“Don’t go onto the moors,” quipped the boy in hysterical voice as we drove through a particularly craggy area of northwest Scotland.
Rolling my eyes to look confident, I quickly looked out the car window to see if there were any boogeymen following us.
“We’re not in Yorkshire m’dear,” I responded once clear we were not being tracked.
You see, northern Scotland has this effect. It’s misty and rocky, slightly desolate and, in our experience, often grey. But, like Ireland, it has a certain appeal in its darkness.
We’d arrived in the Highlands the night before having stopped off in Inverness after a very long train journey up from London. The town was lovely – quaint and proudly Scottish, with a compact castle sitting atop the hill and the crystal clear River Ness running through.
But, being keen to get into the countryside, we headed off early the next day to see just what this part of Britain had to offer.
Driving south along the B852 we took the less-touristy way around Loch Ness, determined as we were to find some monsters. If you’re in this area, skip the west side of the Loch (with its wider road and hoards of traffic) and opt for the thin, winding road along the east side of the Loch. It’s quieter and the road rises into the hills, allowing a dramatic views from up high.
After driving back up the west side of the Loch (which one must do to connect to the direct route west) we were taken through more beige and rusty red landscapes, along slim roads where one must pull into small passing points constantly. For those not raised in the UK and who are used to wide highways for most of your driving, this will probably raise a few hairs on the back of your neck – more so even than the thought of a monster wandering by. I’ll never get used to having to reverse on a roadway when another car comes careening around a corner and there isn’t enough room for both vehicles!
But, even with the fear, it was beautiful. Loch after shimmering loch appeared from out of nowhere, wedged between rolling hills and mountains still topped with fresh snow. Even looking at the scenes made me chilly and I suddenly understood better why the Scots love their whisky so much.
And so, what better way to finish off a chilly drive, than to arrive at a hidden lochside turreted villa that rises out of seemingly nowhere? Surely, nothing…
Next time, the boy and I pet our dinner, squelch in the mud and discover a stunning Highland hotel…