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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