Our first full day in Scotland, early April 2019. We spend the morning in Aviemore, enjoying a hearty cooked breakfast of veggie sausages, mushrooms and potato scones before browsing the outdoor pursuits stores. With newly purchased OS maps of the North West Coastal footpaths and a lovely waterproof map holder for all-weather hiking, we are back on the road.
Ever since our decision to tour Scotland we have spent years collecting guide books and more recently we have acquired “Black’s Guide to Scotland: Picturesque Tourist Guide 1840“, a romanticised traveller’s view of the Highlands, which we have brought along with us to see how modern day Scotland compares. The drawing of Foyers Falls below is my favourite in the book, and I can barely believe we will finally be there today.
The landscape drastically changes as we travel downwards from the high Cairngorms, from rugged mountains to ethereal forests – startling white bark and bare winter branches, shrouded by dense fog.
From the rush of Foyer’s Falls, and a glimpse through the trees of the old bridge …
… the water calmly flows into Loch Ness. The trees are on the verge of spring, with just the faintest hint of new greens and reds.
Our journey then takes us back towards the peaks that shadow Loch Ness and the gently winding roads of Whitebridge. We can see wisps of smoke in the hills.
Later in our travels, on the north west coast, these heather burnings are to become a very familiar sight, but this is our first glimpse.
We complete the southern circuit at Fort Augustus, then drive along the northern shore of Loch Ness.
The northern side is carpeted in evergreens and views of the Loch come in sudden bursts as we weave around corners. The road is closer to the water, and there is a real sense of the looming height of the vast crags around us.
We make a stop at Castle Urquhart. Our (profoundly autistic) third son had picked out a new rucksack at Aviemore and proudly sported it for the very first time as we took a scenic walk. It has a little loop for his safety reign, but in uncrowded, quiet places such as here, we can tuck it away and he feels very grown up.
At the perfect moment, the clouds that have been lurking above all day part and the sun shines down. We stand at the viewing point and gaze out at the stunning blue layers of the panoramic before us. Loch Ness. Today is my birthday too, what better place to be?
There is still an hour before sunset when we head off eastwards towards Inverness. I have my little book open again, as we follow the route towards the Moray Firth.
We want the children to see the coast from the East, West and North during this trip, so we finish the day at Nairn, just in time for dusk. It is so much colder here, and our little baby daughter is just a tiny pair of eyes peeking up at me out of the triple wrapped bundle of her baby carrier. She has never experienced these kinds of coastal breezes before and is utterly bewildered. Her four older brothers enjoy searching out ships on the horizon.
We watch the sun setting. A “red sky at night” is wonderful news, as we leave for remote areas tomorrow and are hoping for spectacular views along the journey up to Scourie.