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Clare

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  1. We had a long day of driving ahead of us today, with approximately 300 miles to cover. We didn't want to just drive straight home though, so we made a reasonably early start from Newton Stewart. While overall we probably prefer staying in Hawick, the advantage of overnighting in Newton Stewart was that we could drive home via the M6, and that meant that we would be able to stop off in the Lake District without making much of a detour Tim had found some National Trust walks in the Lake District online and we decided to try one which started from the small village of Hartsop. It wasn't a p
  2. Last night we made the most of our final views of the sea from the cottage on Islay. We were leaving on a very early ferry this morning - 07.00 from Port Ellen, with final check-in at 06.30. Our experience with driving on the narrow roads on the island over the past few days meant that we felt we needed to leave a full hour for the drive to Port Ellen, so we checked out of the cottage at 05.30. That was a pretty early start and we hadn't had any breakfast before we left, so I was pleasantly surprised when we boarded the ferry and found that the canteen was serving a full cooked
  3. When we woke up this morning we were relieved to see that the weather looked significantly better than yesterday It's hard to make them out in the photos, but when we stepped outside the cottage there were several seals in the harbour again. Portnahaven had been pretty even in the torrential rain yesterday, but this morning everything looked even better. We went for a stroll around the village to enjoy the sunshine. From the far side of the harbour we could look back towards the cottage again. And at one point we spotted seven different s
  4. The weather forecast did not look good for today and, although it looked dry when we woke up, by the time we had finished breakfast the first drops of rain were starting to fall. Our only plan for today was to explore Islay, so we decided to start with a short walk around the village of Portnahaven where we are staying. They didn't make it into the photos, but every so often as we walked along we could see the heads of seals bobbing up out of the water in the harbour The house we're staying in is right at the end of this line. If you look carefully you might
  5. We only arrived on Islay late last night and this morning we were already scheduled to depart it for another island. This was just a day trip though, to the nearby island of Colonsay. There are only two days per week when a ferry from the mainland to Islay continues on towards Oban, stopping at Colonsay on the way. Wednesday was one of those days and we had decided to make the most of the ferry timetable to have a short trip to Colonsay. The ferry wasn't until 12.15, so we had a relaxed start to the morning in the cottage before driving across Islay to Port Askaig, which is where this par
  6. We had another long day of travelling ahead of us today, involving two ferries and a drive of around three hours in between. We woke up in the hotel on the Isle of Arran, where it was still lovely and sunny. After making the most of the hotel breakfast, we just had time for a quick stroll to enjoy the views for a final time before setting off across the island to Brodick. We were booked on a ferry from Brodick back to Ardrossan at 11am. As the ferry pulled out of Brodick, we had some great views back towards the Isle of Arran. We arrived in Ardrossan
  7. When we woke up today it was a beautiful sunny morning on the Isle of Arran. The view from outside our hotel is really wonderful. We had a quick stroll around outside to enjoy it, before jumping in the car to start our Isle of Arran roadtrip. Our first destination was actually only a couple of miles down the road. We parked in a small Forestry Commission car park, from where we were planning to do a circular walk. The trees were really dense here and the forest looked so dark! From just outside the car park itself, we had some amazing views.
  8. Breakfast was included in the price of the hotel we were staying at in Hawick last night, so we made the most of it this morning; both to get our money's worth and because we weren't sure when we would next find food. We had another fairly long day of driving ahead of us today, ultimately travelling to the ferry port at Ardrossan, from where we were due to catch a ferry to the Isle of Arran in the evening. Ardrossan is just under a 3 hour drive from Hawick if you go directly, but we weren't in a hurry and decided to take the more scenic route, with a diversion to visit Culzean Castle. Th
  9. This is a holiday which has been planned completely at the last minute. I handed in my notice three months ago and yesterday was my final day at work. It wasn't finalised until quite recently that I would be able to finish yesterday and take the coming week off as holiday and that uncertainty, combined with the general uncertainty caused by Covid, meant that we hadn't booked anything in advance. I only starting looking at possible destinations on Monday night and it was Tuesday/Wednesday before I was actually making plans and bookings. But we do now have a plan and quite an exciting one,
  10. In the absence of any firm plans, we spent some time this morning trying to generate ideas of places we could visit on the way home. We considered going to Chester, but looked at the map and realised it would involve driving a bit out of the way. In the end we settled on the idea of visiting the Long Mynd in Shropshire, which was more or less on our route. Having made this decision, we went for a final walk around Ruthin and handed the key back to the owner of the cottage. He suggested that we should drive home via Llangollen, which would take us on a scenic road via the Horseshoe Pass, and ex
  11. We didn't do much research for this holiday in advance, so we didn't have a firm plan of what to do today. Looking through suggested walks in the Wales guidebook last night, we came across instructions for a walk around the Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall. It looked pretty based on a Google image search and it was less than 40 miles away from where we're staying in Ruthin, so we decided to give it a go. The drive was very scenic, though it did take us down some single-track roads where you just had to hope for the best that no one was coming in the opposite direction. The final road to the wate
  12. As I mentioned yesterday, we didn't have many plans for this trip but one thing we did want to do was visit Conwy. An Esperanto-speaking friend who lived near the town sadly passed away last year. He had a large collection of Esperanto books, some of which Tim was interested in acquiring, and we had arranged to visit his wife to pick those up and take the rest of the collection back to Esperanto House in Barlaston. Conwy is only about 45 minutes away from where we're staying in Ruthin, so it was an easy journey to make and save a lot of courier costs. It was a bit damp and drizzly when w
  13. After a day at home following our trip to Devon, we were ready to hit the road again. The destination this time was Wales and the small town of Ruthin. Not a part of Wales we are familiar with - or a town I'd ever heard of before to be honest - but options for accommodation were fairly limited when we were trying to book this break at short notice. I had done lots of advanced planning for our first break to Devon because I knew we weren't going to have any internet when we got there. We do have internet at the place we're staying in Ruthin, and so we're taking a more spontaneous approach
  14. It was time to head home and check up on the cats today, but not before having a final Devon adventure. We'd already ticked off the national parks of Exmoor and Dartmoor, but the Devon guidebook also strongly recommended visiting the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This wasn't a place that we were familiar with, but it was a nice sunny day and we decided to give us a try The guidebook had specifically recommended walking along the coastline outside a small village called Beer, so that was where we were headed. It was around 60 miles from where we'd been staying, on the fa
  15. The good thing about staying in the middle of Devon is that it gives us lots of options for where to travel. Yesterday, we went north to Exmoor. Today, we decided to go south to Dartmoor. Our first stop was a place called Castle Drogo, right on the edge of Dartmoor. Castle Drogo isn't a real castle, having been constructed between 1911 and 1930. But the property is owned by the National Trust and has a reasonably large car park, which you can park in to do walks on the estate, even if you're not interested in visiting the property. The estate includes views of the Teign Gorge and I had found
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