In July 2006 I sold my house (in Eskilstuna) and bought a caravan (a Cabby 440 DL from 1987 if you must know :-). At the end of August I drove down to Gothenburg to catch the ferry to Newcastle and then further north into Scotland.
This trip has been split into three parts: September, part 1 and 2, and October.
In this first part, I travelled from Eskilstuna to Gothenburg, to catch ferry to Newcastle, and then headed up the west coast of Scotland visiting Kyle of Lochalsh, Inverewe, Ullapool and Lochinver, before a longer stay in Dornoch.
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On my way to Gothenburg (28/8) I stopped to look at an old monastary (or rather I needed to 'wash my hands' :-). Leaving Gothenburg (30/8), as well as arriving in Newcastle (31/8), I felt I hade to snap some photos (I won't bore you with these :-). The voyage was not one of the better ones I have had, and Wabbit (by courtesy of Helen, Laila, and Mona) and I felt a bit lonely. But arriving in Newcastle meant the night was forgotten. :-)
I hade planned to take a few days to reach the north of Scotland, i.e. I felt I
could see some things on the way. The first night (31/8) was spent in
Gretna, just on the other side of the border between England
and Scotland. I actually spent the night at a camp site just
behind the famous marriage room
(the first house in Scotland).
(For those not in-the-know: Some laws in Scotland where a bit different from the ones in England before [some still are I think], like being able to get married at a younger age. A bunch of English youngsters therefore went to Scotland to get married, like in Gretna.)
(And for those that wonder: No, I don't find driving on the wrong... sorry, left side of the road a problem. I have been known to drive on the left side in Sweden though. :-)
From Gretna I had planned to drive to the north side of Loch Lomond (like Ardlui) and spend the night there... but I ended up going all the way to Glencoe (never been good at reading road signs). After Tarbet I almost regreted my road choice... (they call that an A road!?!). The A82 is a very narrow and winding road between Tarbert and Crianlarich. (I was happy I had bought a 'normal' width caravan and not a wide one). A nice stop at Inveruglas was welcome. But the last leg was amazing and well worth it, like the road down Glen Coe! (I wonder why I have never been here before?) I have to go back this way one of these days because I missed a lot. The night (1/9) was spent on Loch Leven.
On the third day (2/9) I drove from Glencoe to just east of Kyle of
Lochalsh, Balmacara to be exakt. Before leaving Glencoe I did
a quick tour round Loch Leven. On the
way I passed The Commando Memorial, with a nice view towards
Ben Nevis (which is hidden by clouds
in photo), and got a good view high
above Loch Garry.
It has been almost 20 years since I took the train from Pitlochry to Inverness and onto Kyle of Lochalsh and back (in one day!). The harbour has changed a lot since they built the bridge to Skye, I guess.
I spent three nights here as it was pretty quiet (and cheap :-) and I had to see Eilean Donan Castle (and maybe Skye close-up, which I never did even though the toll for the bridge now is gone).
I had planned to move to Kinlochewe on the tuesday (5/9) if the road were suitable for my driving skills with a caravan. I had to pass a 14% grade (at Attadale and one slightly less before that) before reaching Kinlochewe and my cars manual says "don't exceed 12%"... I managed to get over the hill (at 25 km/h at the top) and reach Kinlochewe. On the way I stopped to watch two trains meet at Strathcarron station (after having been overtaken by the eastbound one). Once in Kinlochewe I decided to push on to Gairloch, which ended up becoming Strath just a mile further along the coast. I set up my caravan with a most agreeable view and went to Poolewe to meet my parents, and aunt and uncle (who had rented a bungalow there).
The next day (6/9) was spent beachcombing (at least the older generation) with my mothers friend Barbara and having lunch at the harbour of Gairloch (or is it An Ard?). Some of us also went on a wild goose chase for a lighthouse and a cafe only to later realize that we never got far enough.
Thursday (7/9) was for painting (once again the older generation) at Mellon Udrigle, a very nice giant sand beach. It was a bit grey but the sun blessed us with it's presence just after lunch. Coffee/tea was had at a cafe and crafts shop in Aultbea overlooking Loch Ewe where we meet an Irish-Australian lady on holiday in Scotland. Before supper Poolewe was toured and burial ground, with it's pictish stone, visited. A try was made to find out how Buth-dhible (Off licence in Gaelic if you must know :-) is pronounced.
Friday (8/9) started in Inverewe Gardens (a well known garden that has palm trees and more as the Gulf Stream passes the coast). There were a lot of crazy people with blue hats that seemed to extend all the way down to their shoulders. :-) Lunch was eaten at Poolewe Hotel (with some furry guests) before heading for Inverasdale, yet another beach to be painted (and once again by the older generation). (I wonder if Friday had been there? :-) A small point was climbed by the male part of the party to make sense of the geography. Looking at west Scotland from the sea (or from a beach on other side of water in this case) is very confusing. It is a fact that has worked in Scotland's favor when foreign navies have tried attacking (except the vikings). Most of this week's travels have been done on single track roads with sheep on them.
Saturday (9/9) and it's cleaning day. :-( The day turned out to be the best so far, as the weather goes, this September. It turned to worse in the evening though. (Bonus for people I meet later: ask me to show the film with the bagpiper. :-)
The old generation has gone back to Cupar (via Lochearnhead and Stirling). For me it's time to move on north. I had planned to go to Ullapool (where my mobile phone works! - it hasn't for the last week), but I ended up in Ardmair on the sunday (10/9) with a view of the ferries from Stornoway. Ullapool was toured in the afternoon and there I got to see a live seal in the harbour. They seem to know that fishing boats contain fish...
The monday (11/9) afternoon was spent visiting Achiltibuie, Lochinver, and Ardvreck Castle. I left the main road at Drumrunie to drive the 15 miles (24 km) single track roads along moores and peat bogs to Achiltibuie, where I hade tea at Summer Island Hotel (?). Found a nice house on the beach with lovely windows. The view from Altandhu was very nice. Doubling back a bit, along peat bogs (where they still extract peat from), I turned north towards Lochinver on roads that kept you busy as a driver. The closer one got to Lochinver the more winding the roads became - often a ledge with a small wall towards the water and a cliff on the other side. I missed the Knockan Crag geological visiting center, but got to see some great rocks. I also missed a closer look at Ardvreck Castle, Calda House, and nearby church (with information about castle and house). The latter as the midges where attacking and the former as it took longer driving from Achiltibuie to Lochinver than I had thought.
A bit tired of midges (and sad to say also the west coast) I went to the east coast on the tuesday (12/9). On the way I stopped at Corrieshalloch Gorge with a suspension brige over the deep gorge. Arriving in Dornoch I found a nice campsite in Pitgrudy overlooking the Dornoch Firth and made a quick tour of Dornoch. The old castle, next to the cathedral is now a hotel and there where quite a few nice house, some along the Dornoch Burn. As a train freak, and finding names like Station Road, I had to visit the old railway station, now a take away.
Wednesday (13/9) was spent taking it easy... But it was quite a windy day so I had to 'hit the beach' to look at the waves. :-) And as usual I had to do things different from others - I did the historic walk of Dornoch backwards.
Plans for thursday (14/9) was to go north to Thurso and Wick visiting, amoung other things, a broch (a stoneage round house and defense tower), castles, (rock) stacks, and John O'Groats. It turned out to be a very rainy day so I 'only' got to have lunch in Golspie, visit Sleeperzzz [visit website] at Rogart station, and visit some people from the past (the Quinns) in Lairg. In Lairg I got to meet the Broons and see their house (But 'n' Ben). On the way back I stopped at Shin Falls, which where 'nothing' after I had seen Falls of Measach (OK, I never got a good photo of the whole water fall).
Continued in September, part 2.
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