Ullapool is more than a name on a Highland map. More than a port where seafarers savour and devour dry land, relax from the vagaries of a heartless, conscienceless ocean, rich in bounty. More than a tourist destination I fell upon in 1968. Bedded for the night I explored the town. Along Shore Street to the ferry terminal where I still recall bright red gas cylinders upright awaiting collection, to West Terrace, then parallel to the Ullapool River, strolled Castle Terrace, to meander (and meet) the A835. This highway, with various number changes, leads to Durness, where a short trip to Cape Wrath awaits the adventurous. I remember that hamlet too. The creative community that was – is – Balnakeil, and the old A35 van being dragged from a sandy track by a large army truck. Relieved I gave the guys enough money for several pints: once more my bacon saved. Once more a scouse accent bonding solidarity with strangers. Another trip, years later, revealed a memorial garden to John Lennon who visited relations as a child.
Ullapool is a cultural and gastronomic delight. Its tiny, huddled streets, a redoubt from the worst vagaries of Highland winters. Music, impromptu, fills its very air. In pubs songs attempt to imitate the wild, skirlish emotions of the wind. Sharing craic and a drink with friendly folk my soul is cleansed and refreshed. Ullapool, once more has woven its magical balm. Once more I breathe in air as fresh and sweet as a new born child.
The images reflect a little the town’s attractions during this year’s Loopallu Music Festival. Memories inevitably drawing me there next year. How could it not with this from the Guardian: “The only music event anywhere in the world to feature both Franz Ferdinand and the Ullapool Pipe Band.”