First Coast to Third Coast?!

On a visit to Gairloch recently we purchased a booklet which we have been meaning to buy for some time, there is a collection of these booklets all covering the local area detailing the history, the people and the landscape.

We purchased 2 booklets, the first being ‘Looking at Laide and the area upwards towards Mellon Udrigle and along to Gruinard’  and the second being ‘Around Aultbea from Drumchork to Slaggan’. IMG_6689During a rainy evenings perusal we discovered a little about the history of First Coast, Second Coast and Third Coast which we were completely unaware that a Third Coast had even existed.

So today being a beautiful March day, we headed out of Laide towards the 3 coasts to see for ourselves what we had read about in the booklet.

Just 10 minutes into the walk & we were easily distracted by the local seals sunning themselves

IMG_6568After 15 minutes admiring them lounging on the rocks itching a little scratch here and there it was time to get going.

The photo below shows First Coast with Second Coast on the brow of the hill. Is that all there is i hear you say!!

IMG_6587IMG_6682IMG_6596Well details from the 1841 Census describe First Coast as having 14 households and 77 inhabitants, Second Coast having 23 households and 100 inhabitants and Third coast having 5 households and 29 inhabitants. It’s hard to imagine how busy the area must have been nearly 200 years ago but there are a few reminders here and there, the odd ruined blackhouse with stone walls surrounding several of these ruins.

IMG_6591IMG_6598Reaching the bend in the road at the end of Second Coast we took the grassy path to the left just before the river

IMG_6601IMG_6603IMG_6602Third Coast is recorded as having a mill on both the first and second OS Maps, according to the 1841 Census the mill was in operation and from 1846 – 1901 the mill was operated by the Forbes family.  In J.H.Dixon’s book published in 1886 – Gairloch and Guide to Loch Maree – Dixon mentions the burn that ‘joins the sea in the bay below the village, sometimes called Mill Bay, because of the mill which formerly stood at the foot of the burn’, suggesting that the mill was no longer in use but the 1901 Census records a Kenneth Forbes as being the miller.

Halfway down the footpath the mill emergesIMG_6607Now all that remains are the ruined stone walls of the main building being the mill and a kiln room on the side.

On reaching the end of the track it took just a couple of minutes of scanning the river to realise it was pretty deep in places so there was nothing for it but to get the boots off & treat the toes to a little spa treatment.IMG_6610You may want to avert your eyes!

IMG_6613Once through the icy shock of the water we spotted a rock on the edge of the stream which was fashioning the brightest green toupee



The sheltered little bay where the now derelict mill stands is a wonderful  spot overlooking Gruinard Bay, it’s the perfect place to stroll on a sunny day and imagine a busy hamlet of people bringing their crops to be ground and the miller housed under a thatch roof sweating over his millstones.

IMG_6620The millstones still remain but unfortunately they are no longer in position The corroded water wheel is still attached on the outside with the Lade being visible beneath.





IMG_6642After spending some time wandering around the mill and admiring the view over the bay we climbed to slightly higher ground to see the view over towards Gruinard beach. Thankfully we had our binoculars with us as what we thought were horses turned out to be a small group of feral goats that had discovered a lush patch of grass.

IMG_6646Heading back towards the road we waded through the bracken and stumbled across Third Coast hidden beneath the heather, moss and mouse tunnels. Nature had very much taken hold of the smallest of the three settlements.


IMG_6654Returning to the road it was time for a detour, we hopped over the heather to stick our noses into a very small doorway that we have seen many times tucked into the hillside from the road

IMG_6667It turns out this was once the place where dynamite was stored at the time road building was taking place in the area.


A great little walk full of history just down the road from the b&b. We’ll certainly make this walk to a lovely a little bay a regular occurrence.

For anyone interested in purchasing the great booklets about Wester Ross they are available from The Gale Centre, Gairloch and The Heritage Museum also in Gairloch.



Picnic time at Laide beach for a hungry Otter

After a couple of days of constant snow showers, things were calmer today so we were able to venture out and popped down to the beach.

The aim was to take a few snowy snaps of the mountains, so as the tide was fully out we hopped onto the rocks to get a little further out into the bay


and what did we find …..


this little chap (or chapess) was devouring a recent catch



The local otters have been quite active in and around the bay of late, we were fortunate to have the camera with us on this occasion.



Further along the beach the waterfall had frozen



and the icicles were in abundance


Hopefully the local otters will continue to find food easily in this freezing weather and we’ll continue to get regular sightings over the coming months.


Blue skies and frozen lochans – A walk to Fionn Loch

A spectacular walk for a spectacular day. Fionn Loch which is known as The White Loch, is approximately 5 miles from Drumchork in Aultbea and the walk begins with a wonderful view over the village.


The track is pretty much a level and wide track all the way to the loch but cattle are a regular feature for the first mile of this walk as their feeding stations are alongside the track. They have churned up the ground and in places it’s very wet and boggy so it is one to be done on either a frosty day or after a considerable dry spell.

Today was beautifully clear & frosty so the ground was very hard a perfect day for negotiating the boggy areas.

5 minutes into the walk we had the pleasure of meeting a fearsome looking bull  just 10 metres from the track & gate, we were undecided at first whether or not to continue but we decided we were close enough to the gate to make a run for it & climb over if needed, luckily we had caught him on a good day and he just glared at us as we scampered by.

Once past the cattle area the views open up and the scattering of lochans are a treat to walk alongside.



The frosty start to the day meant the lochans had an ice sheet on their surface making the water completely still, not a ripple could be seen, no streams were nearby trickling water into the lochan, not a breath of wind was felt, there were no birds chirping, not a sound could be heard it was utterly serene.


The photo above and below is Loch a’ Bhaid-Luachraich known as Goose Loch with Baosbheinn ‘The Wizards Mountain’ in the distance


The frozen surface of the lochs looks like it is crying out to be skated on but happily we’re not daft enough to test the thickness of the ice.


The loch side track meanders through the moorland with the snow dusted Beinn Airigh Charr (on the right in the picture below) which translates as ‘The Rough Shieling Hill’ appears in the distance.



The photo below is just the northern tip of the beautiful Fionn Loch. With the sun beating down onto the frozen surface and the mountains surrounding the loch it’s a really wonderful and remote spot to spend a peaceful afternoon.


On the return journey we were treated to a soaring Golden Eagle circling over the moorland just above Aultbea and being harassed by a brave Buzzard.


Just 4 days later the blue skies departed and Siberia sent this our way ….


Laide wood – A winter wonderland.