Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Scotland trip, October 2013


Well we've been back in Bolton almost two weeks having spent an unexpectedly warm and sunny month in Scotland, mostly Skye.

We took our time getting there because of my slipped disc.....it is improving but we didn't want me to be sitting in one position for hours and undoing the improvements so far.

First stop was a night in Clitheroe....not far from home at all but we wanted to visit an outdoor shop there and also to sample the sausages from this emporium. If ever your travels take you to or near Clitheroe, it's well worth buying some...the hardest bit is choosing. We had 4 of three different varieties, a kilo in all, delicious and froze well.

Derwent Water

Next we had a couple of nights in Keswick where I cycled for the first time since hurting my back.....only round the campsite a couple of times and just to see if I could without too much pain. All went well with no after effects. We had a pleasant dog walk around part of Derwent Water. To get to the other side we used the water bus, shortly after it set off the man in the seat behind us got his Y-fronts in a twist about the dogs as they sneaked under our seat, (he was eating toblerone), shouting "Get your dogs away from me, I hate animals!" Honestly...what's not to like about these two vicious beasts?

Too hot to handle?

Next stop was a wet night by Loch Lomond, we had been a bit concerned about there being a space free at the campsite there as Keswick was very busy so we booked ahead but we needn't have worried, it was almost deserted. Onwards then to Fort George for a couple of nights "wild camping" on a beach. We looked around the Fort the next day and had an excellent lunch in their cafe, it was very interesting and reminded us of the Vauban fortifications that we have seen in France.

The river Saone at Auxonne? NOOOO
Fort George, Moray Firth!

Next stop was just across the Moray Firth to Rosemarkie where we spent three nights on a lovely campsite on the beach just a short cycle ride from Chanory Point . We did see dolphins but not as spectacularly as shown in the link. Dog walking was good here too being right on the beach.

After another wild camping spot near Acnasheen we finally crossed the bridge to Skye....last time I came (40 years ago) there was no bridge. It was extremely windy and lashing down with rain but we had no difficulty crossing even though the sign said the bridge was closed to high sided vehicles...did that mean us? There was no barrier to indicate "high sidedness" so over we went!

We stocked up with supplies in a splendid Co-op in Broadford and then headed out on a single track road towards Elgol where we had magnificent views of the Cuillins. We decided to avail ourselves of a boat trip the next day to the lonely Loch Coruisk.  

Loch Coruisk, only accessible by boat or a VERY long walk,
that's me in the left hand corner!



We had an hour and a half on land, Nigel hot-footed it over some wobbly stepping stones where the loch meets the sea for the best photography shots, I stayed on the landward side. Walking on the gabbro, the plutonic rock of molten magma of which the Cuillins are formed is amazing....even wet and green with slime it is incredibly grippy to walk on. It is a beautiful and remote location,  although we were with 30 or so other tourists, everyone soon split up walking at their own pace so it was quiet, peaceful and atmospheric. We saw a golden eagle soaring above the mountains and another small bird of prey attacking some hooded crows but we weren't sure what it was.

Bella Jane moves a bit faster than Liberté!

Other high points in our Skye trip are outlined below with photographs rather than a day to day account of our wanderings which could get exceedingly boring for any of you who have read so far...........

Nigel's cycle ride towards the Cuillins from Sigachan

Sunset over the Cuillin Ridge from Glenbrittle

Our nearest Glenbrittle neighbours.

Whilst we were wild camping at Glenbrittle for two nights, we had wonderful sunny days and fantastic views. A very special moment was when Nigel went outside at about 10pm the first night, came back and said to me "Come outside right now!" which I did with pinny on and soapy hands (I was washing up!) and lo and behold, we had our first ever view of The Northern Lights, vast fingers of yellow and green dancing up into the atmosphere  and then to cap it all a huge meteor streaked through the sky right above us. ......... magic!

This was also the day we had been on another boat trip from Portree and seen a total of 8 eagles, 4 white tailed and 4 golden. Quite a day!

Two white tailed sea eagles sitting on the rock
and a young goldie flying above

 
      Ringed plovers on Glenbrittle Beach

When I got to thinking about our last trip together here, I worked out that it was summer 1973, a year before we were married and sorry mum, I fibbed, we didn't have a tent each!......... It was the midge season so we went around with ladies coloured scarves (the see through nylon variety over our heads and tucked into the necks of our jackets. We got some strange looks but they worked.


And I got to climb Sgurr Alasdair and come down the great stone chute in a thunderstorm...can't quite believe I've actually stood on top of it. 

Sgurr Alasdair, with its head in the clouds,
highest point of the Cuillin ridge.
The Great Stone Chute can easily be seen on the left
This time, I had to be content to stare wistfully at its lofty heights whilst walking the dogs on the beach and watching young (and not so young) rucksacked fit people set off up the hill...come on Ric and Aoife, you'd love it here! Meanwhile Nigel had a fine afternoon out on his bike and came back buzzing! (Unfortunately we didn't have enough hot water left for him to have a shower!

What a backdrop!
After Glenbrittle we headed north west and had our next wild camping night at Neist Point with a long walk to the lighthouse (beat you Steph, it's further than South Stack!). We had good views over to the Western Isles and could clearly make out the Uists, Benbecula and Harris. Nigel went back at sunset for reasons of photography, I couldn't face the steps again so I stayed in the motorhome to keep the dogs company...a hard job but someone has to do it! We got very little sleep that night as it was extremely windy and our bike cover flapped for England as we were so exposed.

Neist Point lighthouse at dusk
Outer Hebrides (last year's autumn destination)
 in the distance
Not very flattering I'll admit but these
hats are blooming itchy...oh
and when did I turn into my mother????
(if you can't laugh at yourself...)
Old Man of Stour
hiding in the clouds
The Portree Lifeboat...
and we thought our boat's engine was smokey!!!
Handsome resident of Portree
Last walk on Skye
looking across to the mainland

And so our trip to Scotland Autumn 2013 drew to a close, we had intended to return via Armadale to Mallaig on the ferry which would mean less driving on the mainland but the ferry service had changed the day before to the winter schedule and a smaller non roll-on, roll-off ferry. We didn't fancy reversing our 7 and a half metre motorhome down the ramp to get on, even small cars were almost grounding, so we got a refund and returned via the bridge again. We got to spend one more night in a fantastic remote forestry car park and had a lovely last walk with the dogs the next morning.

Next overnighter was at Glencoe, Dash and Belle were worn out from their walk in the morning and both had sore feet so we kept exercise there to a minimum, then we headed off the next day to Scone via Glen Etive.

Glen Etive, a superlative
brew stop.

Next we headed further south for an overnighter on our friends' drive at Stow in the Borders, great to see you again Mandy and a great shame Bill was away but he and Nigel had a good "motorhome chat" on the phone, Bill and Mandy having recently visited the NEC motorhome show...I did warn you...it's very dangerous!!!!


Next night we caught up with Philippa and Chris at Tebay and had a meal at their local, The Cross Keys. After our meal we had a very entertaining game of snooker...I've never played before and needed all the help I could get from Chris....needless to say Nigel and Philippa won (But only just!!!!) The landlord kindly let us stay in the car park overnight for free.

So that's it for now....back home to deal with some family and medical issues, then hopefully we will get away again at the end of the month, destination Sicily .... well that's the plan....watch this space!!!!

And finally.........

Scottish Sunset....just as lovely as Moroccan ones and not quite as far away!