Heartsore to be packing for my return to England, but my sister came up with the brilliant idea of a visit to one of our most favourite places in the county – Berriedale, the village where we spent some of the most idyllic times in our childhood. So she and I and a friend set out.
The weather was superb. Vivid blue skies, fluffy white clouds, warm sunshine. Scotland at its best!
We headed first for the shore. The single-storey cottages have been beautifully renovated and are let out through the Landmark Trust.
Looking down from the swing bridge that crosses the river, the water though peaty brown is remarkably clear.
I find the rock formations amazing. The angle of the strata reveal the upheaval of ages past.
Close by was a bank of this season’s keynote flower for me: the rosebay willowherb.
In one of the trees over the river were witches’ nests. I think this must be a Caithness name for this strange deformity of a tree where twigs grow from a single point in nest-like clusters.
Because of the long dry summer, the rivers in the Highlands are running low this year. This one is usually an excellent salmon river.
My sister and I could not leave Berriedale without a nostalgic glance in the direction of the old smithy – the smiddy where our grandfather was blacksmith – and the house where we as children spent so many happy times. The bright sunlight made the stags’ horns look almost more like scary spiders!
The road layout has changed since we were young. In our time there was a field across the road with a patient old horse in it. Now it is full of rosebay willowherb, and has a beautiful old gate.
As I pack up to go south again, I remember that you have to be careful to shut gates behind you in the country. I’m hoping the shutting this time will only be temporary.