Travelling up from Lairg, the road soon narrows to single track, the landscape changes to a sparse, barren open and much more wild landscape than further south. It reminds me of the West coast of Scotland in it’s barren feel. You might pass a car or two but, driving up at 8pm at night, I only passed one single car after turning off from the A9. The reason for my trip was a outdoor documentary commission in Kinloch and Hope estates which lie close to each other.
I was due to stay at the Tongue Hotel and arrived in the dark at 10pm. I was pleasantly surprised when being shown to my room to find a large beautifully decorated room and the most comfortable bed.
The next day after spending 9 hours on the hill climbing, descending, climbing again and wading through bogs, the bath did prove to be an absolute essential. Ben Loyal was the location for the first day and the views were simply breath taking from the top. A 360 degree view of spectacular land.
I came back in to the hotel so exhausted that all I could do was flop in the bar chair and immediately order food. The staff took pity on me and said it was ok not to move into the restaurant for dinner, but to be served in the very place I sat down. I have to say that the fish and chips that I ate that night were the best I have tasted in a long while. There’s something about being in the fresh air all day and walking all day that makes good food taste great.
The following days I explored around Kinloch, Ben loyal, Ben Hope and Strathmore and was treated to the most beautiful morning on my last day. As ever, I was out early before the sun came out and as it did there was a wonderful sunrise but also low lying mist; my favourite type of day. The mist lingered till 11 am at which point I realised just how hungry I was. So I headed back to the Tongue hotel and had the best ever bacon and egg roll.
The trip to Tongue has re inspired the part of me that used to spend time in the far north and the love of the land up in those really remote areas. I’ll be going back soon and the Tongue Hotel would definitely be on my accommodation list.