Sunday, October 13, 2019


  Architecture and nature make enjoying the scenery and photography a natural response in the northwestern Scottish Highlands.  
  Sir John Square in Thurso, a gift from Sir Tollemache Sinclair in 1879.  The church is St. Peter's and St. Andrews. The first sermon was preached there in 1833.

  The idea of the moors thrilled me as a young reader or mystery fan. 
   They are places of natural beauty and power.

   Ullapool rests on the shores of Loch Broom that feeds from the Atlantic. 
   An inviting spot is the Seaforth.
  A gathering spot for locals and those of us just passing through. We enjoyed the Cullen Skink, a traditional soup made with smoked haddock and potatoes. There is plenty of fresh sea food and drink to wash it down. 
    Mussels, Salmon, Fish and Chips, lobster, crab, as well as haggis, steak pie, burgers, mushy peas, highland cheese and wee nibbles. 

  It is the time of year when the heather blooms and turns the  highlands into a quilt of color and texture.

  Ocean views, rivers, lochs, water falls and streams course the highlands. 

   The Highlands are an unspoiled expanse and wilderness. The abundance of fresh and sea water make it an ideal place for those who love the sea or to fish and hunt.

  The remote Altnaharra Hotel began as a 17th century drovers inn, a place for those who moved sheep. 200 years later it became a hunting and fishing lodge. In the 20th century it became a place where sportsman, travelers and foodies can find culinary hospitality in the highlands. 

 Sheep are still in the neighborhood as well.
  A few more miles along the misty shores and foggy glens and we prepare to go over the sea to Skye.

    See you down the trail.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

note to readers

       To the other side of the other ocean and back, the Pacific-Atlantic-Pacific synapse loaded and fired.
    Specks of phosphorus light in diamond shreds gleamed a coded rhythm on the distant water. I was mesmerized. A photo just can't capture the full immersive experience. That thought prompted this writer's note. 
    Seeing these posts on a phone does not permit the immersive quality of the photos to present themselves as  they do on a pad or better yet a large screen. Larger is better.
    Thanks to those who have emailed or posted response. I'm particularly happy some of you have said you feel like you were there, or that it freshens your own visit.
    James Bond country is coming up.

     See you down the trail.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Below The Wind and Above The Sea

  Lands end is the northeastern tip of Scotland.

   Calm seas as we queue for the ferry to the Orkney Islands, departing from John O' Groats.

  They say they live "below the wind and above the sea."
There are 70 islands in the Orkney archipelago, 20 are inhabited. 

People have lived in the Orkneys for 8,500 years. There are presently 21 thousand with most of the population on the large island Mainland.

The largest town is Kirkwall with 8,500.

    St. Magnus Cathedral is at the heart of Kirkwall. It is the northern most cathedral in the United Kingdom.
     The sandstone building was started in 1137 and it took 300 years to complete, at a time when Norse Earls controlled the Orkney Islands. It's built in Norman style, the work done by English masons. 
 In 1468 when King James III of Scotland annexed the islands, he gave ownership of the cathedral to the burgh of Kirkwall. It has a dungeon.
  The turret clock was added 1761 and was built by a Scots clockmaker Hugh Gordon. 

    Kirkwall is an administrative center for the Orkney islands. It was first mentioned in records in 1046.

    500 live in the village of St. Margret Hope. Life is gentle, peaceful and quiet. Ferry and air service connects the population centers.

  There are historic sites on the Orkneys, including Skaill Manor near the 5 thousand year old neolithic UNESCO World Heritage site, Skara Brae, detailed in a previous post. 
      There is striking evidence of more recent history, WWII. That is detailed in a future post.
     There is calm and tranquillity in this area of Scotland.

   Back in Scotland, the remote crofting village of Thrumster, Caithness is south of Wick. An old black smith building has been turned into a time capsule of sorts the "Smitty."

   It's a warm and lively pub with a purpose. Raymond, below, is a Seanchai,(shawnakee) a Gaelic storyteller and historian.
    Before written language Seanchais kept and recited lyric poems that contained history and law.
  A music teacher, he works with local kids to keep alive traditional song and instruments.  A 9 year old piper
  and her 11 year old brother are part of Raymond's oral and musical history presentation.
  It wove a rich texture of history, culture and emotion for Scots and those with Scottish heritage. The stuff for dreams and reflection at the end of a day of travel.

   We journey on.

  See you down the trail.