We had woken up very early this morning due to high winds and heavy rain. The camper van had been shaking all night, and at one point I thought we were going to tip as it was almost as if we were on rocking boat.
Myself and Jawn waited for about half an hour before building up the courage to get out of the camper van and explore the area. Durness Campsite is located right next to Sango Sands beach, and it is almost like something you would have seen in one of the settings of Jurassic Park the movie, just not something that you would expect to exist in Scotland. Once again Scotland you are beautiful and full of surprises, thank you for being awesome. I feel lucky to call you home.
We were in search for a local hot brew, both craving a sugar rush. We ended up going for a little drive around the area in search for a local cafe waiting for the weather to calm down so we could explore Durness, and we stumbled on Cocoa Mountain Cafe. We lucked out with this one as the cafe is also a chocolaterie, and we ordered two mochas which definitely didn't disappoint. We chilled out for about an hour before heading back to Sango Sands parking in the carpark located right next to the beach.
Today our challenge was to visit Smoo Cave which’s name appears to originate from the Nordic word smjugg in reference to it being a hiding hole. We had planned to get a boat tour throughout the cave, unfortunately we were unable to get on any boat due to the bad weather but we definitely made sure to explore as much of the cave as we could that was accessible by foot. Smoo cave is very interesting in many ways, not only because it feels mystical but because it goes back to the Mesolithic period, Vikings were attracted to the cave, Neolithic and Norse artifacts were found here and there were traces of Piranha from 300 million years ago. It was even considered a gateway to an otherworldly dimension.
We were sad about not getting to fully experience the cave by boat, but we still made the most of it exploring every angle and crack we could get to. The feeling of being inside Smoo cave feels very much how you would expect, hidden from all of the outside world tucked away under the ground. The waterfall in the cave is remarkable, not huge but the power created behind it is phenomenal, and I would not want to get in the way of that. The cave is the perfect hideaway spot, and I am imagining all of the types of people and creatures that this cave attracted. l can understand why there is so many stories focused around the cave. A good place for fresh water and the perfect place to hide human or boat, I can understand why it would have been a good hiding spot, as you could get a good fire started whilst seeking very good shelter from the Scottish weather when it’s at its worst.
The weather was still very windy and rain was heavy, it was showing no signs of stopping so I took this opportunity opening the bottle of Tomatin EARTH Whisky. I poured myself a glass having a good smell and sip of the whisky. I instantly got the earthy scent of when you’re in the hills, garden or outdoors and you get that smell that seems to linger from being outside, it was sweet, soft and there was almost something within the whisky pulling me in for another drink. The connection to the outdoors really struck a chord with me whilst drinking the Tomatin Earth Whisky, I felt relaxed, comforted and safe. I had my eyes closed whilst drinking this and after opening them I had forgotten I was at Smoo Cave. Peaceful.
The whisky had taken me to a place where I almost forgot about the sounds of the wind and rain outside, and was in the moment of grounding myself in nature’s elements. It was a relaxing and comforting feeling with the sweet taste of honey mixed with an almost raw scent of fresh mud. This is the best way l could explain it, the whisky made me content separated from the outside world and the troubles outside (the weather) had all gone away. The power of drinking this whisky at Smoo cave was now all fitting into place, I found it strange that this whisky was making me feel very grounded and safe, probably the exact same reason why Vikings came here to hide or why inhabitants in the Mesolithic period had chosen to live here because it was a place of peace no one would disturb them. It was just the elements and them in their underground hiding place built into the earth.
The flavours of honey stayed present in my mouth for quite a while after finishing my dram.
I thought of the solitary ground nesting miner bees that create intricate underground homes with entrances made of earthy soil. That combination of something so sweet as honey, and this earthiness that gives a beautiful balance. With the weather being terrible that day it didn’t seem to affect our experience in Smoo Cave, l would love to visit the cave in all weathers, so maybe next time I will take my bottle of whisky, get a big fire going and experience that natural haven in a way our ancestors who stumbled upon it may have. Nature's bothy.