At the moment we are in the north of the Isle of Skye and have spent around a week on the island. We're currently near somewhere called Edinbane, alongside the Greshornish loch.
The place we arrived at today is fairly typical of the Caravan and Camping club campsites we've stayed on - you are put on your allotted space, instructed exactly where to position your guy ropes and given a list of rules and regulations. The site manager was even supervising me loading the washing machine through the laundry room window, him with the blue sweatshirt and matching trousers and his little walkie talkie. I'm wondering if I need to get a permit to fart. Perhaps there is a certain quota of methane that I am allowed to emit and any more than that and I will be taxed (or possibly banned from eating beans).
That's not to say that all our campsites have been like this. We stayed at a wonderful small site just over the bridge of Skye, near Lower Breakish, which had a compost toilet and a lovely breezy shower in a wooden shed AND the campsite manager positively encouraged the use of campfires. We stayed 3 nights and perhaps would have stayed longer, but the terror of the midges finally beat us into submission (we were unable to go outside of the tent before 10am or we were eaten alive). Dh, ds1 and dd were least tasty, but after 3 nights ds2 and 1 looked like we had a serious case of chickenpox. I'm still itching. Constantly. Though to be fair we're not weaklings; even the Scots were admitting that this is the worst they've known the midges for years. I don't think I've ever experienced anything quite like it.
The coast up in the north of Skye is craggy and rugged...think basalt columns, rock falls, hard tufted grass and heather and some very sturdy sheep. The sand in places - where there is actually sand rather than just rocks - is almost black.
The locals seem very friendly, though to be fair we've not come across many born 'n' bred Skye folks, or even many Scots since we've been here. For example today we met a guy who is a nurse and alhtough he's been serving rural communities for 20-odd years, including Skye and The Shetland Isles, he originally came from Blackpool and still has his original accent. My overriding memory of our last visit to Scotland about 15 years ago was being unable to understand many of the people I encountered - some had accents so strong and dialectual quirks that I could barely contribute to a conversation. This doesn't seem to be the case this visit. Have all the Scots left Scotland? Or with the mixing and diversity that is part of modern life are all our accents blending into one?
Apart from the midges (and the tick I removed from the dog today) we haven't really encountered any bizarre wildlife. Mostly we've seen sheep and highland cattle and many many birds. It makes me realise how devoid our neighbourhood back home is of birds. We've seen some large birds of prey from a distance which may - with a little imagination - have been eagles. They have reintroduced Sea Eagles to some of the smaller islands near Skye, so perhaps we have viewed some of these. Or perhaps they are just your everyday buzzard. My bird book doesn't even include Sea Eagles among its comprehensive list, so we will continue to imagine that we have seen this rarity.
One of the most beautiful places we've been so far is probably the Glencoe area in mainland Scotland: we stayed at The Red Squirrel campsite right next to the river and among the mountains. Also the Cuillin hills (the Scots might call them hills, but they sure look like mountains to me) and the Trotternish area, both on Skye. They must be an artist's dream: layer upon layer of hills going into the distance, which on the skyline look like a painting in shades of blue and grey. After these past week or two we've started to become increasingly immune to the scenery. Whereas we would leap out the car at every bend to take a photo of a mountain or a waterfall or a falling down house, now it seems we've taken more to just looking out the window and saving the photography for outings and special places of interest.
Anyway, the photos below are just a selection of the ones I've taken. They are in no particular order...simply because it would take to long to rearrange them and I fear that my laptop battery may die before then. I've tried to title them where I can.
Museum of Island life, Skye
Staffin bay, Skye
300ft waterfall (see below)
300ft waterfall, East coast of Skye
Staffin bay, Skye
The Vindolanda, Hadrian's Wall
view near Hadrian's wall
On route to -er -somewhere
Ice climbing (ds2 and dh) at a centre in Kinlochleven
dh ice climbing.
View from our campsite in Glencoe - cooking on the fire, Ray Mears style!