A Travellerspoint blog

Tuesday 26 May Glasgow to Robbie Burns birthplace then ferry

Taking time now while on the ferry to Belfast to use their wifi. Today has been less travelling just having a tour around Glasgow with some free time then we travelled to Alloway, the birthplace of Robbie Burns. Not enough time there to see everything unfortunately as the bus had to travel to cairnryan to the ferry. Apparently, once it missed it so Marvin, our tour director was keen to get on his way. The trip down we saw lovely countryside as we travelled down the coast. Always God to see the water making it feel like home although the Irish Sea looks just a wee bit colder. 1/2 hour into the 2 1/4 hour trip now and it's going very smoothly. It's just like being on the Cook strait Ferry. When we arrive we do a tour of Belfast before heading to our hotel in the middle of town. Tonight, we Have a free night and will find somewhere to eat and do some much needed washing. Still loving every moment so far. Goodbye to Scotland after 6 days there. We loved it and a lot of the countryside was similar to NZ especially the South Island. we see why the Scots immigrated to Dunedin.

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Monday 25 May Strathpeffer to Isle of Skye to Glasgow

This has been our longest travels today. Great time had by all though and the afternoon sunshine was just so refreshing for us all.
We covered the most miles today first heading over the bridge to The Isle of Skye which was so lovely travelling a lot of miles there with our Tour Guide telling us there isn't much there but everyone loved it. we headed over the bridge to Skye having just been to view the Eilean Donan Castle in the loch not far from there at Dornie then heading through Lochalsh. The scenery was wonderful although I suppose we are now being acclimatised to the cold, wet and wind that cuts into you. I thought my ancestors were from the Isle of Skye but now my brother, Tony tells me they were from the Isles of Tiree and Col, which now of course, I remember from his delving into our ancestry on our Dad's side. Unfortunately, we aren't going to either of the but I am sure they would be similar to Skye.

We headed down the coast line to the Sound of Skeat to catch the vehicular ferry over to the mainland to Mallaig. We waited there a short while and there were some really interesting shops to pop into to keep out of the cold. One shop was just the best shop for me with very different clothes, felt and wooden knits hats, scarves and all sorts of things to my taste. I could have bought heaps in there but I was very restrained and just bought a cat stamp which I plan to use on fabric to make something spectacular I hope.

The ferry journey was only 20 minutes but lovely and calm and outside, surprisingly wind free. Back in the bus and off though the rest of Highlands. These, by now, are getting a bit tedious. I am a bit over the gorse and the Heather is not in flower yet. It reminds us of the desert road constantly but goes on the miles and miles more so it's time to get away from the Scottish Highlands now.

We headed into Fort William for lunch and through the last of the Highlands, seeing the area the Campbell's masequered the Mac Gregors. here I felt bad to be relate to the Campbell Clan and some people told me I must not feel responsible for what my forebears did.
Back in the bus and on down to Loch Lomond where the sky was blue and the sun was warm. Just about all of the tour party exhausted the ice cream seller I think as we sat in the sun by this beautiful loch.

Finally, we have arrived in Glasgow to a modern hotel called Glasgow Pond Hotel. Strange name but it is in a beautiful park with a pond which we see from our room with ducks and swans and signets. Really picturesque and a lovely dinner served soon after we arrived for our one night stay.

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Sunday 24 May Strathpeffer to Ullapool and Loch Ness

Glad we weren't doing the huge driving today and glad we have such a good driver in Alister. First, heading high up into the northern highlands to Ullapool which is the highest we go in Scotland. Again, today it is a real mixture of sun and showers and very icy wind. That's all good, maybe we are getting more aclimatized now plus I have my new fleecy jacket. A stop in the highlands very high up saw Des serenade the tour group with Molly Malone. We finally arrived in Ullapool, a little sea side village for lunch and a look around. The two young girls serving us lunch were unsmiling and unfriendly, not doing their dear little village a service at all unfortunately. We went into a gallery on the way back to the coach and found the young woman there to be quite the opposite so that made us feel better. Outside and walking along the road we met Seamus! He looked like Des's brother Bob really but would have been well into his 70s or even older. He had been to New Zealand last year and struck up a conversation with us for the rest of the journey back to the bus. what an absolute character he was telling us at least 6 Jokes as we walked. A real comedian like Billy Connelly with less cussing and swearing. We would love to have put him on the bus to entertain us all. We also found out Seamus can be Irish or Scottish as its Gaelic or Galic as the Scots pronounce it.

Back to Strathpeffer to get ready for our trip out later in the afternoon, to Loch Ness. As we hadn't seen around the village of Strathpeffer, we took the opportunity then. A wee spa town but the spa is cold not like in Bath apparently. We had a short walk to Eagle Stone which is a stone from the 700s. Very Celtic and apparently it has fallen over twice in the past. The superstition has it that if it falls over again, Strathpeffer will be flooded. It is tucked away on a little walkway, in a field, behind the village and it reminded me of the Runestones in Swedena.

The wifi in this area disappears on you here and I am trying to coax it to put a video on Face Book of the hotel we are staying in as it is so large that a photo did not do it. We will see if it works.

Off to Loch Nessa to see Nessie. Was it there I hear you ask? No not in today - bit like the Queen really, wherever we went. A really good tour through the information centre there and of course, finishing at the souvenirs of every possible shape or form of Nessie. We had a sumptuous dinner at the centre there and travelled back through Inverness on the way home tonight.

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Saturday 23 May Edinburgh to Strathpeffer

Another amazing day where we woke to blue sky and lots of sun and quite warm so we dressed appropriately.... So we thought. We arrived in the town of St Andrews right by the Old Golf Course of St Andrews to Des's delight. The sun still shining, the sky still blue but we were right beside the cold North Sea and the wind cut through us like a knife once again. Des had been told you needed a handicap of 4 or 5 to play and that you book 18 months in advance. There he watched Men muff shots terribly so he decided the handicap was of no consequence. The souvenir shop was very expensive of course but we still came away with some moments there.

Back on the warm, comfortable bus and into the Scotish Highlands to a lovely little village called Pitlochry for lunch and a nice look around. Yes, I finally bought a warm Jersey as tomorrow we head to our highest point in Scotland so we have been warned it will be even colder there. The sun shone in Pitlochry and it was sheltered from the cool wind from the patches of snow we were seeing on the highlands.

Back on the bus and off to Culloden Moor to the battlefield which is also the graveyard of those who fought there in the 1700s and died in that huge field. in Edinburgh, Des had discovered the Ritchie clan were part of the Mac in tosh clan and there was a mound in that field of Mac Intosh clansmen who are buried there from that 1 day of fierce fighting. There are headstones marking all the various clans that fell there that day in fact. A very thought provoking place, so open to the highlands and so cold and somber.

Happily, away from the sadness and nice and warm on the bus again. As everyone gets to know each other.The bus is becoming quite noisy now apart from when half of them go to sleep that is. I never sleep on the bus tours. I have come a long way to see the sights, not miss them, sleeping.

Skirting Inverness, we headed to our 2 night stay at Ben Wyvis Hotel in Strathpeffer. Check it out. www.crearhotels.com It's absolutely lovely and set in wonderful grounds which we hope to explore tomorrow as it was raining and cold when we arrived late in the afternoon. A sumptuous meek in the Ballroom and off to our quaint medium sized room with wonderful tartan wooden blankets.

Another huge and wonderful day full of incredible experienc

Posted by RitchieOE 12:48 Comments (1)

Friday 22 May Edinburgh

We hit the road early today to just beat the crowds to Edinburgh Castle. It reminded me of going to St Peters in Rome in that respect. So the Castle opens at 9.30 am and we were the first group in but there were swarms after U.S. We had a local guide all dressed in his kilt and jacket today to show us around the old town, the. The new town and finally, after the Castle he took us up the huge mountain that like the Castle, overlooks Edinburgh. On the way to there we also so Holyrood Palace where the Queen stays in Edinburgh. The Guide was so knowledgable and an absolute hoot into the bargain. We travelled over quite a huge area so it was good we were able to do all except the Castle in the bus.

Later in the day, we went to see the Royal Yacht Britannia Which was really fascinating seeing the Queens bedroom, the Honeymoon suite which has the only double bed on the boat. Seeing over the whole boat was Amazing experience. We then went to a lovely restaurant for dinner with many of the tour group. We certainly are enjoying everyone's company on this tour especially, dare I say Peter Watkins, the Aussies, which make up the largest proportion of the tour group.

While in town on our city tour this morning, we saw Greyfriars Pub and the statue of the little dog bobby outside. Such a sad story that one is isn't it.

Tomorrow we head for the Highlands and it better stay warm as I still haven't bought any more warmer clothes yet.

Posted by RitchieOE 13:03 Comments (0)

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