Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Our travels in Scotland- we have internet connection at last!

Ok, very quick post which will mostly consist of posting up a selection of the many photos I have taken so far.

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

Staffin Bay, Skye

Staffin bay, Skye.

Huge lichen, covering all rocks around Skye, especially Staffin area. Must have taken hundreds of years to produce.

300ft waterfall (see below)

300ft waterfall, East coast of Skye

Staffin bay, Skye

The Vindolanda, Hadrian's Wall

view near Hadrian's wall

Hadrian's wall

Hadrian's wall

Sunset viewed from our campsite in Lower Breakish, Skye.

Eilean Donan Castle, near Loch Alsh, Scottish mainland.

On route to -er -somewhere


View from our tent, Red Squirrel campsite, Glencoe.

Ice climbing (ds2 and dh) at a centre in Kinlochleven

dh ice climbing.

view of loch leven, Scottish mainland.

Loch leven, Scottish mainland.

Loch leven

'Neptune's staircase' - series of lock gates on a canal, near Fort William, Scottish mainland.

Loch Lomond, Scottish mainland.

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

Bridge of Orchy (I think)

Bridge of Orchy (?) - paddling

And then dd fell in!


Loch Lomond

View from our campsite in Glencoe - cooking on the fire, Ray Mears style!


Lynn said...

What an adventure! Fab pics. Sounds like you are having a ball -midges aside!x

Sam said...

Fabulous photos - new career in postcards, perhaps?
Sounds (and looks) like you've been busy. The west coast of Scotland is on my list of places I must visit - odd that I've never been, since my mum lives on the easy coast ;-)

Sam x

Anonymous said...

Wow! So much more exciting than taking pictures of Oxfordshire!

Wishing you a tick and midge-free week. Rach

MadameSmokinGun said...

Cool pics. Especially those mountainy hilly things.

globeonmytable said...


Carol said...

Looks like you're having a great time!
Brings back alot of memories too.
In our lives pre-children we used to visit the West coast and islands alot.
Always exciting times....you know, trying to kill ourselves on the Cuillins in the snow in April dressed in flimsy cagoules and summer walking boots. Sinking into bogs up to my thighs. Nearly being blown off the top of Glamaig in gale force winds. Being caught in a blizzard in Glen nevis at 3pm on a December afternoon (nearly dark). Husband trying to convince me to scramble up an ice slope in a pair of trainers in an attempt to bag a monroe etc etc....
ahhh, happy days :-/

Elaine, Ellie's Treasures said...

I'm sitting here, reading your post and looking at your fab photos, going "oh, oh, oh" and feeling rather sad that we're not back on the Isle of Skye. We went last year to visit our best friends and wish so much to go again. We stayed in a cottage on close to Staffin Bay, it was beautiful (as you know). Did you find the dinosaur footprint? We looked and looked but just couldn't work it out!

kellyi said...

Your pics made my hubby homesick - he's a cheucter (Angus glens area) born and bred and has a really thick accent even though we've lived in England for five years.

He also had a tick issue when we lived there...he got one in an unfortunate place...I shan't freak you out with the details :)

Big mamma frog said...

Thank you for all your comments. We are finally back home and in the land of internet connections and heating. More photos to post up - well actually hundreds, so I'll be selective - possibly tomorrow.

Carol - yes the last time we went to Skye was bc (before children). We rough camped outside Talisker distillery and when the sun finally went down (it took a while) we stuck our heads out the tent and star-watched while drinking whisky...oh happy days!

Elaine - no didn't find the dinosaur footprint, although to be fair we didn't really look. Kids were too busy running around and poking things!

kellyi - lol, yes, please spare me the details :)

lynn - midges were worst at our first stop on Skye, after that things improved, though it took me about 10 days to stop itching!

Anonymous said...

Looks beautiful!