Sunday, 18 September 2011

Ullapool 1 - Three Dams

Sunday 11th September

I should explain that we're up in Ullapool - Strathcanaird to be exact - in a very pleasant cottage for a week's well earned break from the rat race that doubles up as work, (well I think so anyway!).

The trouble with weather forecasts in this country is that they are too reliable to ignore and too unreliable to depend on. So with the forecast for today through to about Wednesday being for the tail-end of hurricane Katia, complete with amber warnings from the Met Office, it was with a certain amount of surprise that I photographed a beautiful sunrise! 

Strathcanaird Sunrise

We took our time in the morning always expecting the rain and wind to arrive but by 10 o’clock we decided that it wasn’t going to happen so decided that we’d walk and worry about the poor weather when it arrived. While I’d been messing around taking photos of the sunrise I noticed a road that wound its way up around the hydro-station pipeline that runs down the side of the hill opposite the cottage. We decided that we’d have a go at following the road up the hill and see how far we would get so, after making a hasty sandwich just in case it turned out to be longer than we expected, we set off just before 11 o’clock.

Goal for the day

It was an uncomfortable walk along the main road and a sign at the entrance to the hydro-station, (Dubh Loch Hydro Station), told us there was “no access to the lochs please use the gate 500m further on towards Ullapool”. However we followed the rules and picked up the Scottish Hydro access road at the gates as directed.

Looking back

Towards the Summer Isles

The climb was pretty easy as the tarred road zigzagged its way up the hill and topped off at the first of three dams that make up the hydro complex we would eventually visit, (this one was Loch Beinn Dearg). As ever I walked out along the top as far as I could because I always find them so intimidating. I don’t know why this is so I make myself walk out as far as I can just to prove to myself that I can!

Loch Beinn Dearg Dam

Loch Beinn Dearg

The weather was holding up so after taking photos looking across the valley, (strath?) towards the cottage, we continued to follow the road. The second dam, (Loch Na Moile), fed its water into the first loch and was a little less intimidating because it didn’t appear to be as high. 
Loch Na Moile Dam

The road then continued on to the third and final dam, (Loch Dubh). This again fed its water into the first loch but was a much bigger loch and had a much higher dam than either of the other two. The walk out along it this time gave me wobbly legs. We stopped here for lunch and to put on our waterproofs because it looked as if the promised bad weather had finally arrived.

Loch Dubh

Loch Dubh Dam

The walk back proved to be uneventful apart from two occurrences. Firstly we met a 4x4 coming towards us. It didn’t give the impression of being an estate or working vehicle; too clean, tidy and top of the range to be a proper workers choice of transport. I have no idea why he was there or where he was going, possibly fishing, although there were no rods to be seen, but he never passed us again on the way down and I’m pretty sure there’s no drivable track beyond the third dam. The second thing worth mentioning was my little sortie away from the road to get high enough to see and photograph the cottage, as well as Stac Pollaidh and the other spectacular hills that line the road stretching away to the north.

Stac Pollaidh

Ben Mor Coigach

We were forced to discard the waterproofs at this point because the rain had disappeared and the sun even managed to put in an appearance giving us a faint rainbow against the dark hills.

Almost a rainbow!

From there it was an easy downhill walk back to the cottage. We were back and having a cup of tea just before 3 o’clock and there had still been no significant rain. The BBC Weather web page is still predicting torrential rain and high winds tonight and tomorrow, but I think we’ll wait and see. Maybe the best weather forecast is to look out of the window!

More Ullapool photos

1 comment:

  1. This is a very pleasant part of the Highlands, J, and one I would like to walk in. I’ve driven through it a couple of times but never actually pulled my boots on and got down to it. And you’re right about the weather forecasts. Look out of the window, that’s the best way.
    Alen McF