Our second day in Scotland involved lots of driving, several waterfalls, one particularly rainy hike, and a few drams of whisky (naturally).
We headed north out of Inverness along the A835 to Rogie Falls. It was a short hike to the powerful cascades with a child-friendly interpretive sign about the life cycle of salmon.
While driving along, we saw a parking area near another falls that wasn’t on our list, but Blackwater Falls and the pretty roadside falls around the corner were a nice photo stop.
The Falls Of Mesach are located in Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve. The large parking lot was nearly empty when we arrived (yeah!) and there was a food truck selling burgers and other snacks near the first entry gate. The gorge itself was surprisingly steep and the view from the limited-person bridge was breath-taking (or terrifying depending how you feel about heights or swaying bridges).
A little further up the road is this spectacular view of the Scottish highlands…
Our next stop was the Lael Forest and although we weren’t entirely sure we had the correct parking lot, we decided to go exploring. Thankfully the cows didn’t seem to mind.
After about a mile, we found a small waterfall next to a water-driven hydro station.
Feeling hungry, we stopped at the Arch Hotel in Ullapool for lunch. I had the blue cheese tart while Leandra opted for the (traditionally Scottish) Cullen Skink (cream-based soup with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions). Everything was tasty.
On our way out of town, we took a quick detour to the Rhue Lighthouse and then continued on to Knockan Crag. The views from the top were spectacular but the drizzle that changed into rain halfway through the hike was not so great.
Given the weather we decided to begin our return back to Inverness along A837. In Invercassley we stopped at a small turnout for Achness Falls, which we had all to ourselves.
Further down the road are the Falls of Shin, which appear to be recently developed with a parking lot and a new ramp and viewing platform. Unfortunately, the view is of top of falls, so it is not a great photo spot – hopefully they will complete a second viewing platform a little further downstream that will provide a much better vantage soon.
Given the time we decided to have dinner at the Dornoch Castle Hotel, which is known to have a nice whisky selection. Leandra had the mussels and I had the (very light and fluffy) goat cheese fritter salad (which was larger than expected, and quite tasty). Leandra had a few mistakes happen during dinner, including the wrong wine delivered to the table and leaving off the toasted bread on the mussels, but thankfully, everything was fixed quickly.
After dinner we were lucky to snag a couch in the Whisky Bar while we perused the whisky list. Leandra tried a Clynelish 15 year cask in her long-standing challenge to identify a whisky like her beloved Benrinnes. Eric started with a local, Glenmorangie 12 year port finish, then went for a Laphroaig Scotch Malt Whisky Society 29.175 16yr. This was lovely, with chocolate, burnt marshmallows, light fruit, nice smokiness.
All in all, a long but satisfying day exploring Scotland.