I feel I must write this extra post to tender an apology to Achiltibuie! Someone called Sarah took the time and trouble to leave a comment on my blog site correcting the mistakes I had made in my piece on “Communities and what makes them” – many thanks to her.
I had accused Achiltibuie of having no shop, school, café or pub. Sarah pointed out that this was wrong – that there are such facilities in the township. When I mentioned this to Himself, he reminded me that of course there is a shop/post office there and that I had been in it. Well, this came as news to me – I have no memory of that!! A real “Senior Moment” 🙂 I was talking about my faux pas with a friend, who is a part-time resident of Achiltiebuie, yesterday evening at the last winter meeting of the Assynt Field Club, and she said that in fact there are two shops just now – although one is probably struggling a bit as people do rather tend to go to Ullapool to shop in the Tescos there. She reckoned that the population is probably too small to support two shops – especially as there is one in Polbain as well.
I had heard that the café which was there had closed down – so obviously my information about that is out-of-date. I used to love going to the café in the Hydroponicum – it served excellent coffee and cake which you took sitting by an indoor pond, and it was always warm and inviting whatever the weather was doing outside. I have heard that there have been various attempts at reviving both the Hydroponicum and its café, but seemingly to no avail. Just now, I have to admit that I have no knowledge of the whereabouts of this café in Achiltibuie – it may be in the old Hydroponicum or it may be somewhere quite else. This has my curiosity piqued and I shall have to find out one way or another!
It is also true to say that having been reminded of it, I do remember now that there is a school in Achiltibuie as well as the Piping College – I can picture it in my mind. I have to admit that I haven’t actually been in the township for some time – the last couple of times that we have taken the Wee Mad Road down to that area, it has been to spend time on the fantastic beach at Ach na h-Airde… In my defence, it has to be said that Achiltibuie is rather spread out – unlike Lochinver and Scourie which are much closer together geographically – which makes the amenities harder to spot!
I hope I didn’t give the impression in my piece about communities that I don’t consider either Achiltibuie or Scourie to be communities. Without knowing those places intimately (which is something you have probably gathered by now!) I think I can safely say that they are indeed proper communities. What I was trying to do in my own way was to establish that we in Assynt are far from being “groups of disparate hobbyists” as the post-graduate in question would have it. We really are a community, and I personally don’t see how anyone who has spent any time at all here – especially someone who is studying the community – could think otherwise.
Both Scourie and Achiltibuie are situated in superb spots. Scourie on the road north to Durness and Cape Wrath is, as I said in an earlier post, slap bang in the middle of the Geopark, just down the road from the famous peak of Ben Stac. Within a stone’s throw of the township are two equally famous mountains, Arkle and Foinavon – possibly even better known are the two famous racehorses which were named after them, both horses and mountains having belonged to the late Dower Duchess of Westminster. Achiltibuie has wonderful views of the Summer Isles and is surrounded by the various peaks of Coigeach – it is a stunning setting.
Later on this year, the Field Club will be meeting in Polbain as part of our summer programme of events when we get out and about in the countryside to study the flora and fauna. I hope too that Himself and I will get a run north at some point this year – we do try to go every year one way or another. I must remember to take my camera on both occasions and take some pictures for this blog site…