Sunday, 29 May 2011

Men of Yorkshire

As if one Yorkshire man in my life is not enough ……………… I’ve met three more just as daft as the first one!

Meet Wakefield’s answer to “Last of the Summer Wine”.  Den, Wally and ‘Rocket’ Ron – up for a week on Skye and making the best of the weather like the rest of us.  Ron converted a van into a camper and that’s how we got talking.  After that we kept bumping into them – lots of fun!  They were keen to know all about their fellow countryman from Rotherham!

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We have just made it across the Skye Bridge before it was again in danger of being closed to high sided vehicles – the wind is still blowing a hoolie but the sun is shining!!!  Haven’t yet decided where to go from here.

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                  Skye Bridge                                Looking across from Kylerhea                      Neist Point Lighthouse

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Unseasonable Storm

It’s official!

Yesterday (Monday May 23rd) pretty much the whole of Scotland took a severe battering from furious wind and rain.  Apparently so unlike this time of year!

  • roads were closed due to fallen trees and unsafe buildings
  • rail journeys were disrupted
  • major road bridges were closed
  • ferries ceased to operate
  • thousands of homes were without electricity
  • flood alerts were issued

And ………….. as if this wasn’t enough, flights were cancelled due to a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland going over Scotland!

We felt like giving up/giving in and heading back South.  BUT ….. they wouldn’t let us go!  The bridge was closed to high-sided vehicles and there were no ferries running!

Just as well because today (Tuesday) has been mostly dry.  We followed the footpath up to the base of a column of rock called The Old Man of Stor.  It’s 165 feet high and a recognised challenge for climbers.  There you go, Nicole, something to do in August!

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There are other geological phenomenon on the Trotternish Peninsula. 

There’s Kilt Rock – tube-like basalt columns rising from the sea:-

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Then, away from the coast, there are some mighty pinnacles known collectively as The Quiraing.  There’s the 120 foot Needle, The Prison and a sunken platform called The Table.  If we get a reasonable day we would like to do the climb/walk to see these close up:-

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Wednesday 25th May – it was meant to be a better day weatherwise.   Not so at the moment!  We are way off the beaten track as I write this – a place called Glendale on North West Skye.  We wanted to go to Neist Point and see the lighthouse – maybe later!!  Ever hopeful!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Misty Isle

Saturday 21st May.  We are now on Skye and it has not earned it’s reputation for nothing!!Skye   016
Skye   015

We are beginning to feel that we need webbed feet and that a Skye Tsunami is near at hand.  The pictures of the state of the mountain streams speak for themselves and bear testimony to the amount of rain that has been falling from the sky.
Skye   014We are currently – or will be tomorrow – on the Skye Clubsite on the North of the Island.  Tonight, believe it or not, their 105 pitches are already taken!!  Obviously, we should have persevered with getting a campsite of our own 10 years ago when we first thought of it!!  We would be rich by now!

Anyway – just a bit (more) silliness:-

We have decided that Weather Forecasters for these Western Isles have an easy job!  All they have to do each day is decide on the best adjective to put before the word ‘rain’!! …………………………
Light/heavy/showery/torrential/relentless/intermittent/constant/thundery/frozen/MORE/NO(!)  …………….. 

And then there's the accompanying wind to contend with:-  
Gentle/strong/breezy/gale-force/light/blow-you-off-your-feet .....................

Someone once told me that the weather in Scotland in May was warm and sunny !!!!!!!!!  Hey!

Actually today (Sunday) it's been a nice afternoon.  We had lunch at the busy Stein Inn (the oldest Inn on the Island) and did a lovely walk to some coral beaches near Dunvegan.  We are now sitting in the van in sunshine over-looking Loch Greshornish on the Camping & Caravaning Clubsite.  It's a fight to go OUT of the van though because the wind, being so strong, it's a battle to open the door!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Farewell to Mull

Yesterday afternoon we left Mull so we are now back on the Mainland making our way to Skye.  We are, at this moment in time, on a lovely campsite over-looking Loch Sunart at a place called Resipole.  We stayed on this site some years ago and – yes – how things change!  It has obviously been very successful and the owners have continued to invest in it and improve it well.

Reflections of Mull

There is absolutely no doubt that Mull is a beautiful island – it has a mixture of so many different terrains:-

  • stunning coastal scenery
  • sea lochs
  • fresh water lochs
  • mountains
  • moorlands
  • forests
  • beaches
  • Fabulous, accessible wildlife

No wonder it is such a popular tourist destination.  Just a few images to share ……………………..

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Crossing the river reluctantly at Calgary Bay.                           Mother Otter and cub.                                       Male and female Sea Eagles.

I know the wild life pictures are fuzzy – they were taken a long way away with our little, humble camera.  The thing now is to have fancy, expensive digital cameras with telescopic lenses – we have met lots of people clicking furiously away!  One nice chap we met said he will  e-mail me some pictures – I am looking forward to receiving those.

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Stone Circle dating from 2nd Century BC.                  Maggie down a sandy rabbit hole!                                            Loch Na Keal

In one way, it’s Mull’s enormous popularity which spoils it a bit – everywhere you go there are other people!!  We didn’t have very good weather over there so, like us, visitors were driving around (£1.53 a litre for diesel!) and exploring different places.  Most of the roads, being single track and full of pot holes, didn’t make driving easy!!  Coach loads of visitors come over for sight-seeing day trips from Oban and we counted at least five different people carrier vehicles doing wildlfe/historical tours every day.  There are also plenty of sea trips to choose from – sea eagle trips, trips to the nearby Treshnish Islands, trips to Staffa and Fingal’s Cave and trips to search for whales and dolphins.  Apparently, one of the boat companies throws out fish to attract the eagles so that customers can click away with their expensive cameras.  I’m not sure how I feel about that – should eagles be encouraged to change their natural behaviour and scrounge for easy meals like seagulls do?  Is this maximising resources or clear exploitation?

It would be interesting to know the percentage of accommodation on the island that is involved in some way with tourism – hotels, guest houses, self-catering places etc.  My guess is that it is very high.

However you look at it, commercially Mull is a very successful island making the most of it’s best assets. 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Mull & Iona

NOAH! Wasn’t he that guy that built a really good boat when there was lots of rain?  40 days & 40 nights?  I DO hope NOT but …. there’s lots of tree trunks lying around should we need them!!

As you might guess we have had lots of rain – varying amounts of the wet stuff every day.  However, the waterfalls tumbling down the mountains are at their very best!!    Mull and Iona 018

From Glen Coe we came across the Corran Ferry and then drove across The Morvern Peninsula to a place called Lochaline.  When we were last here there was a chuck wagon selling not-so-healthy venison burgers and more. Today it is SO up-market!

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 Megan should appreciate this!!!!!

“Catch-a-Snack”!! at Lochaline.


From Lochaline we got the ferry to Fishnish on the beautiful island of Mull.  For so early in the year it is surprisingly busyMull and Iona 079 with tourists.  There are really only 3 campsites on the island so pitches are at a premium and, yes, ……..’you pay’(as the Italians say!).  Tonight we are right on the edge of the Sound of Mull overlooking the ferry terminal at Craignure.  The ferries come in regularly from Oban on the mainland.

Initially we bought a 5-day ‘Saver’ ferry ticket but we have had it up-graded as we want to stay here longer.  The wildlife opportunities and the scenery are just too good not to take advantage of.

Tobermory is as appealing as ever AND, even on a Saturday, we were able to park easily in the middle of the town.    Mull and Iona 060

Tobermoray as seen from a ‘high’ road.






Last Friday we went on the passenger ferry to Iona.  We have never been before because we were put off by the hoards of people going there.  The ferry was still busy with people but what a lovey little island.  Actually, it was more reminiscent of somewhere like Coll but much busier and more commercial.  For all that, it didn’t feel spoilt.  It is a thriving island supporting crofting, farming and a dedicated, resident Christian community.  There are several shops, a Primary School, two hotels and numerous B & B’s and holiday cottages.  The Abbey, in my opinion, is absolutely lovely.  It is small and contained and steeped in history.  Thank goodness it was saved from complete dereliction back in the 1930’s.

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AND:-  not only did we hear the rasping calls of corncrake ………… we saw several!

Other Issues:-

The Van

The Poor Old Girl IS causing us some worries:- the water pump is not working properly AND, with all this rain we have discovered a leak above the sliding door.

Club Sites

I have to say that Camping & Caravaning Club Sites at this time of the year for the over **’s are marvellous.  Immaculate facilities and good value.

Wildlife Highlights

Almost too many to mention ……………. but I will!!!!

  • Corncrake on Iona
  • On Mull : Golden Eagle.  Sea Eagle sitting on nest with two chicks.  Dad comes in with dinner. Dad harassed by crows. Great Northern Diver in full breeding plumage.  Short Eared Owl displaying the most strange flying behaviour – Every now and then he/she ‘clapped’ his/her wings beneath him/her and fell a few metres in the sky. Don’t know what this was all about and could find no reference to it in any of my books. OTTERS!!  Five of them in total – watched for over an hour.  + + +  If like us you are wildlife enthusiasts you must come to this island at this time of year!!

Monday, 9 May 2011

East to West

We’ve left the long swathes of sandy beaches of the East coast behind and have made our way over to the West.  We’ve swapped sand and dunes for lochs, glens, mountains and forests.  On our way across we stopped at Loch Garton and went to the ospEast to West 014rey hide which is now so posh!  It was Sunday and was heaving with visitors all keen (me included) to see the famous ospreys Odin and Ejay oEast to West 011n their nest. 

On the way to Aviemore, which was bigger and busier than I remembered,  we passed a lovely old bridge at a place called ……… Carrbridge!

During the afternoon we wanted to sit and listen to the Istanbul Grand Prix but reception of any description has been poor.  John improved the radio reception – not pretty but it worked!

The scenery around the area of Loch Ruthven is stunning and we saw some amazing birds – Slavonian Grebes and Red Throated Divers – very special.

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                                                                                Forestry is big business but when large areas of forest are felled it looks catastrophic.

We drove along part of the Caledonian Canal.  B.W. are busy working up here too.  A cruiser wanted to go through a swing bridge – just a wee bit bigger than the swing bridges we’re used to on the southern canals.  What a scene that would be – a flotilla of narrow boats cruising from Inverness to Fort William!!  Would it be possible?  It looked like the sea out there today………..East to West 037East to West 044

Anyway, we are currently parked up at the Camping & Caravanning Clubsite at Glencoe.  There are more other campervans and caravans here than we have so far seen but it’s still fairly quiet.  This is the view from our window tonight -

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The weather is not as good as it has been – we’ve been getting quite a bit of the wet stuff but up here things can change about every 20 minutes!  At least there are no midges as yet!!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Up the East Coast

Since crossing the Scottish Border we have steadily made our way up the East Coast stopping off to see a variety of  places.  I have to confess that most of these have been coastal areas.  We intended to stop in Stonehaven but …………. drove in and out again!  We by-passed both Aberdeen and Peterhead.  Well, we did pull in to look over one of Peterhead’s harbours!

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One of the harbours at Peterhead.  We somehow missed the main fishing fleet harbour – we were too anxious to keep away from the town centre I think.
There is still a reasonably large fishing industry operating out of Peterhead and Fraserburgh.  We are camped up tonight overlooking Fraserburgh Bay.  Behind us are lots of industrial fish units eg ‘Youngs’.   We ought to be able to get some really good Fish & Chips here.    
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                                                 Campsite at Fraserburgh
We’ve not visited this North Eastern part of the Scottish coast before.  Both Peterhead and Fraserburgh are working towns and not prettied up for the tourist industry. The beauty of the coastline, however, continues to amaze us.  We have been told that there are some lovely villages between here and Nairn.

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This is a headland called Rattray Head.  We have never seen a lighthouse so close to a beach before.  We were the only ones on the beach.on to Fraserburgh 017                                                                                           
                                                          Maggie wasn’t sure what to make of the waves!

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                  She’s a ‘Happy Camper’ though!   She’s discovered that this window is SO good for ‘bunny-spotting’!
So far we’ve been really lucky with the weather – we’ve had eight days of warm sunshine.  Apparently this is all going to change tomorrow – rain is on it’s way!  AND – like it or not – I need to go shopping for provisions!  Gloom and Despondency!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

An Eight Year Wait


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Crossing the border and …………………The Forth Road Bridge.  (The really impressive bridge is the railway crossing.)


We discovered the lovely Northumberland coastline some years ago and so wanted to visit this again on our way up to Scotland.

A favourite place:- Bamburgh.

The castle is stunning, the beach is stunning – the whole area is Noarthumberland 003stunning ………… Noarthumberland 007especially in the sunshine!

Left:  Approaching the castle from the South.

Right:  The castle as seen from our ‘wild’ camping site.  We were warned by our friends Gary and Joan that getting onto campsites these days was trickier than in the past ……… over two of the Bank Holiday days we had to resort to ‘wild’ camping as six sites we tried were full up!!

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                  Noarthumberland 014         Noarthumberland 020  

      ……………………………… Views of the beach …………………………………. 

The Farne Islands can clearly be seen one way and Holy Island the other.

Holy Island/Lindisfarne

We set off early to re-visit the island as the one and only time before we have visited it was in February!  8.30 a.m. and we were happily trundling along when, behind us appeared a police car and he put on his flashing blue lights!!!!  Apparently our Insurance wasn’t registering on their system.  We are obviously a couple of dodgy looking O.A.P’s!!!

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Well we did support them but it cost us £4.40 for the privilege!  Actually, if you are not members of the National Trust you need a lot of ££££’s in your pocket as you have to pay lots to get in to see both the priory ruins and the castle.

Anyway – some pictures to give you a ‘taste’ of Lindisfarne if you have never been there:-



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The castle dates back to the middle of the C16th.  It was built to protect the island from the Scots!  The Priory dates back to the beginning of Christianity in Britain – sacked by the Vikings!!  The up-turned boats – used now as sheds – council tax band???  We didn’t come a cropper on the causeway!!

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             Noarthumberland 051  Eider ducks abound.

Today we have gone over the Scottish border!  Over the Forth Road Bridge………. and onwards.

We are now on a camp site near Stonehaven.  We plan to stay here for a couple of days as we want to explore the area a bit.