Saturday, 24 September 2011

Ullapool 2 - Dunn Canna

Thursday 15th September

After the dreadful weather of the last few days when the tailend of hurricane Katia finally turned up, we woke up to a dry and calm morning albeit a cloudy one. The weather forecast was set fair and we were promised that it would improve as the day went on. The cottage sits about 8 miles north of Ullapool and just before you reach it, at the bottom of the hill, there’s a sign post for a dead end road to Blughasary. We’d explored this road in the car on Monday after having been to Lochinver but this morning we left the car at the cottage and walked down the hill and along the unclassified road to reach the car park. We intended to take “Postie’s Path”, which is a public right of way that goes all the way to Achiltibuie, but our goal for the day was the old Iron Age fort of Dunn Canna perched on a small peninsula tucked under the cliffs of Ben Mhor Coigeach.

River Runie Rapids

The start of Postie's Path

At the car park there’s an information board that tells the story of the Postie in question and about how he would walk the route from Ullapool to Achiltibuie twice a week delivering and collecting mail; an impressive 12 mile trek each way over difficult ground. There’s an easier path now for some of the way built by the estate that takes the opposite side of the river and crosses two bridges, but access is discouraged so we took the sign-posted public footpath over the raging rapids. With all the rain we’ve had over the past weeks it was of little surprise that the path was a difficult, muddy, wet slog that seemed to last a lot longer than the mile and half it was supposed to be, but my goodness it was worth it! 

Improving weather

By the time we reached the fort the sun was shining in an almost perfect blue sky and we sat on a grassy area on the sea side of what is left of the fort. The sea was flat calm and we had a fantastic view of the Summer Isles while we ate our lunch. We also think we saw an otter, but it was probably a seal, in the small bay to the north of us; it was a long way away and of course we could only see its head. I photographed it anyway but even enlarging the image, I’d say the jury was still out.

I haven't added any captions to the above because basically they defied me to come up with descriptions that would do them justice. After the last few days of torrential rain and wind it was difficult to believe we were in the same country! It would have been easy to spend the rest of the afternoon there but we dragged ourselves away in order to explore the long shingle beach that ran south east from the fort.

Looking back to the fort
It was a strange beach covered in mainly grey stones and at the fort end they were flat and round in shape, great for skipping on the flat calm surface of the water, but as we made our way further along they became more pebble like, bulkier and spherical. I’m not sure why there would be such a difference over such a small distance. The only other thing of note about the beach is that Mo went for a paddle! Apparently it was cold but refreshing. I took her word for it and kept my boots on. 

We made our way up onto the dunes above the beach and retraced our steps back to the fort and from there picked up the path heading back the way we had come. We decided that we’d try the estate path and risk the wrath of the owners by using it as our return route. This plan worked to a certain degree in that we did find the estate path and it was a fair bit easier than the way we had come in, albeit it was still very wet.  However the problem came when we couldn’t find the bridge we knew was there. It was very frustrating to know the bridge was there somewhere below the trees that lined our path but there was no apparent way down to it. In the end we retraced our steps for a little way and climbed a high deer fence gate to pick up our original Right of Way path. By now, fortunately, we were a fair way back to the car park so the difficult walking was reduced significantly. We had set off from the car park at around eleven o’clock and arrived back at a quarter to four. It was here at the end of our walk that we met the first people of the day and they appeared to be setting off along the way we had just come. If they were planning on the same route then they were leaving it late but would have seen a beautiful sunset that we photographed from Ardmair beach where we stopped later in the evening to have our one and only fish supper of the week! Good day with good photos.

Ullapool Photos

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely splendid pictures John. What a fantastic place. I fell in love with Ben Mhor Coigeach when I sailed past it on the Stornaway ferry back in 1977 but have yet set set foot on it – or anywhere near it for that matter. There is just not enough time do everything!
    Alen McF