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Clare

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  1. We've just got back from a very exciting trip around the Scottish Highlands and Islands. It was a pretty adventurous itinerary, which took us to Orkney and Shetland, as well as both the Inner and Outer Hebrides, plus all the way around the north coast of Scotland. Having just put our entire route into Google Maps, I calculate that we have driven a total of 2,672 miles, which averages out at 167 miles per day. The longest day of driving was day 16, when we travelled from Hawick to home via Hadrian's Wall. The detour to Hadrian's Wall took us further west than I'd expected, so we ended up c
  2. After our late finish last night, we didn't make a very early start to the day in Hawick. It was around 10am by the time we checked out and our first destination was the nearby town of Galashiels, where we stopped off at McDonalds for breakfast We had another fairly long day of driving ahead of us to get home. Our plan was to stop off in Northumberland and try to track down Hadrian's Wall. We'd actually tried to find part of Hadrian's Wall previously, when we were in Northumberland for August Bank Holiday, as a lady at our hotel had recommended that we go to Hexham to visit it. We'd dri
  3. 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. We checked in without any difficulties and then had a bit of a wait before we could drive onto
  4. This morning was a very early start, with alarms set for 6am. We were due to catch a ferry at 08.35, which doesn't sound like an unreasonable time for a ferry, but it was departing from a port called Leverburgh which is situated at the bottom of Harris. Our booking confirmation with the ferry company stipulated that the latest possible check-in time was 08.15 and it was a journey of 56 miles from where we were in Stornoway to the south of Harris, so I had calculated that we needed to check out of the apartment at 06.45. In reality we ended up running around 10 minutes late but Tim managed
  5. It wasn't exactly sunny when we woke up in Stornoway this morning, but it wasn't raining either. The forecast had suggested that today would be dry but cloudy, which was good enough for us. With planning this trip at such short notice, I hadn't fully appreciated how large the island of Lewis and Harris actually is. The guidebook explained that it's the third largest island in the British Isles (after Great Britain and Ireland). That meant that seeing the sights we wanted to see today was going to involve a fair amount of driving. We set off around 10am and initially retraced our jou
  6. When we opened the curtains on Skye this morning we found it was a genuinely sunny day outside. Typical for the day we were leaving The good news was that our ferry to the Outer Hebrides wasn't until the afternoon, so we had a few hours to enjoy Skye in the sunshine before it was time to check in. As we checked out of the cottage and began driving towards the main road, the views towards the mountains were even clearer than they had been yesterday. We hadn't made firm plans for this morning, but the mountain views looked so good that we decided to start driving
  7. When I checked the forecast for today before going to bed last night, the weather today was supposed to be a mixture of clouds and light rain. But when we opened the curtains this morning, the world seemed to look a bit brighter than we had expected. Overnight, the weather forecast had changed so that it was now predicted to be dry and cloudy for the majority of the day, with rain only after 4pm. After the past few days of rain, we wanted to make the most of any small improvement in the weather so we made a prompt start to the day after breakfast. We'd really enjoyed the views as we'd bee
  8. When we woke up on Skye this morning it was rather damp and misty, but not raining as hard as it had been when we arrived yesterday evening. The rain had been so strong yesterday that we hadn't even taken a photo of the outside of the little cottage that we're staying in. The unpredictability of the weather meant that we didn't have firm plans for today, but we were keen to explore some of the island. We drove towards a village called Dunvegan initially, which is only a few miles up the road from where we're staying. There's supposed to be an impressive castle an
  9. The weather forecast for today had predicted prolonged heavy rain across the entire Scottish Highlands, and sure enough when we woke up in Ullapool this morning that did indeed seem to be the case. It was the sort of morning where you really felt like staying indoors, but we needed to check out of our accommodation by 10am and we also had a fair bit of ground to cover today, so we had no choice but to venture out into the rain. We were driving south from Ullapool, through a very remote and sparsely populated part of Scotland, on a route which ought to have had amazing views. Sadly, it was
  10. The crossing from Shetland was indeed quite rough last night and I was glad that I had invested in some seasickness tablets before I went on holiday, just in case. They seemed to work really well and I felt absolutely fine (unlike most of the other passengers!) even when the ferry was crashing against waves so strong that it was difficult to stand up. The waves did become a bit less violent after Fair Isle as promised, although it wasn't until we started getting closer to the coast of Orkney that the sea truly became calm. We arrived in Kirkwall shortly before 11pm and promptly drove the
  11. The weather forecast hadn't looked great for today and when we woke up this morning we could hear the wind howling and the rain pouring down outside. We decided to make a relaxed start to the morning and go to get breakfast at the Fjara cafe where we'd eaten on Wednesday morning. It felt like longer than that since we'd arrived on Shetland! The view from the car park outside the cafe was still pretty, but the sea looked a lot choppier than it had yesterday. Typical when we have a ferry crossing this evening Breakfast was just as good as it had been on Wednesday and by the
  12. When we first planned our trip to Shetland, our intention was to stay on the Mainland island. But when we were killing time in a bar in Kirkwall on Tuesday night, the barman recommended to us that we try visiting two of the other islands, Yell and Unst, explaining that it was really easy to get across to them on the ferry. Once we were settled into our apartment in Lerwick last night, we started doing a bit of research on the ferries to see whether the journey really would be doable. Some of the details were a bit confusing, in particular the timetables, but it did look like it ought to be pos
  13. The sea was quite calm as we left Orkney and I think we both fell asleep fairly quickly, despite the fact that we could hear a chorus of car alarms going off somewhere underneath us. As we were boarding the ferry, one of things we'd been asked to do was to disable the alarm on our car. We weren't sure whether the car had an alarm, much less how to disable it. The helpful staff member had recommended that, if we weren't sure, we should follow a number of steps including leaving the car window slightly open to override the alarm system. At the point at which we were going to sleep, Tim remembere
  14. My alarm went off at 06.30 this morning, which I think is the earliest I've set it for since lockdown began! Breakfast in the hotel in Thurso was generous, and in fact for me it was probably the best breakfast of the holiday so far because it came complete with "potato scone" (potato cake). We were booked onto the 08.45 ferry to Stromness on Orkney, which was due to depart from the ferry terminal of Scrabster, located a mile or so outside of Thurso. Once we'd finished breakfast we packed up and were on our way. I'd pre-booked the ferry tickets online a couple of weeks ago, so when we arri
  15. The weather wasn't forecast to be quite as good today as yesterday and when we woke up in Culloden this morning, it did look a bit stormy outside. We had a relaxed start to the morning, checking out some time after 10am. Our ultimate aim for the day was to drive as far north as Thurso, but the Highlands and Islands guidebook didn't talk about many attractions on Scotland's eastern coast and our memory from our 2010 roadtrip was that there wasn't necessarily a lot to see. We therefore started out by driving in the wrong direction, taking the scenic road through the mountains towards
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