Posted by: brigid benson | February 27, 2015

Postcard from: Achmelvich

Destination Achmelvich

Destination Achmelvich

I’m a wanderer because I grew up in a family of wanderers.

At seventeen my mum set her heart on an inspirational place she’d heard talk of, a remote rural settlement more than 500 miles north of her home in Liverpool. A place she determined to discover for herself. And so she hitched from a terraced house in the street behind Anfield stadium to Achmelvich, the meadow in the sand dunes, in Scottish Gaelic, chaperoned by her nineteen year old cousin and seventeen year old school friend.

Sends tingles down my spine!

Sends tingles down my spine!

Leaving behind the grimy cosmopolitan city,with scant cash between them the blissfully innocent trio hitched lifts and slept in sheep fanks (pens), enduring ticks and midges to achieve their five hundred mile odyssey. Destination Achmelvich: a Scottish Youth Hostel in a former school house in a tiny crofting community in the immense northwest highlands.

Fellow travellers on the road

Fellow travellers on the road

Urban tarmac ultimately gave way to single track roads, which faded to dust paths and sheep tracks. Three vivacious city girls in pretty 1950s cotton sundresses, all home made, were entirely unprepared for the epic journey in blistering army surplus hobnail boots and heavy canvas rucksacks.

Inspirational scenery

Inspirational scenery

I can hardly imagine their wonder as they straggled through astounding ancient mountain scenery, exhausted and inspired, revisiting their map, anxiously wondering just when they would first catch sight of the hallowed shallow bay, the dazzling white sand and mediterranean turquoise water.

Achmelvich did not let them down. The impression it made upon them is recounted over and over in my family. Achmelvich is imprinted in our family DNA, a place our hearts belong!

After more than 500 miles...Keep Going!

After more than 500 miles…Keep Going!

The front gate

The front gate

The whitewashed schoolhouse under a grey slate roof in the meadow by the beach, far far away from the terraced streets  of Liverpool.

Achmelvich Youth Hostel in the dunes

Achmelvich Youth Hostel in the dunes

_MG_9466

Beside the sea and closed for winter; the dormant hostel

Beside the sea and closed for winter; the dormant hostel

My most recent visit was peaceful in the extreme. The dormant hostel was all locked up and as I wandered around the building, I smiled to see 1950s kitchenware that my mum may well have used to fulfil tasks requested by the hostel warden  during her stay; a battered enamel pail and a stove-top kettle. _MG_9469     _MG_9478   _MG_9473

_MG_9468

Fish box herbs in the dunes

Heating!

Hostel heating!

A holed canoe

A holed canoe

In the flower bed, the washed up bone of a sea creature

In the flower bed, the washed up bone of a sea creature

You can't miss it!

You can’t miss it!

A deep winter visit: snow on the beach

A deep winter visit: snow on the beach

My Achmelvich sofa!

My Achmelvich sofa; a place to treasure family memories


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