Hugh Miller & Cromarty
A little National Trust for Scotland emblem on a map, marked 'Hugh Miller's Cottage', drew us off route and onto the edge of the Black Isle - a spit of land to the north of Inverness in the North East of Scotland. Cromarty is one of those names that have special resonance in the British Isles, featuring n the daily litany of the shipping forecast broadcast on the radio.
I'd never heard of Hugh Miller before, but prompted by the map I had picked up one of his books in the exquisite little bookstore in Stromness. He was a 19th century stonemason-cum-geologist who made epochal discoveries of fossils on the Cromarty shoreline, wrote books, and wrote and edited a newspaper called the Mission - a phenomenal writing achievement. He is supposed to have given the name 'Free' to the Free Church of Scotland.
So a fine man - and I'm a sucker for writer's cottages. The wee white thatched house of his birth is next to the more substantial home of his early married life, before his shift to Edinburgh.
So here is a town doing what I believe towns should do - honouring its writer. This honouring of the writer brought me to the town - and how beautiful it is. It's just far enough back from the tourist trail not to have been overrun, and still has a very real 19th century feel to it, but clearly with its active community. Perhaps the most pleasing town I have come to know on early impression. A fine walk takes you around the headland, and up through woodland to higher ground.
Now when I hear 'Cromarty Firth' on the forecast, the wind, fogs and rain and occasional dash of sunshine have an image to play around in my head.