I mentioned in my last blog (you can read it here), that this day, day 3, was probably my favourite. The bright blue sky and surprisingly warm sunshine certainly were a factor. Day 3 was all about open roads, snowy mountain tops, deserted beaches and crystal blue waters.
I woke up early and had a bowl of porridge on my little veranda at my B n B, a breakfast with a view. Whilst I was away, I found a new love of porridge, something I'd always thought wasn't my thing. After breakfast, I took a short stroll down to Loch Assynt to the soundtrack of oyster catchers flying overhead.
I packed the Corsa up, it had that warm car smell when I climbed into the driver's seat. I felt the warmth of the sun through the glass as I drove along the side of Loch Assynt to Lochinver.
I had the most incredible mushroom, chestnut and red wine pie at Lochinver. When I posted about it on Instagram, quite a few people replied excitedly to say they'd tasted these gorgeous pies too! After finishing the last bite, I was happy to know that they have a Pies By Post business.
I followed the road around the coast, and for the most part I had it to myself. It could have been the day when I felt most alone, but the landscape seemed to hold me. Sometimes there were stretches of road that felt very remote, and just as I was wondering if I'd see anybody ever again, out popped a little house with smoke curling from its chimney.
My first stop was Clachtoll. Such a perfect little beach. Dunes, white sands and turquoise water. I had it to myself.
The only other person I saw on this stretch of road was the postman. I pulled into a couple of passing places to let him go by, but on the third time, he waved and gave me a smile of recognition. I don't know quite why, but it gave me a boost, another reaffirmation.
The ever changing landscape was exhilarating. From the beach, to driving along cliff tops, to mountain views. Little lochs peppered the brown land. As I looked at the map again, I realised that today I would be reaching the very top of Scotland. For some reason before I set out (and this is how my anxiety can manifest itself), I had pre-empted a wave of panic washing over me when I reached the most northerly point. The furthest I could possibly be away from home on this trip. Although the thought grumbled away a few times, I didn't give it air to breath, and I know it might not sound much written here, but it was a significant turning point for me.
Along the single track road towards Drumberg. The tarmac carved into the horizon. I stopped to look at the map just to check the next petrol stop as I'd noticed the gauge getting past the wrong side of the quarter full mark. As I stopped, I noticed two pairs of deer eyes staring at me from the side of the road, they chewed nonchalantly. Bored with me, they sauntered into the trees. The landscape made me feel incredibly small. Everything seemed to be oversized. The lochs, the mountains, even the sky.
After travelling along the single track road for the morning, I met the A road again to head further north. I joined a small herd of campervans and motorhomes with shiny bike racks and bright logos. Travelling further into North West Sutherland, I started to feel an urgency to reach the top of the country. I drove a little quicker than anticipated up to Durness, so I didn't make any stops or take any photos until I hit that little town. I had a welcome hot chocolate in Cocoa Mountain and let Suzi know I'd made it to the top. Just along from Durness is Smoo Cave. It's very impressive at 130 feet wide, 200 feet long and 50 feet wide. The river Allt Smoo falls from an 80 foot drop into sea water below. The sound was deafening, and again, nature made me feel incredibly small.
I drove towards my Airbnb in Talmine. The majestic Ben Hope caught the late afternoon light.
And then to the lovely croft that was home for the night, and that's exactly how it felt. I had such a warm welcome from my hosts Steve and Lea. A pair of slippers waited for me at the door, and inside, the log fire glowed in the burner. The perfect end to a long day's driving. I settled in for the night. I'll write more about this lovely croft in my next blog, about my glimpse of the northern lights, and a beautiful sunrise that started Day 4.