Wednesday, 9 November 2011

On the A835

The A835 is a splendid road as it winds and curves through the mountains of Coigach towards Assynt. Strathcanaird is the last habitation for a while, and this is not a road for those who like Little Chefs, craft shops and cafes dotted along the way. It's a road that is a feast for the eyes, and pity the driver who dare not look at the scenery for fear of driving off it!

Stac Pollaidh
Mountains have a character all their own, and I often get the feeling that its not me that's moving, but them. They're not high, as mountains go; few of them are Munroes, over 3,000 feet. But they stand isolated and humped and jagged in the landscape and look as mountains ought to look. Take Stac Pollaidh for instance. Not quite 2,000 feet, if memory serves, but it stands above Loch Lugainn like a cone with a ruffled top. From the summit you can look out, as I once did, over a vista of lochs and bays and out to the sea shining silver in the sun which isn't that far away in this picture. Imagine it, out beyond Stac Pollaidh.
If we'd driven just a hundred yards further, the road would have climbed that little bit more and the picture would have included the loch. 
Cul beg and Cul Mor
It is a road full of surprises. There are footpaths, in the sense of hill tracks, in case I give the wrong impression, that lead to the mountains. Many of the small laybys have a parked car or two and no occupant enjoying the view or sipping thoughtfully from a thermos flask of coffee; they're often to be spotted plodding their way up some impossible seeming hill a couple of miles away. There are deer to look out for, and on this occasion, we found a herd of perhaps thirty, with a magnificent stag  in charge. We watched them with binoculars for a while, but they were too far away for photographs. On my little camera, they'd have been no more than shades of brown among the brown heather.

An aside: as I learned my units of measurement in the good old English way of inches, feet, yards and miles I cannot cope with the metric system. I know a metre equals 39 inches, so if I have to, I grab a calculator, tap in the number of metres, multiply it by 39 to get inches and then divide it by twelve to get feet. Then I can understand, because feet mean something to me.

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