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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Meanderings by the Loch

Loch Morar
It was a long first day, traveling north of Fort Williams. There were lovely lochs to enjoy and only a few miles north of Fort Williams we were passing though the village of Corpach where I spotted signs. ROCKS, MINERALS - so I had to stop. The signs led to a yellow building. Near the building's entrance was miner's coal trolley up on an elevated bridge. We'd accidently arrived at the Treasures of the Earth, a local museum of sorts.
The Treasures of the Earth
After paying a somewhat substantial fee we toured the exhibits. There were many fabulous and massive minerals and fossils on display, from around the world.

A pillar sized Selenite crystal
The Devil's Toenails in want of a manipedi
There was main room, a sort of salute to Jurassic Park, with many fossils and  dino-replicas.
The room echoed with broadcast jungle sounds 
The Treasures of the Earth was interesting, and mostly miraculous because uncharacteristically I bought neither rocks nor minerals specimens as my luggage contains far too much ballast as it is.

As the day progressed there were many other diversions too. In the loch-side town of Arisaig. We found another even tinier museum.
Photo from Arisaig Museum website

This was the  Arisaig Museum of Sea and Islands which had a lot of interesting curios to view and even touch. Lots of spinning and knitting things for fiber fanatics.

There were several vintage spinning wheels
Kiddie dyed homespun yarns
There were even things you could walk off with if you liked.
The museum itself was built upon a one-time smithy, and there was a nice exhibit explaining so.
Olde Village Smithy things

There were also natural history objects to examine.
A curious thrush's nest
Museum's View of Arisaig
Ila asked the visitor centre lady if there was a place we could shop for yarns. The lady got out a map, and pointed out our best bet, a crafts shop above a loch to Inverness Shire. With a sample of the local sweets in hand, we headed off for the crafts shop.  There was loads to see along the drive....

a roadside Hooded Crow
We used the rental car's GPS and it took us away from the so-called highway, to cross under a tiny viaduct beyond which there was a man-made waterfall we didn't manage any photos of.

The detour to the back roads of Inverness
There were friendly locals along the way
Much of the roads had but a single lane. Every once in a bit a car would face us in a face off and one of us would back up to a passing spot.
Much of the road was one lane
Picturesque inlet on Loch Morar
We were dead certain that the GPS misunderstood our input and that we were on a beautiful, but nonetheless wild goose chase. We warily followed the GPS instructions uphill.
On our way uphill, over dale
When the GPS announced we had arrived, Ila and I were dead certain we were dead lost. But behold! We read a sign by the gate that confirmed the score: GPS, one. Ila and Claire, zero.

Notice how the weather in the day's photos changed on a dime
We walked up to the tidy little building that was the Crafts shop. No one was home, but we found the shop's mistress in the beautiful house right next door.

Loads of clean fleece 
We'd been hoping for yarns, but the shop's true specialty was fleeces and other raw materials. The shop's mistress was an artisan and she had on hand many collected bits of flora - lichens, mushrooms and the lot - used for natural dyes.
Awesome assortment of wild picked fungi and galls
Naturally dyed fleece samples
There were samples of the fiber arts everywhere in the shop.

This shot of a window view from the shop, is just for pretty's sake 
After the delightful shop visit during which the shop owner answered any and all queries, we departed, headed back down the hill. We were on our way back Fort Williams. I stopped to photograph a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, which are also found in the States.

Fun seeing 'my' local waterfowl also enjoy a trip to Scotland
Then, just after leaving the Mergansers, I looked over and OMG! I flipped. Totally lost my $h*t, And what did I see browsing peacefully nearby? SCOTTISH DEER!

Their ears are totally dinky in comparison to California's Mule Deer

I took the does for native Scottish Red Deer, but further investigation revealed these were the other native Scottish Deer species, Roe Deer.  I won't go into the differences between the two here (lucky you, eh?). However, happy to report we did see some impressive and gorgeous Red Deer stags on our way back to the BnB. I drove us onto a rare-to-find driveway, but by by the time I got out of the car, the stags had fled. Still - today I saw Red and Roe Deer. *sooooo happy*

We got back to Fort Williams around dusk. We went to a little restaurant recommended to us, and there enjoyed fish and chips and other local fare. T'was a long, l-o-n-g day we had.

Here is a wee bit of the visit at the craft shop mentioned earlier in this post. Owner Deirdre and Ila conversed on their mutual fondness for Ikea, I bought the hand made wall hanging woven by Deirdre herself.

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