Day trips to Strathy and Stoer

During our recent trip I’d got back into the habit of visiting lighthouses and, as they say, old habits die hard. With it being the first weekend back after the holiday it seemed like a good time to make the most of the sunshine and see some lighthouses at the same time.

Yesterday we visited a friend at Strathy Point lighthouse for the first time in a few months. With it being so close to home, we’d been thinking of dropping by for a while, but wanted to hold off as we knew there would be hoards of people (relatively) descending on the Point once lockdown restrictions were eased.

Strathy Point lighthouse

Joe the Drone had to come along too, of course, and with permission from our friend he got some great shots of the lighthouse.

Strathy Point lighthouse from the sky

I never get bored of Strathy Point, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed paddling in the small loch close to the lighthouse. Anyone who has been before will know that there is a model lighthouse in the loch. Apparently they were made by the lighthouse keepers and, when the light was automated one of the engineers took one of the models with them. At one point one of the residents put a solar powered light on top of the remaining tower, but that obviously didn’t last.

The loch and model lighthouse at Strathy Point

Today looked like it would be cloudy at home, but sunny and warm on the west coast. So it seemed sensible to go somewhere where the weather was good for the day. One of the benefits of living on the north coast, although it was a three hour drive each way. We chose Stoer as I’d not been there since my original tour in 2012, Bob hasn’t been for a while and there was a nice beach nearby for the kids to enjoy.

As we headed west the skies started to clear, the sun came out and so did the cars. As we got closer to the turn off for Achmelvich beach the traffic really picked up. Clearly many people were aware of the incredible beaches the area had to offer, as well as the beautiful mountain views.

Some of the Assynt mountains

We made it over to Stoer and parked up. After a picnic on the hill close to the lighthouse Bob went off with Joe the Drone – who managed to unearth a lone bonxie from nowhere as soon as it took off. After lunch we wandered up to the lighthouse and I handed over parenting duties to Bob while I wandered around the lighthouse.

Stoer Head lighthouse

It’s such a beautiful location and the coastline here is fascinating. It’s hard to appreciate from the land really, although starting the walk along to the Old Man of Stoer as I did on my last visit gives an extra wonderful angle. Last year on our west coast boat trip I was fascinated to see Stoer Head lighthouse from the sea and to get a better idea of the lie of the land around it.

The cove behind Stoer Head lighthouse

This was where Joe the Drone really came into his own as the aerial shots really showed the shape of the land to its full effect. That is what I’m finding I enjoy most about the drone pictures, is being able to see the shape of the land around these lighthouses. Just the little ins and outs and grass slopes leading down to the cliffs, looking like a green blanket has been laid over the top of the land. It’s wonderful to see – and I’m sure Bob will be very grateful to read that I appreciate his new toy!

Stoer Head from above

The lighthouse buildings have now been converted into holiday accommodation with an upstairs and a downstairs flat. It’s not the cheapest of place to stay, but the 360 degree views make it worth it, including (as they did today) over to the hills in Assynt, then Skye and even small sections of the Western Isles too. There was even a sheep nearby watching out over the sea.

The sheep enjoying the view at Stoer Head

The light in the tower has now been replaced with one of the LED “puddings”, so the lamp room looks fairly empty. It’s still such a beautiful complex throughout though and the buildings are looking really well maintained.

Stoer Head from the south

Waving goodbye to the lighthouse, we then stopped off at Stoer Bay, just around the corner from the busy Clachtoll beach, which the kids absolutely loved – to the point where our little girl thanked Bob for “making this beach”!

A couple of great days out. 🙂

Visiting local lighthouses with friends

Sunday was the final day of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers trip on the north coast. Having organised the trip, I thought it would be the wind-down day where we just casually went to a couple of lighthouses we would not be able to get inside, but that didn’t really end up being the case.

The day began with a visit to Strathy Point, my “most local” lighthouse. We arrived and I think the group felt it would just be a short visit so I was thinking through ways we could fill the time before lunch. There was really no need though as we used the whole hour and a half. We were met by a friend who lives in one of the cottages there, which was great as she was able to give an idea of what it is like to live there and how it was when the light was still on – it was discontinued in 2012. I think she gathered that many of us are quite envious of her home! I always enjoy a visit to Strathy Point. Some of the group were quite uninspired by the lighthouse as it’s not a Stevenson design and it is square rather than the traditional round tower. I think this makes it different from the rest and I like to embrace those differences. Also, those who regularly read my blog will know I am fairly easily pleased when it comes to lighthouses. Strathy Point isn’t just about the lighthouse though. It’s a beautiful place with so many different areas to explore. It was a lovely visit and the sunshine helped too!

Strathy Point lighthouse

The afternoon was dedicated to Scrabster. We had originally planned to spend some time around Holborn Head lighthouse, but we were running behind schedule so skipped straight to an organised tour of Thurso Lifeboat station as well as the Lifeboat itself. Bob and the kids joined us for the tour. Most people don’t think about the Lifeboats and their crews routinely, it’s only really those who have experienced, or may experience, the service they provide that realise what they do. It is all so organised and you can only imagine the conditions they go out in to save lives. The ropes attached to their waterproofs for them to clip onto various points on the boat so they don’t go overboard and get swept away hints at just how scary it can be at times. It’s certainly something I don’t think I could ever do and they have my full and total respect. Everyone seemed to enjoy the visit, but I suspect the person who enjoyed it most of all was our little boy who was in his element in the driving seat for a considerable amount of time.

After leaving the Lifeboat station, we spent an hour wandering around outside the walls at Holborn Head lighthouse. It’s such a beautiful tower. Really unique in its design. The tower and attached cottage is so well looked after, pristine really. It looks great from the road, but arguably the best views are from behind the lighthouse as you head uphill towards Holborn Head itself. Blue sky always helps of course. There were a few members of the group who had already been to Holborn Head and had either only seen it in bad weather or had not been up the public footpath behind it. I don’t think anyone begrudged a revisit to this wonderful place.

Holborn Head lighthouse

We finished off the weekend with a final dinner together as a group. Even then I was still getting to know some of them better and I know I’ve made some great new lighthouse friends as a result of this event. A very enjoyable few days with some brilliant people who love lighthouses! 🙂