As we walked up to the wooden door of the tiny Highland bothy I remember thinking how wonderful it was that it was completely disconnected. Surrounded by nothing but mountains, water and wildlife. People (including myself) actively look for hostels with free wifi, but how rare is it to find somewhere which is solely for shelter, completely basic and beautifully tranquil. I thought it was very special.
The Scottish Highlands blew me away. I was ignorant to the fact that I share a country with some of the most awe-inspiring beautiful landscapes in the world. On Friday afternoon we drove from Edinburgh to Lochcarron, which would be my home for only two nights. In hindsight Friday afternoon was not the best time to choose and we had to battle through a lot of traffic to get over the famous Fourth bridge to enter the north of Scotland. But it was worth it. As we neared Inverness the landscapes stretched further and the mountains rose higher. The highlands give a very warm welcome to their visitors.
The first thing I really noticed was the amount of water there is, whether it be lochs, rivers or the main one – rain. Mixed in with the bare banded rock faces and gorse covered fields it makes for quite a view. Lochcarron is 60 miles from Inverness. That is 60 miles from civilisation. Passing Inverness felt like I really had entered the middle of nowhere. There are only 210,000 people in the whole of the Highlands and you can really feel it! Quite strange for a city girl like myself.
Lochcarron is a small but long village which sits beside Loch Carron (believe it or not). The loch is huge and very deep in places. It’s also rich with wildlife. Unfortunately I didn’t get a swim in, but maybe I will next time! The village contains few houses and some ammenities: a couple of guesthouses, cafe, restaurant, some shops and even a gallery. I believe it’s quite popular with tourists and it’s also very near to the Isle of Skye. (When I go for longer next time, Skye is on my list.)
Although I was there for 2 nights, I was very ill the first night and following day with a sickness bug. I never get ill and it just had to happen in the Highlands! Even so, I made the most of my last day there when I had the strength to get up and walk. So this is the story of that day with the help of the beautiful photos the Highlands afforded me.
We took a couple of bikes and cycled to Coulags, where we would begin our walk, only about 15 minutes away. Cycling along the loch and between the mountains was absolutely stunning. En route we came across an old rusting war bunker which went underground via a ladder. It was slightly soggy inside so we stayed above ground. As we arrived in Coulags we ditched the bikes and headed off following the path of the river which flows between the mountains. It’s well worn out by walkers so was not treacherous, and I enjoyed the elegant stepping stones across the many streams along the way.
We were heading for the bothy, which if you don’t know is a basic shelter which is left open for free use of anyone who needs it. The one we visited was a beautiful little stone cottage equipped with a stove, table, chairs, books, candles and even some fairy lights (which worked). Quite the romantic scene – I would love to spend a night there at some point. I bet the sunrise would be immense being right in the thick of the Highlands on a clear morning. The best thing? No Wifi.
As we turned back upon ourselves to head back to Lochcarron the weather improved. Although it had been warm all day we did get caught in some muggy showers. At this point the sun was shining down and we were walking comfortably in t-shirts, occasionally taking a drink from the crystal clear streams. We came across a drop in the main river which caused a large pool perfect for a swim. I’m a wimp and decided that I’m still not mentally prepared to be soaking wet outside in Scotland, but my boyfriend jumped straight in. To be honest, the water looked wonderful.
Regrettably we were nearly back to the bikes and I took my last picture on our small walk in the Highlands. I really didn’t want to leave but I had a train to Inverness looming and you do not want to miss your train on a Sunday in the Highlands when it really is the only train. Before heading off we grabbed a spot of lunch in the cafe in Lochcarron which I would highly recommend. It’s really lovely inside and covered in paintings of the area and handmade crafts which you can buy.. The food is also really tasty and surprisingly good value considering its one of the only places to eat for quite a few miles. It’s called Waterside Cafe and (as the name suggests) it has a wonderful view across the loch.
To get back to Edinburgh I had to take a train to Inverness and then a bus from there onwards. I was dreading the altogether 6 hour journey but actually really enjoyed it. I couldn’t even sleep because I didn’t want to miss anything. Which ever way I looked there were mountains or rivers or lochs or quaint Highland villages I mentally noted down to visit.
I now have a long list of weekends away for the next few years in Edinburgh!
If you can, pay this beautiful part of the coutry a visit.