I have been reprimanded for keeping you in suspense for too long. It’s time to reveal all … in the middle of this post. No peeping!

***

The day starts well. After a delicious breakfast, our wonderful hosts drive us to the start of our walk. The walk is long and solitary. We don’t see another soul for its duration, although footprints show us that others have gone this way. The most difficult thing we do is to walk uphill through tall grass and bogs. Fortunately, the rain starts after the most difficult part of the walk. Our feet are soaking, but it’s all part of the fun … isn’t it? Finally we arrive at a beach with pillars of rock.

When we walk up the hill to the bus stop, it’s sunny and rather windy.

Back in Stornaway, we have plenty of time before the ferry leaves. We spend it in a book shop. It’s very windy outside. When someone opens the door, instead of using the revolving one, a lot of dirt flies in.

As we walk towards the ferry station, beside the sea with its high waves, we notice that no one else is going our way. Strange. Then, at the entrance to the building, there’s a blackboard on an easel. On the blackboard, in white chalk, someone has written: FERRY CANCELLED. The man behind the desk confirms that, due to the weather, this is indeed the case, and the next ferry is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9:30.

It takes a few seconds for the full ramifications of this news to sink in. We’re going to miss our flight to London, and D will miss his flight back home, unless…. We need some travel information, so we head for the tourist office. It’s closed. It seems it usually stays open late to serve people who arrive on the evening ferry and, as that was cancelled, they closed. What about those who are stranded on the island because the ferry back to the mainland is cancelled?

We do have some luck. We get the last room in the hotel. And it has a hair dryer which we use to dry out our boots and socks as much as possible. The smell still lingers. The woman at the desk is very helpful and finds out a lot of transport information, although, in the end, it doesn’t really help us. M1, the friend I’d arranged to stay with for two nights, is also very helpful and finds out some phone numbers for us, but we don’t manage to book anything except for another night in our house in Achiltibuie. (Luckily, it hasn’t been let out to more holiday makers.) When we go downstairs for a meal before the hotel restaurant closes, we’re still discussing our options.

One option is for D to take the bus straight from Ullapool to Inverness tomorrow. Then he’ll be able to catch a later flight to London and still arrive in time to catch his flight home. That would leave me to arrange transport to London, drive to Achiltibuie (I’ve let D navigate the single-track road up to now, as he does it so well), pack all our luggage, organise keeping the car for another day, clear up the house, deal with excess luggage on flights, drag two suitcases and a rucksack around with me for three-and-a-half weeks, …. Need I explain why this option doesn’t appeal to me?

We’re just finishing our meal when the fire alarm goes. During the meal, we’ve been noticing signs of the gale blowing outside – a hanging plant swinging furiously, one or two brave people fighting an invisible force. Now we have to leave our warm and comfortable enclave to stand in driving rain and wind without coats. It’s the last straw.

Fortunately, the alarm stops after two minutes and we all troop back inside.

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