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Tuesday 10 October 2006--Normally I stay in Plockton three or four nights, and on one of the days I make the trek over Bealach na Ba, the Pass of the Cattle, to Applecross for a late lunch at the Applecross Inn. The food is excellentĖthe seafood platter will be the last meal you need for a few daysĖbut itís the trip over the pass itself that is the reason for going. Itís the third-highest road in Scotland, and as it starts and ends at sea level, has the highest ascent of any road pass in the UK. The eastern end is especially spectacular, with switchbacks ascending a cleft in the cliffs.

We are not staying another night in Plockton, so we make the Applecross trip on our way north. This will be the most scenic day of our stay in Scotland. We stop at the summit of the pass for incredible views across Raasay to Skye. Iíve seen a foot of snow up here in October, and in former times, the village of Applecross could be isolated for long periods during the winter.

We do not linger in Applecross; itís too early for lunch, and we have a long way to go. We skirt the peninsula on the northern road, completed only in 1975, and up scenic Glen Torridon. (Unfortunately, my camera chooses this time to develop a shutter malfunction). Down along Loch Maree we go and through Gairloch, where we stop for coffee. Presently we arrive at Drumchork by Aultbea, overlooking Loch Ewe and the romantically named Isle of Ewe (say it out loud).

We stop here to visit the Drumchork Lodge, and specifically its little distillery, meant to replicate an illicit still from bygone times. As it happens, John Clotworthy, the man in charge, is not hereĖhe is in Toronto for a whisky festival. A fellow working on his car in front of the tiny distillery building sheepishly lets us in to take pictures. ďIím not supposed to do this,Ē he says. (Please forgive him, Mr Clotworthy.) We also get a peek at the bar in the hotel. Yet another entry on the long list of places to stay sometime in the future.

Reluctantly, we depart and drive along Gruinard Bay, up Little Loch Broom, and down Loch Broom on our way to Ullapool. We arrive in midafternoon, early enough to do some business online at the library and browse some of the shops downtown before checking in to our B&B, two streets up from the waterfront.

We have dinner in the Seaforth Hotel, and further pints and drams in the Ferryboat Inn and the Caledonian Hotel. Itís a quiet night everywhere, and we decide to retire to the B&B, where we enjoy a wee spot of Bladnoch in front of the fire in the guest lounge.

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Cliffs, eastern Applecross Peninsula


Up the pass


Summit view


Loch Ewe Distillery


The still


Drumchork Hotel bar


Along Gruinard Bay (2003)


Approaching Ullapool


Ullapool from the pier

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