26
May 17

Walking in Torridon

It was a good day to take it easy. Our vacations are usually action packed in some way or another. Often there are three or four different ways the action is packed in. And this trip is no exception. That’s not a complaint: there is so much to see and marvel at here. Eventually, though, you think about slowing it down a little bit. And that’s exactly what my travel agent, trip pilot and all around best girl had planned for today.

We’re in some of the most picturesque rugged mountain country that Scotland has to offer, with some incredible walking trails. We tried a few of those today, and the views and the scenery and the surrounding was worth it. I could tell you, but here see for yourself. This is on the 54-acre Torridon estate:

Now, if you didn’t watch that video, here’s your chance to go back and press play. You’re missing views like this:

On a different walk today, we saw several red deer:

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a loch, or a lake, all to yourself, but you should try it sometime:

I want to try it sometime soon again, myself!

Walking, we didn’t see anyone for more than an hour, which was grand, on trails like this:

Here are a few more bits of video I shot today:

We had dinner at the Torridon Inn tonight. I’m eating a lot of meat pies. They are all a little different from one another, and they are all so tasty. And they look pretty inviting, too:


25
May 17

That time a seal scared a submarine

Today we went kayaking in the Atlantic, at Applecross. The water was calm and the sun was out and the weather was lovely. It was a perfect sort of day for it. We paddled in the morning and afternoon, with a local guide, who took this picture:

adventures

Our guide, Iian, started out with about 10 clients and we outlasted the rest of them. Late in the day we went to see the seals. It was a full day, covering about 12 kilometers, so not quite eight miles.

I am sending videos home to briefly describe our day. Here’s the report I filed today:

See, what had happened was, our guide Iian was telling us about how out in the main channel the British often come and test their submarines. Sometimes, he said, you can see their masts break break the surface. While we were on our way to see the seals, one of them startled a submarine. And the submarine got startled, rose near the surface and knocked over my orange kayak.

That story is much better than this one: The Yankee had stopped paddling and came to a complete stop. she said. And as I was coming up alongside of her I stopped paddling. Only I was still drifting. Just as I was making some sort of move to not run into her, she said “A seal!” And then, suddenly, I was upside down.

I quickly remembered this video I’d seen years ago about how kayakers roll their boats back over. It has to do with the hips. And then I quickly remembered that I’d never tried that before. Never been in a kayak before. And so I then quickly remembered what Iian told me earlier in the day. You simply reach forward, pull on this strap on the black spray skirt that keeps you in and water out and your problem is solved. That seemed easier. I did that.

So I came to the surface and flipped my kayak back right-side up. Iian, for some reason, told me to turn it over again. So I did, and then he came alongside, flipped it over, told me to swim around the back and held on while instructing me how to get back in.

Hey, the water was cold. While in college, I once dove with manatees in Defuniak Springs in 56-degree water. But today’s 48 is a new personal record. As soon as I climbed out of the water, though, I mean immediately, I was warm and fine.

Off came my hat, down went my sunglasses. Into the water went our snacks. I think I scared Iian, who really wanted me to take it easy and collect myself. But I was fine, naval disaster aside. That’s what happens when seals scare submarines.

Seriously, this is how flat the water was:

dogwood

We ate dinner under a little tent outside of the Applecross pub. We’re in a part of the world here where your dining options are limited, but all of the food has been grand.

Later, we saw this Highland cow:

Some of the other livestock we saw today:

Highland coo

Highland coo

sheep

And some of the things we saw while driving back to our room in Shieldaig this evening:

Highland coo

Highland coo

Highland coo

Highland coo

Some of those will wind up as banners here on the blog. Just as soon as my arms stop hurting from all of that paddling.


24
May 17

Northwest, to the coast of Scotland

Our first stop today was a diversion along the way, the Rogie Falls, a walk in the woods, a place to stand on a suspension bridge just in front of them, and a place where, in the late summer, you can watch the salmon jump upstream. I shot a video:

Here’s a place where we walked out on the rocks just above the falls:

adventures

I believed she’s taking this rock as her own personal territory.

adventures

And here we are on the suspension bridge, which sways only a tiny bit:

adventures

Our drive today took us from Inverness to Applecross and then to nearby Shieldaig. This is in the northwestern quadrant of the countryside. Here are some of the views we enjoyed on today’s road trip.

A beach scene we saw along the way:

adventures

And the classic Highland cow:

adventures

On the way to Applecross, we went over the high pass of Bealach na Bà. Below is a Hyperlapse video of a single track road, built like you’re in the Alps, lots of switchbacks. It goes from sea level to 2,054 feet. The views are spectacular — or they are cloudy and treacherous. This is the uphill side, about 45 minutes of riding, squeezing past others and waiting. It was mildly scary. It was terrific.

Bealach na Ba is Gaelic for Pass of the Cattle. Traditionally, this has been a drover’s road. Today, there are cars and motorcycles and I would like to try to ride a bike up it. Apparently there are two local races that use the mountain as part of their course.

I don’t know how to tell you about where we had dinner tonight. It was probably 40 miles from our bed and breakfast in Shieldaig, which is, itself, a lovely, small little village. The restaurant sits in a remote village called Diabaig. The trip there is rocky, rugged, and predicated by the many coastal inlets. It is an inspiring landscape.

Previously, what is now the restaurant was a small school building, a school put there simply to satisfy Scottish mileage laws. Now, Gille Brighde sits down on the water and a Dutchman and his Scottish wife make food brought to them by local farmers and fishermen. The mailman had to tell us which way to go to get there. We were probably there for two hours and four other people were there. I had a lemon hake. The Yankee had locally hand-dived scallops, which she pronounced as the best scallops she has ever enjoyed. It was a lovely meal.

Just outside the school turned restaurant is the local pier, which gets rave reviews :

adventures

That’s down in Lower Diabaig. These selfies are in Upper Diabaig. You can see the pier just on the left margin.

adventures

adventures


23
May 17

Cruising Loch Ness and touring Culloden Moor

Where’s Nessie? We found Nessie! This morning we searched for the Loch Ness Monster. Also, we cruised by Urquhart Castle:

And this afternoon we visited the field where the 1746 Battle of Culloden took place. This video tries, in vain, to explain the modern interpretation of that battle, a bloody affair that ultimately marked the end of the 1745 rebellion.


22
May 17

Edinburg to Inverlochy to Fort William to Inverness

We’ve set off for the Highlands on a grand adventure! And this is where the geography started to change.

adventures!

You go over a hill, round two curves and the landscape is entirely different:

adventures!

It is rugged and scrappy and harsh:

adventures!

And it holds a brutal beauty all its own, which is impossible to capture in just one or two pictures:

adventures!

So let’s try a panorama. Click to embiggen and scroll around:

adventures!

This is St. John’s Episcopal Church. Looks ancient, but is pretty young for these parts. It was built in 1842:

adventures!

That church is in the village of Ballachulish, which is where the mountains and a lake and a river estuary meet. This is the time of year to visit, because of all of the bluebells:

adventures!

This church may well wind up as the video on the front page of the site, soon …

Opposite the church is Loch Leven. Pronounce it “Li’ un,” or, in the local Gaelic, as “Lee’ oon.” Click to embiggen and scroll around:

adventures!

Lunch was in Fort William — a charming little tourist town with about 10,000 residents and a history dating back to the 17th century when the English were busy dealing with the Scots and, later, to control them through force. It is named after William of Orange, the Duke of Cumberland, who the Scots called “Butcher Cumberland.” I had a nice steak and ale pie there.

We stopped off in a light drizzle at Inverlochy Castle. I made a video:

And then we made our way up near Inverness, where our B’n’B is. We’ll stay for two nights in a room with a view of Loch Ness. As in …

adventures!

Didn’t see Nessie today, though we have a fine vantage point:

adventures!

After dinner in a pub in Inverness — I do enjoy pub food just a bit too much, I know — we got back to Kimcraigan just in time for a great light show. A double rainbow. Again, click to scroll around in the larger version:

adventures!

Tomorrow, we’re finding Nessie.