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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Stoer Bay Chalets, Self catering, Beaches, Rainbows and beautiful skies

Just about all reclad

Stoer Bay Chalets, Self catering, Beaches, Rainbows and beautiful skies.
Its been a very busy winter once again at Stoer Bay chalets.
With both Mijbil & Edal almost completly reclad. Just 1 porch to finish, some facings round doors and windows and a couple of snags and all done…..sounds so easy on paper!

Not to be left out Tarka’s new patio dooors have arrived, so thats the next job already waiting, no rest for the wicked!

It has been a unfeasably mild winterthis year, which, as much as I love the snow, has helped us tremendously in even managing to get all this outside work done. We are just grateful that we didnt do this job last winter. That would have been a whole different story.
We also had some lovely friends up for a visit last weekend. They hadn’t been up since we first bought the chalets 15 months ago. It definatly helped us feel on track seeing their faces at the changes since their last visit.
It was also lovely to sit in the evening and chill with a few wee drinks and relax in a place that is so special to us and share it with such good friends.
The warmer weather has of course brought with it the inevitable rain but this brings its own beauty in the form of rainbows.
But, this is the west coast of Scotland, we are not going to let a wee bit of rain stop things from getting done! Apart from stopping to take photos of course.

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A beautiful mornings double rainbow over the Bay

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The early morning sun creaping round to the bay.

Craft central – Assynt – Stoer Bay Chalets

It is quite astounding the number and variety of talented, skilled craft people living in and around Assynt.
With a great many not even that far from us at Stoer.
Lochinver of course has its well known Pie shop, with pies of every description available and of course the famous Stoneware pottery but look further in the streets and you may find a way to have your own lovely treat. How about a personel massage or pedicure or a visit to the local leasure centre.
Also keep a very close eye out when traveling in the quieter areas all around  for small shops filled with many treasures. Some of these discretly marked with a sign indicating a shop at the house at the side of the road. Craft makers such as glass painters, Potters, Knitters, Candle makers, painters and many more making each shop unique.

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Searching for a keepsake

 

With opportunities abound to find a special reminder of a very special place. (including of course the pretty pebble you picked up on one of our many beaches). We also have many amazing tea rooms selling mouthwatering homebaking and fresh food, perfect for a wet day, some hidden away in secret gardens or placed perfectly at the end of walks. Bookshops can be found, always a favourite on a less drier day to while away the time.
So its well worth it if you can distract yourself from natures astounding beauty all round to seek out all our other treasures too.

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Searching for a unique craft from Stoer Bay Chalets

 

Peat track Walk. Clachtoll – Stoer

I thought it would be a good opportunity to look back on last year. With plenty work always going on this lovely Autumn afternoon walk was a great few hours gentle stretch of the legs.
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Clachtoll to Stoer via their peat tracks.

A beautiful 6 mile circular walk through the old peat cuttings with amazing views at every corner.

Leaving from the chalets I will take you along the road going left through Clachtoll, up the wee steep hill leaving the hamlet until you see the sign for the peat track on your left.
There is a clear cart track with stunning views and looking closely the peat cuttings even though now disused and filled with regrowth of heather are still clear to see. If you are lucky you may spot some red deer on the hills.

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The path splitting the loch in two, approaching Stoer

The track tapers down further on and narrows into a small path. As you swing round to the left you can clearly seen wooden posts direct the way through this pretty boggy part of the route.
The path goes sharply down briefly to some of the small lochs at the back of Stoer before flattening out and  rejoining the Stoer track.
You wander along until you come out behind the small group of houses approximatly half a mile beyond the main hamlet of Stoer.
Once you join the tarred road turn left and enjoy the views until you reach the chalets once again. Image may contain: mountain, sky, cloud, nature and outdoor
The route can of course be done the opposite way too. I was in no hurry, savouring the fresh air and freedom. This walk would make a lovely half day wander. A gentle walk, mainly flat with just one very brief steep point.

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A short diversion to catch the view from the highest point

 

 

Mountains of Assynt – Stoer

Last week I mentioned we had our first fall of winter snow. I thought I would share some I managed to capture of the Assynt mountains with their cloaks of snow.
The beautiful mountains of Assynt

The Beautiful mountains of Assynt

We had a lovely friend and neighbour up helping us with renovations last week and are delighted that apart from a couple of wee snags Mijbil is now reclad and Edal has one side done.  I am trying very hard to wait till both are complete before showing of the new cladding but here is a peek of both men hard at work.


From this photo you may be able to tell I was up above on the rocks, I (thought I) was surplus to requirements at this point. So decided to wander along to the wee waterfall behind the chalets. Though I seem to have been all around I have never made it over to the waterfall.  It is a lovely wee walk…best done in wellies….at least today anyway, even though some of the ground was hard with frost. These photos show the loch in front of the chalets from another attractive view. I was soon spied taking photos and  shouted back to get on with some graft…….a womans work is never done!
                           

One of the beauties of this area is the diverse landscape and the ability it has to cater for all. There are mountains to climb, seas to swim but inbetween there are a range of walks that cater for all levels. They can be as easy or hard as you want them to be. A gentle stroll or a days adventure. Its up to you.