Friday, October 23, 2009

Into the higlands

After a tasty free breakfast in the dining hall we spent a little while exploring the castle before checking out and driving along more of those twisty roads (not any less nerve racking during the daylight) to Shin falls. Fought our way through a bus load of tourists (well there were about 10 of them at the falls, I’m not sure the others got any further than the gift shop to be honest) to the small but lovely falls where you could see the salmon jumping as they tried to swim upstream. Went for a nice stroll through the surrounding woodlands and headed a little further along to Ferrycroft for more walking.

First we hiked up the bare Ord hill, past the remains of a few ancient circular houses (I guess you have to use your imagination cos all we could see was piles of dirt) to a huge cairn and small collection of standing stones and a spectacular view from the top. From the base of the hill we then walked through Ferrywood which was full of lush pine trees, lakes and moss with the remains of a wall and broch (tower) at the end.

It was a good thing we did a bit of walking too as after that it was a long day of driving through beautiful, and very empty countryside up into the hills and towards the coast. Eventually found a pub in the tiny cliff top town of Melness for a very delicious late lunch (though we were so hungry by then anything would have tasted good). A few more hours of driving brought us to the Lazy Crofter bunkhouse above the ocean at Durness. Relaxed around the bunkhouse a little too long so when we set out to find dinner, everything was closed (and by everything I mean the supermarket and the small store that claimed it stayed open until 10pm – liar!). We were 20 minutes too late for food to still be served at the pub but I think they saw the desperation in our eyes and very kindly let us order what was left from the nights menu, which meant an enormous serving of tasty fish and chips each, yummy. Stuck around for a couple beers afterwards and even scored a free round from one of the army guys that had filled the bar at some point before racing back to the bunkhouse cos it was bloody cold outside!

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