Scotland to Skye, Wales & Home

Thursday, 27 July
Today we crossed back over on the ferry to Scotland.  Our first port of call was Thurso where we tried to find an Internet cafe, the best on offer was Internet and the library which was closed today.  So after wandering round Thurso in the rain I decided it was best to move on the route along the top of Scotland.  The scenery on this route is absolutely marvellous, the amount of traffic on this Road is surprising, lots of motorhomes and cars with caravans.  We went through Tongue and Polla and then we found a parking spot on the side of the road which suited us for the night.

Friday, 27 July
Today our route took us through Durness, Scourie, Unapool and then we did a right-hand turn taking us along the coast road which was unsuitable for cars with caravans, and buses.  A route that took 70 km, was one-way almost all the way, with plenty of passing bays and beautiful scenery.  One part of it is limited to vehicles under 26 feet long and this is because of the size of the passing bays, that's the only reason that I could see for the limitation.  The weather was showery today with patches of sunshine from time to time.  This part of the route took us through Stoer, Lochinver and Inverkirkaig and we stopped on the side of the road beside a beautiful Lake about 28 km before we reached Ullapool.

Wherever we go in Scotland we seemed to find bed and breakfast signs in almost every second house, and the interesting thing is that they all have no vacancies, this is tourism trickling down to the everyday people.  I note they also all have an advert that their room has an ensuite!  This must be a major change in the concepts of British plumbing if these signs are to be believed.

Saturday, 28 July
We headed off the short distance to reach Ullapool, with we passed by one large supermarket with no parking, so we started looking for parking and found one parking site 300 meters away, and surprise, there was another large supermarket there and among all the cars there are eight motorhomes, and whilst we were there others arrived and some left, in this town if you want the travelling motorhome business you need a large car park and somebody is wise to that equation.

After replenishing our supplies, enough for about 10 days, and for three months a travelling Dutchman suggested, we went on to visit with Jodi in Andy Bluefield, friends of Rod Elmore we passed on his greetings, had a chat, and then drove on to Laide where we met Gordon Harrison, a friend of Joe Butts, he gave us an interesting route to follow that took us through Applecross and some of the most photographic scenery in the Western Highlands, with Gordon we had a chat about photography, which could probably lasted all-day, but we moved on and found an interesting spot on the side of the road near Strath.

Sunday, 29 July
Today we carried on the mostly one-way Road that led to Applecross, then took the reasonably busy road from Applecross to Lochcarron that wound its way up a mountain to a height of 627m, which evidently made at the highest Road in the United Kingdom, at the top there was a large parking place so we decided to “brave out the elements” and spend the night at this spot.  We stopped about 3 p.m. was very interesting to note of the traffic that was passing this high spot, very many motorhomes, and lots of cars.  Eventually the traffic died down to almost zero we had a peaceful night with the temperature outside dropping to 6°C.

Monday, 30 July
We carried on the downhill on the one-way Road with less traffic on the Monday morning than there was on the Sunday, stopping on a regular basis at the passing spots to let on coming traffic past.  When we reached the bottom a very large truck came down the Road we had just finished, and we commented that we would not like to have been going the opposite way and met him as the passing spots were not that large.  

Lochcarron was an interesting little village with a long row of white houses all facing the Loch, the girl that manned the diesel pump made the comment that she loved the place but wished it was slightly warmer in the winter after it had snowed.

We moved on to Plockton a waterfront which I am sure featured in one of the Scottish-based television series, and appears to be prospering in the tourist industry.  From there it was on to Kyle of Lochalsh and then the Bridge, now toll free, to the Isle of Skye, and again on to one-way roads with the passing bays every 25 to 50 m and marvellous scenery around every corner.  We decided to call it a day just before the village of Stenscholl when we found a rather large parking area.

Wednesday, 1 August
Over the last two days we carried on through Skye in showery weather, passing an incredible number of Dutch vehicles on the road, there is so many it almost looks like an invasion!  Of course both the Dutch and the Scot and known for their canniness, and the story goes that the reason we have thin copper wire is because the Dutchman and Scotchman were fighting over a penny! 

Perhaps the Dutch have discovered the Scotchman kept the penny and they have come back in mass to collect the penny!

We arrived back on the mainland and passed by the Castle Eilean Donan on the edge off Loch Duich in Glen Shiel, there was hardly any room in the large car park there were so many tourists and visitors at this site.

As the day progressed so did the weather until and about 5 p.m. it was raining quite heavy and when I found a parking spot on the side of the road I pulled in quickly, a little later a small motorhome pulled in behind us and so we spent the night.  Today we drove on our way to Loch Ness and went up the road on the side of a Lake as far as Urquhart Castle and then we turned around and started heading towards Inveraray via Connel and Lochgilphead stopping for the night in a noisy layby near Portnacroish on the edge of the Loch Linnhe.

We are having no luck finding the Internet cafe in any of these remote villages we are passing through, however we are slowly edging back towards civilisation and hopefully over the next few days will go online for the first time in 10 to 15 days.

Thursday, 2 August
Today we carried on through Connel and Oban, took a side trip to with the location of a Atlantic Bridge to Clachan- Seil, built in 1791, evidently in this time once you crossed the Bridge you were beyond the English control and you could wear a tartan

We then moved on to Lochgilphead the location of the Crinan Canal which linked Lochgilphead directly to the west coast of Scotland, with we spent the night there in the motor camp. 

Friday, 3 August
Our initial destination today was Inveraray, we stopped there briefly to use the 17 mm lens to photograph the Castle and then we carried on the Road to Glasgow stopping in a layby beside Loch Lomond about 100 km out of Glasgow.  We been there about an hour when a couple of Kiwis by the name of Alan and Yvonne Teviotdale from Queenstown stopped beside us we chatted for a couple of hours and they moved on with, the travels having taken 12 months off their life in New Zealand to travel Europe in a motorhome.

Saturday, 4 August 2007
We finished our drive into Glasgow today, drove around the city a little bit like a headless chook and then carry on South towards Culzean Castle and Country Park, when we arrived at the front gate we found that to enter the grounds it would cost us eight pounds each so we wish them well and drove to a little beach called Croy with where we were able to photograph the Castle in its natural surroundings on top of a cliff.  We spent the night and the overflow car park listening to rain throughout the night, at least there was no chance of being flooded out with the car park being located on top of a hill.

Sunday, 5 August
Was on the Road this morning towards Carlisle, passed all of the trailer homes, placed in locations that created a blot on the landscape, and whilst it was raining as we passed them, and looking at the water lying on the side of the road had been for several days, most had a car sitting outside their stark aluminium clad future slum dwelling.  It's interesting to note the large posters advertising these little bits of paradise as being luxurious, this is one concept that should have never been imported into this overcrowded island.

One of the villages we passed through, worthy of note, was BelmacLellan, “the village of McLellan”, I have never found out why some forbearer of my surname was so honoured, however today it is just a small village, with an old church, many old houses with people just going about their lives.

One of the villagers we went through was called Girvan, it was raining when I last passed through five years ago, and looking at the town I'm quite prepared to believe it has never stopped.

We found a quiet piece of Road in the Lake District to spend a wet night!

Monday, 6 August
Today we arrived into Carlisle where I finally found a internet connection for my laptop and downloaded 405 email messages, mostly bounced spam letters that had been sent out with my e-mail address as the return address, I'll have to do something drastic about this e-mail problem when I get back to New Zealand.  We then moved on to Hadrian’s Wall an interesting landmark that has survived many centuries.

We spent the night in a Car park of a hotel that has gone bust, not far, as the crow flies from Sunday night stop over.

Tuesday, 7 August
Drove on South through a small piece of the lakes district, mainly mountains and moors, we are moving towards Blackpool, we want to have a good look, Midsummer, at this magical seaside resort so we found a Motorcamp 8kms outside the city which would set us up for a morning drive along the seafront.

Wednesday, 8 August
So this is Blackpool, we drove down the Queens Promenade 8 kms, this is the Road right beside the sea front, we had planned on driving further but was drepress by what I was seeing, overweight ugly people walking fully dressed along the beachfront because of the depressing weather.

So we escaped to the M6 & M56 into Wales missing Liverpool and district, finishing outside Bangor for the night

Thursday, 9 August
Wonderful fine day today travelled thro Bangor, Amlwch, Bryngwran, and Caernarfon Castle,

Camped the night on the edge of Caernarfon Bay across from the Isle of Anglesey

Friday, 10 August
Today it was thro the rocky mountains around mount Snowden in overcast weather, and on the other side we ran into thick fog, it was funny to see a double decker sightseeing bus with a open top, one person sitting the near the back and I a doubtful if he could see the front of the bus.

There was a very large crowd of people in Llangollen and they could do with about 3 times the amount of car parks

We were in Llangollen to see the Poutcysylte Aqueduct, so canal boats could cross this deep valley, it was  built in 1808, it took 10 years to build, it is 39m above ground, 300m long, built to carry building materials to the midlands and was very, very busy after it was constructed.

We stayed the night at the Poutcysylte Aqueduct carpark.

Saturday, 11 August
We drove back to the coast to Criccieth, photographed the old castle, looked at a few campgrounds and found they were all booked out by people from the midlands, the millions of people that live in the area of the midlands are only 2 to 3 hours drive from the beach of Wales that school holiday time in Wales means overcrowding in every area, but I guess a good time to make money.

So we headed for the hills and camped for the night on the side of the road near Dinas Mawddwy in the Snowdonia National Park

Sunday, 12 August
Drove back to the coast on rather uninteresting roads to the seaside village of Borth then carried on down the coast towards Aberaeron stopping on a Lay by for the night, however a couple of cars of drunken occupants told us that we were in too much of a exposed position so we drove on to a shell service station and parked behind that for the rest of the night.

Monday, 14 August
Today we drove on what they call the wild Wales tour thro the Cambrian mountains, past the Elan
Valley Reservoir, built after 1890 to supply water to the city of Birmingham 117 km away.  This location was chosen because of the high annual rainfall 1780mm per year. Of course it is raining today.

Tuesday, 14 August
Passed by the Devils Bridge and waterfalls, raining of course, how else would there be water for the waterfalls, then on to the road past the Lyn Brianne Reservoir, a good road but hardly visible on normal maps so is very hard to find.  One of the roads that we took was a one-way Road, with a hedgerow either side of the road, the hedgerow was as high as the motor home, and hedgerow touched each side of the motorhome as we drove through it.  I was thankful that was not a big 16 wheeler coming towards me at this time.

The road take you thro hill and moors of Wales past old stone cottages that have almost all fallen down, once on the start of the road the GPS soon found the road to my next destination.  We found a parking spot, for the night, in the rain, 7.48km from Ystrad-ffin, what ever its claim to fame had been in the past, to get its name on a map.

This is a very crowded country, with roads that were designed over 200 years ago, and even in the sparsely populated areas of the UK they have a surprising number of people, for example a district called Powys in the mountainous centre of Wales has a population density of 23 per sq km, which is low for Britain, were as in the New Zealand we have a density of 15 per sq km, and the lowest in the UK is in the Highlands, where densities are as low as 8 people per sq km, which sounds sparse till you look at the South Island of New Zealand which has a density of as 6 people per sq km.  To the other extreme Cardiff county, for example, has a density of 2,172 people per sq km

Thursday, 16 August
Woke I woke up this morning with very sore knees, (yes artificial knees can still get sore) it was so bad it was a problem to walk so I took my anti-inflammatory medication which helped a little, the problem is of course is all of the rain we have been having, I would have been better of in Christchurch.  So we will cut this trip short, Luda would like more time in Russia, and if the knees give me no problems ANYWHERE is OK with me.

So we started heading back towards London still trying to a little bit of the scenic route, spent the night rather nice layby near Bryn-henllan, it is still raining, the medication has helped, but I came or it after moving to Christchurch, where it has quite a low rainfall, because of the damage the medication was doing to the kidneys.

Friday 17 August
Today we have stopped messing about and had started driving in a direct route towards London, breaking the trip halfway near Monkswood, it is still raining.

Saturday, Sunday, Monda
Today we completed the trip into a campground near Heathrow, booked in here with the idea of tomorrow going to Heathrow, seeing if we can find a hotel that has car parking for a motorhome, this we achieved in amongst all of the protesters there were protesting about the building of a new runway, the police were out in massive force, stopping all vans and looking inside them, so of course we were stopped, pulled over to one side, and they inspected the inside to see of the any concrete blocks that we were taking to block the runway.

Monday morning's flight departed at 6:25 a.m., which meant leaving the hotel at 4 a.m. , which meant getting up at 3:15 a.m., naturally with this sort of programme you don't sleep so I believe we got about three hours of sleep, then it was all to the airport, wait 30 minutes till they opened the check in, then Luda had to stand in a large line for security, eventually they opened that, and eventually I caught the bus back to the hotel, and is sleep for was goodness knows how long, left the hotel for Dover about 10 a.m., reached Dover, changed my ticket and by 5 p.m. I was in France, drove a few kilometres, found a car park, pulled on their for the night, was greeted by a electrical thunderstorm, welcome to Europe!

Tuesday 21 August
Drove on through to Holland, however the Tom Tom was not finished with me yet as took me around every little sidestreet adding about 1 1/2 hours to the travel.  Now it's just a matter of cleaning the motorhome, packing the suitcase, and Hank will take me to the airport on Monday, a short stopover in Frankfurt, slightly longer stopover in Singapore, and arrived back in New Zealand on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Finis for 2007