Loch Gairloch

Saturday, 31st August: Just a bit further north

More rain today.  It just keeps raining….  We’re subject to quite some swells here in Loch Shieldaig, despite being at the end of the very long Loch Torridon, so we’re moving off.  We’ve not gone into the Upper Loch which would have been nice, but not much point when you can’t see the mountains anyway.

It was 3pm before the rains calmed down and we set off up the loch towards The Minch.  All the streams down the mountainsides have turned into frothy cascades of tumbling water.  An amazing sight!  It was quite a vigorous sail and we were at the point of having to reef a few times, but sat it out.  We both felt a bit bashed about at the end.  But I saw a Skua again!

We’ve gone one loch further north, and are now in Loch Gairloch, moored on a buoy west off Horrisdale Island.  We had thought to anchor as usual but there’s very little scope for that here.  This is the limit for most Scottish yacht cruising and the furthest north we’ll be going this year.  Once the winds change we’ll head southwards.


Stats: distance 18.8NM, underway 2.55hrs, average speed 6.4 knots, max speed 10.6 knots

Sunday, 1st September: Loch Gairloch

Today there will be sun and we’re off ashore!  We took the RIB to Charlestown where there’s a nice big pontoon for fishing boats and other commercial vessels, but there was space for us as well.  We headed for the Gairloch Estate where there is a walking trail up to Flowerdale Waterfalls.  Out of this world beautiful scenery!  Truly boggy ground, and up the glen the track was taken over by the overflow of rainwater, so we basically ended up walking in a stream.

We came across this on the walk!  I have not tried to find out what the justice consisted of…
The lower end of the streams
Flowerdale waterfalls – midfall
The top of the falls
View from up the glen, and you can even see a yacht sailing in the loch
Iain MacKay was born in about 1656 in Gairloch.  He became blind when he was seven due to smallpox and is commonly called Iain Dall, where Dall is the gaelic for blind. Considered one of bagpiping’s greatest composers, he is known to have authored at least 30 piobaireachds.  Iain Dall had the distinction of being both piper and bard to the chief of the MacKenzies, apparently an astonishing feat for the time.

After our lovely walk we headed to the Old Inn pub where we had tasty fried tofu and sweet potato roasties for our lunch.  We set off again along the road heading for Gairloch village.  We got rained on pretty quickly so sneaked in to the golf club cafe for a coffee,  where very enthusiastic Celtic fans were cheering their team in the game against Rangers.

We found the GALE Centre, serving as tourist information centre, community cafe and shop and hub for the community.  ‘GALE (Gairloch and Loch Ewe) Action Forum is an independent, community owned, charitable, Development Trust and Social Enterprise working towards building strong, resilient communities in the Gairloch and Loch Ewe Area. Our aim is to help make our community a great place for people of all abilities to live, work and thrive!’  Yet another brilliant example of what people are capable of achieving with and for their local community.  We were helped by the knowledgable and friendly Rose.  One of our questions was about local buses, and unfortunately the only bus I had found, the 7.45am to Inverness which returns in the afternoon, is indeed the only bus serving the village.

We walked to the end of the village, and were amazed by the big, sandy beaches encircling the bay.  These are the biggest beaches we’ve encountered so far in Scotland.  After a small shop at McColl’s, we walked along the beaches as much as possible, mile after mile until we got back to the harbour.

Dominic on the beach in front of Gairloch village


View from the headland near Charlestown over Gairloch bay

We rounded off our lovely day in sunny and glorious Gairloch by having supper on deck.  A cormorant flew by a few times and seals poked their heads up.

Aren’t they just gorgeous!!
Double jumpers and blanket for me, but we did have our supper out on deck!
View from the boat

Monday, 2nd September: Loch Gairloch in the rain

We feel a bit sorry for ourselves with all this rain.  But then we look around us, sitting here on a very comfortable and warm boat, so honestly we don’t have anything to complain about.  And it’s not our only week of holidays, like it will be for some people who are here at the moment.

Dominic is getting on with work, and I’ve planned for the boat lift procedure in a couple of weeks’ time.  Got hotel/train/car hire booked.  We’re taking the big and heavy electric bikes home, where we will have much more use for them.  I’m musing over the ease with which these transactions can be performed.  I remember back in the 80s when I had first moved to England, and the palaver of booking train tickets for travel within Sweden.  It involved ringing a small travel agent in West London, then physically going there, handing them a cheque and getting handwritten train tickets in return.

Tuesday, 3rd September: Loch Shieldaig (another herring bay) 

We went over to the harbour in the morning and filled up with water and powered the battery.  We chatted to other boat owners which was nice and took a short walk while getting rid of recycling and rubbish.  Rain all afternoon stopped our plan to do a longer walk up to the Fairy Lochs today, where you also pass the wreckage of a USAAF Liberator carrying troops back home from World War II but which slammed into the hillside, killing all 15 people on board.

We had also planned to go south tomorrow, when there will be northerly winds.  The forecasts are now showing much stronger winds than before, so instead we have taken a buoy in Loch Shieldaig in the southeastern corner of the Loch Gairloch, where we’ll be safe from the strong gale 9 winds.

We spent a large part of the afternoon and evening watching the coverage from Westminster.

Wednesday, 3rd September: Too much wind again

We had a couple of lovely hours in the morning!

View towards Sheildaig Lodge Hotel, once a Victorian hunting lodge
Looking over Loch Gairloch


We’re feeling like we’re in the proverbial calm before the storm!  We’re in the dark blue bit at the moment.


It is evening now and it’s calming down.  We had clearly hidden from the wind more successfully this time, and it wasn’t too bad at all.  Phew.  Tomorrow we’re going south.


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