In search of a Highland Cow…12/5/17

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After a beautiful sun set and a peaceful night we were woken by hungry sheep making quite a raucous around us. We welcomed the sunshine and beautiful blue skies yet again….. unfortunately this morning not only did we have the sheep as onlookers but lingering, waiting to attack were the midges….

My sweet blood had lured them in and they found it necessary to help (their words not mine) me out whilst during my morning exercises. Needless to say there are a few less midges in Sheildaig and unfortunately a few unwanted nibbles to my body!

Still smiling – how could you not be up here –  we made our sandwiches with the Scottish wood smoked salmon we bought on the way to the pub last night, left our donation in the box for such a beautiful spot and headed North to find our next spot for the night.

The journey was beautiful and after an initial part of single track through the national park the road widened and remained somewhere between an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ road for most of the journey to Ullapool. We parked up about a mile before the town to eat lunch and have a think about where we were going to stay, leaving the motorhome outside town to walk in and have a look around.

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Despite being a ferry port it is an incredibly picturesque setting but also a very pretty little town. We found a nicely equipped outdoors shop but unfortunately for them / fortunately for us they didn’t have anything that tempted us enough to part with our money, although as a compromise we did buy some Ullapool smoked salmon (obviously just so we can do a taste test!) and some local bacon, sausages and black pudding for breakfast later in the week.

Although we went to look at two different campsites we decided to stay where we were in our little parking place. It was fairly quiet and a young German couple had come and parked next to us, so we settled in for the night making some bread and dinner as the sun started to go down.

We were prepared for the worst but woke to low cloud and a slight dampness in the air although no rain or wind. So I set off on a quick run whilst Keith amused passers by with his headstands before we packed up and set off just as the rain started to dribble a little…. I say that, as despite the forecast which was set to be pretty heavy rain, that is pretty much all it did all day… dribble a little! ….. just to be clear, I am happy about a bit of dribble even when it is accompanied with wind.

The dribble just made the tones of the lochs and surrounding mountains look more enhanced and beautiful in my eyes, especially when covered partially by the low cloud.

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We found a local market which was being held in a community hall in one of the villages we past through so we thought we would stop to see if they had any interesting wares. Amongst the second hand books, hand painted silk scarves and cards there was a Charcuterie stall with home smoked items….although as most of you know, I don’t believe you can never have enough Smoked Salmon, we do still have one and a half packs, so we decided to buy some Smoked Cheddar which is delicious.

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We continued our route, briefly stopping at the Smoo caves for a walk, arriving at our little CL (94 Laid, Loch Eriboll, Lairg, IV27 4UN £14 a night) just after lunch.

The CL is right on Loch Eriboll, looking out onto Ben Hope (a mountain just in case you wanted to know) and has lots of walks… we settled for a quick (2.5hrs there and back) around the wheelhouse which takes you up to the peak enabling you to look out over the Loch and out to sea.  Unfortunately the photos in the mist didn’t do it justice but it was a pretty good view.

It was a beautifully tranquil night  – although my midge bites gave me hell… but apparently all par of the course in Scotland so I shouldn’t complain,  although there were a few waiting for me in the morning to do their morning exercise routine ☹️ … all I can say is ‘never knock the wind’…. it keeps those midges away!

Exercise quickly completed, Keith set up the Bar B Q for a cooked breakfast.   It wasn’t particularly warm but it is always nice to cook outside if possible especially when it comes to sausages, black pudding, bacon, tomatoes and egg. The bacon and black pudding were definite winners, but the sausages had room for improvement…. we are becoming experts now!

Pulling out of the drive we joined three beautiful old VW campers, a fourth mark IV and another motorhome to traverse the loch slowly, stopping at almost every passing point for a car, truck or strayed lamb! A slow but pretty journey initially which then switched onto a normal ‘A’ road for the last twenty miles with views onto the nuclear power station…. not quite as pretty as we have become accustomed to over the last few days!

Just before we arrived at our little overnight spot we passed through Dunnet Bay and Keith spotted a little distillery…. Gin – yay! So, after  parking up and being made to feel very welcome by Yvonne and her Chickens, Ducks and cows (Kittawake Cottage, Skarfskerry, Thurso, KV14 8XN – £6) we set off in search of the distillery! www.rockrosegin.com – a small place set up by a husband and wife three years ago. Not only are they making good gin but also investing time and money to ensure sustainability and protection of local wildlife habitats. What more can you ask for, a nice walk (3hr round trip), a bit of knowledge gained and a bottle of gin heavier!

The little CL was facing out onto the Orkney Islands … which we could just about make out through the mist and cloud last night although they were completely gone by this morning as although there was definitely more sun trying creep through, it was foggy out to sea.

We both battled the wind which was pretty special (gotta look on the bright side, at least their were no midges!) and went for a run, said goodbye to our feathered friends and set off to see John O Groats.

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Mika (and Keith and I) have now visited both John O Groats and Lands End…. a well travelled lass at a mere three and a half years old (and that’s not to mention Italy, France, Spain, Portugal….)

Despite the views not being too spectacular on the last part of our journey yesterday, as we started to head south from John O’Groats I would say the coast line was equally as stunning as the West – just different.  The East coast has far more trees and textures, whereas the West is a little more rugged and wild. Unfortunately it was very hazy but you could still make out the pancake rocks as the hills lined with the yellow gorse rolled along next to us at the side of the road.

We never really have plans, but even less so at the moment, so having seen an interesting looking pub on Scottish Wildcampers facebook a while back we decided to drop them a line and head over to it.  Arriving at Inverness we headed East and then up onto the coast to park up at ‘The Beach Bar’ in Lossiemouth, Once we had said hello and booked ourselves a table for later we then headed out for a little walk along the 3 mile beach / sand dunes.

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I was a little sceptical as we walked through the woods as I could see the midges lining up to attack but all was good and we made it out and back to the motorhome in one piece!

The Beach Bar is a buzzing place with a complete mix of clientele from young to old, a great selection of beer from the local brewery and the food was excellent …. we would definately recommend the Haggis Bon bons!

Needless to say I have still not managed to find a highland cow within a reasonable distance to take a photo.  We have seen many grazing in the fields as we have passed, including the little’uns, but I am still currently lacking a photo….