We’ve got to approach this, carefully… Or you won’t have as much fun as I did.

Badacro Creek… I’m not sure there’s a ‘creek’ in there, but if there’s not, there should be. Badacro is well known in these parts as a safe anchorage for boats, particularly sailing boats. It lies at the heart of a ‘jigsaw’ of inlets and creeks just south of Gairloch.

At least, that’s what the guidebooks say… The reality is something far more vivid than such words can convey. And there are surprises here, too.

(Above: Badacro ‘Creek’, south of Gairloch’)

Badacro is a hidden gem, tucked away in one of the most beautiful, yet secluded parts of the North-West Scottish coast.

Standing at the top of the tiny lane, these things are made apparent by a combination of the faded map and old, weather-worn signposts. Badacro has an inn, and as it seems to be down by the water, I’m drawn to it. I love shoreline locations. I’ve known about this one for all of two minutes…and I’m intrigued, and intent on following the narrow lane that winds down towards the sea.

We look at the sign at the intersection; it groans as it flexes in the cold wind. The day looks warmer than it is. No change there, then…

And it’s not raining – which only adds to the sense of something strange (but beautiful) happening.

It’s rained continuously since we got to this far corner of North-West Scotland nearly a week ago. But now, there’s an hiatus. We have an undoubted ‘window event’ opening up, here. I’ve learned to recognise them over the years. There’s a kind of inaudible crackling in the air… which fades to an intense and pregnant silence.

Something’s gonna happen here… a familiar and mischievous voice in my head chuckles. The skin on the back of my neck prickles, supportively. Definitely…

Cue the music… ‘Once Upon a Time in the West‘… ( link: https://youtu.be/6MZw_Iv0wdU)

It’s my nomination for the best-ever western, and it has nothing to do with this part of Scotland…except that the music comes to me every time one of the ‘window events’ occurs.

Every Christmas, in a stolen slice of late evening, usually on Boxing Day, I watch the whole movie, having hypnotised the family into thinking that I’m walking the dog…

(Above: to the sound of Charle’s Bronson’s harmonica, we wind down towards the creek)

That wailing harmonica – played by good guy Charles Bronson – whose character is only known as ‘Harmonica’ – to a nearly empty hotel bar… Those eyes! Cinema at its 1960s best.

(Above: ‘harmonica’ played by Charles Bronson. Image YouTube)

Bronson’s mysterious ‘Harmonica’ eventually wins out against the emerging railroad’s chief enforcer, ‘Frank’, played by Henry Fonda.

It’s a good fit to the brightening mood in Badacro Creek.

(Above: the first building – disappointingly – is not the inn)

Back in Badacro, the first roof-line comes into view. But the lovely cedar-panelled building on stilts over the creek is not the Badacro Inn. It’s a nautically-themed gift shop. They don’t take dogs, not even acting dogs that understand Ennio Morricone’s music, so we carry on walking down the steep slope, anticipating that the inn is close.

As we near the waterfront, there’s that slightly unreal feeling. At the next turn, The Badacro Inn comes into view… If you’re an old romantic like me, it’s what you want to find at the end of a lane that curves down to the sea so beautifully. Everything seems to be lined up. The music is playing. Bury me here, my love, I want to say, but the Collie says stop being stupid, Dad.

(Above: a sea vista that begins with an ocean view from the deck… heaven)

The image above is only half the story. To the right of this, there’s another unexpected feature.

(Above: All this with Pizza and Prosecco thrown in! Are we dreaming?)

We didn’t get to find out whether the ‘Pizza and Prosecco’ trailer is part of the pub or a licensed extension. Either way, I can only imagine it being a welcome offering to sailors, locals and wet gunslingers in search of refreshment… and fun.

Claudia Cardinale provided the fun in Once upon a time in the West. Her character rises from supposed seediness to noble heroine, despite the death of her husband-to-be at the brutal hands of the icy arch-villain of the piece – Played superbly by a steely Henry Fonda – ‘Frank’.

(Above: the Theatrical poster for the film’s launch in 1968. Image source Wikipedia)
(Above: beneath the furl, the fabric reads Guinness. It just gets better and better)

I’m not a frequent beer drinker, but when I do, I love a well-kept pint of Guinness. With this thought, the laughing feeling grows, triggering remembered stories of how one’s favourite things and places are arranged as experiences at the end of life… It’s not a morbid thought, but it invokes the mischief-maker within and the harmonica music, of course. Always the harmonic music.

(Above: The quayside full of sea-facing tables is wonderful. The pub, itself, looks promising, too…)
(Above: just when you feel that – courtesy of that pint of Guinness – you’ve got your handle on reality back, a Collie changes your mind…)

We go inside the Badacro Inn and it’s just as tempting. There’s an old naval chart showing the location of this part of the shore. I’ve ringed it in red in my photo.

(An old sea-chart shows our location, just south of Gairloch)
(Above: It’s a bar styled like a ship. How could you better that? Bernie is used to watching me ‘go off on one’ – artistically, of course.

The Badacro Inn used to offer accommodation, but the Covid years seem to have changed that. It may need some tender loving care to help it back to full functioning . Let’s wish it well. It’s simply a beautiful place, but, for now, the gunslinger may just have to move on. Here’s how Sergio Leone handled Harmonica’s departure. This is not how it ends, only how it ends for now.

Somehow, the return to Poolewe feels flat. The rain begins, again of course. It’s comfortably familiar…and today is our last day in the village. Tomorrow, very early, we leave for Ullapool and the car ferry to the Outer Hebrides. It will be a very different world.

But, then, so was the Badacro Inn… and the fine memories that, briefly, lived again.

(Above: Leaving Poolewe)

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

15 Comments on “A Poolewe diary (4) : Once upon a time in the far north-west

  1. Places like that are precious, Steve, especially when ‘accompanied’ with a soundtrack! I love that Hollywood at the time wasn’t afraid of pregnant pauses filled with intense close-ups – just like being in one of those places.


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