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Monday, 17 June 2013

A Few Days In & Around Plockton, Scotland

After having wanted to visit this part of the Scottish Highlands for a few years, we finally got round to finding the time. Tuesday 29th May found us traveling through some of the most spectacular scenery the UK has to offer. Mountains, glens, settlements & lochs round every corner getting more and more spectacular the further North we went. We had started our journey north, on the Monday and stopped off for the night in Dumbarton, before continuing with another four hour drive to our base in the scenic settlement of Duirinish near to Plockton in the Western Scottish Highlands. We had decided on Duirinish Holiday Lodges to be our base for the four nights and a great choice it was to. Just two miles from Plockton and four miles from the Isle of Skye and set in five acres of grass and woodland made for a peaceful retreat. This was to be a few days driving around this great area, visiting skye, walking along the beaches and generally taking it easy. There are of course mountains to be walked, lots of them of various sizes and ruggedness but for us this time, they were to be looked at from below or through the car window as we took to the road on four wheels. We did have one day, or half day out walking, as on the Friday we had the only bit of rain of the whole four days, the rest of the time was in warm sunny conditions with blue skies and calm winds.
This is a selection of photo's taken from the car as we made our way from Loch Lomond to Duirinish
Loch Lomond
We arrived at our base in good time, checked in and then decided to go into Plockton and have a quick look round to see if it was like we saw in all the pictures and web sites. It was and then some. A truly idyllic place that deserves the title of "The Jewel In The Highlands"
The settlement of Duirinish is famous for it's highland cattle that have a free rein to wander and they have the right of way especially when the bull is about. When we walked back to our base they were all out including quite a few calves taking it easy in the warm afternoon.
Settlement of Duirinish

Local Highland Cattle
Mother & Calves
The Highland Bull
Wednesday was spent driving over to and around skye and taking in some of the spectacular scenery this famous Isle has to offer. It is a mecca for all sorts of outdoor and nature lovers with the high mountain ranges, to the Red Deer, Red Squirrels, Eagles, Seals, Otters, Dolphins and even Whales to keep everyone entertained. The only wildlife we saw apart from the cattle were a couple of deer, seals and a distant view of a couple of eagles. It was really warm though so everything must of been taking life that much slower :-)
We made our way back to Plockton in the late afternoon to catch the last boat trip to see the seals of plockton harbour. It was still warm and the harbour was very calm as we had a great relaxing 80 minutes taking in the scenery from a different angle and the added bonus of watching the seals laze about :-)
After lazing about on a boat it was back to base for a curry before we had a walk down to the beach to see if we could spot an otter or two. No such luck but there was the cattle roaming the streets :-)
We made our way down to the coast at Port-an-Eorna and took a very leisurely walk following the coastal path to Drumbuie, the next hamlet, stopping all the time to take in the views and also to try and spot and otters. As it was such a good dry warm evening we just took it all in as we watched the sun go down on another great day.
Thursday morning came and started where Wednesday left off, warm & sunny with blue skies. We decided that we would have another drive round and this time opted to visit Applecross via the "Pass of the Cattle" road. What a great road to drive on in these conditions. It is a single track road that rises to over 2000 feet in about five miles as it zig zags up the mountains. It does have plenty of passing places for traffic coming from the opposite direction. The views as you gain height just open up and if your lucky you'll spot red deer on the mountain side as we did :-)
How many deer can you see
We stopped at the top and had a look round and spotted a couple of wild campers. Must of had a great sunset/sunrise from this advantage point as there are some great views
Nice place for a camp out
After hanging around for a bit we took to the road again and headed to the sandy beach at applecross bay. It was a bit windy here but a great place to stop off for dinner and a play on the sand dunes :-)
We decided to follow the coast road all round the headland and it offered great views across to the tip of Raasay, Rona, North Rona and a distant Skye all bathed in sun on this very warm blue sky day.
The road was a great driving road with great views all round and we kept on coming to random lochs where we'd have a look round and small settlements tucked away in all corners. Just a great place to be on such a great day although it must be a hard way to live in the depths of winter and when storms are blowing in.
We stopped off at a small fishing village called Shieldiag. Another very quaint place tucked away under the Torridon Hills. A nice refreshing ice cream was most welcome as we spotted a couple of seals in the bay but no otters :-(
Back on the lazy winding road through the maze of lochs & mountains making our way back to base
On getting back to base I went for another walk around  Loch Achaidh na h-Inich which is through the woods that lay behind the lodge. A great quiet place and another brilliant aspect of this truly great area.
We then finished of the night in true style by going the pub with the best beer garden we have been to for a beer and some of the local music. Another great end to another great day

Friday saw us have a bit of a lie in and a late start due to the fact we had a late night as it was a 45 minute walk back from the pub and a t 12.15 am quite a tiring one, but worth it :-) It was also quite damp as there was a bit a rain in the air so it gave us a good excuse not to rush about. We had decided to go for our one and only good walk, up to the TV mast and crags that over look plockton bay. We set off about 12.30pm after it had stopped raining and started to clear up a bit. The walk starts from our lodge and follows the path along the stream, pass the waterfall and through the woods that leads to Loch Achaidh na h-Inich, where I went yesterday. It wasn't quite as clear in the overcast skies but still very atmospheric with the mist rolling about the forest.
 It's quite an interesting walk that passes over the farm and follows good paths & tracks up through the forest and into clearings where the views back offers good views over to Skye and across Loch Carron towards Applecross. 
We made good steady progress and the TV mast was coming into sight high above us and it was quite a suprise to see a couple more lochs and the wild nature of the area. It looked a great place to explore on a longer drier day
We made our way up the never ending winding road to the mast and the views over looking Plockton and beyond opened up as we reached the summit cairn on Carn a Bhealaich Mhoir
 We made our way to the start of the crags but soon found that it was going to be very wet and boggy to go over them all. It seemed quite straight forward but in reallity it was very wet and boggy and made the going petty awful so we just went to the first one that offered some views straight down to Plockton and across Loch Carron. We just didn't fancy being upto our knees in bog which was a pity really as it looks like a great place to explore if the weather had been like it had on the previous days.
We decided to have a look round the two lochs we saw on our way up so we made our way back down the road and followed a track to Loch Breac an Eich. it was solid ground till we got to the shore line and then it started to get quite boggy. The path that went round the loch was also very boggy so we decided to have a rest on some rocks and just take in the solitude and quietness of the place. Back at the summit and the TV mast it was quite windy and quite cool so it was good to be out of all that.
We made our way back down the same way and through the pine forest and back to base
We then drove to the Skye Bridge for a few photo's and for one last look at the splendid views from here.
As it was our last night we again went down to Plockton Harbour for one last look as the sun was going down. A great way to finish the holiday
Plockton Pier with Carn a’Bhealaich Mhoir, the TV Mast & Crags towering above
Happy Daze :-)