Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

Duncansby Stacks


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Skye and the North Coast 2018 – Day 7 – Dunnet and Duncansby Heads – 26 September 2018

For our first full day in Caithness we had planned to visit Dunnet Head, John O’Groats and Duncansby Head. Firstly, however, we visited two churches in Thurso.

Thurso
The current anglican church is the Church of St Peter and The Holy Rood. It is part of the Scottish Episcopalian Church United Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. On the day of our visit, the church was open for visitors.

The Church of St Peter and The Holy Rood

The Church of St Peter and The Holy Rood
26 September 2018

North of the Church of St Peter and The Holy Rood is the ruins of the Old St Peters Kirk. This closed in 1832.

Old St Peter's Kirk, Thurso

Old St Peter’s Kirk, Thurso
26 September 2018

The walk between the two churches and where we parked was along the west bank of the Thurso river.

River Thurso, looking south.

River Thurso, looking south.
26 September 2018

Dunnet Head and Windhaven Cafe
Leaving Thurso, we headed east toward the the most northerly point on the UK mainland, Dunnet Head. On the cliff at Dunnet Head, there is a viewpoint, looking north towards Orkney and east to John O’Groats. As befits the most northerly point on the UK mainland, there is the most northerly mainland lighthouse in the UK.

Dunnet Head Lighthouse

Dunnet Head Lighthouse
26 September 2018

Leaving Dunnet Head, we headed south back to the road to John O’Groats, but first we stopped at the Windhaven Cafe for lunch.

Windhaven Cafe, by Dunnet Head

Windhaven Cafe, by Dunnet Head
26 September 2018

Gills Bay
Back on the main road to John O’Groats, there is Gills Bay. From here there is a ferry service to Orkney operated by Pentland Ferries. We were fortunate to see a ferry leaving Gills Bay.

MV Pentalina at Gills Bay

MV Pentalina at Gills Bay
26 September 2018

John O’Groats
Once the ferry had left it was a short 3 mile drive to John O’Groats. Despite publicity, it is neither the most northerly point or the most north easterly. At John O’Groats, there is a harbour, hotel, visitor centre and a number retail outlets for the tourists.

John O'Groats signpost

John O’Groats signpost
26 September 2018

The waters between the mainland and Orkney at this point, in the Pentland Firth, are some of the strongest in the world. The tidal force can pick up and move boulders along the Pentland Firth. A sculpture has been created and installed at John O’Groats.

The Nomadic Boulders of John O'Groats

The Nomadic Boulders of John O’Groats
26 September 2018

Duncansby Head
Heading east, our final stop of the day was at Duncansby Head. At this point the Caithness Coast turns south from the Pentland Firth to the North Sea. By the car park, there is a light house, however the notable feature are the Duncansby Stacks.

Lighthouse at Duncansby Head

Lighthouse at Duncansby Head
26 September 2018

Duncansby Stacks

Duncansby Stacks
26 September 2018

Returning to the car, both Joh O’Groats and Dunnet Head could be seen.

Dunnet Head and John O'Groats from Duncansby Head

Dunnet Head and John O’Groats from Duncansby Head
26 September 2018

It was back to Reay, and later in the evening we met up with friends and had an evening meal at the Upper Deck in Scrabster.

Some useful links associated with day 7 our trip

More pictures from Day 7 (Dunnet and Duncansby Heads)

Strathy Point (from A836 west of Melvich)


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Skye and North Coast 2018 – Day 6 – Scourie to Reay – 25 September 2018

Our plans for Day 6 had been changed. Our original intention was to take our time to Reay, stopping off as we went along. However getting a puncture the previous day, meant a change. Our journey took us from Scourie on the A894 to Laxford Bridge and then the A838 to the North Coast at Durness to Tongue were we stopped for a morning drink, and then the A836 to Scrabster and the A9 into Thurso were a new tyre was to be fitted.

Leaving Scourie, we took our last glance of Scourie Bay, and passed the Scourie War Memorial.

Scourie Bay

Scourie Bay
25 September 2018

Scourie War Memorial

Scourie War Memorial
25 September 2018

Retracing our steps, from the 24 September, to Durness and Smoo Cave, we continued east until we reached the sea loch, Loch Eriboll. The road followed the shore line to Polla at the southern end of the loch, the then headed north to Heilam where the A838 turn east and inland.

This road is a single track road with passing places. The road was quiet and we saw very few vehicles coming the other way. Near Portnancon, we came across a bull in a passing place.

Bull in a passing place near Portnancon

Bull in a passing place near Portnancon
25 September 2018

Mobile phone coverage is very patchy in this area of Scotland. Red phone boxes were notable at the side of the road.

Phonebox on the NC500

Phonebox on the NC500
25 September 2018

Tongue
Approaching Tongue, there is another sea loch heading inland – the Kyle of Tongue. Until 1971 the road followed the shore of the Kyle of Tongue. A causeway and bridge now shorten the route. Leaving Tongue, we came across the Weaver’s Cafe at which we stopped for a mid morning drink.

Weaver's Cafe, Tongue

Weaver’s Cafe, Tongue
25 September 2018

Melvich
Leaving the Weaver’s Cafe, we continued our journey east. Near Melvich we stopped at a Marie Curie Field of Hope.

Marie Curie Field of Hope

Marie Curie Field of Hope
25 September 2018

Dounreay
Beyond Melvich, we drew close to Dounreay. Whilst still west of the village of Reay, we got our first view of Dounreay Nuclear Power Establishment.

Dounreay

Dounreay
25 September 2018

Continuing through the village of Reay and passing Dounreay, we approached Thurso.

Caithness Horizons
After dropping off the car for a new tyre to be fitted, we went for lunch. After lunch we went to Caithness Horizons. Located in the old town hall it had various displays representing the heritage and history pf Caithness.

Linked in with earlier in the day, the Control Room from Dounreay power station has been installed in one of the rooms.

Dounreay Control Room as Caithness Horizons

Dounreay Control Room as Caithness Horizons
25 September 2018

Following our visit in September 2018, Caithness Horizons ran out of funding in February 2019. Although there are hopes it will re-open later in 2019.

Hawthornlea B&B
Our accommodation for the next three nights was the Hawthornlea B&B in Reay.

Hawthornlea B&B

Hawthornlea B&B
28 September 2018

Our room at Hawthornlea

Our room at Hawthornlea
25 September 2018

We were provided with an excellent selection of breakfasts. Our favourite was the French Toast with bacon and maple syrup.

French Toast, with bacon and maple syrup

French Toast, with bacon and maple syrup
28 September 2018

In our first evening in Reay, we visited friends who lived in the village.

Some useful links associated with day 6 our trip

More pictures from Day 6 (Scourie to Reay)

Looking out of Smoo Cave


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Skye and North Coast 2018 – Day 5 – Durness, Cape Wrath and a Puncture – 24 September 2018

This was the day we planned to go to Cape Wrath. To get there requires a ferry trip over the Kyle of Durness, and there a minibus ride to the Cape. Before we left the Scourie Lodge, our hosts checked when the trips were scheduled during the day. It emerged that the trips was in the afternoon. SO our plan for the day was to go to Durness, Smoo Cave, lunch at Cocoa Mountain, Balnakeil before going to East Keodale for the ferry to the Cape Wrath minibus. After Cape Wrath, the plan was to go to the Kylesku Bridge where we would find something to eat prior to heading back to Scourie. It did not quite happen that way, so read on.

Durness Bay
Leaving Scourie, we headed north east on the A838 towards Durness. We stopped at the car park for Durness Bay, also known as Sango Sands. With the tide and wind direction, there were plenty of wave effects to observe.

Waves coming into Durness Bay

Waves coming into Durness Bay
24 September 2018

Although there was a Tourist Information Centre at the car park, it was not open on the day of our visit.

Smoo Cave
Continuing east, our next stop was Smoo Cave. This was formed by the Allt Smoo dropping through the rocks and coming out into the sea.

Allt Smoo falling into Smoo Cave

Allt Smoo falling into Smoo Cave
24 September 2018

Allt Smoo flow out of the cave to the sea

Allt Smoo flow out of the cave to the sea
24 September 2018

Balnakeil
Our next stop was Balnakeil Craft Village. We parked at Cocoa Mountain for lunch prior to our trip to Cape Wrath.

The collection of buildings were commissioned by the MOD as an early warning facility, however it was never commissioned and in the early 1960s it was taken over by Sutherland County Council. Many of the empty concrete boxes had no facilities, however over the years they have been developed.

Travelling from Balnakeil to East Keodale for the ferry, the puncture warning light came up on the dashboard of the car. We stopped to check, and saw the front nearside tyre was slightly deflated. When we got to the ferry car park, we inflated the tyre, and hoped it would stay inflated whilst we were on our trip to Cape Wrath.

Cape Wrath
THe first part of the journey to Cape Wrath is a ferry trip across the Kyle of Durness. Reaching the west side of the Kyle we joined the minibus that was to take us to Cape Wrath. The 11 miles (or so) was to take around an hour. The were several stopped on the way. The first was as we travelled north along the side of the Kyle. The sandbanks in the Kyle of Durness were clearly seen.

Kyle of Durness

Kyle of Durness
24 September 2018

Turning inland we headed on the rough track, and into the MOD firing range. On exercise days, there is no access available. Around 30 minutes of bumpy round, the northern end of The Minch came into view.

Looking out to The Minch

Looking out to The Minch
24 September 2018

Another 15 minutes or so, the lighthouse at Cape Wrath came into view. This is now operated automatically, however the lighthouse-keeper’s house is still occupied. The Ozone cafe is in one of the buildings were snacks and drinks are available. The only toilet however is in the residence.

Cape Wrath Lighthouse

Cape Wrath Lighthouse
24 September 2018

AS with the trip to Cape Wrath, we stopped at various places. One stop gave us a veiw done a valley to the Atlantic at Kearvaig. There is a two pointed stack here. One of the points is collapsing, and in due course the stack will become single pointed.

Kearvaig Stack

Kearvaig Stack
24 September 2018

After the minibus had parked up, we waited for the ferry to arrive and take us back to East Keodale.

Cape Wrath Ferry

Cape Wrath Ferry
24 September 2018

Puncture and Flat Battery
Returning from our trip to Cape Wrath, we saw that the tyre on the car was fully deflated. We got out the electric pump and re-inflated the tyre. With the engine and pump off, we could here the air escaping from the tyre. As the car was not supplied with a spare tyre, we decided a call to the AA was in order. The AA App indicated it would take an hour for aid to come. Whilst we were waiting, we phoned forward to our stop the following evening to determine if there was a tyre centre in the town, Thurso. There was, and a phone call later we ascertained they had a tyre and we booked in an appointment for early afternoon.

An hour later, we got a phone call from the AA saying that we were a long way from the nearest garage that could give us aid – we knew that! Shortly, the garage rang us. They had only just been called. Whilst talking to them the low battery alarm came up on the car. They advised we attempted to use the the “Inflation kit”, which we then referred to as the “Goo Kit”. Firstly we had to get the car jump started. There was still one car in the car park, and the driver was very helpful. We got the car jump started, and then used the “Goo Kit” to re-inflate the tyre. This was successful, so we phoned the garage back to thank them for their advice and let them know we were heading back to our B&B

Back to Scourie
As we had lost several hours, and knew the Inflation Kit has a recommend maximum time, we abandoned our plans to go to Kyelsku Bridge and return to Scourie. Visiting the local store, we bought a few items for a snack evening meal.

Postscript
After we got home, we saw a news article which reported that “persons unknown” had been scattering tacks on the NC500 roads as they were not happy with the amount of traffic that was using the road. The Goo Kit has been replaced (with two goo kits), and if we do this trip again we will seriously consider buying a spare wheel and tyre. There is space in the boot for one.

Some useful links associated with day 5 our trip

More pictures from Day 5 (Durness and Cape Wrath)

Gairloch


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Skye and North Coast 2018 – Day 4 – Skye to Scourie – 23 September 2018

It was time to move on and leave Skye. We were heading to Scourie, where I have first visited with my parents in the summer of 1971. Little did we realise what a challenge we have given ourselves, not only with the distance to travel, but also with the various places we stopped at on the way. This also took us onto the North Coast 500 route which we were to follow until we passed through Inverness on the penultimate day of our holiday.

Leaving Foxwood on Skye at around 9:45am (we will return in the future) we headed south east back to Sligachan to the A87 and then followed the A87 to the Skye Bridge. Passing Sconser we saw the CalMac ferry from Raasay arriving, the hybrid diesel-electric, MV Halliag.

MV Halliag arriving at Sconser from Raasay.

MV Halliag arriving at Sconser from Raasay. 23 September 2018

Eilean Donan Castle
After crossing the Skye bridge and passing through Kyle of Lochalsh, we took a short detour to visit the Eilean Donan Castle. This was not on our original plan, so we took pictures from the car park and went to the visitor centre. A visit to the castle will wait for another time.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle 23 September 2018

Strathcarron
Retracing our journey from Eilean Donan on the A87, we took the road to Strathcarron. This road runs close to the railway line and at one point a landslide had closed the road. To keep traffic flowing and avoiding a long detour, the road was routed onto the railway tracks.

Road sharing with rail

Road sharing with rail 23 September 2018

At Strathcarron station we joined the route of the North Coast 500 on the A869 along the north shore of Loch Carron before turning inland. This did mean we did not visit Strome Castle.

Courthill Chapel
The A869 reached the water’s edge again at the shore of Loch Kishorn. This is where we encountered Courthill Chapel. Although a Sunday service is held, it had finished by the time we arrived. However we stopped to have a look at it.

Inside Courthill Chapel

Inside Courthill Chapel 23 September 2018

A bit further north of Courthill, we had a choice to make, either continue up the main route north, or take loop to Applecross. As we intend to visit Inverewe Gardens, we continued on the direct route.

Loch Torridon
Anyone who did geography in Scottish Schools in the late 1970s will remember studying Loch Torridon. We made a short stop at a viewpoint.

Upper Loch Torridon

Upper Loch Torridon 23 September 2018

Gairloch
At Kinlochewe, the A896 meets the A832 which we followed until close to Loch Broom. Another stop just south of Gairloch, at a viewpoint were this is a War Memorial for the First World War.

War Memorial at Gairloch

War Memorial at Gairloch 23 September 2018

It was only a short drive to Inverewe Gardens, as it was mid afternoon with quite a drive still togo, we decided to not visit the gardens, however we stopped for afternoon tea in the cafe.

Loch Ewe
Leaving Inverewe, our next stop was at Loch Ewe viewpoint. This was the base for the Wartime Altantic Conveys.

Loch Ewe

Loch Ewe 23 September 2018

Crossing over the hills, we came across a picturesque beach on Gruinard Bay.

Little Gruinard Beach

Little Gruinard Beach 23 September 2018

Loch Broom and Ullapool
The A832 joins the A835, the road to Ullapool at Corrieshalloch Gorge. Last time we had been this way it was in July 2011 when we travelling to the Outer Hebrides. This time we were heading north, not before stopping to see the MV Loch Seaforth arrive into Loch Broom on sailing from Stornoway to Ullapool.

MV Loch Seaforth arriving at Ullapool

MV Loch Seaforth arriving at Ullapool 23 September 2018

Ardvrek Castle
With the time pushing on, and over an hour yet to travel, our journey continued north up the A835, joining the A837 at Ledmore. Around halfway to Scourie we saw a ruined castle on the shores of Loch Assynt. Ardveck Castle dates back to about 1490 when the lands were owned by the Macleods of Assynt.

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle 23 September 2018

Scourie
Approaching Scourie, we crossed the Kylesku Bridge, which we planned to visit the following day and reached the village of Scourie. Scourie Lodge is located off the A837 on the north side of Scourie Bay.

Scourie Lodge

Scourie Lodge 25 September 2018

Arriving just after 7pm, we checked-in, and then went to the Scourie Hotel for an evening meal.

The plan for the day had been over-ambitious with around 220 miles to travel. With stops it had taken us over 9 hours and we did not get a chance to visit some of the places we intended to. What did we miss and will have to go back to see? Inverewe Gardens, Kylesku Bridge, and the road to Applecross. Not to mention places like Ardvreck Castle and Eilean Donan Castle where we saw the exterior but did not get a chance to see close up. Next time a break in the journey will be a necessity.

Some useful links associated with day 4 our trip

More pictures from Day 4 (Skye to Scourie) and Scourie Lodge

404 - 20181222 - IMG_2254 (60D)


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Skye and North Coast 2018 – Day 3 – Around Skye – 22 September 2019

A full day on Skye. Our first visit was to Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, prior to heading up to Uig, over the top part of the island and onto to Portree before heading back to Struan and Foxwood on Skye. As Struan, we sampled the food from The Crofters Bite, taking it back to Foxwood on Skye.

Dunvegan Castle and Gardens
On the north west coast of Skye, is Dunvegan Castle, the family seat of the Clan MacLeod. The castle has been their ancestral home for over 800 years, being continually inhabited.

Dunvegan Castle

Dunvegan Castle
22 September 2018

Dining Room at Dunvegan Castle

Dining Room at Dunvegan Castle
22 September 2018

The gardens are in various areas, including woodland with waterfalls and formal gardens

Waterfall in Dunvegan Gardens

Waterfall in Dunvegan Gardens
22 September 2018

Pond in Dunvegan Gardens

Pond in Dunvegan Gardens
22 September 2018

Uig
Towards the north end of Skyes is Uig. This natural harbour is the location of a ferry terminal for sailings to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris and Lochmaddy on North Uist.

MV Hebrides arriving at Uig

MV Hebrides arriving at Uig
22 September 2018

At Uig there is a tower, called Captain Fraser’s tower (or Uig Tower). William Fraser became the owner of the Kilmuir Estate in 1855 and the tower was constructed around 1860 at a place where the local tenants had to go to pay their rents to his Factor. Later is was converted into a home, however it was abandoned in 1950s.

Uig Tower

Uig Tower
22 September 2018

While we were around Uig, MV Hebrides arrived from the Outer Hebrides, and we waited until the ferry had left and disappeared behind the headland.

MV Hebrides leaving Uig

MV Hebrides leaving Uig
22 September 2018

Cuith Raing
Travelling across the island from Uig to the west coast we passed through Cuith Raing, sometimes described as a geological theatre, reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings

Cuith Raing

Cuith Raing
22 September 2018

An Lethallt
On the west coast of Skye, the An Lethallt burn flows into The Minch. At this point Diatomite was brought to the coast for processing prior to being shipped.

Former Diatomite processing works

Former Diatomite processing works
22 September 2018

Portree
Travelling down the coast from An Lethallt, we reached Portree, the largest town on Syke and the administrative centre. In the harbour was the former Caledonian Macbrayne ferry, now cruise ship, Hebridean Princess.

Colourful houses at Portree Harbour

Colourful houses at Portree Harbour
22 September 2018

Hebridean Princess in Portree Harbour

Hebridean Princess in Portree Harbour
22 September 2018

Leaving Portree we took the B885 across the island towards Struan.

The Crofters’ Bite
In the village of Struan, The Crofters’ Bite, provides takeaway food during the day, and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. As this was a Saturday evening, we bought the Saturday special, Sweet and Sour Chicken, which we took back to Foxwood on Skye to eat.

The Crofters' Bite at Struan

The Crofters’ Bite at Struan
22 September 2018

Some useful links associated with our trip

More pictures from Day 3 (Around Skye)

Glenfinnan Monument


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Skye and North Coast 2018 – Day 2 – Over the Sea to Skye – 21 September 2018

Day 2 of our holiday, leaving Torcastle we headed back through the tunnel under the Caledonian Canal and onto Skye. Our route was to take us on the road to Malliag for the ferry to Skye and then to the north west side of Isle of Skye.

Glenfinnan Viaduct
Our first stop of the day was at Glenfinnan Viaduct and Monument. As there was a steam train due, the car park was nearly full. Marketed as The Jacobite, it is also known as the Harry Potter train, Hogwarts Express. At the view point where the viaduct could be seen, there was a going crowd of sightseers awaiting to see The Jacobite steam train.

Sightseers awaiting The Jacobite.

Sightseers awaiting The Jacobite.
21 September 2019

When we arrived, there was a hint of sunshine, however by the time the train arrived, the weather had changed and it was raining as the train crossed the viaduct.

The Jacobite on Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Jacobite on Glenfinnan Viaduct
21 September 2019

Glenfinnan Monument
Following the passing of the train, we went to the visitor centre for the Glenfinnan Monument, which commemorates the landing of Bonnie Prince Charlie on shore of Loch Shiel at the start of the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. After warming up and having a hot drink we headed out to the monument. Around the base of the monument are tablets in English, Gaelic and Latin.

Glenfinnan Monument

Glenfinnan Monument
21 September 2018

Glenfinnan Station
To the west of the viaduct is Glenfinnan Station. Although it is unmanned for the purpose of train operation, the station building is now the home of a museum, and carriage parked in the station yard is open as a cafe. The signalbox still exists, although it has not been operational form many years since RETB signalling was put in place.

Glenfinnan Station (looking east)

Glenfinnan Station (looking east)
21 September 2018

Chalk board as entrance to station cafe

Chalk board as entrance to station cafe
21 September 2018

Inside Glenfinnan Station Cafe

Inside Glenfinnan Station Cafe
21 September 2018

Glenfinnan Signalbox

Glenfinnan Signalbox
21 September 2018

Allt a’ Mhama
Continuing on our journey to Malliag, we stopped just beyond Allt a’ Mhama viaduct. During construction a horse and cart fell into one of the piers as is still there. Were stopped we also got our first views out into The Minch toward the Outer Hebrides.

Allt a' Mhama Viaduct

Allt a’ Mhama Viaduct
21 September 2019

Looking out into The Minch from Allt a' Mhama

Looking out into The Minch from Allt a’ Mhama
21 September 2019

St Mary’s, Arasiag
Just beyond Allt ‘a Mhama we took a detour off the main road to go into Arasaig. In the village is the Roman Catholic church dedicated to St Mary. THe church was designed by the architect William Burn, whose work included reconstruction of the exterior of St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh for the Church of Scotland and St John’s Episcopal Church in Princes Street. As befits most Roman Catholic churches, there are Stations of the Cross around the walls.

St Mary's, Arasaig

St Mary’s, Arasaig
21 September 2019

Sanctuary at St Mary's, Arasaig

Sanctuary at St Mary’s, Arasaig
21 September 2019

Malliag
From Arasaig we made our way to Malliag, stopping off by the River Morar where we got our first view of the Isle of Skye.

River Morar and Isle of Skye

River Morar and Isle of Skye
21 September 2018

Onto to Mallaig, we parked up at the ferry terminal to await the MV Lord of Isles to take us over the sea to Skye.

MV Lord of the Isles arriving at Mallaig

MV Lord of the Isles arriving at Mallaig
21 September 2018

Leaving Mallaig for Skye

Leaving Mallaig for Skye
21 September 2018

Around Skye
Arriving on the Isle of Skye at Armadale, we then headed to our accommodation for the next two nights – Foxwood on Skye.

Lodge of Armadale Castle

Lodge of Armadale Castle
21 September 2018

On the A863 at the junction of the road to Carbost

On the A863 at the junction of the road to Carbost
21 September 2018

Seamus’ Bar
For our evening meal, we were recommended to visit the Seamus’ Bar at Sligachan. This recommendation was well justified, as we had an excellent meal.

Inside Seamus' Bar

Inside Seamus’ Bar
21 September 2018

Foxwood on Skye
On accommodation on Skye, was at Foxwood on Skye near the village of Struan on the north west side of the island. Hosted by Katrina and David, this is a great place to be based. They could not be more helpful from providing an excellent breakfast to excellent recommendations on places to visit and where to eat in the evening.

Foswood on Skye

Foswood on Skye
22 September 2018

The main room at Foxwood on Skye

The main room at Foxwood on Skye
21 September 2018

Wall adornment at Foxwood on Skye

Wall adornment at Foxwood on Skye
21 September 2018

Some useful links associated with our trip

More pictures from Day 2 and the Foxwood on Skye

Ben Nevis


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Skye and North Coast 2018 – Day 1 – Through Glencoe to Banavie – 20 September 2018

After a few months break, now is the time to chronicle our main holiday in 2018. This may give you ideas for your 2019 break.

Our original intention had been to visit friends in Caithness, and then we decided we would like to visit Cape Wrath at the western end of the north coast of Scotland. A visit to the location of a holiday in 1971, Scourie, was added to the itinerary and then, why not visit the Isle of Skye.

So after lunch on the 20 September we left home heading to Fort William on the first leg of our journey to the Isle of Skye.

Leaving home, we passed through Paisley and onto the M8 and M898 to cross the Clyde by means of the Erskine Bridge.

Erskine Bridge

Erskine Bridge
20 September 2018

The A82 was to take us all the way to Fort William. The views going up the west side of Loch Lomond and into Glen Falloch (between Loch Lomond and Crianlarich) showed off the rugged landscape and including the many waterfalls.

Waterfall in Glen Falloch

Waterfall in Glen Falloch
20 September 2018

After traversing the recently constructed Crianlarich bypass, we reach Tyndrum, were we stopped at The Green Welly stop for a mid afternoon snack.

Green Welly Stop

Green Welly Stop
20 September 2018

Green Welly Stop

Green Welly Stop
20 September 2018

Continuing north on the A82 the road heads into the mountains towards Glencoe. Just before Glencoe, there is a viewpoint that looks south towards Loch Tulla and a bridge that the road had previously crossed.

Looking south from Loch Tulla Viewpoint.

Looking south from Loch Tulla Viewpoint.
20 September 2018

Towards the western end of Glencoe, between the ski centre and the village, there is The Meeting of the Three Waters – which flow out as the Fiver Coe. The picturesque Coe Waterfall can been seen here.

Coe Waterfall

Coe Waterfall
20 September 2018

Coe Waterfall

Coe Waterfall
20 September 2018

After the brief stop, we headed onto to Fort William, and leaving the town, took the road to the Malliag and Banavie where our overnight accommodation was located. After crossing the Banavie swingbridge, we took the turning north. After a while, turning right the road took us in a tunnel under the Caledonian Canal.

Tunnel under the Caledonian Canal

Tunnel under the Caledonian Canal
21 September 2018

Shortly we arrived at Torcastle B&B.

Torcastle, Banivie

Torcastle, Banivie
21 September 2018

We had been allocated the Heather Room.

Heather Room, Torcastle B&B

Heather Room, Torcastle B&B
21 September 2018

Heather Room, Torcastle B&B

Heather Room, Torcastle B&B
21 September 2018

Heather Room, Torcastle B&B

Heather Room, Torcastle B&B
21 September 2018

On the evening of our arrival, Ben Nevis was not visible due to the weather. It had been recommended to us to visit the Ben Nevis Inn for an evening meal. However, it was so busy we were not able to get a table that evening. We ended up eating elsewhere in Fort William.

Ben Nevis Inn

Ben Nevis Inn
20 September 2018

Ben Nevis did put in an appearance the following morning.

Some useful links associated with our trip

More pictures from Day 1 and the Torcastle B&B

Ardvreck Castle


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2018 and all that

2018 has been an interesting year. Attending Hunslet 125 at the Ffestiniog Railway was a great memory that complemented a previous attendance of Hunslet 100 in 1993. The spring also featured a lot of singing, with four successive weekends in May and June, and attendance at the Vocal Inspirations course at the end of June..

The beginning of the year was heralded with a full moon.

Full Moon on New Years Day

Full Moon on New Years Day
1 January 2018

January 2018

In the middle of January, we made one of our regular visits to London. Walking through More London, one of the highlights is the Rill which runs, or rather ran, from City Hall to Tooley Street. Later in the Spring it was filled in.

Rill at More London

Rill at More London
13 January 2018

On a happier note was the restoration of a statue on Woodland Road in Glasgow, “Lobey” with “Rank Bajin” in handcuffs

Statue of "Lobey" with "Rank Bajin" in handcuffs

Statue of “Lobey” with “Rank Bajin” in handcuffs
18 January 2018

February 2018

Our newest arrival, Poppet – The Chocolate Tabby, was slowly gaining her confidence. One morning, we discovered she was exploring the shower.

Poppet in the shower

Poppet in the shower
14 February 2018

Later in the month, the snow arrived.

Snow on the Garden Furniture

Snow on the Garden Furniture
28 February 2018

By the time the cars had been dug out, it was lunchtime.

March 2018

With the local snow, followed by the “Beast from the East”, the UK was cloaked in snow. With less snow than the previous day, digging the cars took less time and it was them possible to carefully make our way to work.

Snowy Conifer

Snowy Conifer
1 March 2018

Later in the month, after the snow had thawed, local theatre group, Theatre South Productions, put on the Dolly Parton musical 9 to 5

Finale of 9 to 5

Finale of 9 to 5
12 March 2018

April 2018

After Easter, there was another trip to Porthmadog in North Wales. As always, the window display at Glosters was recorded.

Pasg Hapus at Glosters

Pasg Hapus at Glosters
5 April 2018

Later in the month, it was back to London and a visit to Mail Rail

Mail Rail

Mail Rail
21 April 2018

Based at the Mount Pleasant Mail Depot, the Post Office Railway is no longer used for transferring mail, however it is now used a visitor attraction with battery trains taken visitors down to the Mount Pleasant platforms to see the displays of the Royal Mail and the Post Office Railway.

We followed this up with a visit to the London Canal Museum.

See more in the Blogs:-

May 2018

May was a month of singing in two Cathedrals. Firstly in Durham Cathedral on the 19 May with RSCM Scottish Voices, featuring a scaffold cover on the main tower for repairs.

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral
19 May 2018

The following Saturday, there was singing with Glasgow Cathedral Choral Society.

Looking west inside Glasgow Cathedral

Looking west inside Glasgow Cathedral
26 May 2018

The following day was Trinity Sunday and Three Choirs Choral Evensong, also in Glasgow Cathedral. Whilst not singing, opportunity was taken for a visit to the Necropolis.

John Knox at the Necropolis

John Knox at the Necropolis
27 May 2018

More pictures from the visit to the Necropolis.

June 2018

June started with two more choir engagements in two more Cathedrals. With RSCM Scottish Voices, the first weekend was at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Dundee for the RSCM Scotland Triennial Festival.

St Andrew's Cathedral, Dundee

St Andrew’s Cathedral, Dundee
2 June 2018

To conclude four successive weekends singing, there was a visit to Dunkeld Cathedral with Glasgow Cathedral Choral Society.

Dunkeld Cathedral

Dunkeld Cathedral
9 June 2018

After a weekend away from singing, there was a brief visit to North Wales for the Hunslet 125 event at the Ffestiniog Railway, but visit a visit to the Bala Lake Railway to see visiting locomotive Palmerston, due to all the resident Hunslets visiting the Ffestiniog Railway.

Palmerston at LLanuwchllyn

Palmerston at LLanuwchllyn
21 June 2018

See the Blog on the visit of Palmerston to Llanuwchllyn.

The following day, the Hunslet 125 Gala started at the Ffestiniog Railway and on the Saturday evening a birthday party was held with the Birthday Girls Linda and Blanche in Minffordd Yard.

Linda and Blanche returning from their Birthday Party

Linda and Blanche returning from their Birthday Party
23 June 2018

Leaving Wales, it was unto a Vocal Inspirations course at Blencowe Hall near Penrith in Cumbria.

Blencowe Hall

Blencowe Hall
27 June 2018

July 2018

July brought another visit to London, and this time we stay close to Tower Bridge and St Katherine’s Dock, where we saw Tower Bridge opening for the Barge Rolfe Judd.

Barge Rolfe Judd passing through Tower Bridge

Barge Rolfe Judd passing through Tower Bridge
7 July 2018

Later in the month, we received the first of the Mugs from Glosters Mug Club.

First Mug from Glosters Mug Club

First Mug from Glosters Mug Club
12 July 2018

August 2018

August meant a return to the Ffestiniog Railway. With sunny evenings, long walks were the order of the day. One evening walking across the Cob, there were skenes of geese flying overhead.

Skene of Geese over The Cob

Skene of Geese over The Cob
4 August 2018

The good weather, meant that the fruit in the garden was plentiful. 2018 was the first year that the Victoria Plum had fruit.

Ripening Plum

Ripening Plum
15 August 2018

September 2018

It was not only the plum that was fruiting, the raspberry canes produced a plentiful crop.

Ripe Raspberry

Ripe Raspberry
12 September 2018

Later in September we undertook a tour of Skye and the North Coast of Scotland.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle
23 September 2018

We included visits to Glencoe, Glenfinnan, Dunvegan Castle, Portree, Eilean Donan Castle, Courthill Chapel in Kishorn, Gairloch, Scourie, Cape Wrath, Durness, Tongue, Reay, Thurso, Dunnet Head, Duncansby Head, Forsinard Flow Country, Dunrobin Castle and Dornoch Cathedral.

One memorable point was encountering a bull in a passing place between Durness and Tongue.

Bull in a Passing Place

Bull in a Passing Place
25 September 2018

More pictures from our tour to Skye and around the North Coast of Scotland.

October 2018

After eleven months with us, Poppet has become more confident and has enjoyed being able to go into the garden.

Poppet on the garden chair

Poppet on the garden chair
14 October 2018

October also meant a final visit to Porthmadog for 2018. A day trip south took us to Harlech, and afternoon tea at the Plas Restaurant.

View North from the Plas Restaurant, Harlech

View North from the Plas Restaurant, Harlech
30 October 2018

November 2018

11 November marked the 100th commemoration of the Armistice. At Glasgow Central the clock was provided with a silhouette of a soldier bowing his head.

Glasgow Central Clock

Glasgow Central Clock
17 November 2018

Over the year, the collection of ceramics from Glosters increased including several intended for the tree in December.

Glosters hanging ceramics

Glosters hanging ceramics
23 November 2018

December 2018

And so the year comes to an end, with another visit to London. Walking along the south bank of The Thames, we visited Gabriel’s Wharf between Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges.

Gabriel's Wharf

Gabriel’s Wharf
15 December 2018

The following week, we were in the Scottish Highlands, in Pitlochry. Whilst there we visited Port-na-Craig Restaurant which had decorated tree.

Post-na-Craig Christmas Tree

Post-na-Craig Christmas Tree
22 December 2018

And so 2018 is coming to an end, and a final image is Balgray Reservoir which has been drained.

Drained Balgray Reservoir

Drained Balgray Reservoir
31 December 2018

Palmerston at LLanuwchllyn


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Palmerston at the Bala Lake Railway – 21 June 2018

A quick visit to Llanuwchllyn at the south western end of the Bala Lake Railway. Built on the formation of the old Ruabon to Barmouth Railway, the railway opened in 1972 and runs between Llanuwchllyn and the former Bala Lake Halt. I chronicled a bit more about the history of the Bala Lake Railway follow a previous visit in August 2016.

LLanuwchllyn Signal Box

LLanuwchllyn Signal Box
21 June 2018

Most of the original buildings exist including the station waiting room and signal box. The platforms also remain.

The reason for the visit was a visiting engine from the Ffestiniog Railway – number 4: Palmerston. This was due to all the resident locomotives, Quarry Hunslet locomotives visiting the Ffestiniog Railway for the Hunslet 125 Gala. Upon my arrival, Holy War was sitting loaded and ready to depart.

Holy War leaving for the Ffestiniog Railway

Holy War leaving for the Ffestiniog Railway
21 June 2018

Also in the railway yard was a London Routemaster bus. Looking at the webcam on 17 July 2018 it still is there.

Routemaster RM 2059 at Llanuwchllyn

Routemaster RM 2059 at Llanuwchllyn
21 June 2018

Under the tree as the end of the main station building was an Allis Chalmers tractor.

Allis Chalmers tractor at Llanuwchllyn

Allis Chalmers tractor at Llanuwchllyn
21 June 2018

In due course Palmerston arrived with a train from the Bala.

Palmerston at LLanuwchllyn

Palmerston at LLanuwchllyn
21 June 2018

After taking coal and water, Palmerston ran round the train to take it back to Bala.

Palmerston running round the train at Llanuwchllyn

Palmerston running round the train at Llanuwchllyn
21 June 2018

Although Palmerston has no returned tot he Ffestiniog Railway and the resident Hunslet locomotives are back at the Bala Lake Railway, Llanuwchllyn is well worth a visit, including a ride on the train.

Post box wall


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The Postal Museum – 21 April 2018

Across the road from the Mount Pleasant postal depot is the Postal Museum. Also across the road from Mail Rail, it tells the story of the postal service in the UK.

There are a lot of exhibits, going back around 500 years. The first exhibits you come across are the wall boxes on the side of the courtyard.

Post box wall

Post box wall
21 April 2018

The London Ornate Box was a result of a competition. However the designers initially forgot to include a slot through which to post the letters.

London Ornate Box

London Ornate Box
21 April 2018

An Air Mail Pillar box was painted blue and had two plates with details of collection times and charges.

Air Mail Pillar Box

Air Mail Pillar Box
21 April 2018

Air Mail Box information plate

Air Mail Box information plate
21 April 2018

There are a number of postal delivery exhibits, including a Post Bus used in rural areas.

Post Bus at The Postal Museum

Post Bus at The Postal Museum
21 April 2018

Combined with Mail Rail, this is well worth a vist, and is located only a short walk from Farringdon and Kings Cross stations.