Snow on them there hills- NC500 Day 4

We woke to snow on the peaks. Admittedly they were distant peaks, but I’m easily pleased. It was chilly down on the edge of the loch and the wind was blowing a gale. Once again the sun was shining. But we weren’t going to fall for that. We donned our 5 layers and headed off.

First stop today was Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve. It is the home of a mile long box canyon, which you can see from a suspension bridge that crosses the gorge. By the time we pulled into the car park and donned our jackets, the sun had disappeared and it had begun to sleet.

The suspension bridge was wobbly and the boards underfoot were slippery. The sign said no more than 6 people should be on the bridge at one time. I would have been happier if it was only one.

There was a short walk to a viewing platform further along the gorge, allowing us to see both the falls and the suspension bridge.

Another smaller fall into the box canyon

Driving further up into the mountains we came across snow on the side of the road and accumulated around park benches. My fingers were too cold to evenpick it up and make a snowball. And there wasn’t quite enough for a snow angel.

That’s my shoe print! Not quite a snow angel!

We took a little detour to Mellon Udrigle Beach. It was pretty pretty, but also pretty cold, so it was a “jump out, take a pic and jump back in again” type of stop.

At lunch time we called into a little cafe perched above Aultbea. The owner gave us a bit of a history lesson while we ate. This little harbour was a staging area for the Second World War shipping convoys carrying supplies around the North Cape of Norway to Murmansk in the USSR. Because Loch Ewe faces north it is much better sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds than other lochs along this coast.

Inverewe Garden and Estate was a great find that almost backfired. The wind was pretty wild when we arrived and we were disappointed to learn that the head gardener had closed the gardens due to the high winds. A group of about 10 of us were hanging around to see if he would change his mind ……. and he did.!! We raced for the entry to the garden before he changed his mind again. So glad we got to visit. It was great.

The gardens were created on a barren piece of land back in 1862 by some guy called MacKenzie. He planted large trees and shrubs to provide a wind break. Once this was achieved, he started planting exotic plants that seem to thrive in their own happy little microclimate. His daughter took over where he left off and then left the property to the National Trust of Scotland. Now it employs 10 gardeners who keep it well maintained and safe for the tourists.

The property is criss-crossed with a large number of walking paths, leading to stunning views, little ponds, art installations and areas designated to the plants of particular countries.

I loved these guys. Not sure what they’re made out of (some kind of vine, bamboo?).

Grahame must be feeling a little homesick.

Hugging a Snow Gum

We found a few other Australian Natives but the pièce-de- resistance was the little stand of Wollemi Pines.

The house provided a little respite from the cold and a little insight into the lives of MacKenzie and his daughter. The downstairs rooms looked cosy and lived in, even though they weren’t. There was a lovely sitting room, dining room, kitchen and library to peruse before heading back into the gardens.

But I particularly loved the flower arrangements.

Incoming!!

Victoria falls, not THE Victoria Falls, was another opportunity to get out of the car and stretch our legs. It was a nice walk past the falls and then up to the stream above.

All around the purple heather…

Grahame felt the need to add a rock to yet another cairn! Not quite as impressive as the last one!!

The views continued to be jaw droppingly gorgeous. So it was a slow trip as Grahame had to keep pulling over in order for me take yet another photo!

We had a choice as to which way we drove to Applecross: the Coast drive or the mountain pass. We chose the coastal way and will leave via the famous mountain pass tomorrow.

We arrived in Applecross around 5.30 and still had no idea where we were staying the night. We had sent a request to an Airbnb, but hadn’t had a response and most of the day we had no internet coverage so we weren’t even sure if the hosts had read our request. Turns out they hadn’t!!

We spotted a sign for Hartfield House Hostel, turned left and here we are happily ensconced in a rather large house on a rather large estate. We have a “wing” to ourselves, although there is at least one other couple staying here somewhere.

The receptionist recommended we walk to the “Walled Garden” for dinner. It was about a 20 minute walk down a country road, over a wooden bridge crossing the River Applecross, through the Applecross Estate, and past Applecross House.

Applecross House

Little did we know we would be accompanied by a stag walking down the road in front of us. He wouldn’t let us get too close, but he certainly wasn’t in a hurry to get off the road.

A distant deer
Walled Garden

Dinner was delightful as was the walk home under starry, starry skies!

Unbelievable!!

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