Sunday, 7 August 2011

Culag Woods from Lochinver

The plan was for another sunny summer holiday in Ullapool. The weather gods however, had other plans. The forecast for our chosen week is wet and windy for most of the week according to the dreary weather forecasts. It seems most days so far we have spent glued to the television watching the ever worsening weather forecasts and rioting back home in Manchester, as the noise of driving rain falling on the plastic conservatory roof gets louder. The drive up on Saturday put us in a positive mood as despite torrential rains and thunder through Cumbria, the drive up was perfect with no delays. As we reached Inverness on the A9 the skies opened up in front of us, we had blue skies as we crossed the country from east to west to reach Ullapool. I love the fact that as you descend to Inverness you see the North Sea then less than an hour later you reach the Atlantic Ocean at Ullapool. We met up with our friends in Ullapool and opened the doors to our stunning self catering property that we lived in for a week two years ago. It was great to meet up with our 'north of the border' buddies again and we all nipped down to the fantastic Seaforth seafood bar and bistro where I had a tasty Red Mullet with Chili Jam, washed down with a pint of An Teallach. After eating we headed down to the harbour to see the Ullapool harbour Seals, which on this rare occasion were shy. While down at the harbour I spotted a black and white cat sneaking around the ferry port piers, it looked surprisingly similar to the cat that was advertised as missing on the front of the recent edition of the 'Ullapool News'. The next day we phoned the owners to let them know it could well have been their much missed little moggy.

Are you brave enough footpath

So the next day we had been hoping for a sunny day but instead were presented with a dull start with occasional showers and brief sunny spells. First intention was to head north to Lochinver and the infamous Lochinver Pie Shop, a massive favourite of ours. We pulled up at Lochinver and Craig decided immediately that the activity of stone skimming was more important than pies so we headed down to the shores of Loch Inver to show him how it is done. We entered the pie shop and each of us got a few pies with the intention of eating them over the next few days. I however just couldn't resist and being the infamous 'Pie Eater' that I am, I couldn't even wait to get out of the shop. A rather scary member of staff in the shop came straight over and gave me a stern telling off for eating my 'take away' pie in the shop, much to the amusement of the others. I sulked and left the shop to eat my Venison and Cranberry pie in the rain. The obvious bad weather option if you are around Lochinver is Culag Woods. These woods are fantastic. On our first trip to the woods several years ago Nicky and myself entered the woods with the intention of doing a quick morning walk of no more than an hour long. We left the woods seven hours later! The woods are now owned and looked after by the locals who founded the Culag Community Woodland Trust. They are an incredibly well looked after gem. Kids love the woods as they are littered with fun things like a play area, wooden animals, information boards, hidden dens, trees and wildlife.

Mushrooms on Culag Wood floor

So we headed for the upper 'Woodside' car park despite the drizzle. Getting to the car park is easy, you just follow the Achiltibue road that ascends from the village. The road passes a small school by a loch, surely this is the worlds most idyllic setting for a school! A loch covered in lilies, overlooked by Suilven. We ate our pies in the car at the car park in case the drizzle stopped which it did. We covered each other in Avon Skin so Soft to put off the ever increasing midges and set off through the gate in to the woods. We turned immediately left heading along the narrow and dark 'Are You Brave Enough?' footpath. This is a great route that is easy to follow as you just keep the stone wall to the left at all times. The path passes through Pine and Conifers then snakes its way through Birch and Beech. We all had fun at this point as the trees were holding a lot of water on their leaves. Every time someone grabbed a trunk for balancing they shocked and soaked anyone under its canopy. The woodland floor was dotted with mushrooms and fungi of various shapes, sizes and colour. The path eventually got us to the stunning White Shore beach. White Shore is a lovely curved bay of pebbles on the shores of Loch Inver. Just behind the beach there are fishing nets and fallen trees that have been turned in to an adventure playground. We had fun as usual, Steve pretending to be Patrick SwayzeInver we set off along the Shore Path. We took photos at the lookout point in the forest that has been purposely framed by the installation of a wooden photo frame sculpture.

Sandy on top of Daphne

Last time we were in the woods with Steve and Elaina we didn't walk up to the viewpoint so we made a point of doing so this time. The view point is at the top of a wee hill called Cnoc na Doire Daraich which translates to the Hill in the Oak Woods. So we headed up the Viewpoint Path which climbs through delightful woodland, passes a looming cliff then turns and climbs above Loch Inver and the woodlands to reach a wooden bench that gives a great view across to Suilven. The ascent path was bordered with beautifully colourful heather in summer bloom. From the viewpoint Suilven looks striking and like the shape of a huge bell from here. We tried to enjoy the view but the midges soon saw us descending after a few photos. The descent brings you at at a play area with a see-saw, teepee and a twigloo, which Craig just had to get in to. We turned left and followed the main path again. We took a detour along a wooden boardwalk to have a look at the big Culag Bog. Louise nearly took a tumble in to the bog at one point as she was too busy talking instead of looking where she was going and missed a step down on the boardwalk. After the bog which to be honest wasn't exactly teeming with wildlife we got back on the main path. We passed a few wooden animal sculptures in the trees along the way including a horrible looking spider. We found an excellent den at one point so all the boys jumped in to it for a photo. We got back to the cars and drove home along the more scenic route via Achiltibue and took a detour out along the dead end road on the peninsula. I took my first ride in Sandy and Louise's new Landrover now known as Daphne which was great fun, a beautiful and versatile machine that was surprisingly comfortable. I reckon they are going to have some great trips in Daphne. We pulled in at the shores of Loch Buine Moire where we were gifted with a panoramic view of Cul Mor, Cul Beag and Stac Pollaidh. We got home and Elaina made us all a tasty meal, after which we went for a bike ride around Ullapool and along the Ullapool River track in the dark which was great fun. Not a bad day at all considering it had rained for most of it. Fingers crossed for a better day tomorrow.

I have uploaded the photos from the day here.

Route Map...

1 comment:

  1. nice write up Jamie...save's me having to do one lol. God Daphne looks almost like she's got a dark metallic paint job in that photo!

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