The time came to leave Shetland.
I flew into Aberdeen, rented a car, and met up with Jeni Reid. As I noted in an out-of-sequence post earlier, we went to visit a flock of Valais Blacknose sheep, which were hard to photograph only because they were so friendly.
We tore ourselves away and kept moving west. We drove a lot of roads that are closed or impassable in the winter. These are the sorts of places where sheep ramble around without fencing. It reminds me a little of parts of the American West, where if you want to keep livestock off your property, you fence them out.
Scottish Blackface sheep crossing the road. . . .
We stayed in a hostel and came across a flyer for what became one of the highlights of the trip: the Knockando Woollen Mill.
What a treasure! It’s a restored historic site and a fully functioning mill.
(The shadows across that image are cast by bunting made of rectangles of fabrics of the type produced at the mill over the years.)
There’s a mule spinner to make the yarn. . . .
Looms to weave fabric (still working after more than a century). . . .
And machinery for finishing fabric. . . .
I love the way natural teasels are still in use to brush fabrics, and not just at historic sites.
The mill is such a pleasant place that people from the area come there just as a place to visit. The lovely gardens are created by volunteers. The food in the café is worth the trip all on its own. And the interpretive film shown in a room adjacent to the shop is so good I bought a copy on a USB drive to take home. The Knockando Woollen Mill is a class act, all the way through.
We continued west on increasingly smaller roads, heading for the northwest coast of Scotland.
The highlands are beautiful in August.
Yes, it rained. . . .
. . . but it also sometimes didn’t. The afternoons tended to be clearer than the mornings.
We went to visit Helen Lockhart of Ripplescrafts. We’ve connected through Twitter for quite a while, and after saying we need to meet in person sometime, we finally did.
Helen works color magic in her compact and well-organized studio-shed.
Although, given the weather, she has to be creative about where and how she hangs skeins to dry.
There were also some inside the house.
The tent arrangement has been the site of some interesting corollary events, like when a wren made her nest inside a skein. After she was done with it, it went on display in the natural history exhibit in a nearby town.
Because the afternoon sky was bright, we rambled up to a high spot for a look around.
Lexie chose not to join us.
Sunny and breezy!
With sheep at the same elevation. (Cheviot.)
Jeni and I also took an evening walk down to the bay, where she undoubtedly got better photographs than I did, although some of mine aren’t bad.
Scarp, who is one of the best dogs on the planet, went with us.
He does not chase sheep.
Which is a very good thing, because they are everywhere.
Adjacent to the friend’s house where we were staying are both a classic phone booth (which turns out to be a good place for cell phone reception as well as a functioning land line) and a post box.
So I wrote and mailed a couple of postcards from the top of the world.
It’s a gorgeous place, and I got quite proficient at driving single-track roads.
More Scottish highlands to come.
Thank you for posting your travelogue! The Highlands are IMHO always beautiful. Even in the rain (what a wonderful excuse to duck into a tea shop and have a nice hot cuppa with a biscuit).
How fascinating to see teasels being used in finishing! I have a thousand pine cones in my yard – I wonder if the green ones would work?
I love the sheep photos. Lexie is adorable, even if she is slightly chicken. The shot of the wren’s woolly nest is also adorable. That was obviously a bird with good taste!
Have you ever considered taking 12 (or more?) of what you consider to be the best of your photos and combining them into a calendar, to help fund your Shetland research?