Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Watery topics and whisky

The Falls, only fifty yards from the hotel. The water sweeps around the house and emerges on the other side looking much calmer as it trundles off down to the sea. It doesn't look big enough to hold some of the salmon that have been caught in the river - there is a carving of one 3 stone monster caught there in 1952 and immortalised over the hearthstone in the bar. And the whisky - double banked rows of bottles of every conceivable name. If you want to curry favour with the locals, then ask for their very own local malt - Old Pulteney, distilled in Wick.

We drove by my own favourite - Dalmore - a long way south on the shores of the Cromarty Firth. It was interesting to keep crossing the firths - the Moray Firth out of Inverness, then the Cromarty Firth and the Dornoch Firth and on up the A9 to Latheron where we branched off onto what used to be the A895 to Thurso.

The Flow country is famous as a haven for wildlife of the kind that enjoys bogs as a habitat - otters and the like, which is just as well since they are scarce in the rest of the UK. There are signs that they are coming back now the rivers are cleaner now we knowthe damage pesticides cause, but it is a slow process of re-colonisation. I have only seen one place that is flatter than the Flow Country and that is East Anglia - also known as the Fen Country. Such flat land makes me a little uneasy, always looking over my shoulder, since I'm used to the rolling hills and valleys of the north. Wind farms proliferate in Caithness and act as markers across the vast flatness.
We walked north along the Forss river until we reached the sea where we found this old ruin boarded up and marked Dangerous - Keep Out.
Many old houses lie around falling gradually into greater and greater disrepair, but I wonder at the wisdom of the person who built this one. I should have taken another picture to show you how close it is to the sea. Walk between the Forss river and the house walls to the seaward side, and you step onto a steep, narrow slope, littered with stones - not pebbles, but stones - a strip perhaps ten feet wide and the sea is lapping at your feet.
Bearing in mind that this is the north coast and bears the brunt of waves whipped in by the wind from the Arctic, the waves must have broken over the house at some point in the winter storms. Two windows and a door, now all bricked up, once stared out on the encroaching sea. Must have been a frightening prospect at times.

1 comment:

Louise said...

Jen, what a lovely time you are having! Looks gorgeous.