The day starts very promising, with a clear blue sky and a pleasant temperature. Therefore we decide to visit some nice places where we can make a walk. First of all, we drive to Strathconnon, which is a long glen, going west from Marybank. A single track road leads to Loch Beannacharain. It is a dead end, so we have to drive the same way back, but it's worthwhile.
The reflection of this hill in the water, with all the colours, is a wonderful sight. Again a beautiful and quiet place.
So we want to take a walk here, but the midges (small biting insects) also have their plans to have a nice day, full with human meat (ours). There are thousands, maybe tens of thousands of them.
Within five minutes we are surrounded by thousands of them and Teije is stung on several places (his own fault, walking in T-shirt). So we flee back to the car to look for another spot with less vermin.
Along Beauly River we pass Aigas House (to the left, in the distance), on our way to Glen Affric. Two years ago we have also visited this Glen, but for some reasons we don't have any pictures of that visit (I think it was because our film was full and we didn't take another). Some travel guides mention Loch Affric as the most beautiful area of Scotland. Well, it is very lovely there, indeed; but we have seen so many beautiful places, we wouldn't be able to choose one place as the most beautiful spot.After reading this, we got the next remark from Iain, our friend at Beauly:
"Yes, I have heard the one about Affric. Generally the Glen, not just the Loch is thought to be the finest in Scotland. Historically it was not always that way. Glen Affric, it must be said, was the only one of the glens to have a more picturesque appearance after the flooding of the hydro dams. Loch Benevean (stick to the Gaelic form it's more correct) has lots of bays, inlets, and places of interest. The road running high above it at times shows it off to the best advantage. Had you seen Glenstrathfarrar before it was flooded then you would know that you had seen the most beautiful glen in all Scotland. Loch Monar lies at the head of this glen and it is my favourite place to go fishing. Most of the beauty spots now are seen only in the mind's eye. If someone ever was to do a project on trying to build up a picture of Loch Monar from old photos etc. I would be very happy to chip in a few quid to help with expenses."
First we stop at the Dog Falls, where we make a short walk. No midges here. Hopefully it will stay that way.
The views become prettier every minute, so every 5 minutes we stop to make a new picture. One can drive quite far into the Glen until there is a large parking area. It is also nice to walk the whole glen but then one has to walk a lot on the road.
This is Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin, just before Loch Affric. We are lucky the sun shines so the beauty of the spot is even more apparent.
The road through Glen Affric ends just before Loch Affric. There is still snow on the mountain tops around us, but with the temperatures we have today (20°C or more) it will probably melt away quickly.
We park the car and start walking. We choose the eastern side of the loch, but next time we better take the opposite side. We loose sight of the loch quite soon and stray away from it with every step.
Sometimes we can catch a glimmer of the loch, through the trees, but the woods and fences prevent us to come nearer to the water. Everywhere there are notes saying 'private property'. Well, we would probably do the same when we own this place... Nevertheless, we can make a few nice pictures, on one of them Affric Lodge (to the right).
At some point we are about to turn back, because the distance to the loch becomes bigger and bigger. But Teije decides to walk a bit further and finds a small creek. So he calls Elisabeth who, unfortunately, has to walk this extra distance also. The rest of the afternoon we spend there, enjoying the warmth of the sun. We have taken sandwiches and drinks, both a good book and Teije has even brought the manual of his digital camera. And finally he finds out how to use the automatic shutter release, so we can make some pictures of ourselves.
Elisabeth can't resist looking for shining stones in the river, like always when there is water around.... We have a wonderful afternoon.
We sit in the sun for hours. We had never expected this kind of weather in this time of year. We are very lucky again. No midgets and almost no tourists. Sometimes a few hikers come by and we wave to them, but the quietness prevails. Time passes by, too quickly...
About 6 o'clock it becomes a bit cooler and we decide to return to Beauly. But first we have to make the long walk back to the car. Driving back through Glen Affric, we can't resist making a few more pictures.Around 8 we are back at the hotel, just before twilight. It has been a delightful, peaceful day. We have a firm meal in the hotel, after which we sit down in the pub, enjoying our time in conversation with the people who live and work here. Teije can make himself useful in helping repair a computer, but soon returns to the pub. We sit with Iain and Cathy for some time and have a great time. It is funny to see how people can develop a bond in such a short time (we have been here only 2 weeks over the last 2 years), in spite of the language barrier. We love Scotland for the nature and the scenery, but a friendship like this one, certainly gives an additional dimension.