Scotland Tour: Hiking in the wild North West

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Today we are pulling on our hiking gear and setting out for a trek along the river. Our cottage is a former hunting lodge. A map on the wall shows an old stag stalking route that leads out towards the sea loch, with a note saying we are welcome to use it as a footpath.

The river valley channels a fierce breeze coming down off the mountains, pushing us along the path, whistling in our ears. Dark blue waves of water follow one after another.

A glance back and we can just make out the roof of our little holiday home, peeking out from the trees.

The gap between the two distant crags leads out from the sea loch to the Atlantic Ocean, where dolphins can be sometimes spotted. Across the water, mountains slope steeply upwards and a winding road leads away to Kinlochbervie. To our left, treacherous grassy tufts of peat bogs and silt. We hold the hands of our little ones tightly.

The land flattens here and we feel the full force of the winds. We have to shout to hear each other and even then our voices seem to quickly drift away.

Picking our way across the slippery seaweed, we spot a tiny bothy with a smokeless chimney and set out to investigate.

The small building is shuttered and unoccupied. Whilst one of my sons is planning where his vegetable plot would be if we lived here, my husband and the other boys have run down to the shingle beach together.

As I get closer I can faintly hear the giggling of my youngest son, as great gusts of wind inflate the arms of his coat.

Our second son is now searching for a small stone to take home, to remember the holiday by. It now sits in pride of place at the top of our stream in the garden, which is a tiny replica of this very river. We wonder what is over the ridge to our left and decide to climb up the rocks to see.

To our delight, it is a large stretch of water, much calmer than the swift river. The sun emerges from the clouds and each ripple in the loch suddenly glistens with the bright light, shimmering as they flow towards us.

We climb up onto the rocks to rest. My daughter is fast asleep in her carrier, despite the gales. My husband climbs the short drop down to the beach, too high for our children to safely follow. Meanwhile, our youngest son wants to scale the rocks at speed. I dig my walking boots in to anchor myself as he tugs me upwards.

After a lovely picnic, we start to head back, taking the slightly more sheltered, higher route, away from the shore. The footing turns out to be more waterlogged than it looks and it is easy to sink in by half a foot with each step, muddy water threatening to ooze into our boots. The trick is to walk very fast with light footsteps before that can happen.

We are afforded a stunning view of the distant Ben Stack on our return journey, silhouetted against a pristine blue sky.

Since we are on an estate and not a public footpath, I wonder how close the next nearest person to us might be.

As we crest a rugged outcrop, there is our little cottage by the river again.

Knowing we are nearly back, we are able to take lots of time to pause and admire the view that surrounds us. If you look hard enough, everywhere seems to offer a little path, beckoning you to explore further.

One final corner. A path leads to the top of this hill – though that is for another time. We are certain we will return here soon.

Across the river is the little bank in front of the house, filled with trees that the children have been running through and climbing…

… and here is the familiar bridge and its rapids, where a favourite toy was rescued just days ago.

My baby daughter is now sleeping at a really unhelpful sideways angle that makes climbing a little difficult. When I catch up with the other, I find my eldest son and his younger brother, leant with their heads together, resting. I manage to sneak a photo before they notice me and spring up ready to go.

Tomorrow we will leave our cottage in the North West of Scotland and drive south to Edinburgh. We have booked to stay in an historic building on one of the city’s busiest streets … it is going to be quite the culture shock.

A short video, so that you can see how breezy it was and how fast the water was moving, as the photographs look deceptively calm and sunny – enjoy.

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44 Comments

  1. Living in the Chicago area, I’m used to wind and I love the sound of running water. Hard to imagine how isolated would be living in that little bothy. Your son had an embarrassment of riches when trying to find a stone to take home.

    janet

    1. Hi Janet – yes it really did seem isolated for whoever used to live there, and the ground seemed pretty unforgiving if you wanted to grow your food. I suppose you would have as many fish as you could catch though!

    1. Yes! We went back in autumn, we loved it so much πŸ™‚ We saw pictures when booking it, but that really didn’t prepare us, as nothing could really show us the sheer middle-of-nowhereness of it.

  2. Incredible that one little country can be so full of beautiful spots! I often think that about Portugal, though it is, as you say, very different. Beautifully told, I will, of course, be happy to include this next Monday. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Have a great week!

    1. They are building over the green fields here at a phenomenal rate – at least the forests are protected. It is very hard to find any truly wild areas anymore – we love Scotland for that reason too x

        1. I love the New Forest – and spent a lot of summers there as a child. What a wonderful place it must have been to grow up in.

          It’s the same here – building developments keep encroaching and the council keep tarmacing paths through the forest and putting in cafes.

    1. My parents are big hill walkers and said it was very hard to walk for two minutes at a time when I was toddler because I saw fairy dens everywhere that I needed to check πŸ™‚

  3. Just look at that bright blue sky! Something I haven’t seen very often while living in Scotland for three years. But then again, I love moody scenic views that Scotland is so famous for 😊😊😊

    1. We weren’t in any way prepared for the blue skies – we took so much wet weather gear! We went for 9 days and toured around. The only rain we had was during the drive to Edinburgh, but it stopped as we arrived πŸ™‚

    1. It certainly felt like it! I have a friend who is in his late 80s and stays in a bothy just like that in the Lake District every year. I think it must be the secret to a long life πŸ™‚

    1. The vid is a little shaky, as with his spare hand my husband is stopping both our youngest son (and his toy) from jumping in the river πŸ™‚ We’ve been out practising taking vids of our local forest for the children to watch back, and we’re getting better at it πŸ™‚

  4. This is beautiful. I always wanted to live in a stone cottage by water. So sweet that your son picked up a rock souvenir. I still do that to this day, since I was a little girl exploring with my family. This is such a great gift you are giving your children, these memories and adventures they will carry with them in their hearts for their whole lives.

    1. What a beautiful comment, thank you very much. I’m with you – a stone cottage by the river sounds perfect. We have a tiny river in our garden now, which is meant to look like a tiny version of the river in the video. Even the sound of water in the garden makes so much difference πŸ™‚

  5. What a fabulous walk, and description of it you gave my friend, so loved each and every image… including visualising that oozing mud on your boots…
    Loved the video too… πŸ™‚ that wind was blowing hard across the water…
    Hold onto your hats again this weekend as we ready again for Storm Jorge, three in a row, seems no respite, and so feel for those on those flood planes…
    Take care, and enjoy your weekend my friend…
    Much love your way πŸ™‚

    1. We are practising with the videos! I would love to take proper footage of our forests, but with so many little ones our hands are always full πŸ˜ƒ

      I’m glad you enjoyed the walk – when we returned in Autumn, we walked in the other direction towards Ben Stack and that was breathtaking.

      We have survived Storm Jorge! Hope all is okay with you over the border xx

      1. Thank you Mrs TP, I will look forward to seeing the other direction. πŸ™‚ The storm while rough didn’t do any damage thankfully. Just verify soggy underfoot, hope all those seedlings are growing! 🌱
        Enjoy your weekend πŸ’šπŸ™

    1. Thank you very much Deb – to think we were in Scotland this time last year! Actually on this day we were in crowded Edinburgh – how different everything is now … I’ll try and get some more Scottish pics up very soon x

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