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A tour throught the Black Isle

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 02 September 2006

Saturday 02 September, a tour throught the Black Isle

Again we wake up late and chat a long time with Iain and Cathy on the balcony that they have made especially for the smokers, because there is a general smoking ban in Scotland since March 26 for pubs and restaurants. It is dry and not too cold and we take the map to think about what we want to do today. Between the Moray Firth and Cromarty Firth, two deep estuaries that go deep into the country, lies the Black Isle peninsula, named after the fertile black soil that often remains black in winter because there is hardly any snow.
Free ChurchOur map still shows a lot of white spots in this area so we drive the roads that we do not know yet and we see nice things like this church near Milbuie. Especially on the small roads outside the villages we notice that a lot of new and large houses are being built, while in the villages many houses are for sale.
It seems as if a wealth wave has struck, but when we ask questions about it, it turns out that it is often outsiders and non-Scots who buy cheap land here, put a house on it and sell it after a while at considerable prices earn money fast. We could not check if this is really true.
In the Highlands people never had much money, but the Black Isle was always one of the most prosperous regions because the soil is so fertile. The area is hilly with many farms and farmland among the forests and thus looks more like an English landscape than part of the rugged Highlands.
Black Isle Wildlife park Black Isle Wildlife parkAt the Black Isle Wildlife and Country Park we walk among the animals. It is like a small zoo with some exotic (white kangaroos, some zebras and llamas) and many native animals and birds. We can make some beautiful animal photos, but the entrance fee (£ 5.50 per person) is quite high for a small place like this.
Munlochy BayThen we drive past Munlochy Bay, a popular spot for birdwatchers and here and there we see people in cars with binoculars. There are a lot of birds of prey flying around, which means that there is also enough smaller game here to feed the birds of prey.
Moray Firth Moray FirthThe hay bales on the sloping fields, with a misty sea in the background, provide beautiful pictures and we can not choose which one of these two is the best. It looks like they can just roll into the sea like that!
Fairy Glen Fairy GlenNear Rosemarkie we suddenly see a little sign with Fairy Glen on it and Teije realizes that this name has been on our wish list for a long time, but we never knew exactly where it was. So it is here. We park the car and walk for about a mile through a beautiful valley with a small stream. It is only a pity that the road runs just above the valley so it is not as quiet as it should be in such a fairy & environment.
Fairy GlenAt the end of the path are two waterfalls, little ones, but in a very lovely setting. No wonder it's called Fairy Glen here, it's an ideal place for fairies and other mythical characters who feel comfortable in the forest. Near the waterfall is a tree stump that is full of coins, half of them have been struck into the wood. We also put a penny in an empty slot where someone else apparently pulled out a coin. Probably it's gifts for the fairies that hopefully bring you some luck. I have some problems with my back so I can use it. The walk itself is not too heavy, but with back pain is not recommended. But what a beautiful place!
We would like to see more in this area, like watching dolphins at Chanonry Point (it seems to be one of the best places in Europe), but I'm not in the mood anymore so we decide to drive back to Beauly . And then we suddenly see all the half-decayed clothes hanging in the trees along the road.
Clootie WellThis is Clootie Well at Munlochy. The source here would have healing water and the story goes that you have to hang the diseased part of the body in the well and then dry it with a piece of clothing. Than you should hang that garment in the trees and while the garment (a cloot is a piece of cloth) is decayed, the disease would also be cured. A nice story, but I do not believe it. But in view of the ailments that are still to follow, I had, in retrospect, better could have taken some spring water ...
It is busy in the pub when we come back, it is a Saturday night and that is celebrated. Teije almost gets into a fight with a tipsy gentleman when it comes to politics, which is always a sensitive subject. But fortunately there are also enough sensible people and the drunks are being thrown out of the pub.
But with Tony, a somewhat older man who originally comes from Dunoon in Argyll we have nice conversations. He is almost an English gentleman, he behaves so very correctly. As a former naval officer he has roamed a lot about the world and learned quite a bit. He now lives in this area for 15 years, but is still seen as an outsider by the locals. Strange guys, those Scots ...


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