there, from about 1/2 mile into the journey. It stopped just when I reached the closed door where I wouldn’t be getting my hot chocolate to warm me up in front of the fire. I didn’t cry, and I didn’t have a tantrum, I just turned round and trudged back home again. It started to rain again about 1/4 mile out too, just because my misery needed to be compounded.
I didn’t venture out further than the end of the road out to the peninsula again after that. The rain came down, the wind howled, and other than scrambling around a couple of days on the rocks to get some photos in the rare dry moments, I was happily ensconced in my cottage. I sewed a bit, read a lot, listened to a ton of audio books, and generally relaxed. The telly got taken out by a lightning strike the Thursday before I got there, so I really had no contact with the outside world, it was a little surreal!
Here’s what the rough days looked like:
|The bay behind the lighthouse and the road out|
|The opening into the bay looking towards Mull – that wave in the background is higher than the cliff I was sitting on|
|Looking round towards Portuairk round that 2nd headland|
See that wave crashing on the rocks above there? To give you some perspective, that wall at the bottom of the photo was about my head height, at 5’7″, and it’s a good 20 ft below where that wave reached up to.
And here’s what it was like on the last evening in the warm glow near sunset. The light was very peculiar, rather like the old tobacco filters that were popular years ago:
|From the point at the fog horn, my cottage is on the right at the back|
|From the rear, my cottage is on the left hand side|
|Looking up from the rocks on the Mull side|
|Looking towards Mull, it’s that faintly discernible shape on the horizon|
|Looking down into the bay behind and the road out – the sea was still a little rough!|
|Looking round the bay towards Portuairk again, but with less crashing waves!|
Here’s what kept me warm and snuggly while that wind was howling (other than my cuddle fleece jammies)
And finally, on the way home, this gave me a bit of a giggle as I tried to imagine how cramped it would be trying to camp in the Glenborrodale phone box.
Alas, I got no quilt or bag photos outside when I was away, they’d have been halfway across the Atlantic if I’d tried, so I’ll just have to go back another time…