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Hi-5s visit Thurso or Not
Sun 18th Nov 2012 to Mon 19th Nov 2012
organised by Highland Scotland

Car Count : 6
[ show pre-run info ]

The Falls Run – November 2012    (AKA Beware the Bridges – AKA Three Falls and Still Not Out – AKA “Gorgeous” (Gorges), Fish and Chips)

There were Five 5s already sitting in the DFS car park when we came screaming down Millburn Road. That meant everyone was there, and we were last as usual!

Shane had planned our November trip.  His theme was based around visiting several waterfalls.  We were to head north to Shin then right over to the West Coast at Ullapool. The only problem we had was the forecast for the west of Scotland was diabolical. The East coast on the other hand was due to be bathed in tropical sunshine.    A revised route was hastily planned before leaving the house. Our excuse for being late!  After a very brief discussion, the others had already decided before we got there, we headed off as planned with Jean and Greg taking the role as sweepers.  If the tropical storm hit we would just have to put the tops up!  A couple of the wimps did set off with the tops up, despite the balmy +3 degrees and the snow on the hills.  Up over the Black Isle and dropping down the other side to the Cromarty Firth with Ben Wyvis cloaked in all her winter majesty, below a wall to wall blue sky, creating a magnificent backdrop.

Up again we climbed over the Struy hill and on through the trees where the sun had yet to touch the tarmac and the overnight coating of snow and ice was still verge to verge . Easing off a little on the right pedal was the order of the day.

We arrived at the Falls of Shin a bit early for coffee so decided that a walk down to the falls first would get us in the mood for a hot brew.  It's only a few minutes down to the falls where a lovely viewing platform has been erected.  The cold peaty coloured water thundering down the falls was quite spectacular. Every second you expected to see a beautiful salmon leaping out of the water but Wendy, our resident fisher, informed us that the water would be too cold for them to jump. If the water was anywhere near as cold as it looked I'd certainly have been jumping out of it!

Back up to the visitor centre where we were delighted to be met by Al-Fayed himself. Doug was deep in conversation with him until Steve pointed out that he was talking to an extremely high quality waxwork figure.  Since Al-Fayed sold Harrods there haven't been any Harrods trinkets in the gift shop - but that doesn't seem to have affected the prices too much.

After a very quick browse around the gift shop, and Wendy trying on some of the latest headgear (see photo on MX5Scotland) we headed for the coffee counter.  Apple pie and coffees and a quick re-arrangement of the tables so we could all sit together and we were sorted.  The day was shaping up nicely.

We left Falls of Shin and Shane skilfully navigated us along some incredibly driveable single track roads as we headed westwards for Ullapool and our next brush with some food. Even the wimps managed to get the tops down as we departed the car park but in the distance the skies were turning a very heavy shade of grey. It was only through Shane's expert circumnavigation that we threaded our way between the heavy sleety showers and back into glorious sunshine.  Frankie was driving so I was in charge of the camera (only whilst she was driving), and there were a generous amount of photo opportunities as we drove through some of the wildest and most spectacular country Scotland has to offer.  I stuck my head up to get a shot over the screen and my beloved baseball cap disappeared into the wild blue yonder.  Now Frankie has never liked this particular hat so on she continued.  Fortunately the two cars were much more concerned about the loss of my hat and Wendy, Jean and Greg pulled over to retrieve my head-warmer.

The cars in front took the opportunity to put the tops up as the skies ahead were now extremely dark grey – snow was on the way!  Another mile or two and the heavy wet sleet engulfed us – we had driven into the bad weather we had feared.  Fortunately it didn’t last much more than about 20 minutes and we emerged just North of Ullapool back in glorious sunshine.

Our next stop was a fish and chipper lunch at the Seaforth Chippie in Ullapool.  Surely one of the jewels of the West Coast?  They weren’t too keen for us to re-arrange their furniture so nine of us squeezed round a table for eight.  I managed to get two legs!  Another great meal and some great chat.

Off we headed once more on the next leg of our journey.  This time a fairly short hop of around 12 miles to the Corrieshalloch Gorge, (as in “gorgeous fish & chips).  I’ve travelled along the road to Ullapool many, many times but have never stopped before at the Gorge.  How I wish I had!  It is one spectacular sight!  The following is an extract from the NTS website

“It’s a dizzying and exhilarating experience to look down on the torrent of water plunging 46m (150ft) over the Falls of Measach from the gently swaying suspension bridge. Corrieshalloch Gorge is one of the natural wonders of the Highlands and not to be missed, especially after periods of rain”.

You cross the gorge by the suspension bridge just below the falls.  At this point the gorge is about 60m (200ft) deep but only some 10m  wide at the bottom.  Standing on the swaying suspension bridge and looking straight down is not for the faint hearted but the sight really is spectacular.  At this point Jean and Greg retreated to the cars – there was no way Jean was setting foot on the bridge and who can blame her!  Shane was later to take his exacting revenge on Wendy by talking about tarantulas – spiders are a pet hate of hers!  Her crime? – to bounce and swing the bridge as far as she could make it go with Shane in the middle. (I do believe Shane that she was aided and abetted by Frankie).

A few hundred yards further downstream and you come across a steel viewing platform which has been cantilevered out over the gorge.  Looking back up towards the falls is breath-taking, looking straight down through what appears to be very thin expanded metal decking at the rocks some 200ft below you is terrifying!  A warning notice stated that a maximum of six people should be on the platform at any one time – we screamed at Muriel and Doug  - they would make seven!  We trudged back up the hill to the car park where we said our goodbyes to Jean and Greg as they had visitors coming in the evening and had to get back to Grantown.  The rest of us continued back East towards our third and final stop of the day – Rogie Falls near Garve.

The sun had dropped behind the clouds just before we arrived at the car park but the rain stayed away so off we headed into the forest to find our third waterfall.  There were two routes to the falls but as it was starting to get a bit dark we decided on the shortest route.  I don’t think it was the easiest!  You could hear Rogie long before you could see it.  After a fairly long, and at times steep, climb down a forestry track we arrived at the main viewing point looking back up to the falls which cascade some 16m into the gorge below.  Over the main falls there is another suspension bridge and we watched a young family with two very young kids swaying on the bridge.  The youngest kid was about 2-3 years old and will probably be terrified of heights for the rest of her life!

As the darkness was starting to draw in, and it was getting fairly chilly, we headed back up the steep track to the car park.  It was at this point that I questioned whether we were part of a car club – we had walked, and climbed almost as much as we had driven on this trip!!

Back at the cars we had our last chat, everyone commenting on what a brilliant day we had had and wondering how we would better it on the next trip.  Our planning meeting is at the beginning of next month and we know Doug and Muriel already have some great ideas in store for us so we aren’t too worried about finding something equally as much fun to do next.

A very special thank-you to Shane for planning what was an incredibly successful outing for the Hi-5s.  And a silent thank-you to upstairs for being so kind to us with the weather.

Editor’s note:  To really appreciate this article you need to view the photos on the events pages of the website.

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Your Comments
18th Nov 2012 19:39 :: Douglas & Muriel
Temp +1C, all the 4x4's heading South and there we were heading North!!  A really good last run of the year and only 30 mins with tops up.
Thanks all for a great day out.

18th Nov 2012 20:14 :: liathach
Looks like you had a great day out - very envious!

18th Nov 2012 20:23 :: Brian - part of FAB
Brilliant day out, they just get better & better.  Thanks Shane for the planning - absolutely excellent!!  Now we need to plan 2013 to top that lot!!

19th Nov 2012 09:09 :: Wendy Haywoodw
Had a great day like fab team said most of the day with hoods down the two wimps being  Shane and Steve and it was Steve who was not keen on the bridge and got his own back on me talking spiders but we all had a good laugh and are last run memorable see you all at the Ramnee 2nd Dec and look forward to next year runs Wendy 

19th Nov 2012 13:47 :: The Als
Very very jealous. Looks like you all had a wonderful drive out.
All we had was the very limited delights of the A9 on Sunday and not even in the MX5 :-(

21st Nov 2012 20:09 :: Steve
Nice route, great scenery, good company.  Is there a better way to spend a chilly Sunday?

21st Nov 2012 20:10 :: Steve
... apart from the wobbly bridge, obviously.

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