Sunday, 17 June 2012

109 THe high Highlands

Saturday 9th June
This morning we struck camp from the goldfish bowl and set off for Tarbert and the ferry back to the mainland.We had a lot of time to kill as the ferry was not due till 8pm.
We arrived at the port intending to take in the sights. We noticed a local bazaar in the town hall and decided to have a mosey around. We had a good snifter around the bazaar and after what seemed like an eternity but in reality was about 30 seconds we came out having seen everything, yawning into our hands. I am not really into knitting, mini cakes or funny wooden objects that have a purpose in life that is not immediately obvious.
We desperately needed something to do for the next 6 hours so we decided to take a drive west in search of some wildlife. We got to the end of the road and found this.

Thats Karen sitting down in the foregtound.

A beautiful little spot at a village called Hisinis. Worth the 1 hour and 14 mile trip. On the way back we stopped off at an Eagle bird observatory which incurred a 30 minute hike up a valley only to find that the wind was too strong for any Eagles to fly on our side of the mountain so all in all, we only saw a couple of deer in the long distance. Another hike back down the valley and back in Gromit and off to Tarbert in time for a quick pint before the arrival of the ferry. Once in the queue we were informed that the ferry was going to be late which was nice as we had booked into a campsite which we knew closed their gates at 11pm.
The ferry set off about 40 minutes late and we arrived at Uig on Skye at about 10:30. We then had a mad dash to the campsite and we arrived there at exactly 11pm and managed to get on site. This was a bonus considering we had paid for it.

Sunday 10th June

We spent all day relaxing and watching bike racing & F1 on TV.

Monday 11th June

An early start sees us leaving Skye and heading up to a favorite spot of ours called Applecross. The road over to it is pretty scary going from sea level to over 2000 feet in only about 2 miles.
Karen at 100% concentration negotiating the next hairpin.
The view back to sea level.

We bought some more gas and then stopped for grub at the Applecross Inn. Applecross was put on our interest radar by a man called Monty Halls who went to see if he could survive living on a small self sufficient croft and made a TV program about it, which Ray and I really enjoyed
We then drove towards Gairloch and on the way came across the hut that TV presenter Monty Halls lived in during his desert island style stay.

Some of the views from this area are simply breathtaking.

On arrival at Gairloch we decided to have a stay in a hotel as a break from the tent and as a rest from the long, slow, winding single track road and the wind.  We had also decided to do a whale sight seeing trip by boat, the following day, but unfortunately it was booked up.

Tuesday 12th June
On advice from the hotel manager we found a very nice campsite on the beach near Gairloch.
After booking in and setting up the blue pod tent we drove to the harbour and booked the boat trip for the next day to try and see some dolphins and whales.
The wind was still an ever present problem and it was really starting to get us down, having been blowing hard from the north for most of our recent journey. On top of that it was very cold and these two together were really getting on our nerves.

Wednesday 13th June

After an early rise we went back to the harbour for our trip. The boat was a 12 passenger rib with 2 x 225 horsepower engines. ..Nice.
The trip however was marred by the complete and utter lack of any life form with fins. We saw seals but they have flippers ! We lost interest in the trip when the skipper took us inshore to look for sharks -yeah right ! - and then claimed to see an otter which turned out to be another seal. The last hour of the trip was spent killing time and wasting our money.
This seems to be following a theme. (following last years similar waste of money). I am convinced that there is a great boat adventure out there waiting for me.  Something about kissing a lot of frogs to get the prince!!!!

Thursday 14th June
On the move again, this time towards Ullapool. En route Leon became ill again so we stopped regularly for him to be sick. One thing he does when he needs to vomit is eat grass. Karen helped somewhat and almost lifted him onto a bank to do so. Leon decided that with my help he didn't need to put as much effort in and just sat in my hand.  I was not converting him into a lollypop as the picture below seems to suggest.

Leon in a compromising position

On arrival at Ullapool we did the obligatory, 'lets drag Ray into Tescos' and then popped into a cafe for!
It was then back on the road again down another small winding single track to our next wildcamp site. The site turned out to be a bit unfriendly...
Nice friendly locals.

So we turned back towards a good spot we had seen and immediately saw this.
A courting couple

We found our spot. It was brilliant and had some protection from the biting wind.
Rustling up some grub

How bad is this for a wildcamp

Practicing my Budda routine

Friday 15th June
Today it was the final drive to the top of Scotland at Durness (John o' Groats does not interest us, having previously been there, done that).
The trip up was as the rest of the western coast, beautiful. Again we picked the smallest, windiest roads.

On arrival in Durness we found an inn and decided to have a coffee and some lunch. We both had the same, steak pie, chips and beans. It was the worst meal we have eaten in ages. It contained about 1/3 of the moisture it should have. Not being ones to send our food back (we do not like chefs spit) we ate what we could and then I fruitlessly complained as a parting gesture.

The top of Scotland having now been visited, we decided to run away from the wind and head South. We set off for a place called Dingwall, near Inverness.  Again, the scenery was incredible.

We stopped of at a small hamlet called Crask Inn and stopped in for a beer in The Crask Inn.

It was a pleasant little pub with only 1 other house for company. It was like going back to the 1950s.
We arrived at the campsite at Dingwall and booked in for 3 nights. It is a pleasant place on the edge of town beside 'Ross County' football stadium. And no, it is not at all like camping beside Tottenham Hotspur.  However it is a campsite for the silver travelers.  Ray and I are the youngest people here by a long shot.  It started raining tonight, the first we have had in the last couple of weeks.....but, no wind..yippee

Saturday 16th June.
We failed to appreciate that the football season had finished and there was some car park works going on around the ground so at 7am we were rudely awoken by the sound of heavy plant machinery and lorries reversing with the insidious beep - beep - beep that they make when reversing. This was swiftly followed by angle grinders cutting through steel. Luverly.  (Do you get the impression that Ray is turning into a grumpy old man too?).  Still raining.

Sunday 17th June.
This has been our day of catching up with the washing, Ray has had phone calls from the girls wishing him happy fathers day and after a couple of pints at the local pub, we have chilled out ready for our next installment. Still raining.

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