Friday 17 July 2015
Elgin to Melvich, Sutherland
Hallandale Inn campsite
Naturally it was pouring with rain when I left Elgin on the train to Inverness. I picked up my hire car from Inverness station and immediately went food shopping. I also popped into the Tiso outdoor store but they hadn’t got any gaiters that fitted me or a t-shirt I liked. By now the rain has eased slightly and was coming in waves. I set off for the North and it felt strange to be driving. Back over the Moray Firth bridge, across the Black Isle and then I headed inland for a different view. It also seemed sensible as there were wind warnings on the Dornoch Bridge. Instead I headed over the older Bonar Bridge and up to Lairg. From Lairg the A roads heading North become single track with passing places. It wasn’t long before I hit a traffic jam caused by Highland coos on the road. No one seemed to mind as the cows are quite magnificent to look at.
I was in the Highlands proper, surrounded by big landscapes and lots of salmon rivers. I saw lots of fishermen and many cars had rods attached. At Altnaharra I turned right and followed the length of Loch Naver and into Strathnaver. There were a couple of memorials to Highland Clearance villages and I stopped to look at Rosal.
I reached the coast at Bettyhill and what a wonderful sight. I didn’t stop at the campsite as it was raining again but I did stop at the small museum. More information on the Highland Clearances, what life was like many years ago and another Pictish Stone.
It was gone 5 pm and I needed somewhere to stay. I carried on East to Melvich, which is the next settlement on from Reay (where I got to on Tuesday). The rain was clearing up, although it was still grey, and I stopped at the Halladale Inn as it has a small field with a toilet block next to it. The only other camper arrived while I was pitching and we got chatting. Elaine was on a spur-of-the-moment holiday driving and camping in her Berlingo car. It was nice to have company for the evening in the pub, and with someone who likes ale. The pub stocked a Tennents beer, which wasn’t too bad. We got chatting to a couple of well-oiled local old men. They were very nice to us although it was hard to understand them at times (partly because they were inebriated but mainly because of their accent).
Not a bad day all told. It rained again during the night.