432: Dingwall

OS Explorer map 432, Black Isle: Fortrose, Cromarty & Dingwall – I don’t own this map, but had visited it before starting this blog. Visited again for this post 9th October 2019.

As any hypothetical regular readers may know, my parents have a holiday cottage on the Isle of Harris, which various members of our extended family use fairly frequently, and which I tend to go to at least once a year. I visited Dingwall just briefly as a lunch stop on one such trip, travelling with the Dearest Progenitors.

There are a variety of ways to get up to Harris from our part of England, including driving all the way to the ferry port (which takes around 10 hours, so you generally to overnight somewhere on the way), various successions of trains and buses, or taking two flights: firstly to Glasgow, Edinburgh or Inverness, and then from there to Stornoway on Lewis (which is attached to Harris). A happy medium between driving and thee two flights can be to get a single flight to Inverness and hire a car there; this is what my parents and I did on the way up for this trip. However, on the way back, we’d be taking a much more exciting route: I’m much more of a public transport fan than my parents, so had been trying unsuccessfully to get them to try out the sleeper train from London to Inverness for years; on this trip, I’d been successful for the first time, so I was looking forward to that!

Dingwall’s high street

We arrived in Dingwall at lunchtime, after a morning flight (and my favourite vegetarian cooked breakfast in the All Bar One in the quiet domestic spur of Birmingham Airport) and collecting our hire car in Inverness. Finding places to eat with my parents can be a challenge, since Mother Dearest can’t eat gluten, dairy, or red meat (she also avoids “fish that tastes too fishy”); however after wandering back and forth through the town a couple of times and leaving one pub, we eventually found a suitable little café called The Croft. I had the notably Scottish institution that is a macaroni pie – in this case, coming with a salad that was topped with yet more cheese – and was very pleased with it!

Having plenty more travelling to do, we left Dingwall directly after lunch, so unfortunately I didn’t get to see a whole lot of this map area; though I found Dingwall itself pleasant enough. As it turns out, I didn’t visit any other new map areas on this trip – I’ve now been up to Harris enough times since starting this blog that this is quite easy to do, even when driving – so there won’t be any more posts about it. I’ll tell you now, though, that the trip was very nice!

Looking across at the North Harris hills from Beinn Dhubh (later on this trip, not in this map area)

I always enjoy going up to Harris, and this time I did something I’d been wanting to do for a long time: the Sunday was very sunny, and I took advantage of it to do the pathless walk from our cottage up the hill Beinn Dhubh, which is the highest hill on South Harris, and perfectly located to give amazing views in every direction: to the north you look across West Loch Tarbert to the full range of the North Harris hills, to the east you can see across the bays of East Harris to Skye and the mainland, to the south you can see down the chain of the Western Isles to the Uists and Benbecula, and to the west is the giant Luskentyre beach and Taransay. It was well worth it!

Me sitting in the Caledonian Sleeper’s dining car on the way back home a week later!

Previous visits

I came to this map area previously when I was just eight years old, on my 2003 trip up to Scotland with Lovely Uncle, Guacamole, Fashionable Cousin and a few other family members. On that holiday we day-tripped to several different places, so the holilday has been mentioned on this blog a few times before (in my Fort William, Inverness and Glasgow posts), however the holiday cottage we were staying in was in this map area, on a farm on the Black Isle.

Guacamole, Fashionable Cousin and I at a petting zoo somewhere

The cottage we were staying in was on a farm, and had a field immediately opposite containing a few horses, who were very friendly, and happy to come over for nose-pats, which delighted us. However, the most memorable thing about them was that the then two-year-old Fashionable Cousin was aghast at the injustice of things when she noticed that they were allowed to go about without nappies, and indeed to poo on the floor! Fashionable Cousin has become rather tired of the quote “pony has no nappa” being occasionally scooted out by chortling family members ever since.

One of my more distant relations with one of the horses that lived outside the cottage we were staying in

My other main memory from the trip that I’m fairly confident took place in this map area is that we saw some dolphins, which was rather exciting!! I’m not highly confident, but I think that must have been in Cromarty.

Me looking distinctly unimpressed by my cousins’ attempting to gel my hair. At some stage around this age I actively liked having my hair gelled and would ask to do so when going to events and such, thinking it was the height of cool, but perhaps I hadn’t reached that point yet in this photo!

Unfortunately – though hopefully understandably, given that it was eighteen years ago– my memory runs out at that point when it comes to things from this holiday that I think happened in this map area; as does my photo collection and the video from the trip (which is partly narrated by the shrill voice of my eight-year-old self). So I’ll have to leave it there!

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