Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday 7th August, Loch Ness

It's been a few days since my last update. We left Coniston at 9.00 in light rain and drove through the Lake District with cloud and mist swirling across the mountains and lakes - it's easy to see how Wordsworth and others found it such an inspiring place - everyone was reciting the Daffodils as we drove along. We finally made it to the M6 and headed north, crossing into Scotland at Gretna Green - amazing to think that George would be old enough to elope to Gretna in four and a half years!
We stopped for egg and bacon rolls at a truck stop, and as we rejoined thd motorway George realised he'd lost his headphones. Forty miles later we recovered them from where they'd fallen out of the car, inches from being crushed under the wheels of a camper van!
And then on past Glasgow and, via a bit of a circuitous route courtesy of the sat nav, into the highlands and through Glencoe. We stopped at the ski lift car park (it was closed as it was just after 5.00 pm by this stage) - it doesn't appear to has changed a bit since my last visit with my family when I was 11! My recolletions of that trip were that we'd found a new God forsaken icy hell - our leather ski boots and light jackets were no match for the freezing conditions, and my skiing was no match for the sheet ice at the top of the lift! Glencoe itself was spectacular - a vast glaciated barren valley, dark brooding skies, only a few hardy souls to be seen - a very fitting way to see the site of the Campbells' clash with the MacDonalds.
We drove on through Fort William and finally made it to Loch Ness at about 7.00pm, parking right on the waterfront - in fact, so close that the site warden took charge of manouvering the van into place by hand, front first so that we'd have the view, and using his experience on the brake to make sure we didn't see the van topple into the Loch. Frances, George and Charlie prepared dinner and sorted the caravan while I put the awning up in a cloud of midges. They only come our for a couple of hours each evening - we'd arrived bang on time!
Saturday was a deservedly lazy day, fishing on the Loch. We didn't endanger any fish though...not sure that if there were actually any in the Loch they'd have been very tempted by the fake pheromone coated baits we were using, bought several years ago in Australia! In the afternoon we visited the Loch Ness exhibition - very there really a monster lurking in the depths?
Yesterday (Saturday) we made an early start (without the caravan) and drove across the bridge to Skye, passing the beautiful Eilaan Donan castle en route. Frances took us on a guided tour having visited many times in the past. We parked at the Sligachan Hotel and set off for a hike into the Cuillins. We wound our way up along a bubbling burn through beautiful heather and peat bogs. George and I forged ahead to make our objective, a lower summit, leaving Frances and Charlie exploring the burn. We rejoined them and found our way down to a crystal clear pool at the base of s twenty foot waterfall - perfect for a quick skinny dip! Charlie was the bravest, diving right in! Not to be outdone, George splashed around to get properly wet. And I waded in up to my waist before the first stages of hypothermia had me running to get dressed! Frances sensibly stayed on the bank taking photos!
After a well earned packed lunch and pint at the hotel, we drove on to the Talismer distillery at Carbost - very interesting, particulary for the free dram provided!
And then on to Corbost, Loch Dunvegan for a look at the folk museum inside a real croft with it's smokey peat fire, and a bike ride to explore. We met a father and son off for a paddle in their kayak - he is a former vicar and now a house or head master at school Eastbourne College. He's just had a house built overlooking the Loch and castle, and is planning to retire here.
After loading the bikes back onto the roof we made a quick stop at the Angus Macaskill museum, a small display dedicated to the 7' 4'' giant from this area in the 19th century - he was absolutely vast, strong as an ox, gentle and considerate, and became a celebratory here and in the US and Canada.
We arrived back at the caravan late in the evening after s wonderful day, and wolfed down pizzas before going to bed to the sound of the by now heavy rain. Sleep was short-lived though...the rain was so heavy that it began to pool on the awning roof, one corner of which collapsed under the weight on top of George's bed! He didn't wake up, but Frances and I had to fix the awning back up - no lasting damage, fortunately. Frances made up the bed in the caravan and brought him in, and later did the same with Charlie. Another learning experience!
And now I must get up to pack away the awning - it's still pouring! We're off to Morar today, by the coast for the next few days. We'll stop at Fort William for supplies, and weather-permitting to head up Ben Nevis.

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