Saturday, July 23, 2016

My trip to Scotland (Part 3)

Thursday, July 7 - Isle of Skye

Another good breakfast in the hotel. My brother tried black pudding for the first time. I restrained myself from telling him about the detailed description of how it's made, in ABOSAA chapter 71. <g>

We decided to take a drive along the perimeter of the Trotternish Peninsula before leaving Skye. It turned out to be a difficult drive, lots of single-track roads (and sheep!) and raining most of the way, but the scenery was beautiful.





The photo below shows a hillside entirely covered in bracken. This is what gives the mountains their distinctive green color. I was fascinated to see such a lush, dense growth of bracken, because up to this point I'd only seen small clumps of the stuff.



My guidebook to Skye says all these cliffs and hills have names, but I'm not sure which one this is, in the photo below. I took this photo out the car window as we drove. All of the little white dots at the bottom are actually sheep! <g>



In addition to the beautiful scenery, we found the occasional surprise, like the ruins of an ancient stone building that my brother came across.



On the way out of Skye, we stopped for lunch at a little cafe in Kyle of Lochalsh. My brother and sister-in-law were celebrating their anniversary.



Misty mountains, as we approached Fort William. At one point on this drive, my brother saw a red stag, like the one shown here.



We had dinner at the Ben Nevis Inn and Bunkhouse, located right at the foot of Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain. I had a thoroughly Scottish meal: cullen skink (a type of fish chowder), and vegetarian haggis, neeps, and tatties. <g> Delicious!

My brother Ron loved the location and the atmosphere in this place, full of hikers and serious mountain climbers. Ron had originally planned to climb Ben Nevis, but he decided not to because he was still recovering from a muscle strain that occurred prior to our trip. In the end I was glad he was able to spend the day with us instead.



Friday, July 8 - Fort William and Glencoe

My day started out badly. Trying to get into the bathtub in the hotel room, I banged my left shin hard on the metal handle on the front of the tub. As far as I'm concerned, those handles were more of a hazard than an aid to getting in and out of the bath, and not needed anyway, since there was a grab bar on the wall. But who ever heard of putting something with sharp metal edges on the front of the tub like that?

By the time I got dressed, there was a sizeable lump on my left leg just below the knee. We got some ice from the hotel staff, and I spent some time icing it with the leg propped up. It didn't hurt much, even when I put my full weight on the leg. Just a very bad bruise. So we went ahead with our plans for the day.



The weather was good, so we decided to take a gondola ride. The Nevis Range Gondola at Aonach Mor goes up 2150 feet, and offers a spectacular view of the valley below. I was delighted that the gondola turned out to be totally accessible. As soon as the operator saw me coming, he brought out a little wooden ramp, and I was able to fit my scooter in between the seats with about an inch to spare on either side.



It was quite chilly at the top of the mountain, and unfortunately too misty on the viewing platform to be able to see anything below. So we went inside and had cocoa and snacks, then visited the little gift shop, and rode the gondola back down. I don't often get a chance to do things like this, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

After the gondola ride, we drove to Glencoe. This was one of my favorite places on my first trip to Scotland in 2012, and I was really glad to get a chance to go back there.







If you know anything about the history of the Glencoe Massacre of 1692, the sight of those high hills surrounding the valley on all sides is a little unnerving. It's all too easy to imagine the MacDonald survivors (including women and children) fleeing for their lives up into those hills, in the middle of a snowstorm.

The Glencoe Visitors Centre in Ballachulish is very well done and informative, with interesting exhibits about the history and geology of the area.



Our next stop was a place called Glencoe Lochan, a tiny loch not far from the Visitors Centre that has walking trails. I had found it online before our trip and I thought it looked like a beautiful place, and something that I could manage fairly easily with my scooter. It turned out to be one of my favorite places on the whole trip!





It's a beautiful natural setting (complete with ducks! <g>), and the spectacular view is balm to the soul. The longer I stayed there, looking out over the water, the more I could feel the stress and tension of the last few months draining away. I would definitely recommend it if you happen to be in the area.

We went back to the hotel to rest a bit before dinner. In the hotel pub that evening, we encountered a group of mountain climbers about to embark on the Three Peaks Challenge, where the goal is to climb three of the highest mountains in the UK (Ben Nevis in Scotland, Snowdon in Wales, and Scafell Pike in England) in 24 hours (!) I wonder if Sam Heughan knows about this?

Considering the way the day started, I was amazed that it turned out to be one of our best days on the whole trip! The bruise on my leg is slowly subsiding, and fortunately it didn't slow me down at all on our trip.

Look here for the other posts in this series about my trip to Scotland.

My trip to Scotland (Prologue)
My trip to Scotland (Part 1)
My trip to Scotland (Part 2)
My trip to Scotland (Part 4)

1 comment:

Cathy Caissie said...

Thank you for sharing your trip with us)! I can't with to do it myself!