Friday, 24 August 2012

Photos from Handa and Assynt

The Great Stack of Handa.

Busy busy busy! Busy working in the Clachaig, busy planning a trip to the Alps next month, busy running, busy trying to re-gain my peak fitness after an injury…it's no surprise that the last few weeks have gone past in a blur.

A squall about to break over Stac Pollaidh

The day after my last blog post about this exceptional Scottish summer, the drizzle and mugginess made an appearance and with it came the midges. Hordes of them,  endless, relentless, inescapable swathes. Anyone who has been down Glen Nevis in the last few days will know what I mean…they were unbelievable down there last week.

A storm over the Old Man of Stoer

But in-between my busy days and the midges I managed a really good short trip to Assynt and the far North-West with my girlfriend at the beginning of the week. 

One of Handa's "bonxies" and the view to Inverpolly

Without any mountain-based plans for once we took a boat out to the small but magnificent island of Handa, best known for its colonies of puffins and skuas and its awesome sea-cliff scenery.

What a memorable island it is…if you've never heard of The Great Stack of Handa before, I'd recommend you look it up. Of all of Scotland's countless impressive cliffs, mountain faces, corries and coastal landforms, the Great Stack is surely one of its finest. 

Check out that cave...

There is something unique about the feeling of walking on Scotland's islands. I don't know quite what it is but I find it relaxing and exhilarating in equal measures. The calm and quiet view over to Inverpolly and Assynt to one side, and the gaping drop down the 300ft cliffs to the sea below on the other…the Isles of Harris and Lewis in the distance…fulmars and skuas fighting and diving on every side…the constant look-out for whales or dolphins in the sea. 

Nicole exploring the Inchnadamph caves

After Handa we also managed to battle midges over the rough walk to Eas a'Chuil Alluin, the waterfall that drops 658ft in one go to Glencoul and claims the title of Britain's longest falls. The rough ground, bog-bashing and need for serious caution to approach the top of the falls felt so wonderfully contrasting to the experience of visiting most other big waterfalls. Signposts, handrails and a good path aren't necessary or wanted here…as it should be.

A quick visit to the Inchnamdamph caves and an oath to climb some of Assynt's famous mountains next time, and back to Glencoe. 


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