Upper west coast of Scotland

From Inverness we headed up to Durness on the very top of the witch’s hat. You don’t know what I’m talking about? When I was at school we had to draw maps of Great Britain (Ireland was not in the curriculum apparently) freehand from memory as we were never allowed to use those plastic templates. I’m sure that every child in this part of the world learns that the island looked like a witch riding a pig. I have now introduced Mark to this concept and I’m not certain he gets it, but have a look. Wales is the pig’s head (sorry Wales) and Cornwall is one of its front legs. East Anglia is the pig’s bottom; this is where I spent my formative years at boarding school, and we could therefore really use the expletive “pigs bottom” (or words to that effect)Β with some authority! Dover is a stumpy back leg (sorry Dover). Then the witch sits astride all this, with the north of England her body and Scotland has the distinction of having her face and hat! Sorry for such silliness! In case you can’t visualise it, here is a map of Great Britain.


I love photographs of really still water with perfect reflections, but when I saw this tiny little structure on a tiny little island, I made Mark stop the car so I could take a photo. I think this must be some sort of bird shelter. Or some child is able to take a boat out to its cubby house!


I rather liked coming over the hill and seeing this spread before me. This was a view from the top of the hill overlooking Durness.


Durness is rather pretty, being strung out along the cliffs which rise above nice beaches. Just past Durness is Smoo Cave. According to signage Smoo Cave has a bit of history with a certain Donald MacMurachie reported to have murdered 19 people and disposed of their bodies down the waterfall, safe in the knowledge that the Devil resided below it and therefore no-one would ever visit, meaning that the bodies would never be discovered!

Apart from this, the cave is rather lovely, as are the walks around it.


The first chamber is huge. A quick trip into the second chamber shows quite a lot of water which can be navigated by boat. At certain times there is quite a big waterfall.IMG_5817

From the cave there is a lovely walk along the cliff tops.IMG_5821

And the views down to the water are lovely. I love the fact that farmland runs right down to the beach and this photo shows a little settlement ranged along the water’s edge.IMG_5832

Just beyond Durness is Balnakeil which is described as a craft village occupying a war-time early warning radar station. Much excitement in the car! The reality was slightly disappointing as only one shop was open, but there was a really nice coffee shop.

Driving down the coast we came across Loch Glencoul and Kylesku. This is another beauty spot, with excellent walks. It has a new bridge crossing the loch and many scenic views.


Travelling a little way down the road to Drumbeg I was intrigued to see a cow wandering about on someone’s front verandah. It was behaving as though it wanted to be let into the house! I’m surprised there isn’t more of this as many villages and hamlets have stock roaming around freely.


As a child I was completely besotted with Highland cattle and it seems as though that hasn’t changed. I took so many photos of the cattle just roaming around. IMG_5867

The calves were everywhere and completely adorable, like big teddies.IMG_6056

Everywhere we look there are little islands littered about. Look at that glorious weather!

IMG_5859 2

We were winding our way round a mountain on a single lane road, which is really white knuckle stuff, when Mark suddenly said he’d seen a wool dyer’s sign. What?! Turn round immediately! He did and I had the loveliest time at Ripples CraftsΒ . Helen is lovely, and very generous with her time. This is where she creates the magic, hand dyeing all her own yarn, and the colours are glorious.


This is the yarn I bought. The skeins on the left are called “Autumn dog walk” – how good is that name?


Carrying on round the coast we spotted the lovely castle ruin at Assynt. It stands a lonely sentinel on a little island. A whole community probably lived here.


We spent the night in Ardcharnich and this photo was taken from our bedroom window. Beauty is everywhere here.


We called in to Ullapool, which is a must visit according to our guide book. It was quite early in the morning and the morning light reflecting off the water with a lone boat had me waxing lyrical.


Every high point provides an opportunity for a photo. Mark is always keen to put me in them as I’m participating in Me Made May on Instagram and I have to take a photo of my daily outfit.


We passed through Gairloch, and I learned that the name means “short loch”. The loch is central to the lives of the crofters who traditionally sustained their communities through using the land thoughtfully. Crofting is still an important part of local culture and economy, providing both a living and leisure activities for the inhabitants, and it’s really nice to drive through a community making their living in this way. We passed a local farmer striding around in his field in his wellies and kilt and I could not have been more thrilled!


From above Gairloch looks vibrant and prosperous and the gorse blooms really provide a fabulous border for the community.

Gairloch has a rather quaint golf club which runs right down to the beach, and the beach is really nice. We didn’t see anyone swimming though!


We were headed to Skye and on the way Mark spotted a weaving studio so back we went. The Strathcarron Weaver’s Studio and it was amazing. At the back of the studio was this lovely loom, which is no longer in use as it is single width and they are all about wider fabrics now. As a very poor weaver, the complexity of the tartans do amaze me.


I bought two pieces of Harris tweed from deadstock, so much cheaper (the two on the right), the bright colour is Edinburgh tartan, which is the tartan belonging to my maternal grandmother’s family, and on the left is a remnant of Blackwatch silk.


This little collection cheered me up immensely as we had intended going to Harris to see the tweed being woven, and perhaps buy some, but we couldn’t get on a ferry. Apparently they fill up with camper vans and people, who are much more organised than us are able to book well in advance. So this is still on my bucket list, but at least I have this lovely fabric.

Another gratuitous photo of a loch, this time at Achnasheen, on our way to the Isle of Skye.


We have nearly covered Scotland and next time I’ll be covering the Lower West Coast. ‘Till then, take care!



20 thoughts on “Upper west coast of Scotland

  1. Oh I think these are the most beautiful photos yet! Breathtaking. The conditions help to get the calm waters and reflections. The fresh greens are so gorgeous. And those highland coos. You are doing a great job for the Scottish Tourist industry Sue. In a way I’m glad you didn’t get to Harris as I know you’ll be back and hopefully we’r can meet again.
    Love your description of the map of GB….. I’d forgotten that description. Oh.. and lovely memory of those plastic maps. I love maps.

    1. Thank you so much Judith, I love those lochs! Speaking of maps, I’ve thought fondly of Robert almost daily as I bury my nose in his map book. We’ve occasionally not had internet access and therefore no access to maps and it’s saved us!

      1. That’s great..I hadn’t thought of the internet access issue… what a bonus!

  2. Wonderful photos of wonderful scenery. Love highland cows too. Such great hairy beasts!

  3. Beautiful pictures! How fun to read that Mark is always the one spotting the fabric shops, wool dyers and weaving mills!

  4. I am so enjoying your tour around Scotland. I have never been there apart from a brief trip to Edinburgh in 1994. The scenery is so beautiful. Regarding maps, my home state of Victoria always made me think of a witch with it’s pointed hat and hooked nose and chin.

    1. Isn’t it funny how maps look like things? Scotland is beyond beautiful and I’m already thinking about going back at some point.

  5. You’re going to love Skye – and I hope you are visiting distilleries too as one of my favourites is on Skye (Talisker).

  6. Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos! I fell in love with Scotland when we were there in May and loved Isle of Skye. I love your photos of the Highland Cows.

    1. Thank you so much. I loved those Highland Cows as a kid and it appears that the feelings haven’t disappeared. The Isle of Skye is gorgeous and I can’t wait to go back.

Leave a Reply