Mastering Assynt

After last two days’ ordeal, I put in a rest day at Lochinver, which turned out to be a very sensible idea as it continued to rain all day long. I was staying at the An Calan Bunkhouse, which comes with a lovely café with excellent food downstairs, where I whiled away the day reading, photo editing and resting.

On the next day the rain clouds had cleared up, and I decided to have a go at this insane coastal route again. With just a fith of my usual load the steep hills were no longer a problem, although the ascends on the road stretch to Clachtoll were not near as bad as the ones I had encountered north of Drumbeg. After a couple kilometers I turned off the road for a detour to the picturesque beach at Achmelvich. The secluded bay is truly gorgeous and despite two campsites and a youth hostel close by very peaceful and quiet.

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Achmelvich beach

After a stroll along the beach I got back on my bike and continued north through the craggy landscape. The road had a few more serious climbs in store, but I was eqally rewarded with terrific, eye-watering descents. As the wind had picked up speed it just swept my unusually light bike in front it. It almost felt like flying and I enjoyed swooping down the narrow and curvy road.

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Cùl Beag and Suilven

However, I was relieved when I finally reached Clachtoll, an old fishing and crofting village. The wind kept on gathering momentum, and I still had to get back. Despite its small but beautiful beach, Clachtol turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I had read a book series I am rather fond of and which plays in Clachtoll, thus, I was quite eager to see the place in real. But as almost always reality can’t keep up with fantasy, and I felt rather desillusioned.

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Clachtoll beach

On the following day I left Lochinver to cycle to Ullapool, from where I was going to take a ferry over to the Outer Hebrides. Although there was a nicer backroad along the coast to Ullapool, I had learned my lesson and stuck to the main road. Although this meant, I would have to backtrack the odd 20km along Loch Assynt, this was hardly a nuisance as the loch is beautiful and for once I was blessed with rearwind. In no time I had reached the ruins of Advreck Castle, dating from the 16th century and was built on a peninsula protruding into Loch Assynt. The location is beautiful, although I kept imagining how mystical it must look on a rainy day.

 

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Advreck Castle

The road led me through a beautiful gneiss landscape of low hills and scattered lochans, dominated by some higher mountains rising above the otherwise plain area, reminiscence of the last Ice Age.The road led me through the incredibly beautiful nature of Assynt and neighbouring Coigach. The gneiss landscape of low hills and undulated moorland in a maze of thousands of lochans, out of which rise a series of separate sandstone mountains, reminiscence of the last Ice Age, is simply magical, and is best viewed from atop of one of those remarkable mountain peaks. The summits are not very high in altitude but their steep flanks and distinct, scraggy ridgelines make more than up for their lack in height.

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Lewisian Gneiss with Suilven

My resilience was put to a last test just short of Ullapool, when I had to tackle two rather steep ramps before I finally could lay eyes on the charming fishing town Ullapool on the Banks of Loch Broom.

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Ullapool

Despite the heavy inflow of tourists Ullapool has managed to maintain a peaceful and romantic atmosphere. The restaurants are known for their excellent seafood, and so – my stomach fully recovered – I treated myself to a declicious dinner.

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Mussles in white wine sauce
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Spicy Crab with herb crust
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