What’s New

Clachtoll & Stoer Bay

Clachtoll always has been a very special place to so many people and one of the many thing we are loving about our chalets is seeing this in all our guests. Some have been visiting the chalets and Clachtoll for many years, in fact in the last few weeks we have had  different families where the 3rd generation is now also visiting for their holidays. With one week 3 generations of one family in all 3 of the chalets. Happy children, parents and grandparents having a ball in and around this beautiful place. Lots of sandy trips to Clachtoll beach and Flossies beach shop and running around the chalet grounds laughing and having fun. We are also seeing new faces to the area, many of whom are all vowing to revisit again as soon as they can. This magical hold must have got both David & myself from a young age from family visits to camping at Clachtoll beach and David s exciting few younger years as a light housekeepers son at Stoerhead lighthouse and now our children are our 3rd generation to continue this love.
Seeing happy children running of to the bay and to Clachtoll beach just around the corner does warm the heart with many happy memories and that’s what we want our chalets to be all about. A place where happy holiday memories are made.

CLACHTOLL BROCH, STOER

Clachtoll broch at Stoer Bay has once again been in the highlights with more works going on the last few week. Clachtoll broch is one of the most iconic monuments in northern mainland Britain and a Scheduled Ancient Monument and can be seen from our chalets. See the post below for information on guided walks this week. The fantastic thing about a guided walk is the amount of information these guides have to share with you. Always worth
making the time if you can, to participate.
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Visit our facebook page where we try to keep up to date with any local activities we feel visitors may enjoy.
https://www.facebook.com/stoerbaychalets.co.uk/

Celebrations & Thanksgivings at Stoer Bay

Looking across Loch an Aigeil to Stoer Bay
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Well, what an ending to a busy week for Assynt crofters trusts celebrations. Feis in the Fank at Stoer Bay was amazing, so glad we managed to shoot up the road on Friday evening, just in time to catch Blazing Fiddles and Skerryvore, not to mention the fabulous duo who entertained everyone in between acts in their wee trailer outside the main tent.
When in the early hours we were all danced out, we were lulled to sleep as the party continued with the music drifting over from Stoer Bay to the chalets and echoing off the cliff wall.
It seems that there was other celebrations going on in Stoer Bay too. With a big birthday being celebrated by one of our guests who had all her family staying with her in the chalets. I cant think of a better setting for celebrations and to cap it all off the lucky lady saw our elusive otter not once or twice but on three separate occasions over their stay.
The excitement of being fully booked for July in all 3 of our chalets, in our first year was a very big thing for us, especially after the hours put in over a long, cold winter. It took us a short while however to suddenly  see a down side to this. We would have no where to stay on change over days and would, horrors of horrors potentially have to come up and down the road from Drumnadrochit on the same day.
Not a huge travelling distance but this area is and always has been in our souls and weekends here were making it easier until the day we will be able to make the move permanently.
So caravan hunting we went and hubby found a bargain, 3 weeks of scrubbing it from ceiling to floor later (hence why it was a bargain),  we now have our own  cosy corner at the back of the chalets, a wee nook to stay in whenever we can get up to Stoer Bay…..and we even figured out how everything works to get it up and running too, though we did think the fridge was a no go, not so great in the heatwave, but google solved that mystery, who knew there was another switch hidden in the depths of a cupboard to switch it on, LOL, cheers google.
Joking aside, one thing we have so far been overwhelmed by is all the support and good wishes we have had from all the locals we have met so far, a few old friends and many new.  Friday night was a great way to meet some more of our new neighbours. Tips and advice from locals also in the hospitality trade have been gratefully received and we appreciate so much the patience in answering our many many newbie questions and the help with fixing a few mechanical issues….one day the ride on mower will go and continue to go through a whole grass cut. At least, with a severe lack of rain so far this year the grass is growing slightly slower than usual.
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The beautiful Stoer Bay

Heatwave in Scotland

Well, we have been having a fantastic year so far weather wise,  this wee highland lassie was fair melting in the heat of home the last couple of days. In Drumnadrochit ,we were the hottest recorded place in Scotland one of the days at a staggering 32.2 degrees C. Poor Nessie must have been diving to the bottom of the Loch for shade that day. Not normal temperatures for us at all and the cool of Friday was a welcome relief….though we wouldnt want it all summer. Looking forward to next week we should see lots more sun.
Now the Scottish school are all on their summer holidays, what usually happens is rain for the next 6 weeks, or 7 this year as the lucky wee cherubs get an extra week off.
Our sometimes unpredictable weather shouldn’t ever deter anyone from getting out and about, pack for all seasons and your sorted and you may even find that the shorts and T shirt are on most of the time. It is our weather that makes our landscape so green and beautiful, so for that we will never complain because even those us that have lived here all our lives never tire of the beauty around us and still every day are thankful for living in such a stunning place.

This weekend is the start of the week long celebration for the 25th anniversary of the Assynt crofters purchasing their land. To mark this , the Assynt crofters Trust is organising a week-long celebration of Crofting – Past, Present & Future, from 30th June to 6th July. Planned events include a hill race, a fishing competition, a creative writing competition, a series of workshops based on the archaeology of Clachtoll Broch, sheepdog handling, sheep shearing etc, working with wool and a photographic competition. There will be a some  music events – a ceilidh to mark the launch of the Trust’s new boat for the disabled on Loch Drumbeg and a concert to launch a brand new CD by Rory Matheson, Kim Maclennan and Anna Buxton – culminating in the Fèis  in the Fank – an all-night festival of Scottish music with Skerryvore, Blazin’ Fiddles, James Graham, Rory Matheson and the Skala Ceilidh Dance Band, and many more.
Sounds too good to miss.

Enjoying the start of the Summer

An early Summer
We have been enjoying some amazing weather in Assynt this month. The sun just seems to keep on shining with only the odd day with some wind and rain. This has brought many smiles to all our guests, with lots of hill walking, fishing, beaching and sun bathing being done by all.
Now our youngest, Ben has recovered from his broken arm and various other injuries (he was always a disaster zone) he has been able to once again enjoy a bit more fishing and wild swimming in the Loch….still far too cold for us but children just dont seem to notice, young guests staying were having a lovely time paddling along the edge of the loch too.  We have found time to  do a little exploring around Stoer Bay ourselves too now that things are not so hectic with prepearing the chalets, and even managed a bit of sea fishing this weekend, no luck with the fish but the therapy of just relaxing and listening to waves is priceless.


Nothing beats the sound of waves crashing onto a shore.

Its not just wildlife on our shorelines

Last weekend, we were lucky enough to spot a porpoise playing in the Bay whilst exploring. we were  sadly also gobsmacked at the amount of plastic being washed up along our shorelne. So much so that we ended up picking up over 40 plastic bottles, most of these being water or juice bottles. We now seem to have got the bug and are unable to go for a walk without bringing back atleast one load of rubbish each time.Hopefully though this will reduce as its kept from building up in certain areas.We must have looked a right sight this weekend. One of us with a big yellow hessain bag of rubbish, one dragging a big black pipe ( these we believe are from fish farms and are sadly a very common sight lieing along our shores and finally was Ben carying a huge lump of polysterine.


A wee bit of sea fishing being done during a quiet spell

Celebrations

There are big celebrations happening in Assynt next month, with it being 25 years since the  Assynt Crofters’ Trust formally took ownership of the North Lochinver Estate in 1993. To mark this the Trust is organising a week-long celebration of Crofting – Past, Present & Future, from 30th June to 6th July. culminating in the Fèis  in the Fank – an all-night festival of Scottish music taking place across the road from us at the Sheep fanks at Stoer Bay. Lots to look forward to. So lets hear it for a summer of fun laughter music and dance. What a way to start the school holidays.


Looking across to Split Rock at Clachtoll beach from Stoer Bay

The last few weeks

Well, it feels like so long since I have been on to post about our wee spot in Assynt.
For the last 4 weeks we have been having just a few problems with our internet provider, it seems it was decided that our phone line no longer needed to exist ands so  it was made obsolete along with our phone number…very handy when trying to run two business from it. It has took this long to persuade nameless company that we did exist and would really appreciate being reconnected. So anyhow, eventually here we are  back and able at last to give an update on our chalets.
Talented friends
So we have finished the interiors of all 3 chalets and now both Edal & Mijbil have new porches and two new windows each. Wonderful talented friends made us beautiful wooden otter signs for each chalets (Go to our facebook page to have a wee look).
We are also blessed with friends who are photographers and not much persuasion was needed to tempt them up for a week end to take photos of the chalet interiors for us…hopefully coming to website  soon,  and finally, not forgetting David who you would thought may have been glad of a break from saws and hammers decided to build two new picnic tables for the chalets so we now have a couple in lovely wee spots in the grounds away from the chalets too relax and soak in the views….one conveniently close to what’s said to be the best fishing spot of the loch!
The Grounds
The grass has had several cuts now and looking good and we are loving watching different flowers popping up Now that the daffies have passed, the mint and wild garlic are fighting for space below and on the rock face along with the primroses. The bluebells are now appearing around the chalets. We have cleared the old rockery and replanted it and have all different flowers appearing in our flowers pots with plans for some bigger plants eventually going in other areas, firstly though we need to finish chicken wiring the bottom of the fences to keep the hungry rabbits out or all our hard work will be eaten, their very own kitchen larder!
Loch life
May has defiantly made up for the extra long and bitter winter this year with the loch teaming with various wild fowl. Our favourite at the moment has to be the Goose family, mum & dad with their 9 little gosling. There does seem to be a little discontent with one other goose who it seems is determined to attack this wee family at every opportunity and its always a great relief after another one of its attacks to do a quick head count and find everyone still accounted for. The Brown trout are fair jumping in the loch, some so high that they are out the water entirely. Many fishermen have been seen sitting at the point trying to catch a bite. Ben was lucky enough to catch a 1.5 pounder which was eaten the next morning for breakfast and was delicious. With the sun so hot Ben also decided one day to join the fish in the loch and after a very breathtaking swim, it was declared, not suprisingly, far to cold

 



Almost June
Now at the end of May we  managed a weekend where we remained paint and woodwork free and even had a long lie which was long overdue and defiantly a real treat. We are meeting some lovely people, locals and guests coming to the chalets and  are so delighted with the feed back we are receiving from both in regards to the chalets…makes the  moments of struggle over the winter months   more than worthwhile. June also see the start of  works going on in the Broch at Stoer Bay start again. See more information on dates and activities by following the link on our website onto our facebook page.
Coastal route 500
Though we have been coming here for many years it is amazing how popular (though not at all surprising) the area has become. We are loving watching the occasional convoy of super cars that occasionally pass by, ready to look out to see what we can spot briefly across the loch before they dissapear behind the blanket of reeds at the far side when we hear the raspy noise which cannot be mistaken for anything else. Otherwise we are soaking in the sunshine relishing the peace and harmony, bird spotting, keeping an eye out for the wee elusive weasel that rushes across the chalet grounds occasionally and still hoping to catch sight of the otters, making new friends and acquaintances and enjoying the stunning location, including having the energy to now stay up later and see sights like this.

Full moon and Jupiter shining over Loch an Aigaill @ Stoer Bay Chalets, Stoer Bay, Assynt,  Costal route 500.

A brief respite to recharge the batteries on the NC500

Our Own Little Bit of the NC500
Since purchasing Stoer Bay Chalets in November 2017 we have spent every weekend and  holidays after our Monday to Friday jobs travelling up part of the infamous  NC500 to work on getting each of them ready to greet guests to this stunning area.
After 6 months we are feeling somewhat tired.  Aching in places that we didn’t even know we had places. Out of my many new learnt skills my most useful, must be discovering that I am not to shabby at being a left handed painter. This was after my right hand refused to hold a paint brush anymore without going into cramps.
All 3 of our chalets are now just about ready to face the 2018 summer season. This weekend will see the last of the harder graft. With hopefully only some final snags to tidy up the following weekend and with luck the re cladding of Mijbils porch…..for now anyway. We are  delighted with what we have achieved so far and hope all our guests will be too.

And Relax
So looking forward to going up that road to Stoer Bay and maybe even being able to sit down before midnight and relax for a wee while, I think we have earned it, oh and too never see a paint brush again…ever, or at least not for a wee while  anyway.

NC500 Grand Tour
Talking about Assynt’s breathtaking beauty, did anyone read Jeremy Clarksons post in the Scotsman after the filming of The Grand Tour of the NC 500 last week where he described the Highland as “the most beautiful place on earth”. I for one having lived in the Highlands all my life cannot disagree with him. And on that note………..

Heavenly Assynt Mint

Having a tidy up along the shore line of Loch an Aigeil
Busy raking up some windblown reeds. Having a rummage around the base of the magnificent Rock face that borders one side of the chalet grounds.
I was delighted to notice all sorts starting to grow.
The daffies are of course just about ready to open up and show of their happy sunny faces.
There are also some  hardy primroses with their delicate pale creamy yellow flowers growing in small clusters along the base of the rocks as well as up on some of the grass ledges on the rock face itself. Lots of green leaves from Iris’s too, close to the Loch side.
My favourite find though, has too be the mint, yes, I know it can take over an area quicker than a blink of an eye, but its still  has to be up there as one of my favourite herbs.
There are so many different uses from this plant..
From cookery, to the many many health benefits.
Even if just left to grow you can’t beat the smell of it, especially after a rain shower, which seems to enhance its fragrance even more.
I can also already clearly visualise a pan of new potatoes simmering away in boiling water infused with mint leaves. Served with butter melting over the top of them beside some beautiful lamb chops with some homemade mint sauce.
Maybe I could start a wee business on the side – Assynt mint produce!

Its a birds life

Sun shining over Easter here at the chalets.  Lots of bird activity going on on Loch an Aigeil. Two of our annual visiting Greylag geese seem to love it here so much. They have not left with the rest of their pals.
Never having had the opportunity to see these geese so close up before. I was surprised at how much smaller they look than I expected. Though then spying them heading straight towards me through a chalet window with wings fully out soon changed my mind!
Wow, what huge wingspans they have. I admit holding my breath, sure they were going to crash straight into the chalet. Only for them to suddenly land so gracefully with hardly a ripple into the loch.
My only other goose experiences have not been so pleasant.
Memories of visiting my grandad in Glen Doll, Angus,  where he was the Youth Hostel warden. In the morning we would head down to the farm at the bottom of the road with the milk churn ( yes, I’m THAT old!) to get milk fresh from the farmers cow for our cereal. They had a goose that on at least one occasion had me and my siblings scurrying up the nearest tree  too terrified to come down, with Mrs Brown, the farmers wife laughing her head off coming to our rescue. Telling us tales of the horrors a goose could do to us if it really wanted to! Despite this we were sorry when our milk run had to stop due to new laws which meant we couldn’t get our milk fresh straight from the cow any more.
After only a short spell of watching the Greylags, geese have certainly won a new found respect from me….still wary of those farm yard ones though!
Dragging ourselves away from bird watching we had a very industrious time, new windows fitted to Mijbil & Edal’s bedrooms, more plastering, sanding & painting done. An overgrown rockery cleared and replanted. We will hopefully have the final of the 3 shower rooms completed this weekend too, yaaaah.
Meanwhile by now Ben had decided he had done enough work.  So he recovered with a wee spot of fishing on the Loch. No luck this time, pity a  brown trout would have been just the job for tea.


Greylag geese visiting the chalets

Memories and happy days Past and Present at Clachtoll & Stoer

Our old faithful car that over the last many many years has happily travelled up and down the road to Clachtoll, never giving us any bother, for happy family camping trips over weekends and summer holidays, including one very  memorable occasion when our tent was the last one standing. Our trusty car came to the rescue. Not only because the tents guy ropes were tied to it but because it was our safe refuge through the night when we thought, this time our tent was defiantly heading for the Minch. Boys fast asleep on the back floor of the car oblivious whilst parents sat and chewed their fingernails…oh and the pet hamster running round its wheel like a mad thing.
This car has withstood everything that our family has thrown at it, in it and on it! Logs for the winter fires, numerous children, friends & family members, bikes, kayaks, canoes, tents.  It even has a lovely horse shoe shaped scrape on the front bumber after  a wild horse at a wild life park though it maybe a good idea to try and get onto the bonnet!
Sadly her last trip, ironically, was this week from Clachtoll. Laden with old metal shower units, many many rusted scaffolding poles and other metal bits and pieces from around the chalets (she was a big car), she struggled homeward bound one last time, almost not making it.  After a pit stop in Ullapool to literally cool down and let of some steam ,we limped back towards Drumnadrochit.
So many happy memories of  (mostly) sunny holidays and weekend breaks, many spent at Clachtoll and surrounding areas including the ones featured on our facebook and instagram pages this week of one of our several walks over the years to the fascinating Bone caves near Inchnadamph. Aren’t those boys so wee and cute? Teenagers now all big and cheeky!

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Bones caves near Inchnadamph

Our memories of Clachtoll now all intertwined in our lives forever and continue to be made now with new adventures still happening. A pipe dream we were never sure would become reality!

Clachtoll,the northern lights, stars and Steve

Stoer Bay Chalets at Clachtoll has at times the most spectacular night sky. Last Saturday we saw a sky that seemed so heavy with stars that it looked like it might burst. All the stars in the sky seemed to reflect as clear as day into Clachtolls own little loch in front of the chalets.
An even more stunning nights sky was to follow on the Sunday night. Starting from almost twilight well into the night, the Northern lights or Aurora Borealis played in the sky showing all a truly breathtaking display of light and colour.
A  new phenomenon also showed himself on Sunday night too.This Phenomenon has been named “Steve” and is described by NASA as a narrow arc of light which aligns east – west and may extend hundreds or thousands of miles emitting light in purple hues during an Aurora Borealis. Steve’s more correct title is a Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. Astronomers are trying to better understand the phenomenon, and NASA is funding a citizen science project seeking sighting.
Though it is impossible to predict when a show of the northern lights will ever appear the most likely times to see them are said to be March, April, September and October, when the nights are more likely to be cold and clear.
Out of pure curiosity, I decided to find the meanings of the words Aurora Borealis. Here is what I found. Aurora is the Roman god of the dawn and Borealis is the Greek name for the north wind. Another completely useless piece of information is that the name Steve is in homage to the 2006 children’s film Over the hedge, where the characters gave the name to creature they had not ever seen before.
As the week draws to an end I have a feeling the night sky maybe a little more overcast. With showers forecast any sightings of stars, Auroa borealis or Steve may be extremely unlikely….but hey there’s always more nights to come.