This was on Friday, so I looked for other flights heading out of Gatwick to Inverness, and there was this other small airline which would have charged £214, so I didn't do that either. I was frustrated and my only choice was to book a sleeper train from London Euston to Inverness that night. For £117. Luckily SUL will reimburse me to a degree for these costs as I had to do this program because of SUL. Anyway it was pretty miserable, as was the sleeper train because apparently you have to pay much more to get a bed or even a reclining chair, which I did not do. I didn't sleep at all, and arrived at Inverness at about 8:30 a.m., then took a train from Inverness to Strathcarron. The picture above is from the train ride.
The HOST family picked me up at the Strathcarron train station and drove me to their house in Shieldaig. It was a very beautiful area.
The weekend was very expensive.
My hosts run a bed and breakfast year-round and are actively involved in restoring the forests in their approximate 1,500 acre estate, which like most of the Highlands in the region, are bare (the picture below is an example of this). The region was once the ancient Caledonian Forest of the Highlands, but now the native forest is nearly gone and its regeneration is especially difficult because of local farmers' sheep overgrazing the area, as well as red deer. It's a very relevant is topical issue up there because the Scottish government pays locals yearly for keeping sheep - this is done as an incentive for people to make a living up in an area with an otherwise low population. Every sheep that a farmer buys and keeps, the government pays a bit more. These farmers own vast estates in the Highlands and overgrazing is rampant.
My hosts own no sheep, and have fenced there area to prevent neighbors' sheep from entering, as well as red deer, so that their reforestation work can be fruitful.