Remember when Hassan surprised me with a theatre trip earlier this month? Well, there was a second part to that present; the Highlands! What I didn’t know was that this trip was just a guise, and Hassan was actually planning his own wee trip to Disneyland Paris…but after I started sending him Airbnb places, he caved and told me. I smashed his Disney dreams by firmly (ish) deciding that three nights on Scotland’s west coast would be better than two nights hanging out with all my favourite characters in Paris. Yeah, I did that.
Our Airbnb was a converted barn called Raasay Cottage in Morar. A little bit of backstory, the western strip of Scotland’s coast that stretches from Arisaig, to Morar, to Mallaig, is pretty much my favourite place in the country. That meant I went on a nostalgia trip and made Hassan stop at loads of places there and back, including Killin where I used to hop all over the rocks at the Falls of Dochart. And guess what? We even managed to find sugar free sweets for my sugarless friend in Fort William (which meant I could eat all the chocolate I wanted, guilt free).
We woke up to the clearest, bluest January skies imaginable; and after arriving in the dark, the views were be-a-utiful (Hassan speak). The Silver Sands of Morar are a special stretch of beaches which look almost tropical with white sands and turquoise water. I knew there was a steep dune on one of the beaches, and as luck would have it, it was our beach. Cue sledges!
My new favourite video:
Next stop, Mallaig. Mallaig is a harbour village with seals, bobbing boats and a bunch of cafes, shops and pubs. Unfortunately, everything was closed. But if you do go in summer, there’s even a pizza joint in town which I’ve heard is the best. You’ll find it beside the bakehouse down by the waterfront.
The day of an empty fuel tank and poor directions on my part. We survived it, didn’t we? We decided to drive a windy, single track road all the way out to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, which yes, I’ll admit, took way longer than I ever imagined. But, that’s because we stopped at a cute tearoom in Acharachle, took pictures of goats, Highland cows and alpacas, and played in a swing park like the grown ups we are. We also spotted eagles and I got to enjoy Hassan dancing and singing to Iranian music for a big leg of the journey – amazing!
When we did finally reach the lighthouse, it was just in time for a golden west coast sunset. There were even more goats roaming about the quiet, lonely beacon; and we bumped into to other travellers who were strolling along the cliff edge.
The truth is, after that long journey, we didn’t even stay long. It was getting cold, we both needed to pee, and more importantly, we were getting hungry. Which is why it was even more beautiful when we got lost. I actually laughed when Hassan said, ‘Eve, I think I would have remembered that rock.’ So yes, I screwed up and we had many miles to go with a quarter tank of petrol and only one road to drive on. Even the petrol stations are closed off season…
The good news is, we’re both lucky people – so we made it back, and I had survived Hassan’s karaoke session for another day. Before we had dinner, we wrapped up Arctic style to go down to the beach in the dark. I’m talking about real dark, the kind where you can’t see your hand in front of your face. That, was decidedly my favourite part of the trip. We saw dozens of shooting stars and strange explosions in the sky, with the Milky Way stretching right overhead. It was spectacular.
That was until I was coaxed into standing twenty feet away from my friend, at the foot of a creepy dune by myself, so that he could take a long exposure shot. Oh, and by the way, think you could stand still there for sixty seconds with the torch off?
Can’t complain really, the pictures were so, so worth it.
How fast does a weekend go? I couldn’t believe we were leaving so quick, but we broke the journey up in a few places on the way back down through the glens. We even climbed a boggy hill at the Glenfinnan Viaduct to get the classic Harry Potter shot. And once we reached Fort William, despite the thick fog, we took a gondola ride up Aonach Mor for lunch. It was a good, old-fashioned Highland adventure. Thanks Hassan!
Check out Hassan’s Instagram: @hassankhosseini