Saturday, 26 May 2012

107 A sad time and more Western Isles

Saturday 19th May
We packed up a bit sharpish in order to make the 1130 ferry to Kilchoan. Having plenty of time on arrival we decided to have a wander around the village of Tobermory. We then jumped into Gromit and drove to the slipway. It was deserted at 5 past 11 then sadly we saw that the ferry had left 5 minites ago. Karen, bless her cotton socks had read the winter timetable and we had to wait until 1pm. This of course did not phase Karen in the slightest. She was able to go shopping for another hour and a half !    
The ferry arrived and took us across to Kilchoan as per the summer timetable.

On arrival on the main land we set off intending to camp at Fort William. Not far from the ferry terminal we saw a small heard of deer on a ridge near the road.
Deer just looking at us

Bonnie prince Charlies Monument
Further along the road we came upon this. It is a statue of ‘Bonny Prince Charlie’, or Prince Charles Edward, at the spot where he first came ashore. He led the Jacobite uprising which ended in defeat at the battle of Culloden. Where incidentally my ancestors on my mothers side, namely 'Bowman', fought under the Farquarson Clan against the English and that is where I get my tartan from. They were in the center of the battlefield.
 The Loch leading to Fort William delighted us with this:
As we approached Fort William we could see that the Ben Nevis range of mountains behind the town was still covered in recent snow.
Ben Nevis range still covered in snow
We booked into a campsite in the shadow of Ben Nevis and the good lady set about feeding us. We had a visit from the warden who complained about letting Leon run free and crapping all over the campsite. He was soon put in his place but it left us feeling a bit like we were not welcome. A chat with the campsite owner put us back on track.
A happy camper
Sunday 20th May
Another lovely day with bright sunshine and little wind. We jumped on our push bikes and cycled the 2 miles or so into town. What a disappointment. Whilst we appreciate that it was a Sunday, more than half of the shops were either permanently closed or closing. The town was dying on its feet. We stayed around for a short while and did some window shopping (such as it was) and managed to fit in a couple of beers in the main street bars. We then had a sort of race back to the campsite, which was won by Karen but she did cheat somewhat. I had to visit the petrol station en-route and she rode on.
Monday 21st May
We decided to have a chill day and whilst Karen read her Kindle and sunbathed, I cleaned and oiled the bikes. At about midday we had a phone call from Karen’s Mum to inform us that Karen’s uncle Sammy, who had been in hospital for some weeks had taken a turn for the worse. We immediately stuck camp and set off back to Dumfries.
On arrival at Dumfries hospital we got to see Sammy, unfortunately he passed away the next day. We stayed un Dumfries for the next 12 days to attend his funeral and help out where we could. RIP Sammy Henderson.

One of the lighter moments was watching the Red Squirrel at Mums bird feeder.
A small Red Squirrel, a UK native, being overrun by the more familiar American Grey Squirrel.

Saturday 2nd June
Today we set off for the Outer Hebrides, a long group of islands off the North West coast of Scotland. Heading for Oban to catch the boat we came across this church called ‘St Conans Kirk’. In it is a bone fragment of ‘Robert the Bruce’. One of the kings of Scotland and recently bought back to light in the film ‘Braveheart’.
St Conans Kirk
A statue of Robert The Bruce
We wildcamped that night in a forest near Oban.

Sunday 3rd June
At about 3:30 it was on the ferry for the 5 hour trip to Barra, the southernmost island in the Hebrides. On arrival, it was getting late and we needed to find somewhere to wildcamp as there were no campsites in the area. Whilst looking we came across this:
Beauty in the cold wind

This place is incredibly beautiful. We found a disused quarry and set up camp in the lee of the quarry out of the wind.
Monday 4th June
We set off for a ride around the island (it is very small) and then for the ferry to the next one, South Uist. Unfortunately the ferry was full and we had to wait another 4 hours for the next one. More exploring and more pictures.

Gromit admiring the view
More white deserted beaches

A Beadlet anenome

Beaches, Islands, desolation.

We eventually got on the ferry and after the 40 minute trip we again went looking for cheap ( digs. We found a spot by the beach in a small depression with a view of the sun setting on the Atlantic Ocean. The next piece of land West of us was Canada. We also set up the Satellite to watch Game of Thrones – do you think we may have too many toys ??
A hole in the ground out of the wind

The beach was white and gorgeous especially with a little ‘Ringed Plover’ playing in the surf.

Tuesday 5th June
A sunlit but cold day. We headed North through South Uist, through Benbecula and then on through North Uist. We came across peat being farmed for heating fuel. The last time I saw this was 30 years ago in the Falkland Islands. They cut slices of peat, stand it up to dry in the sun and then stack it away for their winter fires. We stopped for some shopping, lunch and a pint at Lochmaddy. Here was the ferry office for another route but we decided to buy tickets and book crossings to eventually get us off the islands next week. We did not want to get caught with a full ferry again. Unfortunately, the only available crossing over to Harris, the next northern island was at 7:15 am ....eeek. we are normally still asleep then.
We set off for another terminal in Breneray in anticipation of an early start and came across a ‘circle of stones’, some sort of pagan ritual site and also an ancient house made solely of rocks.
I struggled to see the circle.

Again, beautiful but cold and windy

A stone house

We found another wildcamp site near the ferry terminal and again, on a beach. Again, beautiful but windy. Just like the Falklands. This was nearby:
Seals swimming and sun bathing in the bay.

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