It was positively driech when I left home on Sunday morning – rain, mist and none too warm for June, either. Indeed, I was beginning to think I’d be as well at home as driving five hours out to Gairloch. By Inverness, though, things were looking decidedly better and the further west I went, the more promising it became.
I’d arranged to meet Alex Gray, Station Master at Gairloch’s Two Lochs Radio early on Monday morning and rather than have it all to drive that morning decided to travel the day before. Two Lochs Radio, which can be found on the internet (www.2lr.co.uk), lays claim to be Britain’s smallest community-based commercial radio station serving the Gairloch, Loch Ewe and Loch Maree areas.
I made good time and was in Strath, the northern part of Gairloch, for 10am. A walk from there to the harbour and back by Flowerdale Arboretum soon had the legs stretched. For the afternoon, I certainly didn’t need to think twice about where to head – back in the car and off to Inverewe.
I’d find it hard to be in this part of the country and not pay a visit to Inverewe Gardens. There’s always something colourful to see, especially in springtime. When Osgood Mackenzie set about creating his garden in 1862, he must have had tremendous foresight. You just need to look at the surrounding countryside that bounds Loch Ewe to see what it would have looked like before he started.
Enjoying the effects of the Gulf Stream, the gardens – which are now owned by the National Trust for Scotland – are a real oasis within the rugged Wester Ross landscape. From Himalayan rhododendrons and azaleas to mecanopsis, Tasmanian eucalyptus and palms, it is without doubt one of the finest gardens in Scotland.