A Travellerspoint blog

Crossing the Sound of Sleat

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Despite our 10 mins sleep in we ate a quick breakfast and pointed the Audi to Armadale for the 10am ferry to Mallaig. The crossing was a smooth 30 minutes on the deck with wonderful views of Skye in the background, Rum and Eigg to the right and Knoydart in the Western Ross mountains to our left. We did use the zips and hoods on our jackets to block some of the brisk wind off the water. Until 12:15 we explored the little port of Mallaig.
In Mallaig, our waitress at The Garden Tea Rooms was commenting on how cold it was today, she said she just could not get warm. I felt rather pleased as I still have not had that 'cant stand how cold it is feeling .... yet'. She said don't worry, it'll come after all this IS Scotland and we have all 4 seasons in one day. Our cottage is so heated we keep opening up windows to let some heat out and fresh air in.
Back at Armadale we looked around for a while then drove to Drunvegan and photographed the Ornsay lighthouse, went through Broadford, had a look at the Dun Beag, at Struan and the really good views of Loch Bracadale and Loch Caroy.
We remarked on Beinnn na Seamraig, Ben Aslak and Sgurr na Coinnich, which are easier on the eyes to view than to read or pronounce, on the way down to Armadale this morning. We could see Raasey on the way through Sconser this afternoon. The speedo clicked over 2000 miles during todays excursion.
An afternoon walk up the hill behind our cottages revealed more rabbits chasing each other through fields, running away from us, diving down burrows and under logs, up walls and over fences than I could Imagine. There were various sizes and ages with bobbing white bunny tails as they took off. A few simply sat and ate while keeping a wary eye on us.
Rob had his binoculars and he spied a number of different birds, we'll have to look up names at a later date. The sheep and lambs had relocated from chomping grass outside our sitting room window when we returned and were replaced with about 12 blackbirds, pecking for worms. So nature prevails here on the Isle of Skye, no matter where you are, land or sea.

Posted by DeniseUK15 20:22 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

The Three Bridges

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Setting off for a three day stay in a self contained unit in Greshornish meant we needed some food supplies. Rob excelled at getting the shopping done in 20 minutes with the best ploy yet. If you park in a pay and display for only 20 minutes in Fort William it's 20p otherwise its £1 for upto an hour....so following the 20p being inserted we made a dash for Tescos and got what was only on the list and high tacked it back...we made it, and under 20 mins. Think he may be having a word to Southlands when we get home!!
Because we were so quick at shopping, we arrived at Glenfinnen before the Trust opened their door, so we wandered in the drizzle to look at the monument for Charles I and Loch Shiel.
Backtracking past Fort William we drove to Ben Nevis, where the mountain is sadly not named, for the gentlemen who asked us that very question when we were at Glencoe Visitors Centre. Its tip was hidden in cloud but we had a perfect vantage point to photograph it, in backstreets behind homes and B&Bs. Some snow creates a trickling appearance on the side when observing it from street level.
Up the A82 through The Spain Bridge, passing the Commando Memorial we travelled west, along Loch Lochie to Invergarry, passing Lochs Garry, Loyne, Cluanie to Shiel Bridge on Loch Duich, along the Loch past Eilean Donan Castle to Kyle of Lochalsh.
We had a lunchbreak and Rob ordered Culley Skink soup that he assured me tasted lovely..if you like smokey fish soup I guess it would. I stuck with safe leak and potato.
We crossed the Skye Bridge, went through Broadford and Portree to Uig where we had afternoon tea and looked around the port. We then travelled backdown one side of Loch Snizort Beag and up the other side to Loch Grenhornish. A one lane 'unsurfaced road' led us to Redwood Cottages, overlooking the Loch.
Chris met us and showed us to Cottage 1, around the complex which happens to have a harp and grand piano in the Living Room, as you would have in the middle of nowhere. By the look of the sheet music they are way beyond Chopsticks.
We explored the shoreline in our front yard this afternoon and found Gilligan's boat! No wonder noone found them, I don't think they were looking in the Isle of Skye. Photo of boat evidence is on my facebook page.
The shoreline is a mass of black rock, seaweed, shell life, birds, bushes and water quietly lapping. The peacefulness was refreshing from the usual humdrum we have in day to day life. Photos show the many colours that reflect off the waterand clouds.
Whilst we experienced a few showers along the way today, once again we have brought sunshine with us to our latest resting place. Rob can't believe it!!
Other refreshing moments along the way have been a walk along Loch Katrine a couple of days ago where a man and his son were engaged in patient teamwork for the little boy to master a two wheelbike. It was lovely to watch the dad's patience and the little boy's trust, then the genuine encouragment for success, moderated with mild panic when the little boy took off...not realising he'd not mastered stopping! Controlled stopping was the next lesson.
Every one we've spoken with have been friendly and share something, like the man at a lay bye today who took the time to point out a bird he'd enjoyed photographing close by on a fence. The general chit chat in coffee places or toilet queues to exchange pleasantries that many of us don't engage in daily.... smiles and interest to help tourists out (The National Trust membership always excites people working on reception) all makes for friendly days.

Posted by DeniseUK15 14:26 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

The Highlands call

all seasons in one day
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The highlands call.....
The first place we passed through today was Hellensburgh, on Loch Gare, then we travelled north to Arrochare along Loch Long, where the military bases are. Travelling west we went through the Argyll forrest through Glen Crowe and along the north coast of Loch Fyne to the picturesque town of Inverary. Heading north we went through Glen Aray and along Loch Awe to Inverlochy, Glenlochy which follows the River Lochy to Tyndrum. From there we kept north to the Bridge of Orchy passed numerous peaks and Loch Tulla, Loch Ba, through Rannoch More to Glencoe. We stopped at the visitors centre where there was a display explaining the history and importance of Glencoe.
Glencoe is a beautiful location. By this point there was more snow on the peaks, streams and waterfalls cascading down sides of mountains all the way to the roadside. The air temperature was dropping and between 10:30 and 10:45 it had dropped from 8 to 6 degrees.
On through Ballachulish we went, Loch Leven and across the bridge along Loch Linnhe to Fort William.
Whilst Fort William is a little town, it has a very scenic mainstreet and the Loch runs a street back from the main street. Our stay here is opposite the Loch front so we dined this evening overlooking the Loch, rain coming in, alternating with sunshine at 7:00pm. The Loch called us for a wee walk following dinner along its pebbly shore line. We are staying at Clan MacDuff with tartan carpet, a distinct change in the menu from what we have been having and a resident cat languishes in the high backed reading chair in the sun room, tough life.
We talked with Erik today, who is holding The Escarpment 'fort' for us very competently, and I skyped with Ally for a little bit. The internet here is as dodgy as ours was before we left home, so it remains to be seen if we are able to upload this tonight, just incase you think we are so strange that we are watching a rerun of Eurovision.
There are lovely scarves and tartan clothing for sale in the stores along with some beautiful jewellery that is made in Scotland. The artist uses dye extracted from natural objects such as sticks and stones to create the coloured stone. They are greens and reds, browns and a bit of yellow. No two pieces are the same. Stuffed toys of scotty dogs, red squirrels, coos ( cows ) for those back home, sheep, hairy haggis ... and pictures of the beautiful countryside, along with everything that has "I love Scotland" written on it with unique scottish sayings.
The accent is getting stronger and we spoke with a lady when we were booking in this afternoon who has been to our Perth and loved it, who said we will have difficulty with the accent in the Orkneys as all the islanders are hard to understand. We shall see.
We finally had some rain in patches today on our travels, and Kirsty, we saw our first RYANBO for the trip today on the hill behind where we are staying.
Reception for telecommunicatins will be poor over the next few days as we go further north to The Isle of Skye...so we will keep writing daily and upload when we are able to. I am sure there will be many beautiful scenes to write about.

Posted by DeniseUK15 07:07 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Loch looking and Snow Spying


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1650 miles under our belt and we've just left Balloch, heading for Fort William.
You will have noticed, maybe, we did not do our blog last night. Eurovision final took its place! And may we say .. bit disappointing this year. Nowhere near as much to crack up laughing at..or maybe we were tired from our 6 hours driving to Loch look and snow spy.
If you look on a map of the Loch Lomond area you will see each mountain greets or overlaps the next and last and the base has one water feature, loch, river or soggy mud patch (I trod in one oooo) giving way to the next. The roads were either up or down, it's rare to see flat and straight. They loop through the area as spaghetti would in a bowl. So no two views are the same. Even if you look at the same location at different times of the day it looks completely different. No matter how many clouds I see resting on top of peaks it still captures my attention. My dad would love the sight too. He in fact would love the drive, mum on the other hand would be glad to meet us at the next tea rooms and miss the roads in between. Despite Barry (our IT disappointment in the form of a wireless harddrive ) having deserted us, we are still taking millions of photos. Weve overcome that drama by buying more storage cards for the cameras.Bloody Barry! Our GPS, now fondly referred to as Freddy, is proving to be very helpful. Rob continues to learn new tricks on him and he has not been spoken to sternly for a number of days now.
We took a bit of an afternoon explore along the back of the property we were staying in to see if we could see the rear of the old youth hostel, now privately owned. Sadly the whole area was fenced off so other than doing handstands and jumping mud squelshes trying to photograph robins and swallows, we had no luck. Success though, muddy shoes aside, neither of us got too muddy!
Next stop is Fort William.

Posted by DeniseUK15 08:12 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

The Border Rieve

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Checking out of The Blue Swallow we picked up final supplies at Sainsburys and set off up the M6, which became the M74, skirted around the south west of Glascow to get onto the M8 passed Glascow Airport onto the A82 to Crianlarich. This brought us the Balloch and Loch Lomond.
We had a nice walk along the Loch Lomind shores, walking to Duck Bay Beach. It was huge 12 metres of sand! As progress has allowed Cameron House to close off the Loch area at the front of their property we had to back track through the old Russ Road back to Balloch townsite. Many ferns, wild yelo6w poppies and huge amounts of moss grow over and around rocks and trees, surrounding many burrows and holes, being homes of we know not what, as I would niot stick my hand in them to find out, despite Robs encouragement to do so. We had a look at the Maid of the Loch, the last of the steamers, walked passed the marina, crossed the River Leven and walked through Balloch Castle Country Park to Balloch Castle, for a view of Loch Lomond from the East Bank. Itis a popular walking place for people of all ages, with dogs and children. Only one of the aforementioned was on a leash and as we overtook him, his brother and mother, he fruitlessly raised his arms in hope and began to follow Rob..... as it was a child and not a dog, he had no hope of Rob taking him home! We later saw him confined to a push chair in the co op.
The park land on the way to the Castle, whilst predominently green, had a variety of folliage and flowers from yellows, oranges to burgundies and reds. A walled garden area protected a memorial garden where small simple plaques mentioned a person to be remembered, beneath a plant in their honour. Sadly a number of those remembered had birth dates around or later than ours. Makes you stop and think. One plaque simply read " He lived for those he loved and those he loved remember". I dont know who " he " was but what a life well lived!! Something to aspire to.
By 4 o'clock we were able to book into Auchendennan Farm Garden Cottages, next to Auchendennan House. Robbie Burns used to have his hunting lodge there and Rob stayed on those premises 28 years ago when it was a Scottish Youth Hostel.
Our new home for the next few days is a self catering cottage .....yes we have to cook..... but we have views from our bed over a garden and gazebo with a pond behind that. Outside our patio window so far, a grey squirrel, black birds, and a tern have sauntered along for a visit.
What are the differences betwen England and Scotland? Well so far; parking is free!, Public toilets are free!, Entrances to exhibits are free! Maybe this is why the Scots don't like parting with money, because at home things are free!
The accents are so melodious. A lady in the Information office asked if we were going to visit Scotland's Perth ( pronounced Pear-th) as opposed to Australia's Perth! All of a sudden Perth did not sound as pretty a word.
A must buy for me will be a Harris Tweed purse, seen them, love them, want one! Surprisingly we saw a ring today that would match the Amber jewellery set Rob bought me home last yr when he was on his travels. So coincidental.
Rob has the next two days planned already, Travel Guide Extroadinaire that he is. More glorious walks to admire the Loch and a drive further a field to explore more of Scotland.
It is 9pm and the sun is still shining outside. Fine weather is still with us and it is not even cold enough tonight to start our wood fire in our cottage :( I am beginning to think the idea of cold, wet weather in the UK is a myth, but I guess it is Spring.
Our old tired dickie knees are calling for an early night to rest up before our walks tomorrow.
We will do some calls home over the weekend to catch up with those we've left behind.

Posted by DeniseUK15 20:08 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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