Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fall Scottish Trip, Part 4

Luib Waterfall, Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye. The last post had us on the Isle of Skye and that’s where we pick up the story. On our first full day on the island we planned to expore the peninsulas of Duirinish and Waternish. Our first objective was Neist Point Lighthouse, the most easterly point on the island. 

Neist Point

To get to the lighthouse we drove about twenty miles of single-track roads, battling sheep the whole way. The last five miles of road narrows even more and there are fewer pullouts or passing places. I ended up backing up three times and had others back up a couple to get out to the parking area for the lighthouse. 

From there it is a three-quarter of a mile path down to the base of a small peninsula and then back up and finally down to the lighthouse. The lighthouse, like Buchan Ness where we had stayed a couple of days before, has converted the keeper’s cottages to self-catering. The wind, always strong here, was mild for the point—only 25-35 mph. 
Neist Point Lighthouse

Brave or Foolish Sheep

I hiked down to the point where I could view the lighthouse and then back while Anne huddled in the car out of the weather.
Portree Harbour

The Car. Next on our agenda was lunch at the Stein Inn, the oldest pub on Skye. Just as we approach the finally turnoff to the pub, the car started acting funny—actually, there was no humor in it—when I would brake the car would lurch and clunk and the same thing happened with each turn of the steering wheel. We were miles of single-track road from the main highway and about 25 miles from our B&B in Portree. I got the car turned around and nursed it back to Portree at 30 mph with flashers on. I didn’t dare pull off to let traffic by because I never knew when the steering would go completely out. Back in Portree I called our rental company, Arnold Clark, and they said they’d send a repair truck out in an hour or two to evaluate. The repair guy arrived in about 45 minutes, listened to my story, drove the car in the B&B parking lot, and said, “Wow!” We took the car to his shop (about 3 blocks away) and he put it up on the rack. The diagnosis was that front suspension bushings had fallen off and we were lucky to get back to Portree. 
Our Broken Car on the Tow truck

Arnold Clark told him and us to tow the car to Inverness in the morning (a three hour trip one way) and we’d receive a new car which we could drive back to Skye. There goes our second full day on Skye.
The next morning at 8:00AM we climbed into the cab of the tow truck with our car strapped to the truck bed and headed to Inverness. 

It felt like we were being tailgated the whole way.

The tow driver was good, but he was used to being thrown around in the truck on the narrow road—we weren’t. It was a rough ride. When we talked with the dealer in Inverness, he said this problem happens often with the Peugeot 3008 and they should all be recalled. 
Our new rental -- only the color was different.

He then gave us our new rental, another Peugeot 3008.  We transferred our remaining stuff to the new car and took off to salvage our time on Skye. 
The Storr

Meal Falls

Sligachan and the Red Cuillins

Our last day on the Isle of Skye was almost a total washout, heavy rain most of the day.
On the Way East

Aviemore. We left Skye and drove across the north part of the country to Tain and Dornoch. 
Dornoch Cathedral

Grotesques -- Like Gargoyles without the Spout

Pagan Greenman

After golf at Dornoch we took the opportunity to walk around the cathedral in Dornoch, but the sky shows we got the two nights we were in Tain were real highlights. The first night as we drove out to the Tarbat Ness Lighthouse we saw a spectacular rain squall with rainbow on the North Sea. 

The next night when we drove out of Tain to a local village pub a few miles away, the sky was on fire with a gorgeous sunset as intense as I’ve ever seen.

The next day we started our week of timeshare in Aviemore in the Cairngorm Nat’l Park. We had planned to play golf if the weather this late in the season would cooperate. Luck was with us and we had good rounds at Grantown-on-Spey GC 
Grantown-0n-Spey GC

and at Moray New in Lossiemouth
Moray New GC

NATO jets fly directly over the course.

The jets are LOUD!

—both excellent courses that we enjoy. Our non-golf time was spent continuing to look for fall colours. We were especially successful at Loch an Eilein Castle and the area around Aviemore. 
The road into Loch an Eilein

Loch an Eilein Castle

Old Scotch Pine

The End of the Trip. Finished with our Highland adventures, we ventured back to Crieff and Edinburgh to get ready to come home. We still had some chances for stunning photos in our last few days 

Rumbling Bridge Falls


and then enjoyed an afternoon in the capitol city. The trip had been the latest we’d ever been in Scotland and yet we only got rained out of golf once and had to change plans only a couple of other days. 

Veteran's Day Memorial in Princess Gardens

Sitting outside with a cider first week in November. Not too bad!

We had had the most trouble with a rental car of any of our trips, but even that made a good story. Looking back on what we did with this late 2700 mile trip in Scotland and the fantastic photos we brought home, it’s easy to say the trip was huge success.

NEXT: Rest and Happy Holidays.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Fall Scottish Trip, Part 3

Misty Mountains

We still hunt for fall or autumn colours, but in the far north and on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides fall most often shows up in rain puddles and brown heather and bracken. Still we search. 
Before we headed north we got a chance to play one of our favorite golf courses, Crail Balcomie about seven miles from St Andrews.
Anne is dressed for a cool windy day on Crail Balcomie GC.

The 14th green at Crail.

The day was lovely, but the course was well defended by the Scottish sea breezes. Weather service reports forecast winds of 30 mph with higher gusts and,
It was so windy I had to lay up on the relatively short par 3 16th. 

Good friend and Crail Head Pro, Graham Lennie, wished us luck as we headed out into the wind.

as they are more times than we like to admit, they were correct. It was a fun, strategic round of golf in a lovely location.
Crail Harbour

The roofs of Crail.

After getting blown around on the course for three and a half hours, we still had enough energy to wander one of the prettiest little harbours in Scotland, Crail.  
Our first stop on our trip to the north was a special two night stay—self-catering in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage at Buchan Ness Lighthouse. 

Our car sits in front of our cottage at the lighthouse.

As the Northern Lighthouse Board has automated the lighthouses, the staff cottages and outbuildings have become redundant (a good British term). Many are now being converted to apartments for long or short-term hire. 
Anne steps out of the kitchen onto the deck of our cottage.

Skerry Cottage was the Head Lighthouse Keeper's cottage.

The Buchan Ness light was completed in 1827 under the direction of Robert Stevenson (author Robert Louis Stevenson’s grandfather) and then converted to electric in 1978. The light was automated ten years later. 

A peat fire doesn't add a lot of warmth, but it is cheery on a stormy night.

Now, two cottages are available for rent. We stayed in the Skerry Cottage for two nights. 
From there it was a four and a half hour drive to the Cluanie Inn among the Five Sisters of Kintail (see last post). We took the north route along the Aberdeenshire and Morayshire coast with a stop in the small village of Portsoy. 

Portsoy was established in 1550 when the first harbour there was developed. A stone harbour was built in 1692 and a new harbour was completed further out in 1825 and had to be rebuilt in 1839 because of storm damage. 

Many of the buildings surrounding this complex date back to the early 1700s.  After a night in the Cluanie Inn, we ventured on to the Isle of Skye.
Between the Cluanie Inn and Skye we found plenty to grab our attention—mountains,
Small waterfalls were all around on a rainy day.

An unnamed burn near the Five Sisters.

Eilean Donan Castle

and dramatic scenery, 
Houses built along a Highland loch.

A memorial to local lads lost in World War I.

The Isle of Skye is made up of four peninsulas (Sleat, Duirinish, Waternish, and Trotternish). Before checking in to our B&B in Portree (Trotternish), we wanted to explore Sleat in the south. 

On the recommendation of the owner of a leather shop in Armadale we drove a narrow and tortuous single-track loop road

Took its time getting out of the road and then stared us down.

from the east coast of the peninsula to the west and back. With no real villages (or services) on the route filled with blind hairpin turns and road summits where you can’t see what’s beneath your wheels until they land, this is not a road for the inexperienced UK driver.
Just an everyday hazard on most single-track roads in Scotland.

The loop, though, was absolutely filled with fall colours and grand views. Worth the effort, if you’re brave enough.
From the Sleat Peninsula it was a forty minute drive to our home base in Portree for four days, Duirinish B&B.

NEXT: Isle of Skye, Auto Adventures, and the Highlands, but that will have to wait until we are back home and recovered from jetlag.