Barnard twice broke his journey around Scotland, first returning south after visiting Ben Nevis Distillery and then again after that winter trip to visit Nevis. The following spring/summer he travelled by train from London to Thurso to catch the ferry to Orkney from there. That trip had been his original intention for the commencement of his whole journey the previous summer but he was scuppered by the weather and began in Glasgow instead.
|Whiten Head on the far north coast by Durness|
Even with the 330 mile journey split over two days I still found myself pushed for time, my frequent stops as the landscape unfolded eating into the limited hours of light on these short winter days. I once stopped three times in the space of a mile as different perspectives of the same landscape presented themselves. Thankfully my car didn’t grumble about these stops and starts and coped admirably for the whole journey that week.
Sadly, I awoke on the first day of travel to a dreich morning of particularly Scottish proportions and my first two objectives were immediately affected. Any chance of a great photo of the Skye Bridge with the Cuillin in the background was lost in a wet misty scene of gloom as I returned to the mainland. My next wish was to drive over the Baelach na Ba, the Pass of the Cattle, to Applecross and appreciated the views from there at the end of one of the most spectacular driving roads anywhere in the world. Not to be!
As you turn off the main road towards the Bealach na Ba there is a warning sign which is the driving equivalent of “One does not simply walk into Mordor”. The highest point of the road through the pass is 2,053 feet after a climb from sea level that sometimes hits a gradient of 1:5 as you cling to the side of the hill on hairpin bends. Hard going on a good day; treacherous and often closed in winter. Let me at it! Not for the fainthearted or foolhardy but very rewarding for a more experienced driver. On a good day. I will return.
|'Viewpoint' at top of Bealach na Ba|
|Road from Torridon to Lower Diabaig|
|An Teallach in Wester Ross|
|Strath More looking towards Loch Broom|
|The Coigach landscape - Ben More Coigach on left, Stac Pollaidh on right|
|One of the most important scenes in Highland Geology - Glencoul Thrust Plane on the left, Moine Thrust in the distance|
|Brooding mass of Sàil Gharbh near Kylesku|
|Smoo Gorge at Durness|
|Smoo Cave waterfall|
|Vivid geology at the Secret Beach|
|Inner shore erosion by river at Secret Beach|
|The gnarley cliffs of Ben Loyal|
|Dounreay at sunset|