Dundonnell – the beginnings of my life in the Highlands

Landscape, lifestyle

As I travel through the west coast over the next couple of days it takes me back to where it all started for me. Twenty five years ago I packed my car and travelled to Dundonnell for a summer job. I chose Dundonell from those books you used to get in the library called something like Summer Jobs 1995. I wrote some letters and got a 'Yes' from the lovely Flora Florence at the Dundonnell Hotel and that was that. It is funny how one decision can affect the course of your life and this was definitely a turning point.
I recalled the other day my drive up to the hotel - from Manchester with a map and little idea of what I was going to - it was a drive I will never forget. I won't forget it because I will never experience it again. I grew up in the city and had only vague impressions of what the Scottish Highlands might be like. I imagined Inverness being a small town with cobbled streets and had no idea of the vast areas of deserted landscapes on the west coast. Seven hours in, I grew tired - it was April and it was windy, cold and showery. The road seemed endless after Inverness and the more deserted it became, the more anxious I was wondering whether I was actually going in the right direction. No sat nav to reassure and no mobiles to check!
My most clear memory was finally pulling up in the hotel car park - it felt like another world as I stepped out of the car. The wind whipping round me, surrounded by mountains, standing beneath the looming An Teallach and next to the shore of little Loch Broom. There was nothing else for miles except for the hotel which was to become one of my temporary homes and one that would lead to a life in the most wonderful place I know - the Scottish Highlands.

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