After a night at home and a quick turnaround, we headed off with Ellie again, this time to Sutherland and Caithness to continue exploring this fascinating area like tourists. We had a vague plan and headed over the Kessock Bridge then on towards Struie Hill viewpoint for a lunch stop. It is a popular stop for tourists and there was a coach there when we arrived. As I popped the roof and started to gather lunch making materials, David went outside to turn on the gas in order to make coffee. A German tourist asked if we were stopping the night, to which David responded "No, it's lunch time". "Ah yes, I see the chef at work now."
After lunch, we carried on our way north to Shin Falls where we stopped to investigate the recently upgraded facillities. We used the toilets whilst we were there (people do have trouble following simple instructions *sigh*) took a walk to see if any salmon were leaping (we saw one and something smaller) and then had a look at the black and grey water waste dumps. They are good! But too close to the fresh water tap for our liking. We rarely need to top up with water, so this won't cause us an issue.
Then we were on our way again, just a short distance to Lairg for a short but interesting walk to the remains of a broch and then a chambered cairn. The Walk Highland instructions for this walk were a tad vague, as usual, but we managed never the less and enjoyed a pleasant stroll with good views. There were quite a few people around, a mix of locals walking dogs and one or two other tourists.
After returning to Ellie, we continued north to our planned stop, making notes of other possible stopping places on the way. I was somewhat concerned we might be beaten to it, this spot was maybe too obvious, but when we arrived at the car park by Cnoc Craggie, noone else was there, so we made ourselves at home. There is a very short walk to a viewpoint which we decided to stroll up before dinner. As we left Ellie, another van arrived, the occupants of which asked if we minded sharing, which we didn't, but it was nice to be asked.
The walk was very short.
On returning to Ellie, we prepared dinner and then relaxed with a beer.
Roughly 5.18km and 99.2m ascent
In the morning we needed to head to Bettyhill to get more milk and beer, there was a walk we wanted to do on the way at Borgie Forest. Another Walk Highlands magical mystery walk, we ended up doing the walk in reverse, but it was still pleasant if very short. This was good, as it meant we arrived at Bettyhill in good time to buy alcohol (Sunday licensing hours in Scotland) While we were there, we found a lovely coffee shop and as we were being tourists, it was the perfect excuse to have coffee and cake. The lady who served us was so friendly and welcoming, I would highly recommend stopping at The Store Cafe. The cake she recommended us was delicious.
After our coffee, David headed uphill to another shop in search of coffee, whilst I returned to Ellie to make sandwiches. When David returned, we opted not to take our lunch with us on our short walk around Ard Mor and set off towards the viewpoint.
This walk follows the edge of the cliffs quite closely, there are wonderful views and lots of seabirds nesting. Also, precipitous drops.
I managed just fine, taking my own route slightly further in land at times.
Looking back to sandy Farr Bay
Looking ahead to Torrisdale Bay
Abandoned salmon fishing station
On returning to Ellie, we decided to move off and find somewhere to eat our lunch, we drove passed several view points and laybys before stopping by an old bridge with a picnic bench and a spectacular view of a bank of gorse in full flower.
Our next planned port of call was at Forsinard, at the RSPB reserve where a viewing tower has been built and the vastness Flow Country can really be appreciated. A short but thoroughly enjoyable walk, with lots of information and just those views!
After this little stroll, we decided we would head off and find our last overnight stop. We were travelling a really quiet, single track road with views free from pylons, masts and turbines, it was truly wild. We happened upon a parking area just off the road overlooking a small lochan, there was space for another vehicle if someone had been wanting to fish, the views were beautiful and we decided it was perfect for us.
There were midges, but I popped down to the lochan to take a few photographs before they got annoying, while David put the gas on to light the fridge and ready to cook dinner. Before we lost all daylight, we were able to work out what all the distant lumps and bumps were, including Ben Klibreck and Ben Loyal. There was a mast just off to the right, we were able to pick up enough signal to watch television in bed.
This has to be one of the best stops yet.
Borgie Forest Walk
Roughly 1.82km and 38.4m ascent
Roughly 3.13km and 126m ascent
We had an exceptionally quiet night. After breakfast, we waited for a good breeze before David went out to turn off the gas and collect the grey water containers which I stash in the rear doorwell whilst we travel. We were heading back via our outward route so that we could call in by Falls of Shin and use the facillities, thus supporting the community that have provided them. We stopped for lunch at a laybe the other side of Struie Hill this time, it was more level and quieter.
And then, we were home again.