Duncansby, Dunrobin, Loch Ness
When we got back to John O'Groats from Orkney, there was still a fair bit
of light, so we drove up to Duncansby Head. Here there are some deeply
cut inlets, on the sides of which a few remnant seabirds were roosting;
we watched a juvenile fulmar learning how to fly, but others were too
young to fly and probably doomed. And a little further to the south
are the dramatic Duncansby stacks.
Back at the lighthouse on Duncansby Head, we ran into a couple who
had just finished cycling from Land's End. We shared some of their
celebratory whiskey and took photos of them. With the sun just setting,
the lighthouse turned on; it was also drizzling.
We stopped near Giles, where we saw seals and possibly an otter, though
it was hard to be sure in the fading light. Then it was back to the
Royal Bar in Thurso for dinner, around 9pm.
Driving back, we got our first close look at some Highland cows: Camilla
was trying to pat one when it swung around and she only just swayed out
of the way of its horns!
Friday September 19th
I would have liked to look around Thurso, but we didn't have time.
Heading south, we stopped at a tea room next to the Croft museum (which
Our first major stop was at Dunrobin castle, which is really a huge
stately home, redesigned by Latimer in 1906 and still used by the
Sutherland family. This was £6.50 to enter, but well worth it -
we could have spent a lot longer than we did looking around. It even
had a small bookshop, where I bought a book on the Highland clearances.
An unexpected bonus was a falconry display: the falconer showed off a
Peregrine falcon, a Eurasian eagle owl, and a Harris hawk - and there
were a dozen other birds there, including a Golden eagle.
We only had time for a very brief look at the museum, which was full of
hunting trophies and other stuffed animals, ethnographic loot, Pictish
stones, and so forth. This was most interesting for the light it shed
on the collecting habits of the 19th century aristrocracy.
Continuing down the A9, we stopped at a supermarket in Inverness,
then drove along Loch Ness. Urqhuart castle is not a substantial ruin
and if it hadn't been on Loch Ness it would hardly rate as a tourist
attraction. And the most interesting thing in Drumnadrochit was the
We continued past Loch Lochy and the Caledonian canal, stopping in Fort
William for petrol. Ben Nevis was behind cloud, but there were dramatic
views nevertheless: stopped once for a brief wander around a valley and
again on Rannoch Moor, to look at some peat cuttings(?).
Looking for accomodation, we ended up in Tarbet. I had confused this
hamlet with the much bigger Tarbert in the Isles, but fortunately it
had some B&Bs anyway!
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