Thursday, 30 July 2015

On yer bike!

Just a quick blog before we bid farewell to this superb Camping and Caravan Club campsite and head further north.

We were off on our bikes today to Cove at the end of the headland. This area is not only gorgeous it's also full of history, from the Pictish gravestone (one of only 2 on the whole west coast of Scotland) to the importance of Loch Ewe as the starting point for the Russian convoys during World War 2 - the derelict buildings around the headland a poignant reminder of bravery and tragic loss of life.

One thing I've not really mentioned is midges - and that’s because we've barely been troubled by them. I think it's a combination of breezy weather and me wearing enough Skin So Soft to ward them off the entire campsite.  On the bright side my skin will be positively glowing by the time we return!

The campsite  is on the shoreline just left of centre. Stunning!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

In these shoes?

I may have written last night’s blog a bit early – just after I finished it we were treated to a rather lovely sunset and a marching pipe band.  I don’t think pipe bands are a legal requirement up here, but there are rather a lot of them lurking around - I can’t figure out if it’s something they do because they it’s part of their tradition and heritage or because they’re entertaining the tourists (all of whom were most appreciative and gave generously to the charity bucket being shaken by the very pretty little 4 year old girl following the band, nothing like a spot of emotional blackmail to tug at the wallet strings.)

We’ve definitely taken a shine to this campsite – the beach and the loch are just over the road, the facilities are immaculate, the gardens beautifully planted and well maintained and the wardens friendly, chatty and enduringly helpful.  In fact we like it so much we’ve extended our planned stay by a night – we’re taking advantage of some rare good weather tomorrow and heading off on an 18 mile bike ride and I’d really rather like a shower at the end of that.  Delores may be big and a softer option than a tent, but it’s still smaller than most folk’s bedrooms and definitely gets interesting when occupied by 2 stinky adults and a cute but smelly cat.

(I hate to bang on, but if you’re heading for this part of the country in a caravan or campevan do NOT be tempted to stop at the campsite run by “the other lot” at Kinlochewe – it’s basically a large black gravelly car park right next to a busy T junction.  Trust me on this one, keep going to the Camping & Caravan Club site tucked away next to Poolewe and you’ll be SO glad you did.)

We’d planned to do the bike ride today but the wind picked up again so we took a drive to nearby Red Point instead.  A beautiful peninsula with 2 big sandy beaches either side of a rocky headland.  After parking up I slipped into my “hiking sandals” – I adore my Teva’s and live in them through the summer.   I’d never normally use them for a proper hike but today we were just visiting a sand dune and a beach – at least that was the plan...

Red Point

Compulsory paddle

Nice sandy beach

 After a quick paddle (compulsory) I suggested we take a potter around the headland to the other beach.  Steve readily agreed so off we went.  Have you ever had one of those times when you really should have looked rather more closely at the map?  The walk wasn’t all that long to be honest, and the views were spectacular, but underfoot it was a reassuringly consistent combination of bog, rock, bog, more bog, rock, a bit of grass, bog and the occasional stream – well beyond what I’d normally put my Tevas through and I found myself humming that old Kirsty MaColl classic as a slithered through yet another swamp.

The beach on the far side was noticeably calmer and a lot emptier (can’t think why!) and I justified another paddle to wash the bits of ingrained bog out from between my toes before I developed a nasty case of Trench Foot.

After tomorrow we’re back into the world of wild camping where the biggest headache is finding a suitable public toilet every few days to empty our loo before wellies become an onboard necessity.  There’ll be no wifi and, judging by Vodafone’s performance so far, naff all mobile signal.  If anyone needs me best to send messages via carrier pigeon, but make sure it’s a plump one as we’ll be running short of fresh meat by then too...

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Highlands and Islands

Well, we've been in the wilds for 5 days but have landed at the Camping and Caravan Club site in Poolewe for 3 nights, and what a magnificent place it is!  You don't have to take my word for it - this is the view, right now, as I type this:

A few days without electricity and wifi is good for the soul - we've wildcamped, which sounds romantic but usually involves parking up in an out of the way carpark - but it does keep costs down!  Rather than bore you with lots of witterings about what we've been up to I'll just do it via photos instead.

We headed for the Cuillins for a spot of walking.

First up,the Fairy Pools - very pretty!

 Then on up into the hills for more of a yomp!

And a quick (VERY!) dip - there would have been more pics but a hailstorm arrived...

 Sunny valley & moody Cuillins.

 Trying to get to Loch Coruisk involved a bit of a paddle...

Sadly this is as close as we got.

 Because there's a "bad step" which looks a bit like this!

Seriously, we got THIS close!

Leaving Skye via Boradford & heading for the mainland

 Using a payphone to book our site in Poolewe because neither Vodafone nor O2 seem to be capable of sorting out a signal up here.

Pausing at Plockton.

Then there was the bike ride near Stromeferry.

The waterfalls above Loch Torridon.

And a walk to the loch at the base of Beinn Eighe.


And just to prove it's not all high adrenaline and hiking, today we spent the day enjoying the gardens at Inverewe - just a very short walk from the fabulous C&CC campsite in Poolewe.

Tomorrow we'll be off on the bikes again - I'm hoping for a sandy beach and maybe a quick dip - minus the hailstorm this time...

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Neist to see you, to see you, Neist!

(Sorry - couldn't resist that one...)

I once had a piece of writing rejected because "there weren't enough activities" - apparently watching wildlife doesn't count as an activity - well I hope whoever sent me that message isn't reading this blog as they'll be sorely disappointed.

One thing we've noticed since we've been here is the way people tear around trying to cram everything in.  They race to a castle/ viewpoint/ whatever, leap out their car, snap a few pics then leap back into their car 15 mins later to hurry to the next attraction.

As we're not pushed for time on this trip we adopted a different approach and today we spent the entire day at Neist Point.  We explored the whole of the rocky shore, enjoyed our sarnies in the sunshine and watched the wildlife all around us.  We were rewarded with gannets, guillemots, black guillemots (yay!), kittiwakes, fulmer, herring gulls, shags, cormorants and our own personal seal.

Racing from one place to the other while you're on hols is no different to racing from one place to another when you're at home, it's just the view that changes.  Slowing down and taking the time to really look and see what's going on around you is what makes everything special, wherever you are.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Not a MacCleod in the sky

I'm using the title ironically as it's currently blowing a hoolie & slinging it down again - but all will become clear later...

Knowing that the best of the weather was to be this morning we took off for the coral beaches near Claigan. Despite 1 close encounter with a buzzard and another with a grannie who appeared to have honed her driving skills on GTA5, we made it in one piece.

The beaches were stunning if a little harsh on the feet and although there were no signs informing us that paddling was compulsory,  I wasn't taking any chances.

As we climbed a nearby hill for a better view we spotted a seal playing around in the crystal clear water near the beach - if I'd had my cozzie I'd have joined him.

Back to the van for a quick brew where I nearly blew us up by turning on the wrong gas cylinder - Steve's fine about it now, honest, but I'm not allowed near the gas any more.

With the weather closing in it was off to Dunvegan Castle "ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years" and where everything and everyone appeared to be called MacLeod. (And I have to ask - is Dunvegan where you go to live when you decide to start on the bacon sarnies again after a life of vegetable munching? )

Just as we finished our tour of the inside of the castle the heavens opened and, determined to get full value for our £11 each entry fee, we donned full waterproofs for a tour of the garden - rather fittingly beginning with the water garden.

Once I was satisfied we'd explored every inch of the place & got about as wet as it was possible to get we headed off.

An evening curled up on Delores with a bottle of wine & a movie lies ahead - some call it glamping, I prefer to think of it as civilised. :-)