View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Road closed

An accident involving an army lorry has closed the A838 road in northwestern Scotland, causing lengthy detours for people heading for the villages of Rhiconich, Kinlochbervie and Durness. The lorry toppled off the bridge at Laxford Bridge, causing damage to the bridge. The three gunners on board escaped with minor injuries. The road is likely to remain closed for some time, forcing travellers to divert east and north, through Altnaharra and Tongue. For instance, the 30 mile journey from Lairg to Laxford Bridge will now be 80 miles long. (Image courtesy BBC.)

From the archives: Friday 1 October 2004

At Inverness
Went to the station to catch a train to Kyle of Lochalsh. It's still a nice trip, and the weather has improved on yesterday's rain - at least it's dry. Trundle my way west in 2½ hours, arriving in Kyle at lunchtime. I go into the station building to have a look in the museum. Have to be careful with my pack, which I leave at the door. Part of the museum is without electricity as a result of flooding. Nice display of railway memorabilia. Walk into the village, after glancing out to the warship that lies moored at the pier. Nipped into the Tourist Information Office for some ideas, and there is a tour with a glass-bottemed boat. Before setting out, I walk through the village to a viewpoint above Kyle which looks out to Skye, the bridge and east up Loch Alsh. At 1.30, there is too little clientele in the tour, but at 2.30 there is sufficient interest to warrant the man to set forth. It's very interesting to look out under the water and see all the junk on the floor, the different types of fish and seaweed. We head out to a clump of skerries in the Kyle to view a colony of seals that are basking there. Not in the sun, it's cloudy. Then we sail to the far shore to observe the wreckage of a minelaying vessel which blew up in 1941. A fire had broken out on board, and it was towed across the Kyle. Had it blown up at the quayside, the village would have been devastated. View beds of seaweed on the way back to Kyle. After the trip in the glass-bottomed boat, I walk over the Skye Bridge to Kyleakin. Just before the span of the bridge proper, you pass the cottage on Eilean Ban, where Gavin Maxwell lived, of otter fame. He died there in 1969. There is a gate to the bridge, and I believe you can stay there. At the bottom of the bridge, I turn left on the roundabout and wander into the village. Kyleakin has improved for the better since the bridge came, 9 years ago. The big marshalling yard for the ferry is now a neat carpark. I arrive at the youth hostel at 4pm, an hour early. Leave the rucksack there and try to walk into a sideroad just off the bridge roundabout. The farm at the end has everything fenced off, so no access. Try the main road to Broadford, but that only has limited stretches of secluded old road. Have to double back to Kyleakin. Check into the hostel at 5pm and am allocated a bed in room 6, which has only 2 beds in it, plus a sink. Go downstairs to prepare my dinner and have a nice chat with other hostellers. Who describes my surprise when I meet up with some folk who were with me at Kirkwall earlier in the week. Use the laundramat. Saw a musical event advertised for tonight in the Saucy Mary pub, across the green. Go there at 10, but the music is no good, neither is the beer. Have a very poor night's sleep, on account of some heinous rattle and clanging in the pipes of the central heating system.

The ferries at Kyle of Lochalsh in 1992, before the bridge was built

Kyleakin Harbour

Kyleakin; Youth Hostel to the left, Skye Bridge to the right

Thursday 1 October

Today is the first anniversary of Atlantic Lines, and it's also just about five years ago since I started on this blogging lark. Although distractions like Facebook and Twitter have come along, I still find the best way for me to write fully is on here. Our community, which we knew as J-land, has disappeared, for all intents and purposes. Although many are still in touch through Blogger and other platforms, the community spirit is no longer there.

Today is also the start of October, with summer finally behind us. As I said a little while ago, the Western Isles of Scotland lost their summer in the middle of July - it has been at best mediocre since. Today is overcast and cold, with the mercury only just getting into double figures: 10C at the moment. Tomorrow will see a deterioration in the weather, with a gale springing up later in the day. I have adjusted the graphics in the sidebar accordingly.

The Pacific is bracing itself for a double whammy of supertyphoons. Parma is currently at 130 knots (a trifling 150 mph), and Melor will follow suit, reaching an incredible 145 knots, which equates to 170 mph winds - sustained. The gusts will be as high as 200 mph. The Northern Marianas Islands are in line for Melor, while Parma will deal Luzon Island in the Philippines a glancing blow.