What’s New

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.

A Family working together

After missing last week it was good to be back to Stoer Bay chalets @ Clachtoll. Catching up on some work. Things are starting to come together. We are very excited about our first season at Stoer Bay Chalets. Looking forward to meeting new people through the chalets and making some new friends too.
Though the snow banks at the side of the road still very much in evidence, even two week after the snow fall. Showing just how high the drifting must have been.With snow still evident in the mountains too. Though the mountains do look pretty magnificent all year round there something magical about snow on the mountain tops.
Edal’s interiors are shaping up. The lovely new wet wall, flooring, shower and shower unit in the shower room making it look very smart. The outside of the porch has all been re clad and looking very spruce. All we are waiting for are 2 new double glazed bedroom windows to arrive and she will be all set for the season.
Meanwhile we have just started giving her twin chalet Mijbil next door exactly the same TLC . With both also having all rooms freshly painted throughout and some recarpeting and new soft furnishings. Its great to see everything coming together.
In the meantime our youngest son was even in on the act and enjoying the lovely warm weather. He gave the store shed a much needed  coat of stain. Though only 14yrs old (though quick to remind us, nearly 15), it can be very handy the youngest being the tallest in the family. At just under 6 feet he can reach places that the rest of us would need a ladder for! I’m sure he will appreciate it one day?!

Snowed out

While the chalets sat in their wee snug corner in Clachtoll where very little snow fell. We sat at home and had none at all  for what felt like the first time all winter. Meanwhile the road in between us was a different story.  They were cleared as far as Ullapool. Beyond that however was completely cut off . The winds causing severe drifting making the road  impossible to clear for several days.
This did  give us a much needed opportunity to get to Inverness and purchase some bits and pieces for the chalets however. Though how we ended up decorating our own bathroom on the Sunday is beyond us. You would off thought we would have relished a break from  painting!
I  have to take my hat off to all the snowplough drivers and crew. We have defiantly had a much harsher winter with snow around far longer than in many years. Any time we have been up and down the road this winter they have been out working, sometimes in impossible conditions to keep the roads clear. We must also thank locals to Clachtoll  for their help, especially the boy who not only towed us up the hill out of Clachtoll one icy Sunday but made sure we got out onto the main road at Lochinver too. Very much appreciated.
I must confess as someone who usually loves any snow I am looking forward to Spring this year. The signs are here. Its on its way. All the daffodils in the chalet grounds are popping up as well as crocuses and snowdrops making their appearences too. Not be long now…I hope!

Chalets Upgrade Progress

At Stoer Bay Chalets we are  busy preparing  for our first guests arriving. Its hard not to be too distracted by the stunning views, when  all we have to do is look out of a  chalet window over the beautiful Loch an Aigeil.  It is  easy to forget we are meant to be working.

The chalets interiors are starting to look very smart and homely with some new soft furnishings and upgrades throughout. We hope to have some photos of them  on the website very soon, so please come back and check them out.