Jane & I visited Gairloch in early summer 2021. There will be an article on our summer Highland adventure to Gairloch appearing as a Buy Me a Coffee post in the next few weeks.
Is Ullapool Worth a Visit
It was now late Autumn the same year. Was nearby fishing town Ullapool worth a visit? We had always been curious. Identifying and booking the perfectly situated
My research ascertained that Lochview Guesthouse on the banks of Loch Broom in the town, was where we would stay.
Where is Ullapool?
You may be wondering where Ullapool is. It is in Scotland and can be found in the stunningly beautiful, remote region of Wester Ross.
How Do We Get to Ullapool?
Residing in Edinburgh. We had a long journey to navigate by car. Placing our trust in Google Maps, we were directed for our entire four hour fifteen-minute trek.
Jane proved indecisive as to where we would stop for a break. First it was Aviemore. I told our app. Then it was Inverness. I changed our stopping place once more. She then decided to drive the entire way without a break. My frustration boiled over!
Just past Inverness we drove past Contin. The shop and cafe business there boldly proclaimed themselves ‘the last shop before Ullapool’. That part is true, but they proved not to be the last cafe!
What does Ullapool Mean?
We were curious, so begin our research. It derives from the Norse language. In language more akin to English, it translates as ‘Ulla’s steading’.
Like every place on our planet, Ullapool has a story to tell. In the late 1700’s it was founded as a port by the British Fisheries Society. World famous Scottish engineer Thomas Telford designed the town. If you’ve visited the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, you will be familiar with Dean Bridge and Dean Village.
What is Ullapool Famous for?
The fish and sea trade was vital to providing a sustainable living for the played a significant role in why people chose to live here. The sea and what it provided was historically, massively important in the development of the town.
An Amusing Read
The Ullapool News. I always like to read the local gossip and picked up a copy upon our arrival. The Ullapool News proved a real ‘wakey wakey’ for a city dick like me. Shortly after our return, I was stupid enough to recycle it. Idiot!
No matter, I had a look at their Facebook page posts instead. At about 1.30am on Tuesday 21st December 2021, somebody naughty who’d clearly had a whisky or three too many, posted this little beauty;
Christmas Light Escalation Results in Lochside Madness
As the competing levels of Christmas lights and rivalry continue to reverberate around the Highlands and see communities such as Garve decorate their UNESCO recognised level crossing in mistletoe (don’t kiss on the tracks!) and Dingwall proudly pile their rubbish bags high, Loch Broom Lochsiders have entered the fray after securing a £70,000 subsidised gate lighting to battle their festival battle and ‘MAD’.
A successful application to the ‘Lights for All’ fund to ensure everyone gets equal lighting across the Highlands has meant Lochside residents have managed to buy a spectacular gate lighting to ensure everyone other than their close ones (or siblings/cousins) is locked out and excluded from theirs, in what many might describe as ‘ironic’ if it weren’t for the fact Lochsiders associate that with laundry (confused applications can be submitted afterward. From afar and in crayon.
SQUEAL LIKE A PIG!
“SQUEAL LIKE A PIG!” insisted a representative for the Lochside Community Council before telling Ullapool that there would be ‘Mutually Assured Darkness’ (MAD!) if any dared challenge their gated community and breeding program involving family members and anyone they caught, romantically or by snares and/or dipping (excluding Leckmelm).
“MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD!” chanted the residents of Lochside from their shadowed enclaves beneath the sun.
“We know” replied someone from Ullapool quietly who was briefly distracted from the Creel Tree of glory, burning a beacon of international attention and culture through the corridors of those beyond Lael ad had an electric light bulb that made people from Lochside., Achmelvich and Clachtoll dizzy and delirious. “We know…..”
If you have been affected by the introduction of light, culture or regulations that mean you can’t legally sleep with your relative, please call 0800 Loch-side.
I hope this article makes you laugh as much as it did me last night 😂😂😂
What is there to do in Ullapool?
Don’t be fooled into visiting Ullapool in the winter. I feel terrible advising you this, but alas it is true. Much of the town closes for the winter. From my research it seems all they have are a small handful of one-off Christmas events, plus monthly Creative Writing events from now (December 2021) until February. One event which caught my eye was Santa’s Float Tour with Lodge St Martin. I’m not sure however, what local Catholic worshipers would make of Santa being a freemason!
That said, during the warmer months Ullapool has plenty to see and do.
The best website to check is the Welcome to Ullapool website, which also lists some cracking places to eat. Don’t expect A La Carte dining, however. Very informal dining with the locals is the order of the day, in places like the Ferry Boat Bar, the Argyll Restaurant, and the Seafood Shack. The food from the Seafood Shack is superb and well worth a visit. A plentiful portion of Lewis Mussels at a standard price of £20 is widely available. Imagine what you would pay for that in London. Supersize me please!
The wonders of the Isle of Lewis
What lit our fire of imagination was that the CalMac Ferry leaves from Shore Street in Ullapool twice each day for the wonders of the Isle of Lewis, part of the Western Isles. The Ise of Lewis is one of the most desirable places on Scotland to visit. A one-way ferry takes two and a half hours. Be warned, however. On occasion the waters can be less than kind. You will need your sea legs!
We made enquiries with the Ullapool iVisit office. The lovely lady who spent time with us explained that a local boat had problems presently and recommended North Coast Sea Tours in Kylesku, which is based eighteen miles north of Lochinver. Lochinver means at the mouth of a loch. The boat tours leave from the Kylesku Hotel, situated beside Lochinver Marina. Any place with ‘Inver’ or ‘Aber’ in it, means ‘at the mouth of’.
North Coast Sea Tours
In the case of North Coast Sea Tours, that certainly applied. There was world class scenery as we glided through the waters of Loch Glendhu and Loch Glencoul. We sailed on a small boat with excellent company, including a wonderful and very able Captain-guide.
There were no dolphins, but we saw plenty seals at close quarters, plus even a sighting of a bird of prey! We also saw the last croft in the immediate surrounds of Loch Glencoul. Until only a recent decade the croft was home to two brothers, both of whom served in World War 2. Add to that, we had wonderful views for several minutes of an astoundingly dramatic waterfall, known as Eas a chual Aluin. When in full flow from the extinct volcanic rock from which it pours, Eas a chual Aluin is 220 metres high. Three times that of the Niagara Falls!
North Coast Sea Tours, we’ll be back!
The next time we visit
Jane and I will use certainly stay in Ullapool again. Most probably at the same fantastic bed and breakfast, the Lochview Guesthouse. Like many during lockdown, co-owner Linda used the time to think how she could develop Lochview further. In autumn 2021 she had just purchased a sauna. She had been testing it herself she confided over breakfast. She loved it!
Linda hopes to develop Lochview into a wellbeing centre, with a primary aim of catering for those with mobility challenges. Unlike most establishments she told us, she plans to stay open 12 months a year, to cater for walkers.
Lochview nestles on the banks of Loch Broom. Loch Broom is a sea loch and during World War 2 was out with the range of German aircraft. It made a perfect base for the X Craft, which the Allied forces deployed to significant effect. It severely damaged a flagship of Hitler’s navy, Turpitz, forcing it into port in Norway. Whilst there, she was a sitting duck for Allied warplanes…….
The mind-blowing sight – one of the best views in Scotland – can be found nearby. Lochewe. From here Arctic Convoys were based. These vessels navigated the stormy, highly dangerous waters of the North Sea, avoiding U Boat detection as they made their way to the northern Russian ports of either Archangel or Murmansk. If selected for an Arctic Convoy mission, your chances of survival were only 30%. My father – later a Captain with the British Merchant Navy – was one such person. I have his memoirs and will post on this chapter of his seafaring year here in future.
I’d love to have paid my respects at the memorial at the head of Lochewe, but it would not be fair to my lovely wife. Perhaps next time. We shall visit the Arctic Convoy Museum in the village of Kinlochewe also. Kinlochewe means ‘beside Loch Ewe’, just as Kinlochleven, etc etc.
I hope you have enjoyed this article today. I’d be most interested to hear of your thoughts. If you Buy Me a Coffee in return, I’d be most grateful.
Until my next article,