Smoo, Smoo, Smoo...It's a funny word right? Smoo, it's also a strange thing to name a cave and that makes the cave infinitely more interesting than if it was called Dave's Cave or the Cave of Dave. Catchier certainly but nowhere near as good as Smoo Cave. Anyway there was no-one called Dave in Smoo cave but there was someone called Colin and he was, well, he was...unique.
Colin by his own admission had spent too long in the cave. He was the guide for the Smoo cave tour, he also very possibly lived in it. We had arisen early on the third day of the trip in the hope that the tour was on so we could get it done and then move onto our next destination. As luck would have it, the tour was a go. The cave itself was pretty amazing, especially as to get into it we had to get into a dingy to get to the main cave. But what really sold the Smoo for us was our intrepid guide Colin who had the look of a man who often eats rats, not for sustenance but for fun. His speech patterns were also interesting as he had a habit of shouting out certain words usually at the end of sentences, for example when we told him we were from Forfar he said "If I'd known you were coming I would have got you to bring me some 'BRIDIES!'." It was weird but endearing. He also tried to talk to a German couple who were on the tour by shouting the odd German word which was really just him shouting words in a German accent such as "Ich bein ROCKS".
So with the Smoo cave finally checked off of our list we could make our way to our third and final destination, Gairloch. Before that though we stopped off in Ullapool for some lunch. Ullapool is basically just a giant homing beacon for bus tours or we just got unlucky and landed there on a perfect storm of bus tours. What I'm saying is there were a lot of bus tours there, in case I'm being a bit vague. After plowing through the happy snapping tourists we went to get some fish and chips where upon we came across a 'starer', some random guy who was ogling us the whole time we were there. I actually never saw him because I was staring at another group of four odd looking young guys. Only three of them noticed me staring however as the fourth was staring at another group of four young guys, one of them never noticed as he was staring at us....and so on.
We arrived in Gairloch about mid afternoon where it was grey and a bit wet which is basically how I remembered it being. I had spent six weeks in Gairloch many years previously doing teacher training during a particularly harsh winter. Nothing had changed.
I probably didn't take full advantage of Gairloch the first time I was there due to the bad weather and my hatred of people. When I wasn't at the school I spent the rest of the time gazing forlornly out of my hotel window mouthing silent abuse at the locals as they shuffled past my window.
However this time was different, I was with my friends and the sun came out so it was an altogether more pleasant experience. We had a coffee in a really nice coffee and books place and had a nice wander along the sea front until Fraser stood in some dog shit. Still a jolly fine way to spend the afternoon.
That evening we had our tea in the bar of the hotel I lived in the first time which was lovely and made me wish I had actually spent some time in it rather than peering into it with bitter resentment at all the people having a good time inside. After the food we drank and played pool (I won my first game ever which is an achievement I celebrated by carving a message about it into the fleshy part of my thigh with a rusty knife. You know, so I remember).
Then we retired for the evening back into our ridiculously small tent. And that was it really. Next morning we got up, took the tent down, quick bite to eat and we were off home. We'd spent three days out in the wilderness and survived. Nothing particulrary terrible had happened to us such as this:
We did spend most of the trip shouting 'OH JESUS CHRIST' anytime we came across odd looking locals which is not really the best way to introduce yourself.