The little Kirk of Assynt was first constructed in 1741 it was renovated in 1900 and closed in 1970 when the congregation was moved to the bigger settlement of Lochinver. In 1997 the project of Historic Assynt was founded and the Church was saved from its fate of a crumbling ruin. The interior of the Church today displays a small museum charting the daily life of the highlands and her people. The MacLeod Clan vault in the kirk yard is at present under some restoration as part of the Inchnadamph project, you will find a little donation box set into the wall please leave a little something so this work can continue. Just outside the Church gate there is a touching memorial to two young RAF Pilots whose plane crashed onto nearby Ben More during training in WWll their bodies lie on the mountain where they met their fate.
Kylesku is a tiny, peaceful little village which sits on the shores of the sea loch Glendhu. Alfred Wainwright, a legendery walking writer once wrote of Kylesku "Anyone with an eye for impressive beauty will not regard time spent at Kylesku as wasted. I could spend a day here, just looking." I would certainly agree on all counts with him. Since the opening of the Kylesku bridge in 1984 which bypasses Kylesku and the end of the ferries which connected to the roads further north, the village has been a little forgotten on the tourist trail. If you appreciate the beauty of rugged nature take a detour into this little piece of heaven - We were glad we did.
When we left Unapool we decided to take the B869 road to Lochinver, a journey of twenty five miles along a single track road. Its amazing where curiousity may take you, the drive was awesome with many hairpin bends and gradients upto or indeed down to 25%. There was very little traffic using the road as we passed through unbelievable land and sea scapes dotted with tiny communities and isolated crofts. The passing places are really only to stop and let following traffic overtake or allow other vehicles to pass but when it is quiet you can stop for a quick photo opportunity. Around the half way point in the road we came to a parking layby at Dunbeg. Here in a passing snow storm in what felt like the teeth of a gale I stood looking in awe across Eddrachillis Bay with the small islands of Meall Mor, Calbha, Beag and Oldany Island stung out like gems in the Atlantic Ocean.
A place of sheer joy.
Ardvreck Castle was build in the late middle ages and was home to the Clan MacLeod the Lairds of Assynt. The Clan had control of this lovely area for two centuries, the early 18th. Century saw the MacKenzie Clan in control. The MacKenzies build the now ruined Calda House, the first doubled gabled house in the North of Scotland. Although both are now just ruins their fate has been saved by Historic Assynt who have secured what is left of the two buildings and provided a well maintained path avoiding the very boggy land around here so you can visit both ruins with dry feet. I loved the loneliness of Ardvreck Castle, it didn't evoke feelings of desolation just isolation, peace and quiet with wonderful surrounding scenery.
Lochinver is really only a little fishing port with not much to see or do. We had a look around and yes there are holiday cottages a plenty here. The main street has a few cafes and a small selection of local shops but nothing which would grab your attention. We decided to make our way to the Highland Stoneware factory and outlet. As I had suspected it was closed but the stoneware they had displayed outside was fun to look at. The car was 'parked' in the carpark and bore the date of the shops beginning in its number plate, the chairs were for giants well with all the rock and stone around this incredible area they could afford to think big! I have seen their lovely stoneware products displayed in various shops in Scotland and yes it is beautiful so it didn't matter to me to see the closed sign - I can always shop online.
Loch Assynt holds a secret that goes back 1000 million years in the guise of a lost landscape. It is strange to think this wonderous loch with it surrounding mountain beauty was once a valley with low hills now buried deep beneath the loch. I thought the little Islands were stunning and remarkable that such a little land could sustain the growth of trees - maybe the lost landscape helps and plays a part in natures miracles. Whatever - I was happy with this most pleasant and serene area.
We stumbled upon Unapool while heading for Kylesku. I could hardly beleive the coincidence of its name just one syllable of difference to Ullapool and I had never heard of it before. Unapool is a tiny hamlet with a scattering of white cottages sitting on the shores of Loch Glencoul. Two things surprised me here, if it hadn't been for the information boards I probably would not have noticed the Glencoul fault line where two lands collided leaving the older rock atop of the newer rock as the sign said 'An Earth Moving Experience' it is no wonder little Unapool finds her self in a great geopark, a favourite place for Geologists. The second surprise was Loch Glencoul and its uplifting beauty a favourite place for me despite its fault.