HIGHLANDS SECRET

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Views across Loch Shiel from Acharacle

Two weeks in Ardnamurchan land, the West Highlands – where rugged landscapes reside and – in places – the lush growth of mossy, fern-rich woodlands.

Here was our hideaway, between Fort William and Mallaig a small place called Acharacle, and I am still unsure of how to pronounce it.  Acharacle (Gaelic: Àth Tharracail) The name comes from the Gaelic Ath Thorguil or Torquil’s ford, following a battle in 1120 at a nearby ford across the River Shiel between the Celtic-Norse warrior Somerled and the Norse invader Torquil. Here, Torquil was killed in the battle and his followers ousted from the area. (extract from Wikipedia)

We arrived on the Monday afternoon just before sunset, thankfully, because the narrow, winding roads with Passing Places leading into the village where not something we wanted to experience in the dead of night… especially during the new moon (no moon) phase… and up here in the highlands it is absolutely pitch black darkness.

En route to our destination we realized there were going to be issues with mobile reception… yes that’s right no mobile reception at all..
thankfully after two or three days of sorting out a few issues with internet access we managed to relax knowing we could at least contact family by email if the need arose, and we threw ourselves into being too busy with sightseeing and catching up with the in-laws,  and just enjoying the solitude and peacefulness of the surrounding area…
and of course the emailing was left on the backburner…
On our last day, with all our gear packed and ready for our long trip back home with a stopover near Richmond, North Yorkshire….
came the awful news of floods and torrential rain affecting the country right slap bang where we had planned to travel and stay the night… doh!
Checking the internet and news and yes it was confirmed there was no way we would be able to travel to our overnight destination… doh!
Luckily it was mid-week and we could at least stay in Acharacle until the weather subsided down south and the roads were clear…
however as time passed and the road south via our chosen route looked uncertain we changed our plans  and headed south straight down the west coast of UK instead and travelled the long 600 miles all in one day…
12hrs 30mins from Acharacle, Ardnamurchan, Scotland to Whitstable, Kent, England (this of course included 3 comfort stops and 3 petrol stops).
After so many hours in the car I felt like I was still in motion when I hit the comfort of my bed at 9pm.  What a day!
En route from Acharacle to Stirling
The weather on the whole has been favourable, although colder than down south, about 12C max during the day and sometimes even up to 13-15C the overnight temps weren’t that cold initially 6C-9C and then around 9-11C.   And the rain only really started the last two days of our extended stay.   We had lots of cloud, sun, wind and more wind, but this did not hinder our touring and enjoying Scotland.
Briefly, this is what we managed to get up to:
We managed to get on the ferry to Skye for a short trip to Armadale
and a quick visit to the Clan Donald Museum and Castle ruins,
it is so beautiful here,
the southern part of the island is very fertile unlike the rest of the island,
and they call it the Garden of Skye.
We also travelled on “The Jacobite” steam train from Fort William to Mallaig and return,
it was the highlight of the whole trip.
The steam train travels along the rail line which passes over the Glenfinnan viaduct which is used in the Harry Potter’s movies, and historically Glenfinnan is where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard, at the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising.
So we spent a whole day out on the train with fish and chips lunch at Mallaig, and then the next day went back to Glenfinnan to watch the Jacobite steam train go past on the viaduct.
We climbed the Glenfinnan monument overlooking Loch Shiel,
and we had afternoon tea in the Glenfinnan dining carwhich is permanently parked at Glenfinnan station.
Visited “Neptune’s Staircase” the beginning of the Caledonian Canal at Fort William.
Visited the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse,  
the most westerly point of the British mainland,
had a very nice cuppa tea and cakes… yum… in beautiful sunshine… and protected from the wind…
stopped en route from lighthouse… and followed a very soggy, muddy, track covered in brambles and bracken to get a view of the Mingarry Castle….  well worth the slog…  LOL
AND Walked through Ancient Oakwoods near Salen, ALL on the same day.
Nearby to where we were staying was “Castle Tioram” very beautiful,
and I must say the most relaxing place I have visited,
just love this place, it was so calming and had a lovely energy.
Love it, went back a second time for another fix and to see it with the high tide.
It is an island castle accessible at low tide by a causeway which we walked,
at high tide you will get not only your shoes and feet wet but also your trousers,
we watched instead whilst a couple of ladies, one in gum boots (wellies) and one in normal walkers … walked or  hopped across some well positioned rocks through the water… however I am sure the high tide gets higher than this… from the surrounding evidence…
I LOVE SCOTLAND… every time we visit I want more… only wish I could beam back there whenever I feel the need for a fix… would be way easier than the long haul drive….  LOL….. that’s it for now,  ciao, ciao
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Published by: BSF

Born and raised in Perth, Western Australia to Polish parents, my upbringing was totally influenced by strong family values, Polish culture and customs based on Roman Catholic calendar, as well as the folkloric aspect of dressing up in regional dress and performing in Polish Folk Dancing, as well as the consumption of many home cooked Polish meals. Today, I live with my English husband in the UK, and I am a mother of two (all grown now) and grandma to one (granddaughter 5yrs). I love to travel, walk, take photos, blog, cook and spend time with my family in Australia (when I get the chance). I have a huge interest in natural medicine, which lead me to study at university in my 40's. I love exploring what this life is about, which has included reading motivational, spiritual and self-empowerment books and attending self-empowerment courses.

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