A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘NC500’

Slow Misty Mountain and Big Archie’s Dead Sheep.

The first of the days off involved getting up at half seven, nipping out to the Varuna for the medium langoustines, some to Applecross and the rest to Loch Ness Inn, before sorting out some mussels and seafood for the trip down to the south-west. I have never experienced a trip to Lochcarron such as the one on Monday morning. I picked up the convoy of eight cars at the little spring above the hair pin on the Applecross side of the Bealach and then proceeded to drive at between 5/15 mph through the mist till we came out the other side, increased to around 20mph after that so the fact that, although feeling a little pissed, I restrained from the horn or lights, passed one at Tournapress but not till Kishorn glen did I try to pass another, nipped back in when saw a camper coming the other way. Then got the finger from the car in front, young chaps in convoy, with silly little double exhausts, equally silly prints on back window, Arbath, NC500 2017. So waited until they decided to stop at the golf course before normal driving began and arrived 20 mins late for meeting.

Meeting went well and after a couple of hours, a quick shop, adding to the stack of seafood I left Applecross with, it was the road south to a hoped for break of two days of peace and bliss on the island. Taking the road down to Port Appin I was in unknown territory. Came down to the pier, unloaded and after local info parked van in right place. Peace was already descending and watched a fisherman catch a large mackerel of the jetty in the lowering sun.

Ferry appeared back from the island and was soon loaded up and on board for the short ten minute trip across.

We left the Pier House, a well known restaurant behind and were soon on the island.

It was apparent that all was going to be well as an elderly gentleman offered to take the bags and punnets of food down to the house. A fine plan as my two miles turned out to be a good four and carrying mayo buckets and bags would have meant two trips. As I was first to arrive the mussels were prepared and when the last ferry brought the others over we tucked into Andy’s suggested recipe of coconut milk and Thai paste to cook the mussels in was greeted with thumbs up all round. Simple meals are the best.

On Lismore and sitting round the table listening to the story of Archie, the film crew from Cologne, and the final scene of the dead sheep. Seems a group of film students from Germany came to the island for the purposes of making a film about a daughter finding her father but a sheep was killed before this happened by the daughter and it turns out the sheep was a particular favourite of the father. So to do the final scene. Big Erchie was asked for a dead sheep, one that had recently passed away. Well this was not available so Erchie dispatched one of his own and duly delivered the carcass to the film crew. They then began filming the final scene but they chose the only and busiest crossroads on the island, much to the chagrin of the residents. Not only that but it was around ferry time so a double whammy. To make matters worse Erchie’s partner discovered her pet/favourite sheep had made it into the other world so she arrived extremely irate at the film set. She soon had the film crew on their knees begging for a bit of peace and quiet to conclude their project. Tuesday morning saw the story embellished even further as Erchie had prior to delivering the “pet” tried to make use of a rather large and very dead tup, two weeks dead in fact, and having a blue tinge to it. With the help of a neighbour, tow ropes they attempted to use the tup but we’re overcome by the gasses that were emitting from the now mobile tup. So plan B was put into place and £70 changed hands to pay for the delivery of the dead sheep. Sounds as though the island was greatly affected by this German visitation to the extent that cars and water courses have still to recover.

So a couple of days of cycling, talking, meditating and walking are planned for the days ahead.

Back to Front Applecross Sunset.

Well it was a good moan, so a cracking sunset was required to even things out. It is little wonder that people want to come here.


As the NC 500 saga is going to go on and on it seems we are going to have to make the best of an advertising campaign that now feels completely out of sync with quite a few communities not able to cope with the huge influx of tourists this year. No one I know in Applecross thought we needed such advertising.  Tonight the BBC weather forecast was from the Bealach as all this week it will feature the, yes you have guessed it, the NC 500. I do feel there is a serious element of over exposure.

There is, however, one thing I do enjoy and that is walking in and around the Inn and hearing all the different languages and accents. Made a wee point on Sunday to find out where all the accents were from and within an hour or two we had visitors from over ten different countries, afar afield as New Zealand, China and Denmark. For every negative there is a positive and I have counted 23 different houses in Applecross that earn some sort of income from the Inn and although much of the traffic/parking problems are on Shore Street, all one needs to do is walk down the road and you are enveloped in peace and quiet. Monday sounded pretty busy but Sunday lunch was very pleasant and you had time to chat to the visitors and when you see sunsets like these


then it is no surprise that people want to come here.


It is a classic conundrum and until people are educated how to drive on single track roads the problem will only get worse. As ever there are two sides to every little problem we face. http://www.northern-times.co.uk/News/Is-this-the-highway-to-hell-or-a-road-paved-with-gold-16062016.htm. Also listening to the radio and social media there does seem to be an increase across the Highlands and not just on the NC500, something they could not envisage I suppose. The attacks across Europe and holiday destinations may also be having an effect and also the after effect of the Brexit vote devaluing the pound. Bottom line for me is that I would have lived happily without the NC500, it is just a brand, a tick in a box, a bucket list addition, and these destinations are far more than that for people who have been coming here for decades.

Currently enjoying a day off, washing creels and reconditioning a few with broken bars by cutting old creels up and strengthening the breaks. New creels do fish better but it seems a waste to throw away the damaged ones and it seems a bit greener to extend their catching life. The dogs enjoy me working outside the house as they can mess about in the field of hay


across the road.


Work going well today with little deadlines to keep. Had to make it to the Inn mid afternoon as that is a slightly quieter time for them to blanche the langoustine. Timed the washing of creels with the trip out to the Varuna to get the box of live langoustine. Then you have a wee interlude as I was spotted by one of our well-loved regulars, Baba of the Florida Ashbys, husband and friends. So a Crabbies and a lovely catchup. Sadly her mum, Eleanor had passed away last year and it was one of our annual events to be invited up to their abode for a meal. Happy/sad chat and catch up and will see them when they come in for a meal tomorrow evening. Time passes so quickly but you can see the strong ties that Applecross attached to some people. Despite the losses they suffer they keep coming back to the Sanctuary. And then it was back to the creels with the Raasay venison cooking slowly on the gas ring. The first of the tatties lifted and now being put on to boil, which turned out very fine and so to a meeting of the Applecross Trading Company. It is turning out to be a bit of a busy day off. But back to that sunset,


it was on Friday evening and it is being shown back to front. As ever I look the other way from the sunset and catch soft light on some part of the Applecross peninsula.


“This day off” has turned into a wee diary for the day and it is now ending after a two and half hour Applecross Trading Company Meeting. Have to thank our detractors for helping us get the operational side of the Community Company properly organised. We are now scheduled to meet once a month, along with the Community Company and AppleJuice there is a lot going on in our small community. A quick trip down with some creels, a bit of paper work and the day ends with the sounds of Ross and Ali pre-order tracks for ordering Symbiosis. Not a bad way to end any day and the start of Fridays sunset.




NC500 (again) and Soaring Bonxies.

Caught a little bit by surprise when the last post did the rounds. Did not think there was anything out of the ordinary but the comments about the NC500 certainly struck a chord with one or two people. Maybe worth adding a comment or two regarding this. I live, work and enjoy a part of the world that is simple and awesome. Today for example I’ve been catching langoustine in a stiff northerly with bonxies circling around me and in a couple of hours I am heading for the maelstrom which is Applecross Inn. There is no wonder that so many people head this way and eat local seafood that is so well cooked and presented. I have regarded living here a privilege and welcome people who make the effort to come here. Whether they be Tweeds or Neds I would welcome all without prejudice. If misbehaving then that is different and to be honest there is more bad behaviour amongst the Tweeds. What we have tried to do with NC500 is to upload a bit of education for the drivers now on our single track roads, the genie is out of the bottle. We need the NC500 to put info up on their website that should alert drivers to the etiquette of single track drivers. So far for some unknown reason they are reluctant to do this. The info is out there in Road Safety Scotland leaflets, also,http://www.scotlandinfo.eu/driving-single-track-roads-in-scotland/ videos on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQZownCGnYg plus info regards lambing season etc. Additional info in not putting stickers on road signs, obscuring vital directions and conditions can be easily added. Unfortunately the NC500 seems to be tied into another 500 and we have seen a huge increase in high performance cars. Again welcome but they should remember they are not on the Indy500, not travelling in close order convoys and generally should try to behave like most other members of the driving public. Back to the tweeds again. Really does not help that the headline picture on the website is of a close-knit convoy of high performance cars crossing the Kylesku Bridge. Such a fine balance welcoming visitors to your homeland to eat your produce allowing you to live here in comfort and realising there is an outside influence that is in danger of upsetting the current equilibrium.

The whole week has been taken up with work at sea and surviving the migraine, today back at sea, early start trying to avoid the north wind,


and as the weather fairly poor meaning fewer boats out on the water


I was surrounded by many more bonxies fighting for the bait. I had taken a fleet back on board yesterday and finished it off this morning before battering up the Sound hauling three fleets on the way. Fortunate that the fishing is still okay with plenty smaller langoustine still around. As I am heading down the road on Monday/Tuesday for a bit of fishing politics/environmentalism in Edinburgh it was good to land at the Inn which should keep them on the menu till I come back. Good to see several flatties coming up and may be getting a little bigger.


Ashore despite the northerly breezes the spring has definitely sprung with the bees flying and the trees are showing their buds, apple,


pear, cherry


and plum are all out. They were out last year but were caught out by a blast from the east with shifted many buds of the trees making for a poor harvest. One year I may beat the birds to the cherries. On Thursday evening there was a fine end to the evening out west,


the other side of the NC500 were the seven on the Big Table….cyclists doing the 500 and had 6x oysters and 7x langoustine. What we will never know is would the Inn be full without this advertising, I suspect it would. I hope the less well served communities who will benefit from more business will appreciate just that and also appreciate our predicament. I was followed all the way into the moorings this morning by the soaring bonxies,


although fairly harsh predators in their world I love watching them soar


round the Varuna keeping an eye out for any potential snacks.



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