It was difficult to keep track of time that Monday between being focused on what was happening in the moment and having cloudy skies most of the time; no point of reference from the sun. I’m guessing we left Fort Augustus around 4:30 p.m., continued on A82 to Inverness where we picked up A96 for the final miles to Nairn. By the time we arrived at our castle looking hotel, the Muthu Newton (stark contrast to the modern urban lodging of the night before) it was close to 6:00 and nearing sunset. We did drive alongside most of the length of Loch Ness but the trees were so dense I didn't know until I looked at Google Earth.
We had a little free time before being due at dinner so Wendy and I did brief settling in the room and quickly headed out to explore, as it was only about a 10 minute walk to the beach. On the way down the lovely wooden banister stairs, I made a startling discovery.
The risers were wood with a carpet runner and a rubber strip on the very edge of each step to give traction on the smooth carpet surface. When my shoes hit the first strips, my feet/shoes (with super grippy soles it turned out) stuck while my body went forward. I fell down a couple of stairs, partially into the banister and my sister. Thankfully she had good footing, was alert and stopped me from falling any farther. Really took me off guard and I knew it wasn't a matter of my balance but something else had happened. Quickly figured out it was the grip of my shoe on the rubber strip so I carefully tried continuing being aware. The soles still grabbed so completely I lost my balance again but remained upright.
So those shoes came off until we were done with the stairs! I can honestly say I've never experienced anything like that in my life. We were thankful I only had a little bit of a sore wrist and that was it. It was nice to know so early on I needed to pay attention to any kind of surface like that when I wore those shoes.
With that behind us, we made our way down the street to the beach. It really was just about a 10 minute walk through residences in the charming little village. Sometimes no sidewalk but the streets are more like paths. There is a wide mix of structure types ranging from small cottages with walled gardens that come right up to the road, to "mansions" set back with large lush yards and gated. A lone sunflower (Kansas state flower) caught my eye in one of the cottage gardens.
I’ve since gotten on Google Earth and “walked” it again. It was quick to find where we entered the beach (it stretches miles along Nairn) as it was very near the Golf View Hotel and Spa whose tennis courts border the beach and are purple. (Really easy to spot on Earth.) One of my photos that survived is of the purple courts, which I was thinking a K-State alum would love.
Scotland does have white sand beaches in various areas of the country to the point of some looking like the Caribbean. Nairn Beach has very light tan sandy areas; however, where we were it's rocks mixed with darker sand, a unique beauty of its own. We loved taking it in for a short time as the sun was setting. In the distance we watched a couple of barges on the Moray Firth.
I snapped pics nonstop the whole trip but Wendy was more selective. Thankfully, this was one of the areas she chose, so again, a number of the photos (and the video) are hers. Twilight was advancing and quickly it was time to head back to our beautiful lodgings for the evening meal.
A long lane goes up to the hotel with one side bordered by the fence of a pasture belonging to the Muthu Newton, home to their Heilan Coos, Highland Cows or as Kevin, our Scottish Guide, called them, Hairy Coos. The breed has a fascinating history with Queen Elizabeth II having one of the best folds (their term for herd) in existence, some with bloodlines back to Queen Victoria in 1871.
The Coos are so cute with their very long shaggy hair (locks!), definite photo magnets which they don’t seem to mind at all, as most are very friendly docile animals. For 2 £, you could buy a bundle of hay and feed the Coos which a couple of our fellow travelers did. I'm sure I took pictures closer up but they appear to have been part of the disappeared photos for that day. Being former dairy farm girls, my sister and I did not get enough time with those cuties, as it was on to dinner.
During the course of conversation with Kevin at lunch, he mentioned that he did have his bagpipes with him and would play if anyone wanted him to. Wendy and I exclaimed we knew everyone would love it! So after our wonderful meal, Kevin brought out the bagpipes (photos and video missing from that) and did a wonderful concert. He was really good and his type of bagpipe had a deeper tone so it sounded like none we'd heard before.
We were only the one night in Nairn, so had to be mindful of the time as “bags, breakfast and bus” would come all too soon.
Now that I’ve done six blog posts on the day, my memories have really filled in and I've learned so much more time didn’t permit then. It’s astounding to me what I experienced via every aspect of my senses and heart. Each day on the trip, both expanded exponentially!