Fieldwork notes - Sept’ 06 page 2

Monday 18th September, 2006. A890 from layby above Stromeferry heading north-east along Loch Carron past Attadale and Strathcarron over the river Carron to the junction where I took a left turn onto the A896 to Lochcarron. Encountered road works and a red stop light along the way. Started around 12.30 and stopped about 1 pm. Had the camera mounted on the roof of the car. Drove on through village and headed out along the A986 to Tornapress and the start of the road over the Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) to Applecross. Stopped and took stills of the warning signs at the start of the route - could it be that bad?

Warning signs at the start of the road to Applecross

Set out around 1.40 pm with the camera secured to the roof and framed up on a medium wide view. Right away I knew that this road was going to be something else and I was not disappointed. Talitha even put her knitting aside! The Peugeot 407 felt quite big on the road and even more so with the switchback corners at the head of the pass. Had I not been filming, I would have stopped at the various viewpoints but I was keen to keep a continuous narrative with the camera. Seemed to be a lot of white faced sheep chewing away by the road side - I was hoping that none would be on the road itself as I came round a corner. We arrived about ten past two in Applecross and once I parked I let out a huge sigh of relief - I had been so focused on the road and keeping on it, that I had almost forgotten about the camera, which was still there!

Next, it was off to a local restaurant in the walled garden of Applecross House for a well deserved lunch for me and my co-pilot and to give us both time to contemplate the prospect of the return journey!

Back in the car (after a good meal which included local prawns) we set out back on the road. The weather, which had been threatening earlier, now broke and the air was heavy, the sky overcast and rain falling. I put the camera on the headrest mount and filmed the return journey to the sound of wipers working. Made a stop at one of the viewpoints but didn’t stay outside too long. Filmed all the way back down the Bealach and right into Lochcarron. With the gear packed away, we headed up to the Island of Skye and hunted down a room in a very busy Portree.

Tuesday 19th September, 2006. Left Portree in showers and headed along the A87 on out to Uig. Set up the camera inside the car on the headrest mount as the weather was too wet for external filming. Drove along the single-track A855 clockwise from Uig round North East Skye past Kilmuir, Flodigarry in wet and sunny conditions. Scenery was spectacular and wild. Passed a group of Japanese people with suitcases standing beside the road in the very back of nowhere - it was a strange sight. Were they waiting to be collected or had they just been ‘delivered’? Then, even as I was musing on that scene, to my delight round the next corner, we encountered a shepherd waiting to herd his flock along a stretch of road. I, (keen to get this on camera) pulled in ahead and waited for the sheep, a wet tide of wool, to pass on both sides of the car as they were driven by the dogs, followed up by the shepherd glistening in his waterproofs. Watched them turn off into a field further up the road. The road was winding and fairly busy. We later parked in a layby near the junction of the road above Staffin Bay, and waited as the windscreen melted with the rain lashing it - could have been at sea it was so heavy. Then, it cleared and seemed bright enough to put the camera on the roof. I wanted to film the single-track road that cut up over by the Quiraing heading west back over to Uig. According to the receptionist at the Cuillen Hills Hotel, the road was narrow but the surface was good. And so it proved, we covered the 9 miles or so without mishap and ended back above Uig around 1pm. This was the last filming for the trip, and we headed back on the long drive towards Edinburgh.

According to my rough estimates, I drove a total of around 860 miles, of which about 104 were on single-track.