“May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right”, Peter Marshall.
Now that travel restrictions have eased in Scotland which now means we can travel outside our local areas….we were off…safely of course.
We thought long and hard about where we could go for a simple, back to nature, quiet and peaceful, secluded spot….and we came up with Kintail or more specifically a little Hamlet called Allt na Sugh, near Kyle of Lochalsh, across the loch from Dornie.
The drive up here had been spectacular.
It felt surreal to be driving so far again and finding yourself becoming more and more remote as we headed further and further into the Highlands…my favourite of places.
And when we arrived it was perfect.
We were up here to mainly relax and escape which would involve some hiking and kayaking!
Kintail itself is famed for its classic mountain ridge walks, like The Five Sisters of Kintail or The Brothers Ridge which we had hiked back in October 2020, and that felt like such a long time ago.
There are 21 Munro’s in this area so we had our pick. The South Glen Shiel Ridge are particular favourites of Munro baggers, whilst some say The Saddle is one of the most magnificent mountains in all of Scotland and this was one of our main reasons being here….to bag some of those Munros.
During our week long break, as well ‘bagging’ the Munros of Beinn Fhada, The Saddle & Sgurr na Sgine via The Forcan Ridge, South Shiel Ridge and Gairach, resulting in us ticking off another 11 Munros in 4 days, we found some other exciting and interesting things to do. I have dedicated separate pages to our Munro days as they deserved a page of their own!
Kintail and Lochalsh are amongst the most popular areas for walks in the Scottish Highlands, and its easy to see why, it’s a very beautiful, scenic place…here are a few of the places we visited.
Sandaig Bay, Gleneig
We had found out about this walk whilst reading about a local writer the late Gavin Maxwell author of “Ring of Bright Water” – the famous book telling of his life with his pet otters at this lonely spot.
This walk would take us to an old cottage used previously by his friend.
A memorial stone was placed just over from the cottage which marked where Gavin Maxwell’s ashes are buried, this also marks the spot where his writing desk was placed inside his own cottage, before it was burned down in 1967.
This was the place where he brought up his otters and penned his worldwide best seller!
A few yards away under a very beautiful large tree towards a burn was a memorial to Edal, the otter that perished in the fire.
This was an idylic spot, very beautiful, peaceful and atmospheric and we stayed for quite some time.
We decided to head ‘over the sea to Skye’ for the experience on the Glenachulish Ferry, the first manually operated turntable ferry in the world and it is actually now the last operating manual turntable ferry in the world so she is very much a Scottish National Treasure.
It was a quick 10 minute trip across the water, costing £15 but a great experience indeed.
Duncraig Castle Walk from Plockton
We undertook this low level coastal walk to revisit one of our favourite places up this neck of the woods, Plockton.
This has to be up there as one of Scotland’s prettiest coastal villages….and let me tell you this we’ve seen a few of them lately!
This was to be a delightful, scenic walk taking us from the picturesque shoreline of Plockton along the shore of Loch Carron to Duncraig Castle.
Duncraig Castle is located in beautiful wooded grounds overlooking Plockton Harbour.
The footpath was scenic all the way, leading us through some fine coastal woodland and we even got to sit and enjoy our picnic with a wonderful outlook over a pine-clad island, all the way across to the mountain pass of Applecross, which is another Scottish favourite of mine.
The only downside to this walk was the amazing rhododendron clumps that were just about to flower…I had the biggest allergic reaction to them in a long time, which stayed with me most of the week!
The Skye Bridge
We have drove over the Skye Bridge numerous times but we have never actually walked it so on this occasion we decided we would to stretch those legs after some long hard days on the mountains.
The Skye Bridge is a road bridge over Loch Alsh, opened in 1995, connecting the Isle of Skye to the mainland. Prior to the opening of the bridge the main route to Skye was by ferry between the villages of Kyle of Lochalsh (Mainland) and Kyleakin (Skye)…which took about 5 minutes!
Its such a lovely bridge with great views both ways and everytime we have crossed here its always a pleasant experience and it never loses its brilliance.
From the bridge we were able to look down on Eilean Ban (White Island) a small Island which has a 21m lighthouse on it. There are a couple of cottages on this island and these had been later purchased by Gavin Maxwell, coincidentally, who as well as writing about his otters also wrote other wildlife books. These days the island is a wildlife reserve and one of the cottages is now the Maxwell museum.
Manuelas Wee Bakery
I had to mention this one! Manuela’s Wee Bakery is a must visit whilst in Dornie or even just passing by…it’s that good!
Owned by a German family who not only bake with their own produce, but also have a pizza business, gin distillery and do the actual joinery work on these fabulous building themselves…all in their own backyard!
They have set up the most beautiful space…it’s quirky…and I love it.
Their bread and cakes and coffee were top class and you will not be disappointed! It was a perfect spot to sit and enjoy our surroundings.
Eilean Donan Castle
This has to be one of my favourite Scottish Castles due to its location…I simply love it.
I visited here several times as a kid and loads more as an adult and on each occasion I take hundreds of photos admiring it just as much as the last time.
Eilean Donan Castle was situated just along the road from where we were staying so we passed it several times each day, morning and night and I never tired of its view. Its usually pretty busy with tourists but because we were so close to it we could literally visit it any time. We chose a late evening for one of our visits and were amazed that we had it all to ourselves, we got to explore the whole Island/Castle alone which was pretty amazing and resulted in some great photos!
On another occasion we decided to sea paddle over to and around it, a first for us and what a way to experience her…simply beautiful.
So all good things must come to an end and our week long break had ended before we knew it but we had a blast up in one of our favourite spots in the Highlands, and the weather had been kind to us which made the experience even better.
But before we headed home we had one last thing to do….a one night wild camp for proper social isolation before heading back into society….watch this space!