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MacKay Country

Posted by on 22 September, 2013

Book two of my Highland Chiefs series, Promised to the Highlander, is set in the north Highlands, primarily in Tongue. Needless to say visiting Scotland a second time, and during edits on book two, I was anxious to get all the way up there to scope out the landscape and visit the ruins of Castle Varrich.
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Driving up there was interesting as most of the drive past Dingwall was single track road and so shifting with my left hand between first, second, and third for a couple of hours wasn’t the greatest on my back.

We arrived there just a little before suppertime and when I realized the footpath leading up to the ruins was just on the other side of our guest house, bags were dropped and we headed straight up.

The first thing that struck me while walking up was the bloody midges. This was really the first time I can honestly say I was irritated by them. And they were out in the millions. Of course in my excitement to sit at the castle ruins I left the bug dope in the car…speaking of dope (smacks forehead).

Luckily the kyle side of the castle had a small breeze, just enough to keep the midges away. Not so much on the Tongue side. So my pictures are few and my video is a little shaky. Forgive me?

In my story, Varrich is a little bigger, but true to historical assumption, was used as a watchtower by the MacKays to keep an eye out for friend and foe. I could see why. It’s perfectly situated.

I totally messed up my video inside the castle so I won’t bother posting it here. It’s hard to describe standing at a place you’ve dreamed about, visited virtually, and written about. When you place characters somewhere you carry a little bit of that place inside you as if some small part of it belongs to you. I really thought I’d be more emotional once I got there but alas, the midges had other ideas. Plus I was tired. And wanted a beer.

My impression of Tongue? I’d go back in a heartbeat. The people are lovely, the landscape is breathtaking, and I am so glad my research revealed this gem in the Highlands. We stayed at a guest house called Tigh-Nan-Ubhal pronounced Tie-na-ool, translation, House of Apples. Lovely spot. Owner is fabulous, and they served the best scottish brekky during the whole trip. Perfection. Will be back someday.

Only one more post to go and then I’ll reveal the prezzie I brought back and draw for the winner! Be sure to leave a comment on one of the travel blog posts to be entered.

6 Responses to MacKay Country

  1. Nina Mason

    Sounds absolutely splendid–except for the bloody midges, of course. I lived in Klamath Falls, Oregon, for a time, and there were midges there, too–but they didn’t bite as I’ve heard the Scottish breed do. My book (the excerpt you just read, in fact) is set in Caithness, up near John o’Groats. The castle’s based on the Castle of May that belonged to the Queen Mother–used to be called Barrogill, so I used the old name for Callum’s castle. Tongue appears to be a bit more in the middle than on the coast. Anyway, the place you stayed sounds fabulous. Really hope I get to go some day.

    • katerobbins

      Once you’re that far north, it’s not difficult to get anywhere up there. The whole area is stunning. I’m gonna post another one just on Strathnaver museum and the MacKay Room.

      I got a few bites, little buggers man. We were joking with some other tourists that perhaps we should have visited the local garage and covered ourselves in lube before the hike.

  2. Joan Strong

    Debbie you certainly have a way with words

  3. Maudeen Haisch Wachsmith

    Ack! Video unavailable on iPhone. Serves me right for playing when I’m supposed to be working! I love your blog!!

  4. Nancy

    Your Bridgie missed you but I was along for the ride, in spirit!

    Fab post.

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