Monday, 13 April 2009

Forss Hotel and Gorse

This is the wilderness garden at the front of the Castle of Mey. Lots of wizened looking trees not yet in leaf but strong enough to survive the Arctic winds that blow down on them. At the front right are some of the Caithness flagstones performing a function peculiar to this region - they stand on end and make fences. Square and very strong although only an inch thick, we saw row upon row dividing fields and marvelled at them. They were once exported all over the world to make pavements and for all I know people may still be walking on them in cities like London and Sydney - and then concrete became so much easier...

I recommend the Forss Hotel and not only because the trees look healthier, but because it is a perfect country house hotel with exactly the right atmosphere. Rabbits nibbled the lawn as we sat in the conservatory and ate breakfast. The house sits within the loop of the Forss river, and the waterfall and the riverside walks are very pretty. It is a time-share river, so salmon fishers will want to know about it. If breakfast is anything to go by, dinner would be a very good experience, but of course we were eating the evening meal with family and friends for the two days we were resident.

We walked along the river in brilliant sunshine towards the sea, and out of the reach of the wind.

All the way up the coast from Inverness through Brora and Helmsdale we had driven by hillsides covered in gorse, which looked wonderful against the bright blue sky. The road is twisty and offered very few places to pull over, so I did not get a photograph en route - but we enjoyed a smaller version on our walk to the sea.

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