With the month of rain like we have just had, thoughts naturally turn to the driest town in Scotland. OK, they don't, they turn somewhere more reliably sunny. But this blog's frame of reference is deliberately narrow, so we are just going to have to work with what we've got.
Town & beach:
And what we've got is Portmahomack, driest place in Scotland. Portmawheremack? You probably thought that the driest place is somewhere like North Berwick (and it may well be - despite knowing for years that the rainfall in Portmahomack is only 550mm/yr, I can't find a reference to this on the internet), so it can come as a surprise to discover the driest place is somewhere firmly in the Highlands. But Portmahomack is on the east coast, sticking out into the sea on a low peninsula, and in the rain shadow of the West Highland hills - which are ironically the wettest place in the country. Dry, coastal, yet near the hills? Portmahomack may well be the outdoor lover's ideal home.
Whitewashed old warehouse:
We arrived in Portmahomack on our bikes, hot and thirsty, the sun beating down from a blue sky, white houses gleaming, a bunch of impromptu musicians with fiddle and guitar jamming outside the Castle Hotel. A cool pint beckoned, and we enjoying the music outside, then headed for the harbour. Like Hunstanton in Norfolk, it is the 'east coast resort that faces west'. Unlike Hunstanton (whose beach is bigger and better) the view is not of the Wash, but over the dolphin-filled waters of the Dornoch Firth to the blue hills of Sutherland.
Portmahomack is a small town that does not necessarily detain you long. But there is one place every first time visitor should go, the museum of 6th-9th century Pictish stone art in the former parish church. Like the Groam House Museum in Rosemarkie, it is a modest building with an outstanding collection of local ancient art. Unlike Groam House, it was shut when we arrived, and we only saw the outside.
The area surrounding Portmahomack is unusual for the Highlands, which we will discover in another post...
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