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Clare
Clare

Day 15: South Uist to Hawick

We had another early start on Saturday morning, with our alarms set to go off at 05.45. Our ferry back to a place called Mallaig on the mainland was at 07.35 and we needed to check-in at the port in Lochboisdale before 06.45. The port was probably only four miles away, but it wasn't the easiest of journeys down small one-track roads, so we wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time.

When we stepped outside of the B&B to load our bags into the car, the sun was only just rising.

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We checked in without any difficulties and then had a bit of a wait before we could drive onto the boat. The ferry didn't seem to be completely full, which perhaps wasn't a surprise considering how early in the morning the departure was, and so once we got on board there were plenty of places to sit.

It turned out to be a really pleasant journey, on another very calm sea. It wasn't long before we had a view out towards the mountains on the Isle of Skye.

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The only disappointing thing about the boat was the lack of opportuntities to get breakfast. I think there normally is a proper restaurant but it was closed because of Covid-19, leaving only a small outlet called "The Coffee Shack" serving refreshments. That meant that our only options for breakfast were coffee and chocolate. Still, there are worst breakfasts you can have xD

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It was actually a fairly long ferry crossing from South Uist and we weren't due to arrive in Mallaig until 11.00.

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This was the best route for getting home though, because it would take us as far south on the mainland as possible.

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The other options would have been to take a ferry back to the Isle of Skye, which would then have necessitated driving across the entire Isle of Skye, or to take a ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool, which would have landed us quite far north.

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We arrived in Mallaig promptly at 11am. We were starving by this point, so our first plan was to drive to Fort William, about an hour away, to get lunch.

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We made it to Fort William shortly after midday and walked through the town centre until we found a nice pub to get lunch. It was nice to finally get a proper meal after our early start.

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Then we couldn't resist leaving having a little stroll by the coast before leaving.

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As we walked alongside the water, we found a demonstration in favour of Scottish independence.

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Support for independence seems to be strong in this part of the country and there were lots of people beeping their horns as they drove past. We also found a shop in the centre of town selling independence-related merchandise!

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Fort William is a really beautiful place and it was lovely to be here in the sunshine again.

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Once we'd finished admiring the views, we got back in the car and drove towards Glen Coe.

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Glen Coe isn't more than half an hour away from Fort William, but it's such a lovely place that I wanted to stop for a quick stroll and a coffee.

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I'd forgotten how long it took to get served in the Glen Coe cafe though, so the coffee break took a bit longer than I intended!

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It was around 4pm by the time we were leaving Glen Coe and getting back in the car to complete our drive to Hawick. We still had a fair few miles to cover, but we'd done the drive before a few weeks ago and we were planning to let the Sat Nav take us on the quicker motorway route this time, rather than a more scenic diversion we took through the Loch Lomond national park last time around.

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Unfortunately, what I didn't know was that there had been an accident on the main road, the A82, which leads out of Glen Coe and through Bridge of Orchy. We left Glen Coe on a small road, heading towards the A82.

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The views as you leave the village are really spectacular. 

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We were expecting to get more great views as we continued through the valley, but we soon reached a huge traffic jam which stretched as far as the eye could see. It didn't appear to be moving and we could see lots of people ahead of us in the queue turning around. A bit of googling revealed that there had been an accident and that the road was closed in both directions for an unspecified amount of time. The accident had actually happened near Bridge of Orchy, which is 22 miles from Glen Coe, so the tailback was already enormous.

We decided it would be better to turn around and take a diversion rather than wait. The only problem was that, when you're in the middle of the mountains, there tends to only be one road leading to the place you need to get to. Taking a diversion meant retracing our steps back to the village of Glen Coe and then continuing around the coast in the direction of Oban to a place called Connel, from where we would be able to get onto a road which would take us back to the A82, south of where the accident had happened.

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That was a solution to the problem, but the diversion in itself was 63 miles. The journey was complicated by the fact that we kept getting stuck behind ageing camper vans, who were driving at 30 on roads which should have been 60, and most of all by the fact that at Connel we needed to cross Loch Etive on a bridge. What we didn't realise when we started the diversion is that this bridge is single track :(  So we spent around an hour in a queue of two miles or so waiting for our turn to get across.

All this meant that it was around 10pm by the time we finally arrived in Hawick! Not the most enjoyable part of our road trip, but at least we were staying in a place that we've been to several times before, so we knew where we were going and had the code for the key box to check in :) 



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