Scotland – Lochcarron Part 1

Greetings,

Thanks to all my readers, both returning and new, I had lots of views of my current and past posts this week and appreciate the likes and comments. It’s very motivating to know that the writing and photos are being viewed. Again, thanks.

This week (in blog post time about 7 weeks ago in real time!) we are moving from our five day stay in the Inverness area to the western Highlands and a six day stay in the village of Lochcarron. This village of about 900 residents is located along Loch Carron, a very picturesque sea loch on the west coast of the region of Ross also known as Ross-shire.  The village itself runs along the loch for about 2 miles, so very long and narrow. There are several B&B’s and self-catering cottages in this village and the surrounding area. We stayed in the self-catering cottage run by Emma Mackenzie and her family. Emma also has two B&B rooms in the main house that were fully occupied during our stay in the cottage. She is a wonderful hostess along with her husband Andrew, a stone mason, her two young daughters Leslie and Jo, and family border collie, Woody. As an aside, after a day or two, Woody recognized the sound of car and would meet us at the bottom of the lane, running excitedly in circles. Always nice to be greeted with enthusiasm! Below are photos looking up the drive at the property and our “home” for six days. Very clean and comfortable.Scotland-Lochcarron-2339Scotland-Lochcarron-2852

Our reason for staying in this area was the proximity to the rugged, scenic coastline, the Isle of Skye and the North Coast 500, Scotland’s (their term) Route 66. The NC 500 runs through Lochcarron and has generated a nice tourist business from those traveling along it’s route on bicycles, motorcycles, cars and caravans (RV’s). I read about the NC 500 and thought it sounded like something we would enjoy. After checking into the chalet, we took a walk down into the town to buy a few groceries and take a look around. It was low tide in the loch but we managed a few photos of it’s draw and beauty.Scotland-Lochcarron-2346Scotland-Lochcarron-2357

The next morning, we headed west to drive to Applecross and beyond. The roads in this part of the Highlands are sometimes two lane and sometimes just one lane with passing places. And sometimes changing very quickly. We soon learned there is an unwritten protocol, the first person approaching has the right of way, while the other person pulls into a passing place to the left. Only once I forgot that I needed to go left and turned into a passing place on the right! Got a strange look for that maneuver. Anyway, it was always proper to give the other person a wave for yielding. Reminded me about growing up back in North Dakota, were nearly everyone got a bit of a wave, especially if you knew the person. Nice to know that still exists somewhere in the world. Only twice in our entire stay did we or the other person have to back up because there wasn’t a convenient passing place or the other person was driving kind of fast and didn’t want to yield!Scotland-Lochcarron-2441Scotland-Lochcarron-7598Scotland-Lochcarron-7548

As we were traveling towards Applecross, about the only sure place to grab some lunch, we were passed by about 5 cars all decorated up. They waved as they passed us, honking their horns. We weren’t sure what was going on but soon found out as we reached the summit and the scenic overlook parking lot. I was really curious so walked over and asked them what was going on. The group of cars were piloted by some fun loving gear heads (all guys) who purchased cars for 500 British Pounds or less, fixed them up and set out to drive 2500 miles around the coast of the UK in eight days. They were totally self sufficient, no motels, no tents, no support teams, just a lot of fun and laughs and I think a couple of beers in the evening! One of the fellows said the previous evening they slept in their cars by the side of a beautiful loch and even jumped into the cold, cold water for a quick bath! They called their adventure the Monkeyball Rally 2016 with the goal of raising funds for the UK Make A Wish Foundation and the Air Ambulance Service. They told me a little about their trek and that this was their half way point,1250 miles! They were building a little cairn from the abundance of rocks. I asked to take their photo and then ended up taking photos with their cameras and phones.Scotland-Lochcarron-2382Scotland-Lochcarron-2383

While I was talking with the guys and taking the photos, Donna took some photos of me taking those photos and included some of the cars. What a fun group with a great story and all for a good cause.Scotland-Lochcarron-7631

Upon arriving in the coastal village of Applecross, we found a very quaint place to eat located in a walled garden. After lunch, we walked around the gardens that were just coming into bloom and talked with one of the gardeners. She expressed that they were just getting started for the season and there was lots of work to do. Reminded of us of what was in store for use when we returned home!

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As I mentioned in my last article, there are sheep everywhere in Scotland and even more in this part of the Highlands as the terrain is so rugged. There were even sheep on the road, we had to be careful because the ewes were used to cars but the newborn lambs hadn’t learned to be wary of cars. Here are couple of sheep scenes from our drive.Scotland-Lochcarron-2407Scotland-Lochcarron-2408

While we didn’t see a lot of wildlife, we did see a few of the red deer that inhabit the Highlands (photo by Donna).Scotland-Lochcarron-7646

Our guidebook (Lonely Planet Scotland) suggested a stop at the Applecross Smokehouse to check out the smoked fish. So when we saw the sign, it was a no brainer to see what the fuss was about. The “sales room” is in the kitchen of the house on the property while the fish are smoke out back in a clean and inspected smokehouse. While we were leaving, I asked the wife (didn’t get her name) if I could take her photo as she was so engaging and interesting to talk with, she said no, that she was not fit to be seen in pictures! But she did volunteer her husband who was in the smokehouse. She called him out, as visitors are not allowed in the smoking facility. Meet Derrick MacIver, the owner. He told me that he has lived his whole life in the area and had no desire to leave, said it was heaven on earth to him. He locally sources the fish and does the whole process himself, from smoking to packaging. His wife does most of the sales work. Interesting folks and worth a stop if you are in the area. Scotland-Lochcarron-7873Scotland-Lochcarron-2452

I’ll end this post with a few scene from our all day drive along the coast. The weather was great and the scenery even greater.Scotland-Lochcarron-2386IMG_0931IMG_0925IMG_0921

This last photo is looking across the Inner Sound towards the Isle of Skye. More about that in my next post.

Until next week,

Tom

 

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