Durness Highland Games
It is with the greatest regret that we were unable to stay for this event. But it is worth noting purely because of it’s exquisite setting.
Having had our holiday in Skye (precurser to Lochcarron Highland Games) cut short due to illness we were determined we would get a couple of days in Durness before preparing our stall for the games there. However, as several web orders came in just as we were about to leave, once again we were delayed in setting out on our three hour journey across the Highlands. Eventually we had to accept defeat and set off first thing the following morning instead. This meant we only had half a day in Durness but we made the most of it.
We parked our little caravan in the car park next to the tourist office in Durness, and set off along the short road down to Balnakeil to visit the Craft Village. This is an intriguing conversion of army barracks into studios and accommodation for an eclectic mix of artists. Here you can browse through the studios, chat to the artists who are present and choose from a handful of cafes to eat. We chose the bookshop because of its cosy atmosphere but when we strolled over to the Mountain Coffee Shop which looked oddly cosmopolitan for the Highlands we found ourselves salivating over the scrummy looking chocolates (next time!)
As we didn’t have much time and we had promised our son a beach, we took the advise of one of the artists and continued along the Balnakeil road where, after negotiating a funeral party departing from the picturesque and historic graveyard, we discovered an exquisite panoramic view along the extensive and extraordinarily white sandy beach. Perfect for a long stroll, digging sandcastles and getting lost amongst the sand dunes or climbing amongst the rocks (every 7 year old’s paradise!). The tide was out so we were able to stroll for quite a considerable way and discovered some delightful caves (not the more famous Smoo Cave in Durness that we are yet to explore). As the weather was fair and the breezes warm it was the perfect way to spend our afternoon and Paul began to relax after his stressful journey along single track roads.
We picked our caravan up and drove into the site for the Games to discover that although it was a beautiful setting it was very tight for space and the only remaining place where we could pitch our caravan was along the far side of the site on edge of a high cliff overlooking the sea. Spectacular to say the least. With high spirits and looking forward to the following day we set up the caravan and took the bold decision to set up our Gazebo (normally set up on the morning of the games). We enjoyed dinner followed by a stroll and an exploration of the adjacent camp site (for future reference it looks really well equipped – worth a visit), and then to bed.
I awoke at about 5am to the sound of wind and rain and glanced out of the caravan window to discover rain sitting in our camping chairs that we had left in the Gazebo. Not a good sign but I decided not to disturb anyone by investigating further. When Paul and I awoke at 7am we discovered large puddles and it became that the waterproofing we had applied to the Gazebo had been penetrated and everything was now completely soaked. It was also quite gusty so we crossed our fingers that the weather would improve while we had breakfast.
Unfortunately as it was still pouring down at 10am we had to admit defeat and realised there was no way we were going to be able to set up stall in our soaking wet Gazebo. The reluctant decision was to ‘abandon ship’ and head over to Halkirk where we were to have a stall at the Games there the following day. But hopefully we will make it back to Durness again next year and maybe even with a little more time to explore.
I can honestly say that if you are looking to explore the Highlands you couldn’t pick a better final destination than this delightful corner of Scotland.