Having lived in Edinburgh virtually all my life, travel has revolved around going to the ‘Sunny South’, but given the terrible impact of air travel on the environment, we decided to go somewhere closer to home during Independent Learning Week. Looking for inspiration, I happened upon a gallery of white-sand beaches and expanses of rugged mountain-sides – all photos of the highlands. With my only memories of the Highlands being those of grueling hikes with sodden boots and fields during Duke of Edinburgh treks, these photos portrayed the area in a completely different light. As an avid photographer, I couldn’t resist the possibility of seeing such amazing scenery for myself.
So as the clock struck 11 am and my last tutorial was over, I jumped in the car and headed six hours north to Sutherland. As night set in, we turned onto the narrow road leading to our B&B (the longest few miles of my life given that it was pitch black and full of narrow passages). After recovering over a good night’s sleep, we woke to a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean and the auburn landscape which stretched before us.
As we arrived at Achmelvich beach, I recognized it as the campsite I had stayed in during Duke of Edinburgh, and with this came the memory of a secluded beach just over the hill. Climbing over the rocks I found the beach again, more beautiful and deserted then I remembered. The sea was clear and turquoise and the sand was glistening white; my dream of visiting the Maldives faded away as Scotland’s version presented itself. The next day, we headed (even further) North, with the infamous Sandwood bay in mind, but just as we prepared ourselves for the four hour round trip, Oldshoremore bay came into view. Only a five-minute walk from the car park, as we walked over the dune a vision of paradise met our eyes. The beach extended further than the eye could see, with a collection of coves appearing as the waves drew out, only accessible at low tide.
Reflecting on my trip, I don’t believe that any pictures really do justice to quite how stunning the Highlands are; you need to be there to see the endless landscape dotted with soaring munroes and glistening lochs, to hear the impact of the waves crashing against the rocks, and to feel the ‘wild’.