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Through the northern Highlands

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 15 September 2016

Thursday 15 September, through the northern Highlands

The Kyle of Sutherland at Bonar Bridge The Bridge of Bonar BridgeAfter a Scottish breakfast we have coffee with our friends and then go on the road, first to Bonar Bridge on the Kyle of Sutherland. A long bridge spans the water where until 1812 only a ferry sailed. In 1809, a boat with more than 100 people capsized at night and 99 of them died, one of the larger disasters in Scottish history. Then it was decided to build a bridge although the current one is already the third one. The first was dragged along in a heavy flood in 1892 and the second one was too weak.
Geological eras at Bonar Bridge Geological eras at Bonar BridgeWe park the car in Bonar Bridge and walk to the other side of the river. At the parking lot there is a park along the water with a modern stone circle with all geological eras of the earth on it. From almost all those eras, stones and rocks have been found in the region that have been placed around the circle. Something we have not seen before, very nicely done.
The Kyle of Sutherland at Bonar BridgeIn the year 1900 a treasure from the Bronze Age was found nearby, when workers blew up a granite hill with explosives. It is called the Migdale Hoard, a collection of jewels, but also a bronze blade of an axe and headgear from 2,000 BC. I understand very well that Teije would like to walk around with his metal detector here, but there is so much land, you just have to have a bit of luck (and permission of course). Today we are just going for a walk along the water. The sun comes a bit and it is getting warmer.
The wee house, Lairg The wee house, LairgFrom Bonar Bridge we drive to Lairg on Loch Shin, and the thermometer tells us it is 25 degrees! Much better than yesterday when it almost did not exceed 10 degrees. A hydroelectric power station separates the loch into two parts and the part at the center is called Little Loch Shin which contains a tiny island with a very small wooden house, Broon's house. The story tells that the poacher Jack Broon was given the island by a local landowner as a reward that he had taught him to brew whisky. To confirm his new status as a landowner, he would have built this cottage.
Unfortunately, the house has only been there since the annual gala week of 1997. But the legend is gladly kept alive because it attracts tourists to the town that is pretty remote in the Highlands. The cottage has already been rebuilt twice after it was destroyed by a storm. But at the shore is an information board with a detailed story about Jack and his family, great, we love such stories.
A helicopter along the A836 at the Crask Inn in the Highlands Road sign along the A836 at the Crask InnOn the A836, a single track road, we drive further north and in the middle of nowhere there is an inn, the Crask Inn. In a meadow next to it a helicopter is parked, probably the postman who comes to bring a package along.
There is also something similar to a monument, it could have been a Pictish stone but it turns out to be a direction indicator that shows the distances to the nearest places: Inverness 80 miles, John o'Groats 90 miles.
View of Loch Naver Memorial stone along the river NaverThrough an empty and inhospitable landscape we go even further north, above Loch Naver. In the past, forests and agricultural areas used to be here, but after the Clearances in the 18th and 19th century, the inhabitants were chased away by the landowners and the land was eaten by sheep, which yielded much more profit. Here is a memorial for Donald McCleod's gloomy memories, writings of one of the victims of the often violent evictions. He lived here in the village of Rosal, which simply ceased to exist in 1814. When you read the stories from that time it makes you really sad how brutal that period was.
Taking a break in the Highlands The A897 along the Helmsdale riverIt is wonderful weather and we have a longer break at the water. Teije has to suppress the tendency to get his metal detector, imagine what you can find at such a destroyed village! At the hamlet Syre there is a triple jump and here we turn right, to the east this time. When we arrive at Helmsdale on the coast, it suddenly becomes very foggy.
The fog is quickly coming up in Brora The Rose Garden in TainThe fog covers the land very quickly and in 10 minutes the temperature also drops 10 degrees. Another typical Scottish phenomenon, it literally can freeze or thaw from one moment to the next. It is special to drive one moment in dense fog, then suddenly under a blue sky and suddenly in the middle of the fog again. It goes so fast that the fog looks like a moving, living creature. It is only a quarter of an hour later, at Tain, that the clouds completely disappear and the weather gets warmer again.
Iain and Elisabeth behind the laptopWe made a very long, but beautiful ride and only in the beginning of the evening we are back in Beauly. Luckily, Teije got the wifi back working, something he has to do almost every year, and I can use the internet in the old-fashioned but cozy lounge to take care of my online zoo. With Iain in front of me it looks like we are at an internet café.


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