Travel Diaries: Scotland Tour – Durness, Loch Eriboll, the Kyle of Tongue and Altnaharra

Refreshed by mugs of piping hot chocolate, we are back on the road. We are planning to charge our electric car at the Charge Scotland point next to The Tongue Hotel. It is mid April 2019 and the weather is being increasingly good to us.

A haze of smoke still drifts above Durness, from the heather burnings the evening before, though blue skies await us ahead.

We bid goodbye to the sandy bays around Smoo Cave, sticking to the coastal roads and taking in the sea views.

Ceannabeinne Beach is scribbled down in my notebook as a place to return to. How stunning it looks, as slopes crowned in heather lead down to pristine sands and turquoise waves.

At Loch Eriboll, the roads curve around the feet of dark craggy mountains. We weave in and out of their shadows. Sheep stare at the car and, after giving it some thought, take their time meandering out of the way.

As the road climbs upwards, we spot a sign for “Moine House” and pull in. Walking down the pathway, a panoramic, too large to take in at once, displays a mountain vista from Ben Griam Beg all the way across to Ben Hope. Layer upon layer of ever deeper reds carpet the marshy ground up to a sudden shard of blueish peaks. I struggle to take a photograph whilst holding onto my glasses, hat, scarf, and mittens as the strong winds rattle along the open valley and threaten to steal them away. The clouds are moving so swiftly that every picture I take shows a completely different sky.

Back down at sea-level, the calmness of the scene at the Kyle of Tongue causeway, with far reaching views out to Ben Loyal, stays with me even now. The crisp blue of the steel railing seemed to merge with the rippling water, the crags beyond and the endless sky. Windows down, we could breathe in the cold salty air and hear the waves lapping.

The staff at The Tongue Hotel could not have been more pleasant and welcoming as we waited a short while for our car to charge. We are greeted with this same kindness everywhere we travel throughout north Scotland.

Travelling onwards, in Altnaharra, at the edge of a small village, we meet our first wild stag. He watches us for a moment before gracefully leaping and disappearing off into a thicket.

Then we turn back towards Scourie, the landscape looking ever more like the wind-shaped trees and foaming river, with its grassy banks, that runs past our holiday cottage.

Tomorrow we will be exploring a sea loch, hiking alongside rocky shores and out towards the ocean.

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42 Comments Add yours

  1. Kelly MacKay says:

    Indeed a beautiful place. I can feel that wind, wanting to take your hat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely need a more secure hat than my trusty baseball cap when in Scotland. I spent a lot of time chasing it about πŸ™‚

      Like

      1. Kelly MacKay says:

        yes one with a tie perhaps…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha! Yes πŸ˜€ or a bit of ribbon under my chin πŸ™ƒ

          Like

  2. I’m very much enjoying this trip with you. πŸ™‚ What beautiful scenery and that stag!

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When we returned to Scotland last autumn, I managed to walk into a stag in the pitch dark outside our holiday cottage – not sure who was more surprised πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Such lovely landscapes. Wishing I was there. 😊

    Like

  4. Jo says:

    I’m loving this road trip. This is just stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jo πŸ™‚ the post was several hours late because I got lost in hundreds of photos! We actually got footage of the stag … but it needs audio editing for everyone in the car going β€œwhoa!” πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  5. ourcrossings says:

    Great post and fantastic photos! Scotland is such a beautiful place to explore and photograph! Can’t wait to go back one day to see more of it πŸ˜€ thanks for sharing and safe travels πŸ˜€ Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Aiva πŸ™‚ We must have really lucked out on the weather for visibility. We’ve been to the Lake District many times and often cannot see anything in early spring for the fog and mist. Perhaps the high winds on the coast blow it all away? Your blog is beautiful – have followed and will look forward to reading through all of the Ireland posts especially πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lceli says:

    Sooooo beautiful! I’ll visit one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you get to make it to Scotland (and the rest of Britain if you haven’t visited yet πŸ™‚ ) Thank you very much for visiting our little website x

      Like

      1. Lceli says:

        Absolutely! I’ve enjoyed following your page.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks very much, it’s lovely to have you along! I should have a new Scottish post up within the next few days, I’m just working on the next set of photos πŸ™‚

          Like

          1. Lceli says:

            Yay!

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Each time I am so surprised to see your beautiful photographs and those lovely descriptions. Truly unique.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much Gerard πŸ™‚ Really appreciate your kind words 🌿

      Like

  8. fakeflamenco says:

    Amazing photos of amazing landscapes. Must get to Scotland one day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely worth a trip (or two) – I hope you get the chance to go – and thank you for the lovely comment 🌿

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your usual excellent combination of photography and prose. That first atmospheric study is superb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Derrick – that was one of my favourite photos from the trip too πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful to catch a picture of that stag! And I’m with Derrick—lovely words, lovely photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much Laurie – the stag was very obliging to stand still a mo for me πŸ™‚ We have fallow deer in the parkland near home but they are so tame and used to humans … it’s wonderful to see a wild one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Always fascinating to see a wild creature. We have lots of deer in the woods behind our house, and we occasionally see them bounding among the trees. But not very often.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It must be wonderful when you see wild deer leaping through the woods … the ones here are more likely to bunt you and try and steal your picnic πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Wow! No, our deer are not that bold. We only see them flashing through the woods.

            Like

  11. Okay I want a mug of piping hot chocolate and then to head out on that adventure – lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tierney! Lovely to hear from you – hope your quilters holiday is going well πŸ™‚ x

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful. Both words and pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! 🌿

      Like

  13. Dave Ply says:

    I had the pleasure of visiting Scotland about a year and a half ago. Your pictures trigger good memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really glad to hear that – thanks very much Dave πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Vicki says:

    I have an image of the Smoo Caves from August 1978 but its nowhere near as delightful as yours.

    (I’ve refollowed again. I thought my WordPress was fixed but haven’t been receiving your email new post notifications, so here I try again).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1978 …. has much changed since? Was the wooden bridge there then? πŸ™‚

      (Same here Vicky, something is still not quite right with WordPress in my computer.)

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Vicki says:

    When I was at the Smoo Caves there was lots of words made out of pebbles on the hillside next to the cave opening (this is from my poor memory). I can’t see any names or words on the hillside in your images (assuming we are both talking about the same area). I don’t remember the wooden bridge, but that could be just my memory.

    Like

  16. Ann Mackay says:

    This brings back memories! Camper at Altnaharra once – a big mistake – got eaten by midges!

    Like

    1. Oh no! We were thankfully just out of midge season, as they really do like snacking on me! It must have been an incredible place to camp though πŸ™‚

      Like

      1. Ann Mackay says:

        The best place was on the coast – a tiny place called Talmine – really beautiful little beach and Rabbit Island nearby. At Altnaharra we went into the hotel bar in the evening. They laughed when they hear we were camping and said they’d keep us a room…nearly took them up on it! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The closest we got to Talmine was near to Tongue – it’s a jaw droppingly beautiful area 🌿

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ann Mackay says:

            Tongue is a place that I used to be very familiar with – it’s the ‘seat’ of clan Mackay… πŸ™‚ And it is indeed beautiful.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I can’t wait to get back to the north coast πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

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