Thursday, 7 February 2008
The beautiful north
"There's life north of Inverness?"
The author of this quote shall remain nameless - though I will tell you he's a subsciber to the 'nowt north of the Watford gap' school of thought - but he highlights a common belief.
In a way I shouldn't even be writing this, because a huge part of Ross-shire's charm is it's lack of crowds, especially in January. But I had to share because the wild beauty of the area is breath-taking.
On a recent business trip, I drove from Inverness to Lochcarron - approximately 62 miles. The kind of landscape that makes me feel a deep-seated love in my Scottish heart accompanied me all the way. I was in a bit of a hurry or I would have happily stopped every three minutes to take pictures of deserted, heather-covered hills, the mist hovering over a still loch or the rays of sunshine that pierced the clouds and made the trees glow green. I felt a stab of jealousy every time I spotted a cottage or farm nestled between the hills - what an idyllic place to spend your life.
Lochcarron itself is a lovely wee town lined up face to face with the loch. Its population is mostly made up of elderly people - until the tourist season - so the pace of life is leisurely. My business took me to the local convenience store, a lovely family- run place which has been rewarded by trade bodies and manufacturers for its quiet yet efficient service for the locals. It's admirable how broad a range they manage to stock given certain suppliers' reluctance to travel to their corner of the world, and customers can find rare treats as the seasons progress - Scottish berried, fresh eggs - all accompanied by the teasing scent of freshly baked bread...