A890 Stromeferry Road closure & landslip

•December 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Not Again !

The A890 West Coast route Kyle to Lochcarron is closed at Stromeferry due to a landslip. 2 cold icy winters followed by a very wet spell has taken it’s toll on the geology of the hillside with 100 tonnes landslip on 22nd December 2011.

This was cleared up for New Year, but before the road had re-opened, another 100 tonnes fell again. Surveys have revealed the hillside is unstable & not safe for vehicles to pass at the foot of the hill. The trains on nearby tracks are being allowed to run. This road closure has huge implications for the area and driving between Lochcarron and Kyle involves a 140 mile (225km) diversion via Inverness and then the A82 to Invermoriston. School pupils who attend Plockton High, getting to the dentist, doing a shop in Kyle are all impractical now, not to mention the difficulties many visitors are going to have and the impact on all businesses, employees, services & facilities. The normal journey is about 18 miles.

Update

The rather famous sign

Calum’s seal tours boat from Plockton has been drafted in to act as a passenger ferry for 60 people. The slipway & ferry service has not been used since the 1970’s at Stromeferry. With a safety check and lighting it is proving to be a useful alternative to get the children to school from Lochcarron  & Applecross areas.

The Glen Elg community run ferry which can take 6 cars (max 10 ton) has also been drafted in for now to get local & essential vehicles across the Loch. It is likely this will be needed back in Glen Elg for the start of the visitor season before Easter.

Amended road sign

Another suggestion is to run cars over the railway line, as was done with the previous landslide in the 90’s. However this will mean the loss of the train service, which possibly has greater passenger & supply capacity.

The Glen Elg ferry

The cost for the repairs is looking at 40-70 million pounds. There is a hopeful re-opening date of the end of April 2012.

 

Further information:

http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/news/newsreleases/2012/January/2012-01-20-05.htm

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Walking Torridon Weekend

•October 2, 2011 • 1 Comment

The Torridon have just organized and hosted the first walking weekend in the area. The weather has been kind in the main, so groups have enjoyed guided walks up Liathach, Beinne Dearg and Beinn Eighe.

I took the opportunity to go on the Low level Photography walk with Eoghain Maclean who does great wildlife photography. Unfortunately being a group, wildlife was a bit short on putting in an appearance, as we didn’t move too quietly. Did see a very large bumblebee, dragonfly, a few common birds, heron fishing at low tide and oyster catchers. Still some lovely flowers around along with fungi,  fabulous lichens & mosses for anyone into macro photography.

Loch Claire Oct 11 Torridon Walking Event

So spent some time on landscape photography & looking at composition. The favourite of the photos I took is this one. Down by the shore at Loch Claire, looking towards Liathach. Now all I need is a converter and a few more filters……..!

Thank you to Eoghain for an inspiring day, a great day out and a re-kindled desire to do more photography. Also thank you to the Torridon for organising the event. They are already planning the next Walking Event early March 12.

Organic September

•September 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Organic September is coming to an end. Loved the new format of it being over a month this year.

We have been adding our own organically grown fruit & veg into the evening meals we have cooked for guests during September. September is such a good month for the range of harvest. There has been white cabbage, carrots, herbs, cooking apples, strawberries & blackcurrants. The salad leaves we have kept going through most of the year – lettuce and rocket.

Sept Tomatoes ripening in polytunnel at Aurora B&B

We have enjoyed something, in our own meals, from the garden most days. There are some things in such small quantities like the 3 runner beans, 6 french beans 1 head of broccoli. Our tomatoes are only ripening in quantity now – it’s worth the wait as the flavour is superb. I put 2 varieties of cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets in the polytunnel, along with tucking some at the end of an under cover raised bed. Don’t know if the tomato seeds had been mis-labelled but what I ended up with were much larger plants than anticipated. The new Chase Organics seed catalogue arrived with my Living Earth magazine so better go & mark up what is needed for next year, whilst I remember this years lessons!

Soil Association Organic Fortnight

Our own organic fruit

•August 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Organic fruit from Aurora B&B garden

Thanks to a reasonable amount of sunshine this summer the garden has been producing a steady supply of fruit. Some of the fruits you would associate with early summer e.g. strawberries have overlapped with later season fruits such as plums & blackberries! Some of the strawberry plants are in a shadier position which by a happy accident rather than good planning, extends the season into August, along with regular picking. Even now there are still a few fruits yet to ripen.

By leaving the cherries on the trees longer than usual they have become a lovely deep colour & sweet. The sparrows have been having a peck at the fruits closest to the branches, so I have left a good number of damaged ones for them to polish off. It’s more likely that the branches are too slender as the trees are only 3 years old for the heavier black birds to settle on – just give it a little time…

My approach in the garden now is to plant 1 productive plant for every decorative plant, where possible. I am gradually running out of space but looking at a large birch tree (of  which we have several that have become too large for the size of garden, create a little too much shade & rather block the view) with an idea of removing & planting a plum tree or crab apple in it’s place. I love the way gardens evolve & you get an inspired thought as to the next step.

Wild about Gairloch

•June 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

White tailed Se-eagle

Wild about Gairloch festival starts on 23rd June & runs for 5 days. It promises to have something for everyone & an opportunity to learn so much more about flowers, birds, marine life, lichens, bats…….

To view the full programme look at the website calendar.

Highland Key – New Highland website & discount scheme

•May 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Highland Key has been created and developed with one thing in mind…the Highlands of Scotland, giving a fresh and innovative take on a ‘destination website’.

Highland Key uses the best Highland photography, bespoke content and the most up to date local information to keep the website interesting and informative for both visitors and locals to the Highlands of Scotland.

The website is also linked in with a unique discount card system which allows card holders to gain access to special offers from businesses throughout the Highlands.

Highland Key unlocks the door to a host of superb special offers on accommodation, restaurants, tourist attractions, transport and much more!

The discount cards are currently available to buy online but will soon also be available to buy from various retailers throughout the Highlands…more details to follow soon!

We have purchased 1 Explorer pass for guests to use whilst they are staying at Aurora, as an experiment for this year. This will allow access to current discounts on the Highland Key website for the duration of your stay. Please ask to borrow the key as you will need to show it when booking. You may prefer to buy your own Traveller key to cover the whole of your trip in the Highlands.

Wild Food Foraging with Miles Irving

•April 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Wild food Foraging

Wild Food Foraging

Miles Irving came to Applecross over the Easter weekend, through the ALPS funding we  were able to join him on a walk through the Walled Garden, wood & seashore for a bit of foraging.

The good bits were being able to identify what definitely NOT to eat – such as Hemlock and finding some new plants to forage for. My favourite was Sea Sandwort which tastes  like  cucumber. It can be salted & put into a reasonably airtight container & lacto-fermented like sauerkraut. He has a very informative book “the forager handbook – a guide to the edible plants of Britain” which is informative, does have recipes & eating advice; so often lacking in foraging books.