Member ALAN BLITHELL, from our service at The Gatehouse, writes about Golspie group's enjoyable day trip to scenic seaside town.

DIDN'T we have l lovely time the day we went to...Ullapool!?

Well that doesn't scan, maybe I should stick to prose! It is true though.

On our day out the consensus was we had a great time. Getting out and about, either locally or further afield, is good for us. Getting to know each other in a new setting, and sharing experiences, adds an extra dimension to ourtime at the Gatehouse. Ullapool was the furthest we had ventured as a group.

It was an early start for the Gatehouse meeting up at 9am (some of us think there is only one 9 o'clock in a day, and it doesn't have am after it.) So bright and early we met up, boarded our charabanc, and departed.

For those not familiar with the Highlands, this place is as big as it is beautiful. Ullapool is getting on for two hours drive from Golspie. Though it is a goodly way, it isn't an unpleasant drive, going through some of the best scenery in Scotland/Britain/the World, as Eden said.

Our route didn't only take us through countryside and wilderness but past some of the heaviest industry in the world. The oil rig dock yards at Nigg and Invergordon.
After a brief stopover in Dingwall, we continued through Strathpeffer. A place which brings back memories of m y father, as he was billeted here during the dark years of 1942 and 3. Driving along the Black Water and past Loch Glascarnoch reminded us of how dry it has been here of late. We all hoped the rain would hold off, but the weathermen had promised otherwise.


Arriving in Ullapool we split into groups, each with a member of staff for the group to look after.

Wandering off in various directions for a while. Not that the groups were apart for long meeting at the Ceilidh Cafe for a coffee fix.

Revitalised by the caffeine fix, the groups again went their different ways. Alex took a wander around the jetty. It was a disappointment to see boats large and small tied up where once there was such bustle and noise. Ullapool was built on and for the fishing industry; seeing the inactivity of the harbour made me feel sad that the life blood of this community was no longer flowing from the sea.

Now the commerce that keeps Ullapool going comes from the various shops scattered through the village. As you can see from the photo the village and Loch Broom, nestles in amongst some spectacular mountains. It is a great centre for anyone who loves to spend time wandering in the mountains.

Our first stop was the White Rabbit antiques shop, on the way there we stopped to look in the window of an art gallery, looking for inspiration for our Wednesday art sessions. We didn't find much!

Tiny hardly describes the White Rabbit. It is simply the hall and living room of a cottage stuffed floor to ceiling with antiques and collectables. Purchases made we promenaded down the street to outdoors shop. Inside I weakened, and left with yet another hat for my fishing. This one an Australian style leather drovers hat.

Opposite the outdoors shop is the Ullapool Museum, which, given a little more time, I would think well worth a visit. Another of the groups found the candle shop, which particularly impressed the ladies. As did some of the shops  selling ornaments and soft furnishings.

Walking a further hundred or so yards down the road we found ourselves running out of village. The view over Lorch Broom toward the sea and inner islands made me wish to visit again, with a fishing rod in my hand.

As time was marching on it was time for some lunch. There is only one option for lunch in a Scottish fishing port. A fish supper. This was the highlight of the day for many including John. To be fair, it was as good a portion of fish and chips as I have had anywhere, since a memorable trip to Witby. The was a home made tartar sauce was a nice touch.

Fortified, it was back to browsing more of the shops. None of the groups lost their staff member, despite best efforts. Though Cath did quip that everyone should be fitted with GPS tracking for future trips! At 3 it was back to the charra' for the ride home. The promised rain did not materialise. Though we saw plenty on the hills. Gatehouse
one: weathermen nil, for a change

All in all the only complaint of the day came from Percy, the Gatehouse mascot, who thought he should have had a portion of fish and chips of his own.
We would like to thank the staff for organising the day, and working extra long hours, so that we would go. Also a mention to McCloud's Coaches for driving us.