August 2016

Red Point Beach, Wester Ross, Scotland

Beautiful, pristine beaches aren’t the first things that come to mind when the topic of Scotland arises. It’s too cold, too wet, too windy for it to be a beach-goer’s destination, so says common wisdom, and if your goal is to lay on a steamy beach and work on your tan, then yes, those are all valid points. If, however, you can divorce the quality of the weather from an enjoyable time at the beach, you will find Scotland is a paradise of beaches. From fine white- and red-sand beaches to stony shores littered with seaglass, Scotland hides these coves up and down its coastline from Dumfries & Galloway to Shetland. The most amazing part is that by and large you will have these beaches to yourself. Read more...

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Stars gleam unseen above the blue, above the ripped clouds and An Teallach’s distant, towering crown. The mountains of Wester Ross compress the heavens so that my wanderings follow in their drifting shadows over hill and heath to unknown realms. Wide vistas unfurl from every crest where each blade of grass, scrap of cloud, and ray of light give shape to the red-eyed wind. To hike amongst these highland hills is to venture into sacred spaces rife with lofty hermitages, skyscapes where gods thunder their will upon the earth. Is it any wonder that I am here, or that I am so full of wonder I can hardly speak?

A stone cottage with a rust-red roof waits…

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Rogie Falls, Strathpeffer, Scotland

As my North Coast 500 journey began, I found myself speeding north and west out of Inverness along beautiful roads toward Achnasheen and Wester Ross. This is a windswept, austere stretch of driving with many beautiful lochs and hills ramping to the sky, and there are few legitimate “sights” to see beyond the spectacle of the highland countryside. I’m ok with that — in fact I prefer it — but I never pass up an opportunity to crack open my trusty and weather-beaten Collins Britain road atlas. This massive book-bound map lists all kinds of interesting diversions: Castles, ancient monuments, natural wonders, nature reserves, etc. And what did I see along this stretch of road? The subject of today’s post: The Rogie Falls. Read more...

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The Torridon Inn, Wester Ross, Scotland

Over the last few weeks I’ve written about the high-end Torridon Hotel and its magnificent 1887 Restaurant, but there’s a lot more to the Torridon Estate. In fact, there’s an Inn that caters to the budget-conscious traveler just a hundred yards from the hotel. The inn used to be the stables for the old hunting lodge that became the hotel, and it comprises 12 recently refurbished, contemporary, ensuite rooms. The attractive, stone buildings are arranged like an upscale motel, and just around the corner stands the Torridon Inn’s convivial pub. What’s more, the Torridon arranges loads of activities from the inn including everything from mountain biking to shooting to pony trekking. What’s more… Read more...

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Pre-dinner aperitif in the Torridon Hotel's drawing room

During my stay at the Torridon Hotel I had the pleasure of dining at their 3 AA Rosette restaurant, 1887. Here the focus is on local Scottish produce prepared with modern French techniques, and with a new menu each day the creativity of 1887’s head chef, David Barnett, is always on display. As the 3 AA Rosettes attest, 1887 is a lauded restaurant and one of the finest you’ll find on the North Coast 500. You can’t miss the freshness of produce from the Torridon’s two-acre kitchen garden or the quality of meat from the Torridon Farm.

It’s a gross understatement to say I was excited to dine at 1887, and it was especially wonderful… Read more...

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