Applecross Village & Beahlach Na Ba (Pass of the Cows )

Waking up in Applecross was quiet & peaceful.  I could hear cows mooing in the surrounding pastures. We headed out to find our breakfast at the Applecross Walled Gardens and as I turned up the narrow lane there were the cows coming out to pasture and they weren’t just any  cows, they were my favorites – Hairy Coos!

It was a great way to start the day – watching them head out eagerly for their breakfast in the green pastures by the seaside.  They were on a mission and so we were.  Just down the lane we came to the walled gardens, eagerly looking forward to our own breakfast!

Much to our delight when we walked in there were Izabella and Morsa.  We met them the night before at Applecross Inn.  They too had been driving a bit of the “North Coast 500; more than 500 miles of the best the North Highlands has to offer.” (The route runs to and from Inverness, venturing around the capital of the Highlands, up the West Coast and back via the rugged north coast and has become quite the rage.)

Delightful young ladies they were; co-workers from Edinburgh who were enjoying a ‘girls weekend’ together.  Morsa is originally from Germany; Izabella from Poland.

They were so much fun to talk to.  When we finished our dinner last night and were headed out to find the hostel, we discovered they were staying there too, so we remarked “We’ll see you at home then!”  The next morning who should we ran into at breakfast again; offering up yet another wonderful opportunity to get to know them even better.  By the end of our meals and long conversation, we all decided it would be best to stay in touch as we had become fast friends.

With the dew on the petals and grass, Pat and I made our way around the gardens.  Unlike a lot of gardens I’ve visited lately that have a team of gardeners keeping it ‘just so,’ this garden only has one gardener and it was much more relaxed and unruly, and felt more like home to me. The gardener in me wanted to stay and pull a few weeds here and there, trim a hedge, and pick a few remaining bouquets of blossoms before the frost hits.

I didn’t stay to pull weeds and work in the garden as we had some traveling yet to do today to get back to Dingwall.  First we wandered around the village of Applecross and its nearby neighbors.

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One stop included the Applecross burial grounds of Clachan Kirk and Kirkyard.  A rather amazing place as it turned out.

Maelrubha (born Jan 3 645AD!) came from Bangor which is now Northern Ireland.  He joined the monastery and left for Scotland in 671AD. His Gaelic and Pictish background prepared him well for spreading Christianity for almost 50 years to the inhabitants of Northern Scotland. Although he traveled extensively around Scotland his final resting place is here in the kirkyard.  He died at the age of 80 on April 22, 722AD and his cross is still standing!  I think this one qualified for the oldest stone I’ve found so far!  Amazing!

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I love these types of gates you can find all over the place to allow people to enter but not animals in case the gate gets left ajar.

Nearby was the Applecross Heritage Center, but unfortunately it didn’t open until noon.  We had quite a ways to travel today and involved quite a steep and narrow climb up the Beahlach Na Ba (Pass of the Cows).

Since it was early we thought it best to traverse this one-track road before all the drivers would be coming over it to Applecross from the east side of the pass. The actual distance wasn’t all that far (about 12 miles) but it was steep on both sides and very narrow.

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So we began the climb… in the first photo below you can see where we spent the night on the edge of the hill amongst the trees in the middle of the picture. As we climbed the views of Applecross below were beautiful.

We kept climbing and climbing and climbing…

We finally reached the top!  A what a view we enjoyed tremendously. You could see forever across the Western Isles.

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Then we began the descent down the east side through all the hairpin turns and much more traffic!  Glad we started when we did and that there were Passing Places  everywhere; they’re definitely necessary!

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When we got down to the bottom and the other side of Loch Shieldaig, we couldn’t help but stop and take some photos of what we had just descended.  Magnificent!

We made our way to Loch Carron enjoying the rock formations and the trees along the route.

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We took a ‘butt break’ in Loch Carron, where Pat was born, enjoyed some tea and coffee and a quiet Monday morning with the locals, and possibly some fellow travelers.

In the cafe’s sweets cabinet they had the cutest little miniature tea sets!

Below is the house where Pat’s parents lived when she was born.

On our way back getting closer to Dingwall we happened upon the train traveling in the same direction… Cute little train and would be fun to take sometime.

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Arriving back on the outskirts of Dingwall, Pat also pointed out one of her childhood homes where she spent many a happy year growing up in this lovely town of Dingwall.

Nice to be home again in Dingwall, filled to the brim with more wonderful memories of gorgeous landscapes of Western Ross.  Thank you Pat for taking me on this incredible little journey enjoying a ‘slice’ of the “North Coast 500.”  It was powerful and whole lotta fun!

Author: Claudia Frew

Adventuresome, independent, and fun-loving American 64-year young great-grandmother who loves to travel; often going solo!

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