Sunrise in Dingwall promised gorgeous weather for a trip to the western coastline of the Highlands.
Pat & I packed up the car and drove west through beautiful autumnal landscapes amongst the Lochs.
We were headed to Inverewe Gardens in Poolewe and eventually arrive in a small hamlet called Applecross a bit further south down the coast.
Reflections on the Lochs were breathtaking; the water so still, so mesmerizing. Every 5 minutes I found I was pulling off the road to capture yet another perfect shot! They were endless.
Then we came over a rise and came to this sight of absolutely wild beauty as we gazed down to Loch Maree. Oh my goodness!
We stopped in Gairloch for a short break to get some coffee and have a ‘butt’ break. We sat there in all this glory enjoying a beautiful Sunday morning with the locals soaking up the sunshine.
From Gairloch we turned north across to Loch Ewe where Inverewe Gardens & Estate are pleasantly situated on a small bay across from the town of Poolewe (below).
Inverewe Gardens is another absolutely stunning National Trust for Scotland property. Let’s start our tour…with this wonderful metal “tree windchime.” It sounds so lovely tinkling in the breeze….
A lush, sub-tropical-style, oasis perched on a peninsula at the edge of Loch Ewe amid the rugged landscape of Wester Ross, this world-famous historic garden is one of Scotland’s most popular botanical attractions.
The walled garden and it’s many treasures…
Back to the pathways winding through the woods and edged with many wonderful exotic and varied succulents and flowers.
The garden was created out of bare rock and a few scrub willows in 1862 by Osgood Mackenzie. It is full of colourful, exotic plants from around the world.
Highlights include the most northerly planting of rare Wollemi pines, Himalayan blue poppies, olearia from New Zealand, Tasmanian eucalypts, and rhododendrons from China, Nepal and the Indian subcontinent.
These plants flourish here, despite the northerly latitude, thanks to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream and the foresight of Osgood Mackenzie, who planted over 100 acres of woodland to shelter the garden.
We met a couple of ladies who have volunteered in this garden for years. What delightful women!
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful gardens in Scotland, Inverewe is a must for anyone who loves nature.
Now we are approaching the Estate House of Osgood Mackenzie.
I simply loved the entryway with the overhead lighting made out of old hats! What a great idea.
We wandered through the many rooms of the house on the ground floor level. They were exquisitely preserved. That’s what I really like about the National Trust; they’re all about preservation and they do a really good job of preserving historical properties for generations to come. So authentic – I can’t help but feel like the inhabitants are still here; and I’m experiencing a little slice of their lives.
Going to have to try this recipe! Sounds simply divine – Chocolate cake with Maraschino icing…
The property is extensive; we wandered along various paths finding ponds and hidden vistas at every turn as we made our way out to the tip of the peninsula and the jetty.
As much as we enjoyed these gardens and the beautiful views, it was time to work our back to the entrance through the woodland. We enjoyed a sandwich and some soup in the garden restaurant, but were soon on our way because we still had quite a ways to go this afternoon to our final destination – Applecross.
We backed tracked on the road we had followed earlier until we came to the turn off at Kinlochewe to head west once again toward the village of Shieldaig (pronounced Shill-dig).
Just outside Shieldaig we found the signpost, “Coastal Route to Applecross – 24 miles.” This route took us out around the northernmost tip of this peninsula and then back around south to the small village of Applecross.
It was a single-track road (very common to this area) with “Passing Places” about every 50 feet to allow pulling over for oncoming traffic. (They must’ve spent a fortune on signs in this neck of the woods!) Luckily there wasn’t much traffic; I think we may have passed maybe 1 or 2 cars (maybe). The traffic in Scotland is just horrendous! We did, however, pass quite a few sheep along the way and stunning views all the while.
It was a magnificent drive, but it was getting late in the afternoon and we were beginning to wonder if we would ever arrive at the Applecross Inn in time to enjoy some traditional Scottish music scheduled for 3-6 pm.
It was the longest 24 miles I think I’ve ever driven!
We did however finally arrive at the Inn and we enjoyed the last “set” of music and a simply wonderful seafood dinner. This place was absolutely packed with people for such a small, remote location. A very popular destination (bookings are full up through the end of the month!)
Below are some clips of the music we enjoyed….
(The guy at the end of the table reminds me so much of a good friend of mine – Jim Dorman – I think I found his ‘double!)
After taking the videos, my camera ran out of space (and “juice”) so Pat had to take the pictures of our amazingly delicious food. She enjoyed Haddock & Chips while I devoured ‘hand-dived’ Scallops in garlic butter and shallots.
I put my phone on the charger out in the car and managed to catch a few sunset shots. It was electrifying and yet so still and peaceful in this lovely little hamlet with the music playing in the background.
I couldn’t resist the Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert (sooooo YUMMY and oh-so RICH!)
After dinner and a ‘wee dram,’ before the sun made it’s final descent, we found our way to our lodging; a hostel in the “Hartfield House” situated along the Applecross River.
What a perfectly wonderful day with amazing vistas, wonderful gardens, one-track roads and fantastic song & food at roads’ end.
Best of all though was spending time laughing and giggling all the while with my ‘young-at-heart’ and adventurous spirited cohort and dear friend Pat; “making memories” we will both enjoy for many moons to come.
I highly suggest you try it sometime!