We arrive at our holiday cottage, a little north of Scourie, in the late afternoon. It is early April and spring has sprung in the mountains. The little garden is carpeted with daffodils and, just beyond, a small wooden gate leads out to the river bank.
The skies are still blue, and the trees are filled with blossom. The visitor book in the hallway states that eagles can be regularly spotted here, and I keep glancing around, just in case.
Our children are glad to run around and stretch their legs after so much travel and we agree that the only thing we are missing is a little boat to row over to that island in the middle of the river. It would make a brilliant picnic and bird watching spot.
When the children climb into the trees, they are fascinated by the lichen, crisp and crumbly, and then purposefully step around it to leave it intact. My daughter, in her baby carrier, leans over and runs her fingers through the fronds.
A pathway leads us upstream. We spot another route on the opposite bank, in the lea of a small rocky fell, and decide we will definitely cross the bridge a little way away and explore the other side tomorrow. Our eldest son takes care of his younger brother, holding his safety reign, and my husband keeps a hold of a hand and reigns of our profoundly autistic youngest son, who has an acute fascination with running water.
We reach the bridge, where the water cascades, white and foamy, around huge outcrops of imposing rock. The spray covers our faces if we get closer. Our youngest son is utterly exhilarated by the thunderous noise, which we not only hear but also feel in tremors beneath our feet, and impulsively throws his favourite toy right into the centre of the rapids!
He has no comprehension that it is now floating off to the Atlantic Ocean. Our son is usually silent, but now he is shouting with delight, cheering his toy on.
My husband manages, incredibly, to fish toy Woody out of a swirling eddy and back safely onto dry land using a large fallen branch.
We head back inside, and Woody dries out in front of the lovely warm aga whilst we brew a cup of tea. We all perch on stools and enjoy the view from the kitchen window of the gently meandering sea loch.
Next we are packing the car again – although only with warm coats, hats, scarves, mittens and wellies this time. We are off to watch the sun setting over Durness beach. It will be the first time that any of us have seen the northern-most coast of Britain.