What’s New

Summer Sun

The summer sun seems to be hiding from most of Britain so far this year.

However the North West Coast of Scotland has suprisingly seen some of Scotlands best weather so far. Last weekend especially, was a scorcher.

Though slightly disconcerting that Davids shadow is headless, look at that washing blowing dry in beautiful sunshine. This may not impress some of you. Other’s I know will feel my delight in this sight. Four loads of washing all dried in an afternoon.
Cant beat a bit of sunshine and a west coast breeze. Helps keep the midgies away too.

Image may contain: 1 person, grass and outdoor                         All the grass cut and pot plants watered. And time for a well deserved cuppa.

Many of our guests will say they don’t come to the Scottish highlands for the weather.
This maybe true and it is our high rainfall that helps sculpt our landscape and make it so green and beautiful but hey we all love a bit of sunshine. It certainly lifts the spirits and gives a feel good factor. Look at that blue sky.
Mijbil & Edal are even reflecting in the water.

   

In anticipation of the Summer sun we have also bought some BBQ stands, suitable for all sizes of portable BBQ’S to sit in to protect our grass and picnic tables from scorch and burn marks and also making it easier to reach your BBQ. Hopefully the sun will continue to shine and they will see lots of use. Sadly the food does not come included.
              
Our 3 wee geese families are enjoying the sunshine too and the short grass around the chalets. The goslings looking like gangly prehistoric teenagers always under mum & dads protective gaze. Getting quite used to the guests wandering about and being of no threat them as they just wander back towards the loch if feeling you maybe just a little to close for comfort.

  
Now lets hope that with all this talk of West is best I haven’t tempted the fates and the Wet west lives up to its reputation – it is why we are so beautiful though.

 

Stroll through long summer days

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Balchladich Bay

Loving the long summer days, perfect for an evening stroll. With sunset happening after 10p.m and daylight till after 11p.m. Its also a good reason to get hubby out for a bit more than his usual evening stroll. His strolls have slowly been getting longer and longer. The benefits of so much stunning scenery and hidden corners to explore.
Last weekends walk started as a stroll up past Stoer. Continued to Stoer school where we to a left to Balchladich Bay. A beautiful very much overlooked beach. On the the wee loop road that continues on till it meets the road to Stoerhead lighthouse.
From the bay we headed back to the chalets along the cliffs. So much going on just now. It is amazing seeing all the young cormorants. Not quite yet making the step to fly of their precarious perches but looking like it might not be too long. The gulls also nesting though the crows trying their best to get past the patroling parents to the young gulls.

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With many photo stops and stops just to sit and soak in the views, sunsets and just to count our blessing. The “stroll” took the best part of 2 hours. It could of course be done a lot quicker….or slower depending on your mood.       Image may contain: mountain, sky, outdoor, nature and water
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spring is in the Assynt air

Spring is in the assynt air. Whilst we have been busy with meeting and greeting all our new guests. Making sure the chalets are welcoming and ready for their arrival. Nature has also been busy making around them beautiful.Image may contain: plant, outdoor, nature and water
With the cliff side all covered in primroses and bluebells competing with wild garlic and Iris along the bottom. It’s really a lovely sight to see.
The waterbirds have been busy too. Two sets of geese families and a family of ducks all proudly being parading around and on the Loch.Image may contain: bird, sky, outdoor, water and nature

Theres been a family of Otters spotted in the bay – BY ME -still smiling! As well as a couple spotted on the same night. One in the loch and the other in the bay.

The weasel always seems to be alone but has been giving a poor wagtail family a bit of a hard time. Sadly it may have got a chick. We are not sure if its feeding young itself or not though.
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The crofters are all finished lambing now. We did have one wee lamb abandoned near the chalets. A quick phone call brought a local crofter to the rescue. It now has a foster mum. Both are doing fantastic.
Sadly there was trouble during the lambing with some dogs clearly out of their owners control. This led to the death of at least two sheep in the Stoer area. So please always make sure you are always in control of your dog. Crofters are within their rights to shoot any dog worrying their livestock.

Another new sound just now is the cuckoo. Who always reminds me of waking up snuggling in bed as a child. In the early summer, with the light mornings and a day waiting to be explored. So happy memories from cuckoos. Though they may not be the most pleasant of birds. Something else I didnt know till years later that makes me give a wee smile. Whilst I  in one room listening and loving the cuckoo my father was next door swearing to shoot the bloomin noisy thing out the trees.

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spot the otters

The Old Man of Stoer

This is a lovely walk and easily done in an evening if in need of a wee leg stretch.
The Old Man of Stoer, is an amazing  sea-stack.
The walks coastal scenery stunning. This is the best walk in Assynt for whale and dolphin spotting, though I am unable to guarantee a spotting, unfortunatly.

There is car parking just below Stoer lighthouse. Start up the path marked with a footpath sign ‘Old Man of Stoer – 3km’.
The path  fades in places to a sheep-track. Continue along the coast above the cliffs. After about a kilometre there is a deep grassy gully, a rocky stepped path has been made down and out the other side. Another kilometre further on the rock of Cirean Geardail is to the left. There is a wonderful view  along the the cliffs, with the Old Man of Stoer at the far end.

The coast and the path  drop  steep down to the grassy area immediately above the Old Man. The sea stack is 70 metres high and was first climbed by Dr Tom Patey.

Continuing further along the coast you reach the Point of Stoer itself, with wonderful views up the Sutherland coastline. From here you can return the same way, or with just a little more effort with you can head over the summit of Sithean Mor (the Big Fairy Hill).
To do this, head up the  slopes. The summit is marked by a cairn with a trig point and is a fantastic viewpoint. There is huge sweep of the Sutherland coast backed by Foinaven, whilst further right are the mountains of Assynt. On a clear day you can even make out Skye and the Isle of Lewis.

From here there is a faint path keeping to the high ground and aiming for the hillocks to the right of the mast. A little further you will reach the track that leads  to the radio mast . Turn right along this and follow it past the remains of a World War Two radar station before you arrive back to the start.

Many years ago I cycled from Clachtoll on the road to the lighthouse, round this coastline, taking the route from the radio mast track,rather than the start path mentioned above. round to the road at Culkein then back to Clachtoll. I cannot tell you my time but it,was done in an evening and I do remember thoroughly enjoyed it. Easily done on a hardtail, possibly a hybrid but not road bike suitable along the coastal off road part.

Make us your BaseCamp

Our chalets make an excellent BaseCamp,
because there are so many places to go and things to see.
Therefore many people are making base camp in a central location and having the occasional day trip to see further afield places.
One place which is certainly a must and one I haven’t done since I camped there with my family many many years ago, is Sandwood Bay.
Approximatly 1 – 1.5hrs  drive north from the chalets, turning of to Kinlochbervie and carrying on to the Hamlet of Blairmore, where there is a car park and toilets.

Start by crossing the road, heading through the gate and follow the track over peat moorland. As a child we parked near the wee lochs that you pass on the track, these are beautiful in themselves. Unlike the track which is now owned and maintained by the John Muir trust, I  remember following meandering paths through what in my memory were big peat cuts but they have either shrung or were a figment of my childhood memories.

All the land crossed on this walk is crofted and dogs should be kept under control so as not to disturb livestock and ground nesting birds.
              

The cliffs on the coastline north to Cape Wrath appear into view. Passing through two old wooden gateposts for the final section of wider path. Sandwood Loch, a large freshwater loch, now comes into view, with the ruins of a house on the right. It was close to the loch where we used to camp. Local folklore states that the ghost of a shipwrecked mariner used to knock at the window of the house on stormy nights. After passing the ruin the path  heads through the massive dunes to the beach itself.

As the bay is exposed to the Atlantic breakers, the bay saw many shipwrecks, although all the remains are now buried under the sand. It was a stunning day this time, totally eliminating memories of legs getting whipped by sand and tents rattling and being battered in the wind. Tales of ghosts, shipwrecks and quicksand vanishing from my mind as I soaked in the most stunning of views in glorious sunshine.

From the beach the huge sea stack, Am Buachaille can be seen at the southern end of the sands. The large sandstone stack, Gaelic for The Herdsman.

                           

The beach is a good place to spot dolphins and other marine mammals. Sadly all I saw was what looked like a bone from a whale washed up on the shore. Local legends tell of  a  mermaid on the rocks in the bay in 1900. This spooked the local crofter and terrified his dog,  the man never changed his story and always remained convinced he had come across a mermaid.

I did dust of my bike for this adventure as it hadn’t seen the light of day for far too long. The path was easy going and mostly flat though one section I did  walk and push as the storm drains were a little large for me and my bunny hopping skills are pretty bad. Even walking this is a gentle walk especially on a beauitiful day. If you take your bike it is probably advisable to leave it at the top of the grass drop down to the beach but I was unable to resist the drop down on the bike, even though it would mean a bit of a push back up afterwards.

The route there and back is 8.25 miles and can take anything from 4 hours. As important the drive there and back is beautiful and in itself a wee trip. Think about a basecamp, its definatly worth it…..and you can, like many people, come back again and again using basecamp for different adventures each time.

The Bone Caves

I have walked to the Bone Caves many times with my family on holidays.
This time I did it alone, which felt a little strange but did allow me to take a further wander up the Glen beyond the Bone caves for a short while….this section is not included in the walk details below and though it was very enjoyable its not recommended with children.

The Bone Caves walk takes you up the Glen of the Allt nan Uamh (Burn of the Caves).
The whole walk is about four kilometres long and is mostly on a good path. The walk is suitable for families — but not for pushchairs,
Start from the Allt nan Uamh car park, about four kilometres south of Inchnadamph.

The Magic river, downstream.

 

The Magic river, upstream.

About 800 metres from the car park, you reach a small  crag  to the left of the path, and the first view of Creag nan Uamh (Crag of the Caves) appears.

Look at the river. Most of the water doesn’t flow from higher up the glen  instead, it is appearing from almost beneath your feet. This is a big spring, the Fuaran Allt nan Uamh. The limestone in this area is so permeable that the water flows through it in a series of caves and cracks. My boys were always amazed at the full flowing river suddenly dissapearing upstream….it became known as the magic river. The river bed above the spring is dry, except during  heavy rain, when the underground  system can’t take all the water and it flows on the surface.

About 500 metres beyond the spring, cross the dry stream bed and climb up to the Bone Caves. There are four caves, formed thousands of years ago, before the last ice age, as water gradually dissolved the limestone along cracks and faults. Over thousands of years, the glen has deepened, cutting away part of the cave system, and leaving the caves as we see today high on the side of the glen.

Digs here have found the bones of wolves, bears, lynxes and arctic foxes. Reindeer bones and antlers have also been found.  Human artefacts and bones have also been found in the caves. Nowadays its just red deer that are the  common sight in the glen.

This glen is very popular with cavers. The Bone Caves  do not go far into the hillside, but the entrance to the longest cave system in Scotland, the Uamh an Claonaite, is nearby. From the caves, follow the  path that continues beneath the crag. This path drops down, crosses the sometimes flooded dry river via stepping stones and then follows the river back down the glen.Rejoin the main path again at the fork.  The whole walk takes approximatly 2 hours.

 

Beautiful sunshine and a Gorgeous coastline

What amazing weather we are having just now.
Beautiful sunshine, showing of our coastline waters to their utmost.
Our gorgeous beaches and coastline looking stunning. Hubby even managed to get his fishing rod out for a wee cast and though there was (he says) a nibble it was a non fishy supper Saturday night.            Image may contain: ocean, sky, plant, outdoor, nature and waterImage may contain: ocean, sky, mountain, outdoor, nature and water

Perfect rocks for fishing off, and breathtaking views should the fish be elsewhere.

Life at StoerBay was definatly more laid back this weekend, with very little being done other than some change overs and meeting new guests and wishing those leaving a safe journey home.
Plenty of relaxing coffees and  lunch had at one of our several picnic tables in the chalet grounds, listening to the ducks, geese and new born lambs.
Spring is most definatly in the air and Assynt is soaking up the Easter holiday vibe with all her best colours on show for everyone.
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With beaches like Clachtoll just around the corner, what more do you need?
I’m so looking forward to a couple of days later on in the week, just me my walking boots and my bike, to chill out, relax and recharge my battreys with. It’s such a shame all the men in my life (hubby and sons , before any rumours start) are all working and I have to make this sacrifice alone. My line is I have to go take lots of new photos for facebook, instagram and this blog. Haahaa, I’m not fooling anyone. Will keep you posted on my latest short adventure break on the wonderful Assynt coastline.
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Soaking up the sunshine.
From Left to right Tarka , Mijbil & Edal

Upgrades @ Stoer, north west highlands

Upgrades @ Stoer in the north west highlands. A very busy winter, with lots of upgrades being done at Stoer Bay Chalets. we have some before and after pictures of what we have been up to. Luckily for us the weather has been very kind of this past winter, allowing us to get so much done. We were very fortunate. The final push this last weekend was in glorious sunshine so although our energy levels were dropping the sun definatly gave us an energy boost.

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   The lower photo showing our new beautiful Siberian Larch cladding to Mijbil & Edal.

 

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The new roofing replacing the somewhat weathered old roofs

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Tarka’s lovely new patio door’s

Meanwhile, Tarka decided to develop a rather large unrepairable leak in her Patio doors and now proudly dispays her new upgraded wind and watertight new sliding patio doors, also making life easier if you wish to go out on the deck when there is a wind, no change of a door getting pulled out of your hands unlike the old patio doors.

We did a little work inside too and though all the chalets were all redecorated last winter. Tarka’s twin room had been neglected due to time issues so we are delightes with her new look. She also aquired a beautiful dining table & chairs.
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Mijbil had been kindly storing all our lovely cladding in her sitting room all winter, so we treated her to a much needed new carpet, curtains and also a lovely big cosy sofa

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Looking very cosy & comfy now Mijbil

Edal not to left out decided she would quite like a new oven. It shouldn’t take quite so long to cook your tea now that she has a shiny new oven that heats properly as well as a couple of tub chairs to relax in, in her lounge.
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So as you can see its been busy busy and all done just in time for our first guests of the new summer season arriving next week. So now we are hoping to relax a little and enjoy meeting and greeting all our 2019 guests and maybe even get in a little bit of walking and enjoying the scenery, maybe even a dip into the Minch….later on in the summer.

Becoming a little hectic in Stoer this weekend

Suddenly things are becoming a little hectic in Stoer. Though Mijbil is completely reclad and all the little snags done. Edal still needs round some of her  windows finished off but is otherwise all ready. This will need to be put on hold for a weekend.Image may contain: outdoor

For 2 reasons
One being Tarka’s new patio doors arrived. These needed fitted as soon as possible for guests arriving shortly. There may be a  very  faint smell of paint but will be done.

Two. An Olympic high jumping sheep that seems capable of jumping 5 foot fences. Unfortunatly, some rotten posts did not withhold this abuse. So what was going to be a job for this summer  has now hastily had to be brought forward and also needed started last week…. to finish this weekend. Ensuring secure fencing once again around the chalets.

So a bit of a list for this weekend then all hands on deck to get Edal finished.

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lovely new cladding

 

 

 

It has been a very busy winter. We have for what we needed to get done been so lucky weather wise. Edal and Mijbil  have had  all  their rotten wood cladding and broken roofing gone and replaced with lovely new roofs. Thick Siberian larch cladding  making them snug and cosy once more.

 

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The old roof and walls in desperate need of replacement

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On with the new

A new carpet and Sofa in Mijbil’s lounge will  finish her off. Tarka has a new dining table and chairs and lovely watertight and draught free sliding patio doors ( also much handier in high winds).
We are looking forward to a  brief rest before our first guests arrive!

We are now (just about ready) to start our second summer season and are once again looking forward to meeting some already familiar faces and new ones….and possibly getting the odd Sunday off.

A weekend in Assynt, waves, wildlife and wind

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A baby badger out on the prowl

A wild weekend in Assynt.
Well, what a wild and windy weekend we had this past week. Heading up the road to the chalets on Friday night. We stopped to let this wee chap cross the road in front of us. Spent ages watching him snuffling about for ages before wandering off into the dark.
We woke to a beautiful morning. Before to long the sun was out and we ranted briefly about the weather forcast prediction of gale force winds. This information had made us last minute cancel the weekends agenda of fitting Tarkas new patio doors. So  got out the paint brushes instead.
So fooled by mother nature!
Wind and rain commencing before any paint had a chance to even start to dry. Bringing an almost comic set of us running madly to try and find things to protect said items. The rest of the day was spent pottering with small but just as essential jobs. New curtains hung, little bits & bobs fixed indoors.
We also had to rescue a poor toad who had fallen and was trapped in a drain. Broken drain covers now replaced to prevent this rehappening, especially right now. All the toads are very actively in the midst of mating season. For being pretty rare creatures they are certainly in plentiful supply around this area at this time of year.
The gales picked up dramatically over night, the howling and roaring waking us up in the middle of the night sounding like some demented beast as we lay snug and cosy. So thankful that we had new walls and roofs to protecting us.
The morning bringing still more rain though it had eased a little, the wind had almost completly dropped warenting a wander over to the bay to carry out my favourite pasttime – wave watching. Still quite impressive so could only imagine the size they must have been through the night. The beauty of this place never dissapears just changes depending on mother natures mood.
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