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To Sutherland, the north of the Highlands

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 06 September 2006

Wednesday 06 September, to Sutherland, the north of the Highlands

And again I do not get a soft egg at breakfast, while Rachel and I both have asked for it; who knows, maybe tomorrow. We tease Iain a bit about it because otherwise he is an excellent cook, but he can handle it.
It is a beautiful day and we can drive around again without any problem, we do not have to take into account any engine problems. We go to Sutherland, a region that is mainly known from the Clearances, the clearing of large areas by the landowners. The Duchess of Sutherland, who ruled this area, was responsible in the 19th century for one of the greatest evictions: her steward, Patrick Sellar, expelled more than 15,000 people with great force. People who didn' leave in time often had to watch how their house was put on fire. The intention was to use the land for the lucrative Cheviot and Linton sheep farming, which yielded more than the rent of the often poor farmers. Because of the Clearances, the Highlands were rapidly depopulated and many went to America to try their luck there.
Flooded road, Doll Coast at BroraAlong Dunrobin Castle, for a long time the residence of the Dukes of Sutherland, we continue north as far as Brora, until well into the 20th century an industrial town with, among other things, a quarry. Today it is a rather sleepy town with a distillery and a mill.
Clyne War Memorial & Clock in BroraFortunately for the inhabitants there is more and more tourism and there is work in the oil industry, but unemployment is still high, more than 10%.
On the Clyne War Memorial & Clock are the names of the victims from Brora in the 1st and the 2nd World War and the first Gulf War.
Glen Brora Glen BroraAround Brora are still a lot of roads that we do not know and there is a road through Strath Brora inland: narrow roads through a fairly bare hilly landscape. Here and there a sheep walks and sometimes we see a house or a group of houses.
Glen Brora House at MuieNow, almost 200 years after the Clearances, people start to live in the interior of the Highlands again and the houses we see are fairly new. After exploring Glen Brora extensively, we drive west along Loch Shin. There are a few roads that we do not know yet.
Deadend, BlairbuieWe drive also all dead-end roads and so we arrive at Blairbuie at the end of the road near these houses. A child plays in the yard and a woman comes to us to ask if we are lost. We show the map and she totally agrees that tourists miss a lot by not driving this kind of roads until the end. We have a very nice conversation and she tells us all about what it's like to live so far away from the civilized world. They even have broadband internet, and are fully equipped, never feel lonely and enjoy the peace. And they are right!
Loch ShinWe drive a bit further along Loch Shin looking for a dead end road that is on the map but that we can not find anywhere. Eventually we find out that there is a fence next to the road and behind it is a heavily overgrown path that may have been the road through Glen Flag to Loch Flag. There is a lock on the fence and the path behind it does not seem suitable for our car either. But well, now there is a road on our map that we probably will never be able to drive ...
Carbisdale CastleOn the way back we pass close to Carbisdale Castle, a real haunted castle and probably one of the most special youth hostels in Scotland (about € 22 per person per night). Especially when the sun is not shining it looks very haunting and dark. Paranormal researchers are regular guests in the castle and the most famous spirits are the Lady in White and the Bagpipe player.
Then we go shopping in the Harrods. Yes, even in the Highlands there is a Harrods, but this is a modest wooden building with all kinds of luxury items that still attract many people. We buy a few nice presents for our friends in Beauly, very tasty sweets for me and Teije buys a few jars of honey with whiskey. The weather is nice and we can sit outside for a while before we drive back. But my back starts to hurt again and I am happy when we are back in the hotel where I first go to bed for a while.
This is our last evening here and we celebrate that exuberantly in the pub with all friends and acquaintances. Fortunately, we do not have to get up early tomorrow, because it is gettng pretty late, but very nice.


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