Monday, 25 June 2012

110 Driving back down through Scotland

Monday 18th June
Today we abandoned Dingwall and set off for a long drive around the Cairngorm mountains and eventually on to Fort William - again !  We did, however, not make it.
We came across the bridge use in the Harry Potter films, oddly enough at Colluden, where the English beat the crap out of the Scots many moons ago.

For those that saw it. The flying car scene in Harry Potter 2
We nearly ran over this little fellow, he allowed me to get a good photo as the poor sod is blind (as well as daft).
A cute little mole

 We stopped at. a beauty spot and took this piccy of a very health looking cat with his mum.

3 hours later we thought he was on his way out !

Whilst driving a long a narrow stretch of the road we saw a Red Legged Partridge with about a dozen chicks crossing the road. 

How cute is this lot.

We drove past Balmoral castle but were there too late to visit. I have since found out that
Balmoral was once owned by the Farquarson clan, of whom the Bowmans (my mothers maiden name) are associated with and where they get their tartan from.
We then popped into a bar in for a beer and when we came out the cat had been seriously sick. So much so that we decided to take him to a vet immediately, thinking that his time had come so to speak. We eventually found a veterinary surgery and called out the emergency vet from Kerrimuir. A few jabs later and a very long night of careful nursing by Karen and Leon was suddenly back on the mend. 

Tuesday 19th June
With Leon making a miraculous recovery, we decided to press on for Fort William.
We came across a dam at the end of Loch Apparently water is piped about 15 miles downhill to a hydro-electric power station in Fort William.
A Scottish estate gate house.
We camped in a campsite at the foot of Ben Nevis. 

Wednesday 20th June
In a daft rush of blood to the head. I decided that as the sun was out I would climb Ben Nevis it had been on my to-do list since being a young man. So just before 12 noon off. An hour later I was beginning to regret my good idea. I was knackered and wondering if was going to make it.

God I was knackered.....
Ben Nevis is rare in UK mountains in that the walk up it starts at almost sea level and goes up to the highest point in the UK at 1344rn. Its a bloody long hard walk. I was even worse (for me that is) when I was passed by a bloody Italian going up barefoot.

Bloody Italians ;-)

To make matters worse, as I am writing this we have just been beaten by the Italians at football on penalties
I eventually made it to the top in about 3 1/2 hours.

A Mars bar or two and I was on top of the world !

The view from the top was
incredible and the camera cannot begin to show the view properly.

Looking down over Fort William
1 then ran down the first half of the mountain and got down in 1 1 / 2 hours. This sound pretty good but I was in pain for the next 3 days. Karen says it is just typical of me. Black and white with no grey. (all or nothing and live to suffer it.) 

Thursday 21st June
A rainy day. We drove a round trip to Fort Augustus, about 30 miles North of Fort William On the way we came across the Royal Marines Commando Memorial. We spent a while there paying our respects
and also visited a local Commando exhibition in a nearby Hotel, it was as usual, very humbling

The Commando Memorial

The field of rememberance

We stopped in Fort Augustus for a spot of lunch and then made our way back to Fort William 

Friday 22nd June
Intending to visit the British Super Bike racing at Knock Hill in the “Kingdom of Fife” this weekend,
we found a campsite near to Knock hill at a place called Dollar. After about a 120 mile trip, we rented a small caravan for 3 days to give us respite from the impending deluge and flooding that had been forecast for all the UK.
Again, the scenery was awesome.

Glencoe Pass

The top of the pass

Saturday 23rd June
drove the 10 miles to the circuit and stood around in the rain and wind watching bikes battling the same only at speeds of about 150mph. Today however was only for qualifying times to sort out the grid positions for Sundays race day. When we came back the water was raging. This is at the back of the caravan we hired.

A heron fishing by the weir.

Sunday 24th June
A better day weather wise. No rain but the ground was sodden. The track dried out fairly quickly for the racers and we had a good day all round. There were many crashes (fall offs really) hut fortunately
no one was seriously hurt as is the norm.

Michael Laverty, Shane Byrne and Tommy Hill - They finished in the reverse order.

The sidecars are always entertaining. The passengers just have blind faith. Most of the time they have their heads buried under the fairing.

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