|So, here we are in the beautiful village of Rosemarkie on the south of the Black Isle. Not in fact an island, the Black Isle is the bit that sticks out on the east coast just north of Inverness. It's famous for a couple of things really; for it's incredibly mild climate, and for the dolphins. The biggest resident pod of dolphins in the UK live in the Moray Firth, and this area provides loads of opportunities for spotting dolphins, along with whales at certain times.
After the grandeur of the west coast, and the bleakness of the north, it was great to see some more fertile landscape coming into view as we headed south from Wick down the coast to the Black Isle. We did stop off to see one of the old clearances villages, Badbea, which was set up for crofters who had been forced off their land when it became clear to landowners that they could get more money from sheep than from rental payments. The Highland Clearances is something you hear about and read about, but seeing the places where it happened makes it more real. Seeing the rolling fertile green glens where the crofters lived simple but productive lives, then seeing the villages stuck out on the windswept and bare coastline where they were forced to turn to fishing, distilling or mining, really brings it alive. There is a massive statue of the Duke of Sutherland, the most famous of the clearances landlords, which sits atop a hill near his castle and which still stands even though there was a movement for many years to get it pulled down. I think now, people are happy to have it remain as a symbol of his infamy, but it just made me feel disgust.
So, to the Black Isle. We drove around the entire peninsula first before coming to Rosemarkie, which is really a very beautiful little village nestling in between two small hills right on the Moray Firth. I have the water just a few feet in front of me, and although I haven't seen any dolphins from the van, we walked out to Chanonry Point this morning and saw loads of them. We continued our walk around to the next village of Fortrose, also very nice, and came back along the beach as it was low-tide. We saw another couple of dolphins playing, but high tide is definately the best time to see them.
So, only one week left of the Scottish trip, as this time next week we will be heading back to York for a few days before getting ready to cross the water. Four nights to explore the coast between Inverness and Dundee, then to Blairgowrie for three nights to help Alison and Phil celebrate their wedding. It's all gone far too quickly, but it's been brilliant to fall in love with Scotland all over again, and there's still a few days left to get to know it a bit more.