Picture This: Ben Hope Skybound from Strathmore

by Keith Savage · 3 comments


Beyond the deep sweep of Loch Eriboll and inland from Sutherland’s wind-scoured coast, Strathmore holds Hope in its mountainous embrace. The enduring eminence of Ben Hope, Scotland’s northernmost sentinel, reaches crag-faced for sky and space. Following Strathmore beneath Ben Hope’s sheer shoulders, modernity grows threadbare and distant. A wondrous broch falls to pieces. Time reveals itself as another of mankind’s constructions, another tawdry exercise in placing ourselves at the center of the universe. Under the overcast sky Loch Hope is a sheet of beaten iron mirroring the weather’s whims, mirroring the mind’s constant convulsion. 

The compass has stopped working. The Arctic lies endless fathoms to the north, but its chill is here among lung and bone. Yet beneath all that black snow embers still hiss and smolder, waiting for a breath, a mouthful of cinders, for like a forest the self requires the occasional wildfire to thrive. The wide world is no garden of answers — those all grow in your own soil — but there are corridors of perception to pierce the inner darkness. Like here in the valley of Strathmore where Ben Hope has withstood tempests, gales, and blizzards for eons unnumbered, and still the earth wishes to touch the sky.


Tonia HamptonNo Gravatar January 12, 2018 at 10:29 AM

My husband and I will be first time travelers to Scotland in May. We plan to stay around 6 days in Scotland and 6 days in Ireland. We want to maximize our experience, because we have saved many years to take this trip. Would you recommend traveling on the North 500 and the Wild Atlantic roads on the first time visiting? I am struggling with the decision.

Also, could this be something we could play by ear on accommodations or would you recommend we have a travel agent help us with accommodations if we decide to drive?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 12, 2018 at 2:45 PM

Hi Tonia. It depends on what you value most. Getting out to the North Coast 500 takes more time logistically than many other places in Scotland, so that can sway decisions on a shorter trip. You can play accommodations by ear if you aren’t picky and don’t mind searching a bit each time you move.

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