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Memories of Scotland

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We've just got back from three weeks in Scotland in Florence. The first week we drove up via Braemar to Ullapool for the book festival. The second week we drove down to Skye with a short diversion to loop over Applecross. After a few days on Skye we took the ferry off to Mallaig and headed south onto the Ardnamurchan peninsular before taking another ferry onto Mull which took us into the third week.

Tobermory
Tobermory on Mull with its amazing painted houses

Our final ferry took us off Mull onto Morvern and from there we drove up and around to Fort William to meet up with some people at Glencoe for the last few days of our trip.

Anyway here's some things that'll stick in my mind:

  • the smell of wild garlic coming through the vents as we drove along the south shore of Loch Sunart
  • spotting someone ironing clothes on a camp site on Skye. It's the devil's work at the best of times but when the alternative was looking at the view over Loch Greshornish?!
  • the sound of cuckoos, everywhere

    Wild camping on Ardnamurchan
    Wild camping on the Ardnamurchan peninsular

  • the camp site at Ardtoe at the foot of the Ardnamurchan peninsular which was amazing in all sorts of ways and only cost £6 for the night when I finally persuaded the owner to let me pay him some money
  • losing count of the number of times I banged my head on various bits of the inside of Florence
  • reading books - something I've not being doing enough of for a long while1
  • the amazing waterfalls and swollen streams and rivers as we drove south from Ullapool towards Torridon after rain the night before
  • finally finding someone for whom gaelic is more than a middle class hobby or something they're forced to do at school
  • dog hair everywhere, including in our food
  • standing at the western most point of the British mainland2, the point on which Ardnamurchan lighthouse stands

    Fog horn at Ardnamurchan Point light house
    Fog horn at Ardnamurchan Point light house

  • bluebells, lots of bluebells
  • wild camping on the shore of Loch Na Keal on Mull: so good we went back and did it again for two more nights - it was the only place we wild camped for more than one night
  • Tarasgeir from the Isle of Skye Brewing Company - bought from their brewery shop at Uig
  • the joy of Scottish A roads - single track with passing places: what's not to like
  • the wild variation in weather: when we started out I was sleeping in a sleeping bag with a duvet over me and some nights it was so cold later in the night that I ended up wearing a wooly hat. By the third week it was bright sunshine, hotter than Cambridge, and I was lying there with nothing over me at all some nights
  • sharing an enthusiasm for books at the Ullapool Book Festival
  • some great sunsets

    Sunset over Loch Na Keal
    Sunset over Loch Na Keal on Mull

  • eating deep fried haggis and chips from the Seaforth, the best chip shop in Scotland3, while sitting on the harbour wall at Ullapool
  • seeing an owl fly over us at low level (twice) as we drove up Gleann Geal on Morvern
  • admiring Beth's enthusiasm for climbing hills both big: Ben More on Mull (966m), Bidean nam Bian in Glencoe (1150m); and small: Macloud's Table North (469m - "the hardest 400m ascent I've ever done")

    Beth and Jack on a wee hill on Skye
    Beth and Jack on a wee hill on Skye

  • being pointed to a (free) online entry point into Gaelic language and culture
  • going up the Bealach na Ba to Applecross - any road which begins with a sign saying "this road rises to a height of 2036ft with gradients of 1 in 5 and hairpin bends, not advised for learner drivers, very large vehicles or caravans" is just unmissable really
  • shaking down Florence4
  • seeing sea eagles for the first time, soaring over Ardnamurchan
  • the Clachaig Inn at Glencoe, my first time, where I experienced draft IPA and "Dark" from the Riven Leven microbrewery at Kinlochleven so it had only travelled a few miles down the loch
  1. Oh, and reading them using my Sony e-book reader to save space - so I took something insane like 35 books with me, all in one slim case the size of a single paperback.
  2. Well, very nearly: Corrachadh Mor, which lies about 1.5km south, is ever so slightly further west, but requires some yomping to get to.
  3. And quite possibly the best chip shop in the UK, it's a close run thing.
  4. Quite literally: we had to call out Brittania Rescue after a complete electrical failure on Skye, traced to a battery connector coming loose, and later on Beth discovered the heater fuel pump had broken free and had to cable tie that up. All down to the bumpy roads we subjected poor Florence to. Oh, and in all the rain of the first week or so we discovered a leak which we think is around the loo vent in the roof. That still needs tracking down and fixing.

Tags: Beth, books, Mull Written 29/05/12

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