Assynt, Part Two (more accurately, Ross & Cromarty)

(This article is the second of a two-part tour of the Assynt region. Access part one here.)

More hills, more nature, more furious pedalling, this time around the pinnacle of Stac Pollaidh. We headed south from Lochinver to the Rhuba Mòr peninsula (there’s that word mòr again 😏).

The weather was changeable, and this brought about transformations in the scenery around us. In the weak autumn sunlight the ferns lining our roads were radiant and gold. Gold was the hillside and twinkling was the sea, light reflecting intensely on little waves rocking to and fro into bountiful bays of bladderwrack. In the sunshine we sat drinking coffee on a bench by the beach at Inverkirkaig, home to a café and bookshop (sadly closed for the moment) and a couple of beady-eyed golden eagles.

Continuing our journey south towards Achiltibuie the mood shifted. The topography eases but the wind becomes a force to be reckoned with, switching sides between friend and foe as you skirt around Lochs Osgaig, Ra and Vatachan. We identified a thick sheet of rain falling from an ominous purple cloud out to sea and pleaded that it wasn’t coming our way. As the sky darkened, the hills lit up in fiery orange and an eerie indigo light was cast onto the road. A flock of black grouse that we startled fluttered off into the long grass, plain out of sight. The hardy wildlife up here barely took notice of the wet weather front drawing in. Sheep with sumptuously fleecy rumps continued their all-day roadside buffet while keeping an amber eye with letterbox pupil on us two passing pedallers. The rain came like April showers as we looked out to the Summer Isles and we recalled the old adage that you really can have four seasons in one day in Scotland.

9 October, 2020

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