We left our rather nice and warm B&B in Stoer in constant rain this morning, and for some reason we decided to take a short detour to see the lighthouse at Stoer Head. It stopped raining briefly, but we decided not to take advantage of a seat in a nearby paddock overlooking the ocean in case it began raining again.
Along the way back, we found a few Highland Cattle in a field. I stopped and stood in the rain for ten minutes trying to get one to look at me so that I could take its picture. Eventually, after a series of shouts, whistles and me making stupid noises, it obliged and then we could move on.
We travelled for about 40 kms on a very narrow, winding road along the coast until we came to the main road near Unapool. All along the way, we had torrential rain and very strong winds. Suddenly, as we arrived in Kylesku, with it’s much photographed curved bridge, the sun came out and the wind died down. This continued for most of the afternoon. What a change – hard to believe and I was even forced to put on my sunglasses for a while!
We stopped in the tiny town of Durness for lunch, refueled and continued west along the far north coast of Scotland. Just out of the town, we came across an historical site where the remains of a crofters settlement were signposted. A croft is a fenced or enclosed area of land, usually small and arable that includes a crofter’s dwelling. These typically provided space for both the family and their animals A crofter is one who has tenure and use of the land, typically as a subsistence tenant farmer. Many crofters were removed in the highland clearances when forced displacements of the population of the Scottish Highlands took place during the 18th and 19th centuries. They led to mass emigration to the sea coast, the Scottish Lowlands, and the new world in America and New Zealand. The clearances were part of a process of agricultural change, but were particularly notorious as a result of the short notice given to people, the lack of legal protection for year-by-year tenants under Scots law as well as the brutality of many evictions.
For most of the afternoon, we followed the north coast across to the town of Thurso, the biggest town we have seen for over four days. We passed through a lot of quite stunning highland scenery.
Dinner tonight was at the Pentlands Hotel in Thurso which the Trip Advisor website rates as the best restaurant in town. They clearly haven’t watched much of Masterchef and the food style and presentation was reminiscent of something out of the 1960’s.
In the middle of dinner the power went off (probably because of the high winds throughout the country). Fortunately, we were already served our dinner, but everything else had ground to a halt. In effect, the total town had shut down as there is nothing that can be done without power. The traffic lights were out, supermarkets had both closed and shops had shut.
The power has just come back on again – almost two hours after it went off, so hopefully, we will have some light and heating in our B&B.