Whoosh whoosh whoosh

Invershin, Sutherland to Bettyhill, Sutherland. 

There was only one sheet of instructions for today, as opposed to six going through Glasgow. The sheet essentially said turn right out of the hotel. Go to the coast, turn right to Bettyhill. Ok. I admit it was a bit more complex than that, but basically there were no amenities to speak of along the way. We took a packed lunch : two rounds sandwiches, crisps, drink, pear, boiled egg, biscuits. Still haven’t finished eating it! 

I was very taken with the Invershin Hotel so here are some more photos of the inside:

A family business, home cooking. Lovely. 

Did I post a picture of the castle across the road? Was a youth hostel until recently. Then was sold for £900,000 last year. Possibly suitable for Madonna? Or Louis Walsh? 

Close to Invershin are the Falls of Shin. The visitor centre of old was destroyed some years ago, a shame as Mohammed Al-fayed had wanted to turn it into the Harrods of the North (complete with waxwork model of himself in a kilt!). It has very recently reopened and is lovely. The visitor centre designed by locals and using local materials is built to the shape of a salmon: 

This is the tail: 

This is across the road – the salmon have to leap up this rapid: 

Unless these two Likely lads get there first:

There was a gaudi-esque mosaic of salmon leaping for those unfortunate to miss it:

And a really lovely playground- look at the carvings: 

But close by, a grim reminder of the winter weathers around here: 

In fact the whole area reminded me of Newfoundland, as typified by the film The Shipping News with Kevin Spacey and Judi Dench. Some wooden houses with tin roofs, painted bright or maritime colours:

We paused here for mid morning break today, private woodland managed by the forestry commission, a sheltered spot in itself – this is the view beyond these narrow sheltered confines:

And this is an example of the beauty of nature:
Our planned lunch stop did not open for an hour
Disappointing in view of the rain and wind in this exposed area:

Nowhere to stop for another 9 miles, but we pressed on:

And finally reached the Altnaharra Hotel which supplied excellent tea and biscuits for two for £3.80 (for both). The hotel was beyond posh. Really quite exclusive but they welcomed us in our waterproof trowsis and day-glo jackets. 

This is the area of salmon fishing. Many expensive cars with personalised number plates and ‘rod stands’ to transport the fully assembled rods passed us. There were multiple signs about fishing permits. 

It is also the area of the highland clearances and there are many monuments to this – some explicit, some implicit. 
We met a McKay just by this monument. He lives in Glasgow but travels up as often as possible. There was a sign welcoming us to McKay country, just as we were yesterday welcomed to Cameron country. 

The chickens are truly free range:

I had a funny day- put my helmet on back to front, tried to get on to Keith’s bike, and attempted to describe one part of the trip as being, you know, where we went up that hill and down the other side…. not really helpful. 

Relaxed or losing it?????  

In terms of wildlife: deer, a stonechat (last seen in Western Ireland in 2016) a most beautiful bird with a creamand chestnut chest, standing so typically on a top branch of a man height bush,   Calling its piercing, insistent cry, and heard a cuckoo. Saw  more orchids. Watched house martins feeding their young at the Altnaharra Hotel, and wished again for more time and a pair of binoculars. As Robert Frost said , talking of two paths in a wood, :

‘And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.’

So, Invershin to Bettyhill, a wild, bleak, beautiful, slightly surreal experience. 

But the beach on arrival: and view from the room:Made it worth it. 

Tomorrow I’ll talk gears. Promise. 

Mileage: 52.3 (cumulative 959.7)

Ascents: 2211

Tantrums: 0

Pints: 1.5 

Mechanical issues: 1. 

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