maarmie's musings

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Ullapool is a small fishing village on the northwest coast of Scotland. C* and I paid a visit, and, along the way, stopped to chat with some of our new Highland friends, pick up litter along a river and admire the views. As usual, the day was overcast. But the rain held off allowing us a chance to step out of the car often and investigate our surroundings. Click on any of the photos for more detail.

On the way to Ullapool:

Sadly, people don't seem to mind throwing trash on the ground in Scotland. In Inverness, McDonald's bags litter the streets, and beer cans and bottles and food wrappers pollute the environment around the river that runs through it.

On the way to Ullapool, we stopped at several lay-bys and let Woody run amok while we surveyed our surroundings. Though there was a garbage can for use at one lay-by, there was a particularly disdainful amount of garbage on the ground. C* and I took five minutes out of our day to fill a few plastic bags full of rubbish, and we gained all kinds of satisfaction at clearing the area of litter. Mother nature: 1. Litterbugs: 0.

Once in Ullapool, there wasn't much to see except a few restaurants, touristy-type shops selling expensive Scottish woolens and uninspiring neighborhoods:

For dinner (lunch), we stopped at the local chippy

where I had my second helping of fish and chips and mushy peas since landing in Scotland and dipped my tongue into the local fizzy favorite, Irn-Bru (pronounced Iron Brew), a carbonated beverage that tastes kind of like cream soda. The fish and chips and peas were lovely. I'll take a pass on the Irn-Bru from now on, though.

Our journey back to Inverness was much more fun than our destination was. On the way back, we played like children in the countryside, inspected a farmhouse ruin, trespassed on the grounds of a castle-turned-hostel and got up close and personal with some Highland livestock. I even took a brief turn behind the wheel on a narrow country road.

The above scene was once the view from a farmhouse that has since fallen into ruin:

It was neat inspecting its remains. C* wanted to know what it would feel like to be Santa Claus circa early 1800s.

Never ones to follow a straight road anywhere, C* and I made several detours after stopping at the ruin. In the distance on one road, we spotted a castle. At first, we couldn't find a bridge that would take us across a river and closer to the castle. Just when we thought all was lost a few miles up the road, we crossed a bridge and backtracked toward the castle. Eventually, we happened across it and found that it is a castle-turned-youth hostel housing a fresh supply of newly-arrived teenagers.

We popped in for a view of the interior and made like we belonged there so we could get a closer look. The kids were queuing up for tea (dinner), and I suggested we get in line for some food. We looked around for a bit, instead. All of the spikes hanging from the ceiling hold a single lightbulb in this room filled with camping gear and snacks:

This is quite a large room that looks far too fancy to be a hostel:

Afterwards, we stopped a few more times to commune with some cows, the Highland variety and otherwise.

C* reaches out to a cute, but skittish, baby Highland cow:

The traditional black-and-white variety:

A pen of fully-grown Highland males. This one probably didn't appreciate our presence:

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