Over the past few months, I have been monitoring the visitor statistics on the Kishorn Online website. Its shows the most viewed pages are the Bealach na Ba, Kishorn Port and Places to Stay pages. The blog is fourth.
The Bealach na Ba. One of the highest mountain roads in Britain, and the one with the steepest ascent and descent. A road that has spectacular views, and an amazingly engineered road way with stone walled supports and hairpin bends. A road some may argue was never built to accommodate the amount of traffic it does today. But I can't help thinking that not enough is done to draw attention to the pass as a roadway which was, and still is, vital for communities in the Applecross peninsula as a lifeline link and not just a 'drive by attraction'. A roadway which was constructed as a cattle track (hence Bealach na Ba, which translates from Gaelic as 'Pass of the Cattle') in order for farmers and crofters to drive (walking and herding drive, not in a vehicle!) their livestock to the Dingwall markets. What a mammoth task, a task that was no doubt undertaken in all types of weather.
Kishorn Port. Originally built to construct one of the worlds largest manmade moveable structures, the Ninian Central Oil Platform. A project that put Kishorn firmly on the map and brought thousands of workers to this remote Highland community. It also brought a lot of change not just to the dry dock area itself but in the form of new and improved roads, large housing developments to house all the workers and their families, and also the amazing Howard Doris Centre in Lochcarron. In 2013, Kishorn Port Ltd began work to resurrect the drydock which was last used in the early 90's when the round support platforms for the legs of the Skye Bridge were built there. Kishorn Port Ltd is a joint venture between Ferguson Transport and Shipping (who operate from the pier next to the drydock) and Leiths (who operate the Kishorn Quarry on the same site). The latest plans, involving the construction of turbine bases for the Kincardine Offshore Wind Project, have hit a hurdle which is why this work has not commenced yet. A statement issued by KPL can be found on the 'News' page of the Kishorn Online website: www.kishornonline.co.uk
Places to stay, be it in a local hotel or a B&B. We are lucky to have many accommodation options in the area, and the fact that this is one of the top searches on the website proves that people really are flocking to the area! I follow the tourism debate on Skye with interest, and one of their main problems is the lack of accommodation on the island. But I was reading that 'Jans' in Portree are pushing forward with plans, designed around shipping containers, for accommodation 'pods' which are compact yet suited to an overnight stay with the essentials provided in a tiny house form. It is somewhere in between glamping and a self catering house. When the media twisted the words of the local police force who apparently said that the island was 'full', there was a public outcry to make sure the world knew that Skye was indeed open for business. What should of been reported in the media was that accommodation is booked up and you can't turn up without booking anywhere and expect to find accommodation.
Debate has started again about the state of the Achnashellach road. The road is 'in the care' of the Highland Council. The Scottish Government have nothing to do with the road, apart from support from our MSPs for a new road. If the road was a trunk road, such as the Uig - Inverness - Fort William road, then the issue would be a Government issue. But the Achnashellach road is not a trunk road and is therefore the responsibility of the Highland Council. It is an issue which is also related to the Stromeferry Bypass; there are hopes that by making the bypass a trunk road, there is more chance of getting funding and a shorter timescale for a replacement option. Funding from the EU is probably not an option now, and it isn't until you realise how many of the roads around the area were built with EU funding that you start to loose hope for there ever being enough money to complete these projects. The massive double tracking project on the Kishorn side of the Kishorn Hill was funded with EU money. I remember the road before the project, and the narrow single track road that really did cling on to the side of hill with only a small stone wall between the edge and the tarmac. The new road is over ten years old... I cannot imagine the current volume of traffic being squeezed onto the old road! Several road refurbishment and widening projects between Torridon and Gairloch were carried out using EU funding. The new road between Strathcarron and Coulags was funded with EU money. I think we can say goodbye to EU money ever funding our road projects again. No hope for the Achnashellach road.
I read an article about the revised plans for the Parliamentary Constituency boundaries... and you have got to wonder who it is that is putting these plans together! The latest plans are to abolish our Westminster Government constituency, currently called Ross, Skye and Lochaber, and replace it with a Highland South constituency. This means that we will be in a massive area, which stretches from Applecross to Mallaig and across to East coast places such as Grantown on Spey. A massive distance. Isn't it interesting how one of the biggest constituencies in the whole of the UK is being made even bigger when problems already exist..? Would we see an increase in the number of MPs representing our area? Probably not. Because apparently in the Scottish Highlands we get pushed to the back and forgotten about. This re-design will affect other areas too... to such an extent that should these plans go ahead, just three MPs will represent 40% of Scotlands total landmass and we are included in that. Getting everyones voices heard? More like forgetting we even exist. You can comment on these plans by visiting www.bcs2018.org.uk.
The Selfie Box has continued to be very popular with the visitor book now full of messages. Thank you for all your comments and good wishes! The Selfie Box will soon be going into 'winter mode' and only the basic displays will remain. In case of internal or external damage during periods of severe weather, I will close the selfie box until the weather improves. The box has stood for many decades, but now it is the Selfie Box I want to make sure it remains in good condition. Apart from this, it will be open all winter!
Our local businesses will soon start to open on reduced opening hours as everyone takes a break (and a sigh of relief?!) as the area starts to quieten down. It has been a very busy season again this year. You can keep up to date with all the opening hours for the Seafood Bar, Patterns of Light gift shop and Bealach Cafe on the Kishorn Online website.
The temperature is definitely going down and no doubt we will see snow on the Bealach in the not too distant future. Because Winter (and dare I say it, Christmas!) really is just around the corner!