Day 11: as alliteration struggles for meaning, we settle for comfort in Kylesku
It’s nearly four hundred miles north from Luss to Kylesku, and any feeling of irritation swiftly dissipated as we made our way north. We had to discipline ourselves to only stop occasionally, because the sights of the highlands, particularly around Glen Coe, were simply spectacular.
We drove up the Great Glen and it dawned on us that, whatever else we might do next year, we had unfinished business in the Highlands. To stay in Glencoe village and do some of the amazing walks — not all grade one vertical trails! — and then do the Great Glen Walk, from Fort William to Inverness, might be very doable, especially as we now feel we have all the gear to resist the worst that a British summer can thrown at us. We’ve been told that the time to be up here is in September, when the weather is at its finest and predictable.
I just haven’t had time to sort through all the previews from my camera, but the extraordinary landscape driving down to Fort William was something else, and then we drove across to Loch Ness, crossed the Caledonian Canal, and turned for the North West. The scenery was at first gentle farming country, not dissimilar to Northumberland, but then we were on top of the bare hills, with small lochs amid the granite, and it was really wild. This was upland sheep country, not overly cold because of the Gulf Stream, but bare and windy and so dramatic.
Then it was down to Ullapool, the ferry port for Harris, with its quaint shops and, of all things, a vintage Riley in a side street.
Then on, rushing north for the last thirty miles through tiny hamlets, past small lochs and between tall hills, and we drove down into this extraordinary place. The hotel at Kylesku is a gem and worth all th effort to get here. The food alone would make it worthwhile, as most of it is caught in the Loch and on the table within twenty hours. For comfort and hospitality, it would make any resort proud — but none of your oriental pampering, mind, for this is a place for the outdoor British and their incredibly well-behaved dogs.
The hotel has been here since the coaching days, when a ferry was the only practical way to the north west and cattle swum across the loch on their way to market. X-craft trained in the loch in World War 2 and the whole area across the loch belongs to the Duke of Westminster, but in spite of the arrival of the bridge thirty years ago, the place is full and a credit to the two women who own it — more on them tomorrow.
It’s raining now, although fine weather is promised for tomorrow and the cruise boat is repaired. There’s a cheeky seal bobbing around beside the slip and the fishermen are landing scallops and crustaceans from their small boats at the slip, while the bigger boats head to the fishing wharf two hundred yards up the loch. We sit in comfort and talk about the day, in the lounge after lobster and crab, as the endless daylight softens just a fraction. 600 kilometres from the Arctic Circle, so it’s a wonder the sun bothers to set.