Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Last Post; Scotland

Hi All,
Here is my last post regarding our tour of Scotland. It was mid-afternoon when we left the Kyle of Tongue and set off down the lonely A836 to Laig. Unhappily for us our journey wouldn't end there because the following morning we'd be heading further south and after a stop over in Moffat, we'd find ourselves back in the urban sprawl we call home. Still enough of that for now, let's get back to the journey.
After a few miles we came to Loch Loyal which was in a splendid setting surrounded by moorlands and mountains. The road sticks to the shore for the whole of it's length presenting visitors like us with a splendid panorama. Above I can be seen viewing one of the many lochs that can be found in this part of Scotland. Once Loch Loyal was firmly in our rear view mirror we carried on through a remote landscape until we came to Altnaharra. This is a small settlement with an hotel and a few guest houses which are no doubt kept busy by Munro Baggers (people who are obsessed with climbing mountains over 3000 feet high). The hamlet is situated on a crossroads, which is rare in this part of Scotland. A very small road heads off to the west, down through Strathmore to emerge on the north coast near Loch Eriboil, which we passed through earlier in the day. The other road out of Altnaharra heads due east and follows Loch Naver which lies just beyond the village.From here we carried on our journey southwards and after passing between two large mountains we arrived at Cask Inn. The place is named after what must be one of the remotest pubs in the British Isles. It's a very thirsty 12 miles from the nearest settlement at Lairg. .Eventually, we arrived back at the lodge and after spending another glorious evening watching eagles soar across the mountain tops opposite, we went to bed for the last time in Sutherland.My wife Terry Anne can be seen above scanning for eagles from the balcony of our lodge. The following day we were up early and set off on the long journey back to southern Scotland. I had intended on sticking to the A9 for most of the way but it was so busy when compared with the roads we'd be on, that when we got to Killiecrankie we turned right and followed a road around the almost deserted shores of Lock Tummel. Here we picnicked and walked the dog before commencing the rest of our journey to Moffat where we had a bed and breakfast booked for the night. We like Moffat even though it is always busy with tourists. We had a nice meal in the same hotel that we'd used a couple of years earlier and then for some unknown reason went for a short drive before retiring for the night. It was on this short excursion that when driving along the top of a ridge that looked over the M74 motorway we came across a roadside that was populated with parked cars and people with cameras and telescopes. They must be Twitchers (people obsessed with birds) I thought, perhaps there is an eagle in the vicinity. Anyway, being nosey we parked up and got out of the car to see what all the fuss was about and it turned out these people were Chuffers (people obsessed with steam trains) and a steam train was due up the valley at any moment. So we waited and watched with great excitement as the train came thundering along the pine tree covered valley that the railway track shares with the M74. If you look closely at the photo you can see one lane of the motorway and the cars.
Trains aren't really my thing but it provided a full stop to what had been a great holiday. As it happens the next morning we found ourselves sharing a breakfast table with another couple and when I told them about the steam train the man was almost in tears. Apparently he was he was an old chuffer of extreme persuasion and was mortified that he'd missed the event. We calmed him down by promising to send him a copy of the photo I took and he seemed well pleased with that.
After breakfast we drove non-stop back to Stafford and that was the end of our holiday. In fact it is the end of a Sassenach's view of Scotland because I have run out of material. You don't need to get the violins out, but due to domestic circumstances beyond my control we haven't been on holiday for over two years. However, the day will come when I and my wife will, with hearts full of joy and excitement, head north again to the majestic wilds of Scotland.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog as much as I have writing it and that you have a happy and prosperous new year.

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