We had slept well considering. We slowly got up, planning to meet our friends for breakfast. There’s a Dobbie’s Garden Centre right behind the hotel and on Saturday’s they’re offering a “buy one, get one free “breakfast deal. It’s a no brainer. So, after a little wait and a Covid dance, we settle down with four English breakfasts and coffees in a bright and cheerful cafe area. Once finished, we have a quick wander around the garden centre, picking up bits and then back to the cars to pack with bags and bikes and to say goodbye.
It’s another beautiful sunny day, lighting up the countryside. We’re heading to Inverness before tracking westwards and are little alarmed that we have 112 miles and two and half hours of travelling just to reach Inverness! The landscape is ever changing and it’s a pleasant ride. We drive through Inverness and head onto the little village of Beauly, where we stopped on our NC500 trip a couple of years ago. We know of a very nice deli and café there.
We wait for the “only so many people in at any one time” scenario before bagging a window table and ordering a Ploughman’s and fish chowder for lunch. Very nice. We decide to get provisions for the next couple of days too (couldn’t face a large supermarket). It’s a proper deli with cheese and meats on display, lovely biscuits and crackers, condiments. We browse and then start ordering at the counter. Unfortunately, the customer service let it all down. The girl was distracted all the time by other members of staff, leaving us either talking to thin air, having to repeat or getting our request wrong. Hubby overrode the strong desire to be British and let it go and actually commented about her service. She kind of improved, but it had soured our visit. We had almost walked out.
We needed milk – the deli only did glass bottles – but the Co-op opposite had a queue which we weren’t prepared to wait in, so we get back into the car and hoped to find a village shop on the way through. We drove up to the Ord of Muir and followed the A832 and connected up with the A835 which took us across to Linlochewe. Here the valley opens wide and runs alongside the railway line, where our Dog had watched trains and barked at a Dutchman. At Achnasheen, we branched right. We were making good time on decent roads and we didn’t have far to go.
I was driving when hubby told me to turn left at Linlochwe to discover that the road shrunk to a single track road with passing places for the next 10 miles. Oh great! It was interesting – lots of pulling over to let people through (though good for admiring the magnificent mountains and peaks that lined the road), keeping your eyes peeled for monster potholes (you would never get out again) and just being generally amazed by the road. We arrived at the little village of Torridon and found a wonderful little general store that did milk and lots of other groceries and a little café too. This ticked a huge box. Our cottage was four miles further up yet another single track road, this time with a double hairpin thrown in for good measure – it followed the shore of Loch Torridon, but went up high on the fellside, giving you the most fantastic views to the west. It was amazing. We took another left and literally plunged down into the little hamlet of Inveralligin and our cottage, nestling literally on the shore (only a stone wall separated us from the water). We abandoned the car and rushed into the garden to soak up the spectacular scenery before us – the skyline was jagged with mountain peaks all around, the loch stretching back to Torridon and to the west, into the sea. It was like a millpond, shining in the sunshine. The colours and shadows were stunning and we stood for many minutes, just gawping.
We peeled ourselves away to unpack the car and nest, after taking care of which of the five bedrooms to choose from. We chose the one with the double velux windows and the side window overlooking a tumbling beck. To our delight, the cottage has got a sun room at the back and a view of the loch and mountains. Perfect. After a a well earned cuppa, we go outside and sit on top of the ladder stile in the wall that leads to the pebbly beach. Our mission – to spot at least one otter. We sit for a while and with the sun starting to set, we decide to stretch our legs and follow the lane through the hamlet. The houses are scattered around – the original fishing crofts, modern bungalows and a couple of fabulous houses with floor to ceiling windows and we have a good stare. We walk to where the lane peters out and turns into a grassy footpath (which we learn, will take us to Torridon, missing out the tortuous high road above us). Its getting dark now and we start to walk back, just as the moon peeks over the mountains and lights up the loch. It is just magical. It’s a beautiful evening and a brilliant start to our week.
We’re out for ages, but once back, we open a bottle of wine with cheese and biscuits, curl up on the sofas in the sun room and toast our good luck!