After a two-hour drive through the lonely valleys of the Northern Highlands, after our hike at the Stac Pollaidh, we reach the town of Durness in the far north of the Scottish mainland. The South Seas feeling is over. In the direction of the Cape of Wrath the clouds gather and the wind whips the moisture in our faces. The colors disappear from the landscape and the contrasts increase.
In the village of Durness we finally reached the tip of the British Isles. There is not much in the small town. A few houses, a pub, a den of thieves – everything you need.
We find a B&B in a luxurious bungalow. The lady with her child doesn’t seem to mind that three strange men are moving into her house and occupying a room in her own apartment.
She doesn’t mind leaving the toddler to these strangers right away, because she remembered something and drove away in the car. We seem to be looking confident.
Not far from Durness is the artists’ village of Balnakeil. Like the monks, a few creative hermits seem to have made their way to this remote place. There is a small café there that we visit on the recommendation of a friend of mine and try the local cocoa.
She wasn’t exaggerating. It’s the best cocoa I’ve had in my life.
On the outskirts of the village is the “Smoo Cave“, which is the subject of many legends. For example that of the tramp McMurdo, who is said to have murdered his victims here in the 16th century. Or the one about the spirit of the tax collector who, in the 18th century, had the thankless task of investigating an alleged moonlighting business on site. The local people solved the problem in their own way – and the poor tax collector is said to still appear as a ghostly shadowy figure in the mists of the waterfall in the cave.
We visit the cave with a villager who has taken care of this place for the past few decades and looks like McMurdo from the legend. According to him, two caves come together here. Anyway, they’re close and he’s sure there’s an influx, too. He has been looking for this passage for twenty years. To each his occupation.
It’s time to return south. We still have a number of distilleries to visit.