Loch Striven is often missed by many, a bonus as far as I am concerned.
It is a narrow sea loch, approximately eight miles long, west of Dunoon and east of the Cowal peninsula. It can be easily accessed along a minor narrow road from it's southern end and the B836 passes it's northern end.
The loch has been used for various training purposes, particularly during WW2 when the mini sub crews used the area. A smaller version of the "bouncing bomb" was also tested here, the loch replicating a fiord well.
During periods of recession, ships from various countries use the loch as an anchorage to wait out leaner times and can be laid up for some time until they are required again.
Currently, there is a Nato fuel depot on the eastern banks, which looked fairly sleepy when we passed.
We camped at Brackley Point, a lovely setting above the loch. The track runs down to the loch shore where there was much evidence of camping, ie litter left in fire places, but we weren't too keen on navigating the steep incline if it happened to rain. There is plenty of space further up the track and you get fantastic views up the loch. We were fortunate that the weather was superb and the loch flat calm. We spotted porpoises and seals and I was happy enough just to sit and watch them through binoculars.
Ebenezer Place is OFFICIALLY recorded by the Guinness Book of Records as being the world's shortest street in the world at 2.06 m (6 ft 9 in). It actually serves as the front door, and not much else, for the ‘No. 1 Bistro’, part of Mackay's Hotel. The street was created in 1883 when the owner of the original hotel was required to paint the name on this short side of the hotel. 1 Ebenezer Place was officially declared a street in 1887. It is between Union Street and River Street and is actually the busiest street in town due to its strategic location.
The interesting thing is that it was only recognised as the shortest street in 2006. The owner of Macay’s Hotel submitted it and it beat the previous holder – Elgin Street in Bacup (England) at 17ft 2in.
I have actually eaten at the No. 1 Bistro – but that’s another tip!
The Great Glen follows geological fault 100km from Inverness to Fort William (It is known as the Great Glen Fault which runs through the Highlands through to the Grampian Mountains). The Glen is linked to the 18th Century's Jacobsite uprisings and its strategic history links to towns such as Fort William, Fort Augustus and Fort George situated on route.
It runs along the A82 road and the Caledonian Canal and an official walking/cylcling route has been developed. It is known as the 'Great Glen Way' which consists of footpaths, forestry tracks and canal paths.
Loch Linnhe is a sea loch situated in the Scottish Highlands. It's approximately 9 miles long and is connected by the Firth of Lorne, Loch Leven, Loch Eil and Loch Creran. We drove along the lake on our way to the Fort William area at the north east of the loch.
Lake cruises are available from Fort William throughout the year. Further information can be obtained here.
Glencoe is a Highland glen which is situated in the North West Highlands. It is considered one of the most stunning places in Scotland and attracts many visitors to drive through the area and also to stop. It is connected with the Massacre of Glencoe which happened in 1692 and the Glen Coe has Gaelic origins.
We stopped to take photos on the Loch Ness, Glencoe and The Highlands Tour (May 2010) and despite the cloudy weather it was worth seeing! Nearby is Glencoe village in Carnoch.
Just a few kilometres east of Durness, this large sea cave set in a limestone cliff boasts UK’s largest sea cave entrance (more than 15m high and 40m wide). Pretty impressive entrance leads you to the first chamber which is well-known for its acoustics (small concerts and music recordings are held there at times). In the much smaller second chamber you can observe the stream Allt Smoo which falls 25m into the cave, from a hole in the roof. (Impressive!) A third chamber can only be visited on a guided tour by boat.
Naturally, the cave is linked with numerous legends of smugglers who used to hide here, and archaeological excavations show that the cave was used in Neolithic times.
The cave is obviously a very popular tourist attraction, probably the most visited place in this area. It was packed with people when we visited (well, 2 buses full of tourists and a couple of extra visitors is considered a crowd on northern coast!). There was a queue for a boat tour, so we didn't bother to get in to the third chamber. Instead, we spend some time wandering in and around the cave. On the grassy slope east of the cave visitors often write their messages with pebbles from the beach – it's a lovely sight, especially if viewed from the platform above the cave, which also gives you a magnificent view of the Geodha Smoo, 600m long inlet.
The area around Kyle of Durness is known as one of the remotest parts of Scotland, being almost an empty land since 19th century when the whole Durness area suffered greatly from the Highland clearances. Its only settlement is Keoldale – a couple of houses and a passenger ferry that crosses the Kyle of Durness for all those interested in visiting Cape Wrath (the most north westerly point on the Scottish mainland).
We had great plans of exploring the area (I’m always attracted to the remotest parts, wherever they might be), but the weather decided to take a turn for the worst - the drizzle turned into a heavy rain, and soon everything just got lost in fog - our initial plan was out of the question :(
The only photos I’ve made are of a Celtic-style standing stone overlooking the 8km long inlet from the viewpoint near Keoldale. However, there was something really magical about the place in such unfavourable weather, so I imagine it must be a real gem on a nice day.
There are several nice sandy beaches east of Durness, all easily accessible from the A838 road. We visited the last one before the road turns south along the eastern shore of Loch Eriboll, and it's called Ceannabeinne or Traigh Allt Chailgeag Beach. According to a legend, an old woman drowned in the small stream that flows onto the beach, hence the name ‘Traigh Allt Chailgeag' or 'the beach of the burn of bereavement and death’. In spite of this tragic legend, the beach is really lovely, with its white sands surrounded with smooth gneiss rocks with visible pink and black banding.
Loch Eriboll is the centremost and the longest of the three indentations on the Sutherland's north coast (Kyle of Tongue and Kyle of Durness being the other two). It's also the deepest see loch in Scotland, carved by the erosive power of ice during the past ice ages.
From the road along its eastern shore you an see Ard Neackie, a promontory that projects out into the loch and is connected to the mainland by narrow stretch of land. It was once home to 4 lime kilns and a ferry house, which can still be seen from the road. The track down to the promontory is privately owned.
While driving along the north Highland coast, you will find many viewpoints and lay-bys with magnificent views. One of the best viewpoints is located on the causeway that crosses the Kyle of Tongue, 15km long sea inlet west of the small village of Tongue. The causeway was built in 1971, replacing a passenger ferry and a road around the Kyle, and has two car parks where you can stop and rest for a while. The view from the causeway is dominated by the ‘Queen of Scottish Mountains’, Ben Loyal. Unless you are going to climb 746m high Ben Loyal, or drive south to Lairg by A836 to get a closer view of it, this is probably the best view of the ‘Queen’ you can get. While stolling along the casueway, you might even spot a seal or an otter, as they are seen in the Kyle at times.
With their distinctive coats and peeping through the fringes that protect their eyes from wind and insect, Highland cows are just adorable! Thanks to their double wind and waterproof coat, these cows are able to survive in severe climate with lots of rain and wind, so expect to see many of them while staying in the Highlands. We've rarely seen them in the south, but once we drove to the north, they were just everywhere. We have seen so many of them in and between small villages of Caithness and Sutherland, that after a couple of days the 'normal' cow begun to look a bit 'strange' to us.
One of the loveliest (and most photogenic) herds was found in Scouriemore – they were posing for us for half an hour, even allowing us to pet them. They are supposed to be of calm temperament, but we didn't want to risk our chances so we always kept to our side of the fence :).
Thanks to all the reviews and travelogues I had read prior to our trip, I learnt that the real northeastern tip of the Scottish mainland is Duncansby Head, while John O'Groats is a commercial attraction but nowhere near as spectacular as Duncansby. Well, it's true! If you want to see something really dramatic, even by Scottish standards, Duncansby Head is to place to go!
The 3km long single track road from John O'Groats will take you to the car park by the lighthouse built in 1924 by D.A.Stevenson. The views from the car park are great (you can see The Orkneys on a clear day), but the best is yet to come.
Just before the lighthouse turn on the path to the right which will lead you to the Stacks of Duncansby. The path first passes the Geo of Sclaites, huge L-shaped cleft eroded into vertical cliffs. This is a great birdwatching spot as it is a nesting place for many birds. Very noisy place! We spotted guillemots, kittiwakes and fulmars. Some people report puffins are regularly seen here, too.
Continue reading here: Duncansby Stacks
This is the second part of this short walk with views that are breathtaking. The first part can be see here: Duncansby Head
Once you've passed the Geo of Sclaites continue to the Stacks of Duncansby, a group of pyramidal sea stacks built of horizontally-bedded sandstones. The highest of the stacks, The Great Stack, is 60 m high (even higher than the adjacent cliff). In case that isn't impressive enough for you, there's also a weathered arch called Thirle Door. If this view doesn't leave you speechless then nothing will!
Supposedly, you can even descend to the pebbled beach near the Thirle Door and pass through the arch at the low tide, but we didn't know that at the time so we didn't even think about trying. Well, now we have another good reason to go back.
Our plan was to go to Dunnet Head, the northernmost point of UK mainland, to enjoy the views that are supposed to be spectacular. The whole morning was sunny, but just as we came close to the Dunnet Head the rain started, and the visibility was so extremely low that we couldn't even see the cliffs some 15 metres from us. We didn't stay there long as there's not much to do in such circumstances.
Instead, we decided to take a walk along the sandy beach of Dunnet Bay which proved to be a good decision as the visibility was much better here. We parked at the north end of the bay, where you can find the visitor centre information about the local wildlife, a couple of wooden tables and really great toilets (oh, the toilets were very important part of our road trip, I think I should dedicate one review just to the toilets). From there we followed the path to a wooden viewpoint – nice spot to get the idea how long is the beach and to watch the fragile sand dunes which shouldn't be walked on as that destroys the grass which stabilises the sand (just mentioning in case you didn't know that). The beach is a lovely place to look for shells; although, you won't have to work hard to find them as they're everywhere, of all kinds and shapes.
I suppose the beach looks the loveliest in the low light of dusk and dawn, but we didn't stay that long.
We decided to end our second day in the Highlands by staying in the camp in Thurso. Too exhausted to even think about the 'regular sightseeing', we put up our tent and decided to only take a short walk, without a map, a travel guide, or any idea what to see. In fact, I don't think we missed a lot, but maybe it's just me trying to rationalize my lazyness. Or we really didn't get to see the best partof Thurso?! Who knows…
What I liked was a walk along the coast, I think it's called Victoria Walk, which goes from Thurso beach to Burnside. There are benches along as well as several information panels to inform you about the history of Thurso.
I also liked the Harold's Tower located 2-3 km east of Thurso. Looking like a miniature sand castle, Harold's Tower is a mausoleum of Clan Sinclair. It was errected in the 18th century, at the same location where Earl Harold was killed in the 12th century.
Was here on business, and it is the most fantastic place! 8 rooms above a bar / restaurant, and the...more
Upper Milovaig, Glendale, IV55 8WY, United Kingdom
Good for: Couples
Me and my boyfriend stayed in the Highland Hotel, which has recently as been bought by the Lochs and...more