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A trip to the north: Loch Shin, Sutherland

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 17 & 18 March 2003

Monday 17 March, a trip to the north: Loch Shin, Sutherland

Like the days before, the sun is shining bright in a clear blue sky and it is pretty warm. After a quiet breakfast we leave the hotel to go north, in the direction of Loch Shin.
Loch ShinIn the mountains we have to pass through 2 dense clouds and for a moment we fear we won't see the sun again. The view is 50 meters at most, but when we descend we leave the clouds behind. In mountainous areas clouds often have the tendency to hang on the mountains.
A hidden estateNear Loch Shin we look for the famous new Harrods owned by Mohamed Al Fayed. Iain told us there is a new Scottish establishment, but we don't find it. Of course, we do see a nice estate hidden in the waste Highlands.
Later, we find out that Harrods is established in the visitor centre of the Falls of Shin, where we accidentally passed by without noticing it. Well, now we have a reason to come back here, a next time.
Peninsula near Tarbet Peninsula near TarbetAfter a 50 kilometers long single road track and only a few oncoming cars, we reach the broad coastal road which leads to Durness in northern direction. We go south and visit a small and very desolate peninsula with a few small villages, Tarbet being one of them.
Peninsula near Tarbet Peninsula near TarbetThe hills are sometimes extremely steep (one even 25%!) and often we cannot see in which direction the road will go after the next slope. Fortunately, we don't come across any other traffic.
The sceneries are phenomenal, sometimes it looks like a landscape on the moon, then we have a view on the sea or a hidden loch. We see many places where we would like to build a house...
Peninsula near Tarbet Ardvreck CastleBut, of course, the weather can be very bad here, and especially with heavy storms or snow it won't be that enjoyable. But we can always dream about living on remote places like here, we would love it.

At Loch Asynth we pass Ardvreck Castle, a ruin from the end of the 16th century. Although it is a ruin, it is possible to wed here.
UllapoolIn Ullapool, the most important town of the northwest, we finally find a restaurant that is open, to have a drink. It is a fairly modern town, founded in 1788 with a regular street plan. One can see it is constructed and not grown throughout the centuries. It is a good place to start for exploring the northern Highlands.
Corrieshalloch Gorge Corrieshalloch GorgeOn the way back we stop at Corrieshalloch Gorge, a narrow gorge of 60 meters height. A wobbling footbridge (at most 5 persons at the same time are admitted) goes over the gorge and the Falls of Measach.
We spend the night in the pub, talking with Iain and Cathy and some old acquitances. Teije tries to connect a new projector that Iain bought, to the tv, video and dvd-player, but we don't have the right cables; we get only tv in black and white on the walls. But at least we have got an image on the wall, so that calls for a pint to celebrate. The cosiness in the pub is the reason that we go off to bed quite late, but we can sleep as late as we want here. One of the people we talk to is a German who arrived here in the eighties and immediately decided to stay.
We would like to do that, too, but because of the money we now earn in Holland we have the possibility to see so many more places of the world. So this dream will have to wait a bit longer.

Tuesday 18 March 2003, A trip to the south: Glen Nevis, Loch Leven

Glen NevisLast week we went already to Ben Nevis, but then we didn't have time to visit Glen Nevis, the valley that enters the mountain massif east of Fort William. It is a little more than an hour's drive, so we travel southward. We have regularly passed Fort William, but we have never paid a visit to this glen. There is one narrow single track road through this valley with a few extremely steep hills and, of course, the many curves. The thermometer in the car tells us that the temperature outside is quickly rising to a very pleasant 18 degrees Celsius!
Glen Nevis Glen NevisFrom the end of the valley a footpath goes into the mountains and it is possible to make long hikes from here. But one always has to be careful here, since the weather can change very quickly and the path can be treacherous. More people die every year on the Ben Nevis than on the Mount Everest. But many more people come here for a walk, of course.
Glen Coe Loch LevenAfter a long walk through the beautiful valley with it's many gorges and waterfalls, we continue our way to the south, to drive around Loch Leven.
To the south we look at the mountains that form the Glen Coe. Glen Coe means 'Valley of the weeping' and reminds of the mass murder that took place here in 1692.
After a break in Fort William we return to the north, but this time we turn right at Fort Augustus, to travel back on the eastern side of Loch Ness towards Inverness. There are several narrow roads in this area and now and then we pass through a small village.
Loch Ness Hinterland Loch NessAfter taking this picture, we suddenly hear a sort of barking and two animals run away. They are some sort of Japanese deer that live in the wild, here. After zooming in very closely, we could see them near the border of the woods in this picture.
There is an enormous variety in the landscapes on the eastern side of Loch Ness: sometimes we are in dense forests where the sun never shines, sometimes we find ourselves on bare plateaus like on this picture.
Slippery roadsIn the woods there is still some snow and now and then the roads are slippery. So we have to be careful with all these curves.
There is not much traffic and we drive all over the area. Not many tourists come here, most people go for the touristic places on the western side like Drumnadrochit with the monster-exhibitions and the beautiful ruins of Urquhart Castle. The eastern side of the loch offers more quietness and plenty of nature to enjoy.
At sunset we return to Beauly and spend the night (again) in the pub. Among the customers is an Irishman, who lives in Glasgow, who can tell fantastic jokes; he keeps us busy the whole evening.


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