ToLT Days 8 and 9 – travelling through space and time

The drive from Uig on Skye to Strathpeffer was exactly that: a journey through space and even time. Well, sl it seemed. First of all the time kind of slowed down. We just couldn’t break free of Skye. It was an actual challenge to leave it behind. We both could have stayed for – oh, let’s say forever. But we had another place booked, so at some point we had to go. We filled up on fuel in Broadford and went into the huge co-op for some fresh food, which we consumed outside with a last view on Skye. At long last we made it over the bridge.

The idea was to pass by Applecross and Torridon on the way to Strathpeffer, our next stop. So we took the road towards Carron and over the pass, which is really interesting. Trollstigen in Norways is nothing compared to that. It takes quite a while to reach Applecross. After the pass you drive over high moors with a few small lochs. You see mountains in the background. After a while the journey down towards the sea begins and at long last, there it is: Applecross. You feel like you’re at the Back of Beyond – and still there are Campsites and tourist informations and what not. A really beautiful part of the country. We didn’t go back by the pass as we originally planned, but took the long road along the coast to Torridon and from there in the direction of Inverness. We didn’t really stop to take pictures, though – only a few. This area feels like some enchanted part of Norway. It’s a fjord landscape with wide, water-filled valleys and a far view. There is till something extremely Scottish about it all, but still, we felt like we had come to a different country.

Which was nothing compared to what we experienced upon arrival at our next stop. We booked ‚The Holly Lodge‚ first and foremost because it was dog-friendly and close to Inverness. That was the extent of our thoughts about that. So we didn’t know anything about the town, the surroundings, nothing at all. Which is why we felt we had fallen into a wormhole and fallen out of it somewhere in South England. In the Holly Lodge information folder, I found the following line: ‚Strathpeffer the ist most un-Highland village in the Highlands‘. Yes, it is. As a matter of fact, coming into Strathpeffer transports you back to the Victorian Age and to the southern coast of England, where people went for ‚the waters‘ in those years. Strathpeffer had ‚waters‘ of its own and a rich lady imported the southern style and built it up in the middle of the Highlands. That’s way Strathpeffer looks like a late Victorian twon. Not only that, the whole countryside looks rather English, not very Highlandish. It’s really beautiful with its soft green hills and all the fields. And if you’re anything like me – loving the north and the south of Britain alike – you’ll appreciate it. And I do. However, neither Siobhan nor I were ready to be pulled out of the Highlands just yet. We had just lost our hearts to the Northwest, now we felt it.

The ‚Holly Lodge‘ is a B&B run by a family. Their story is told on the website. The house is beautiful, a Victorian Country House with huge bedrooms and luxuriously fitted bathrooms en-suite I have never seen such thick carpets – especially not in the bathroom! There are several rooms let to travellers from all over Europe, maybe the world. I love how, in the morning, we all sit around a table in an old Victorian dining room, perfectly laid, with a buffet. You can just imagine the butler coming in, white gloves and all, to serve. Instead it’s Fiona, serving the best Veggie-Haggis we ever had and giving tour advice including a print of the map and tidal times. She is a walking Highland guide – having written her own book about the Highlands -, and so can whip up a whole tour for you at a moment’s notice.

By the way: Germans might have heard about the Haggis we (could) have had at our stay (if we weren’t vegetarians) at the Holly Lodge. I heard Fiona say it’s from Cockburn’s. I didn’t pay too much attention at the time, but later we drove by the very butcher who makes them. I rememberd the storefront and after confirming it via Google, yes, this was the place Tim Mälzer send Tim Raue to in one of the ‚Kitchen Impossible‘ Episodes. Basically we were located right next to the best Haggis Maker in the country. Fiona was very amused by that story.

However, this evening we couldn’t be bothered anymore. We managed a short walk about what they say is Scotland’s most beautiful golf course. It really is situated beautifully above the village with a mangnificent view over Dingwall all the way to the Cromarty Firth.

Even though Fiona had given us a route suggestion for the next day at breakfast, we still had a yearning to go to the north coast. I had it in my head to go from one coast to the other and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that northern part of Scotland. I could just see myself looking at it on a map, regretting not having taken the trouble. So instead of following Fiona’s suggestions, we took the A 836 to Tongue, which is beautifully located on the Kyle of Tongue. It was still low tide so taking the street right through the water was an interesting experience. In order to get to the north coast we drove into the direction of Tamine and ended up on the Achininver beach, where we took our lunch. After that we drove back down to the Kyle of Tongue where we took a little break and where Sammy could play the sand. The waters were rising quickly, though, so after a while, we headed back.

We took the parallel A 897 back to the east coast. At Dunrobin Castle we made our last stop. We didn’t take a tour of the castle or the gardens or the Falconry – mostly because we were way to late. But we did take a little walk around it. On the way back to Strathpeffer we passed by Invergordon, where there are lots of oil rigs lying in the Firth of Cromarty. On Fiona’s advice we went to the golf course for diner, since Sammy was allowed in there. There we learned that the Cromarty First is very deep and was used for submarines during WWII. Again the day comes to a late close, so while Siobhan and Sammy are already slepping tightly, I realize I have to wrap this up now so that I can get some sleep, too. After all, tomorrow is a new day!

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