I really should learn not to read Nordic thrillers just before trying to sleep on the ground floor of an old house in the middle of nowhere. Having convinced myself that a serial killer was going to climb in through the bedroom window, not suprisingly it took me a long time to drop off. Eventually the room got so stuffy that I decided that I had to let some air in, serial killer or not.

After a bacon and egg breakfast, Rich – under Dervla’s watchful eye, drove us to Rogie Falls, just west of Strathpeffer. It rained hard for the whole journey, half way through which Rich admitted that he’d forgotten his waterproof trousers, but at least we’d get to see the waterfalls at their best.

The 5 mile walk took us from the suspension bridge and Rogie Falls to View Rock via Forest Enterprise trails, and back alongside the Black Water River. It was short enough not to get too wet, but with plenty of ups and downs to help us start getting our hill fitness back. The leaves had already started to turn, surrounding us with a blaze of Autumnal colour. The falls are definitely impressive and well worth a look, but easily surpassed by the stretch along the river. Riddled with little waterfalls and plunge pools it felt like a real life fairy glen. Had we been there in the Summer, we unanimously agreed that we’d have gone for a swim, or at least a float.

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At the Contin car park and picnic site we met a lovely 74 year old gent and his whippet called Lady. He was obviously feeling in need of some company so we stood and talked for quite some time. He’d been born in England but spent most of his life in Scotland, and loved taking off in his camper van for weeks at a time, especially since he’d lost his beloved wife. He’d never traveled abroad, but very much enjoys traveling in this country, and meeting people from all walks of life, especially if they enjoy sharing a wee dram of whiskey!

We too like meeting lots of different people, and whilst I can never imagine not leaving the UK again I certainly agree that we have many, many hidden gems here, and that you could easily spend years exploring our islands, quirky bits, and off the beaten track places. Staycations are just as much about embracing adventure. It doesn’t really matter where you go, as long as you immerse yourself when you get there, and don’t just tick off the obvious tourist spots. It would be a shame for instance if visitors to the UK just judged us by a short trip to London.

I can see this trip leading on to a tour of the Western Isles in the not too distant future. Closely followed by Orkney and the Shetland Isles. I’ve always loved Scotland – the stunning landscapes and food especially, and the rain has never succeeded in dampening our spirits. Whilst it drizzled all day we kept warm and soon dried off back in Pete’s car thanks to the much loved heated seats.

We headed back to the cottage for a lamb casserole and hot shower, albeit almost in the dark as the one bulb in the bathroom emitted only a faint glow. I loved cooking on the Aga, and accompanied the lamb with mashed potato, and red cabbage fried slowly with apple, redcurrant jelly and balsamic vinegar – seriously tasty.

Tornado jets practice night flights in this area and we could hear their rumbles clearly tonight as they streaked across the Tain peninsula. Rain soon stopped play again though, and we went to bed hoping that it would ease off for a our trip to the very far north tomorrow.

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