11-Jun-2004 -- From our last point near Hexham we drove first to
Carlisle on June 10th to do some work in an internet cafe, and then we went
towards North on the A 74 and entered Scotland at Gretna.
Travelling North with every mile the scenery became more and more beautiful.
We finally reached Banavie near Fort Williams with its impressive Neptune's
Locks, - a series of flight locks marking the Western entrance of the
Caledonian Canal and with a view to Ben Nevis, which is Britain's highest mountain, attaining an elevation of 1,343
Close by, at Spean Bridge, we spent overnight in a cosy guest house.
The next day, June 11th, we continued travelling towards North, - first
along the Caledonian Canal, passing Loch Lochy and the famous Loch Ness. Surprisingly its
major attraction did not show up, but the ruins of Urquhart Castle were
worth to see as well.
Via Inverness at the North Sea we went further North on the A9, passing the
bridges over Moray Firth and Cromarty Firth, where we saw for the first time
the symbols for Scotland's wealth: Oilrigs.
Hardly anywhere else nature and modern technology go so well together and
match so harmonically as in Scotland.
Rainshowers became frequent now and when passing the bridge
over Dornoch Firth we even had to stop for a few minuts in an extremely
Finally we arrived at Golspie, and thanks to a very detailed map Gordon
Spence had given us a few days ago we knew exactly
where to go: Up to the small hamlet of Backies and stop the car on a small
parking lot, almost exactly on 4W and only a few hundred meters North of the
point. From there the North Sea and the monument mentioned by previous
visitors is well visible.
This monument is a statue with the First Duke of Sutherland and has caused a
lot of controversy in the recent years. There are plans to topple it due to
the doubtful role the Duke of Sutherland had played in his days. In order to
make more money he decided to grow more sheep in the Highlands. Subsequently
he chased away the local people and burned down their houses. He had forced
thousands of Scottish Highlanders into emigration and caused a lot of
Here a few opinions from local people:
"... perhaps one of the most evil men there ever was. Like Stalin and
Hitler, he destroyed people's homes without cause. The Duke has no honour in
Scotland, and he is despised in the Highlands."
"... a grotesquely inappropriate monument. He was the representative of
forces that destroyed many communitites in the Highalnds."
"... we don't agree with what the man did in the past, but his statue is a
help today in pulling in tourists."
"... like oppressed people the world over, the Highlander holds his silence
and carries his grief from generation to gneration. The proposal to replace
this hated figure with a more appropriate memorial to those who suffered in
"... the monument is a hazard to motorists who have their attention
distracted from the road when they see it for the first time."
At present their is no Duke of Sutherland, but a Duchess. She resides in the
beautiful Dunrobin Castle
, the most northerly of
Scotland's great houses. It is the largest house in the Highlands, with 189
rooms and is one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses, dating
in part from the early 1300s.
Well, back to the confluence:
Through sheep, cows, flowers and some ruins we made our way down to Golspie Burn, and it
is correct that the confluence is indeed NORTH of the Burn,
which makes its crossing unnecessary.
Finally we could make our pictures in the various directions, of which we
attach the views to North, East and West.
After this successful visit we continued towards North on the A9 in
direction Thurso, in order to get the ferry to the Orkney Islands at