Just a few days after our last trip to the North West, Ann, John, Juliette & Stu went back up to Ullapool. The draw was that part of this year’s Tall Ships’ Race was calling in for a weekend of festivities.
Things got off to a bad start on Friday evening when we arrived to find the campsite full. It had apparently filled up by that morning and the usually absent staff were there to keep extras out. We had foreseen this problem weeks ago but the site wouldn’t take bookings, so frustration all around. The rumour that there was still space at Ardmair proved correct so we were soon pitched there and back in Ullapool for a fish supper and that night’s gig of Skerryvore and The Vatersay Boys.
Despite a rubbish forecast, we were woken early the next morning by the tent overheating in the sun. Given the amount to get through in the day we opted for a short day on the Graham of Beinn an Eoin, just S of Stac Pollaidh, an interesting little hill with the potential for great views that I had missed last time due to it clouding over during the ascent.
|Stac Pollaidh starting to vanish|
The start of the route is a bit of a flouter through tussocky bog and a minefield of recently-planted trees. It was made even more unpleasant by numerous clegs, a few midges and the sight of cloud starting to roll in from the west. Things improved with height and we just started to get some views when the cloud finally closed in and that was it for the rest of the day.
|Last of the clear weather|
The higher southern summit provided a good stop for first lunch, just before the rain started. Soon it was lashing and made the ascent of the northern top quite unpleasant, so much so that second lunch was postponed in favour of a quick descent. There is no easy way back from here so it was back to hacking through the bog in a cloud of clegs. At least the rain stopped but I did feel a bit cheated – two ascents and no view.
Thanks to the difficult ground our short outing had taken much longer than it should so the planned swim was abandoned as we dashed back to Ullapool for the start of a giant strip the willow down the length of Shore Street. It was quite a sight to see the place packed with people, there was a great atmosphere and the boats looked magnificent too. The rain held off long enough for a quick BBQ, but came back with a vengeance later. Luckily the Saw Doctors’ gig that night was in a decent tent.
|Strip the Willow on Shore Street|
|Wylde Swan running up Loch Broom|
|Gloria, all the way from Columbia, prepares to depart|
|The Saw Doctors|