Friday, July 29, 2016

The mystery of falling in love with Brora

Visiting the northern highlands of Scotland without a car isn't what most people would do - but I am not most people.  I love public transportation!  The Highland bus drivers were all friendly and helpful and I can't say enough good things about the locals.  So making my base in the seaside town of Golspie I took trains and buses all over the area.  In fact Irene, the hostess of my bed and breakfast commented that she had never had a guest get around and see so much on public transportation as me! So on May 12th after one of Irene's filling cooked breakfasts I walked to the bus stop in the town centre to hop one of the very few daily buses to Brora.  As I was waiting I noticed this old fashioned post box on the wall opposite.  I love stuff like this!



A short twenty minute ride later I arrived into the village - home to around 1300 people.  Brora, (don't you love that name...I love the way it rolls off my tongue) is just a 12 km coastal walk north of Golspie but alas I can no longer walk that far. Brora was once the industrial centre of Sutherland with a coal mine and quarry that provided stone for such buildings as nearby Dunrobin Castle, London Bridge and Liverpool Cathedral.  It also had a woolen mill, brickworks and distillery along with the traditional occupations of crofting and fishing. Today there is a distillery nearby and a bit of fishing but the main industry is tourism.

The first thing I saw when I stepped off the bus (well except for the bakery/ice cream shop that I naturally made a mental note of) was this drinking fountain dedicated to  Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 in Fountain Square.


I then made my way over the bridge past the beautiful Clock Tower war memorial which was dedicated in 1922.



I then headed right towards the ocean (which I can never get enough of) but got waylaid along a short path...this was part of the Jubilee Walk that had been washed out I found out later.



Hmmm....where did the path go? At this point I was puzzled - "not much of a walk" I thought!  I had wanted to walk along the river to the sea but that obviously wasn't going to work out.



The Brora river meets the sea


And then as I headed back past the Clock Tower I found this..



I was so excited to see daffodils again - of course being north the season was a month or so behind the south of England.




The path wasn't that long so when I reached the end I started back and sat here for a while just enjoying the peace and quiet.


The River Brora with the Clock Tower peeking in on the top right hand side of the picture.







I picked up a walking guide to Brora in one of the shops - if only I had picked it up when I first got there as I only had a short time to follow it before the bus to Helmsdale was due.  Buses are so infrequent that staying on would have meant I missed seeing Helmsdale.   Luckily I had walked most of the route on my own but it would have been nice to read about what I was seeing as I walked.

I wish I could have had the time to walk along the beach...ah well I walked along a more awesome beach in Dornoch. (to come!)


One of the oldest parts of Brora.


Traditional Fisherman's Cottage - I want to live here!


Back at the bus stop and of course I had to have a famous Harry Gow ice cream.


As you can see it was rather cloudy.  The sun came out as I was leaving (of course!) and when the bus stopped in Brora on the way back I was sorely tempted to jump off except I knew I would be stranded there as it was the last bus of the day!  I know Brora is just an ordinary Highland Village but to me it was something special.  I felt such a connection to it and I know someday I will be back to spend a day there.   I still have to nail down the exact place my ancestors came from in Sutherland...could this be it?

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