Awoke to more sunshine! Did some yoga and packed up to continue on route. Been having such clear days for this stunning scenery, we truly are blessed. Found a little spot for lunch near Tongue and drove on and started to see more snow capped mountains in the distance. It’s just loch after loch, mountain after mountain up here. It’s so vast, wild and rugged. Not many people at all and just small villages to pass through. We stop at a lookout alongside Loch Eriboll. The opposite sides of the loch are made from different rock! 540 million years ago Scotland was on the edge of an ancient continent that lay south of the equator. The quartzite across the loch was formed at that time from white sand deposits and as Scotland slowly drifted North, thick layers of limestone were laid down over the quartzite. Then about 430 million years ago Scotland’s continent collided with England and Wales closing the ocean that lay between them and forcing up huge mountains where they joined. There are marine fossils in the quartzite and lime stone layers which are similar to those found in North America, but very different to those found in Wales and England. This means that Scotland was attached to north America before it joined with England!
We come across a stunning beach called Ceannabeinne Beach in Durness where there was a zipline going across the cliff side. $12 per person but they gave us each a free ride, so much fun!! Absolutely stunning beach with crystal clear blue water. Just around the corner we find Smoo Cave, a large combined sea and freshwater cave set into limestone cliffs. In has one of the largest entrances to any sea cave in Britain 50 ft high. We went on the little boat trip into the cave for £5. Apparently there is a cave system running through it in which Neolithic man lived and used more than 4000 years ago showing sign of habitation. Remnants of hazelnut shells burnt from their fires remain. The local guides there are currently digging through from the other side to see if they can gain more insight into the cave system and who exactly lived there. The last time hazelnut trees were in Scotland was when the land was connected to the tropics. Our guide showed us two large stones just at the entrance of the cave which had fallen down an open cavity above some years ago. These rocks are 3 billion years old. He also showed us Chert stones which are used like flint to start a fire.
Smoo CaveThe absolutely phenomenal drive continues as we hug the coastline next to yellow sanded beaches and clear glistening water to the right, and mountains to the left. An endless bounty of beauty surrounds us every single moment of this journey. Would you really want life to be any less? Amongst all the “passing places” we stop and find ourselves a little stone water fountain hidden amongst the hills. Water cant get any purer than this!
“1883. As a mark of gratitude and respect to the inhabitants of Durness and Edderachillis for their hospitality, while projecting this road. This inscription is placed over this well by their humble servant Peter Lawson.”
Stopped in Rhiconich briefly and decided to head up to Kinlochbervie.. wow and so glad we did! Another stunning picturesque drive takes us to Oldshoremore Beach where we found a stunning golden/pink sanded beach with crystal turquoise blue ocean surrounded by mountainous hills. Water so clear you’d think you were in the tropics! (apart from the temperature!) It’s just so magical. We wander to the end of the beach and walk across some rock pools, finding a stunning little cove to jump in for our first ocean swim of the year! Yes it has to be done, even if it is only 7 degrees water temperature! Off with our clothes and into the most beautiful water for a 1 minute swim! As we head back over to the beach, we soon realise that the tide has come in! Trying so hard to roll up our pants to wade through the water and over rocks, we soon realise there is no way we were getting out of here dry! So accepting of the fact that we’re swimming in our clothes, phone held above the head and away we go. Arriving back at the beach to then realise we had to climb up and over the grassy bank to avoid another fully clothed swim to get back to where our van is parked. By this point the sun has gone and it’s getting pretty cold. We make it back to the van after a 10 minute walk, turn on the heater, strip off and jump in! All dry and back into nice warm clothes as our wet ones lay over the front dashboard, we decide it’s time to find the pub. Five minutes down the road is a lovely little restaurant called “The Old School”. Had a lovely meal and Belachnaba beer to warm us up. Headed back to the beach to stay the night. Great place next to a small river leading into the ocean.
WHAT A DAY! Our hearts truly are in the highlands. Today was a reminder of just why we very loosely plan our journeys. Every step of the way we were surprised and excited that new discoveries lay behind every corner. It is such an amazing feeling to wake up in the morning and have no idea what the day will bring, but to just follow the road without expectation. From randomly finding a zipline across a beach, to an epic ancient cave, pink sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise oceans and mountainous hillsides and had absolutely no idea this was all here. I LOVE NOT PLANNING. Enjoy the ride and let the magic of life continue to surprise you. I promise it will NEVER fail to amaze and will ALWAYS bring you pure contented blissful moments.
by Julie Faulkner