Saturday, 10 September 2011

Saturday 10th September

I cant help but to keep going over last evenings events at Cairngorm.
Was it fate or coincidence that I booked that particular concert.
Was it fate or coincidence that I talked to Mhairi Hall that evening.
Was it fate or coincidence that she knew Michael O’Soulibain
Was it fate or coincidence I had just £10 left to buy her CD
Welcome to the Twilight Zone . . . . . . .

I am sure the ‘hotel’ I stayed in last night was used to create Faulty Towers. The Ossian was built in 1880, as the Lairds hunting lodge, but the decor, plumbing and staff are all still the original!
Give me a B&B any day . . . Is it just me, but when I am travelling I turn into a ‘Hotel Inspector’ - its getting compulsive. I’m not going to bore you with my list of complaints - you can read them on if you really want to.

I was heading to Skye, and my expectations were high. I decided to take the longer route, via Inverness, so I could drive the Loch Ness Trail, which hugs the north side of the Loch. The cigar shape Loch is 23 miles long and is of course famous the world over. Although spectacular in its own right, because it is ‘long’ and narrow, compared to other Lochs, I did not find it so interesting. I did however stop at the most famous landmark on the Loch, Urquhart Castle. Largely destroyed in 1692, there is not a lot left to see, but the views from the one remaining tower are popular with tourists. It was here I encountered the largest number of tourists I had seen all week; mostly from abroad.
Moving on, I drove a further 2 hours to reach Skye. Before the bridge there is another notable castle, Eilean Donan castle. This castle was also mostly destroyed, but was restored in the early 20th century, and you will recognise it from a number of films. (see my pics).

From hereon in the weather worsened again, but the remainder of my journey to Portree was made more enjoyable by the scenery - and what scenery! I know I have gone on about how beautiful and varied the Highlands are, but the terrain I travelled today was different. In part, it reminded me of Dartmoor - rugged grasslands with streams and cairns. But now add to that picture tall ranges of hills all around you, and for as far as the eye can see. Not hills with neat peaks, but irregular shapes with veins of waterfalls cascading into Lochs. Some were lush green, others covered with the purple heather, and some with sides full of pine tress, the highest ones continually covered in mist or clouds. Somehow I find that more interesting from a photographic point of view, apposed to a neat range of hills and blue sky, which is less dramatic.

Portree is a lovely, very busy town, and is remarkably small to be called the ‘capital of Skye’.
My B&B is on the front so I have a wonderful view of the harbour and its colourfully painted terrace cottages.

My eating habits change when I travel, and not always for the better. The ‘full house’ breakfast keeps me going most of the day, and I will try to have a light evening meal. (not just a liquid one).
However, saw signs on the road for Scottish Beef and local Venison, which prompted me to look for a small restaurant offering good home made meals. Now I am not reserved when dining out, price wise, but the prices in Portree seemed even to me to be on the high side. If I was going to pay £40, for 2 courses, I would rather pay £80 and share the experience, if that makes sense. So I ate at a semi-chain-run style hotel brassiere, which was adequate, but I kept thinking of that elusive Venison steak.
And finally the evenings entertainment. Excellent of course. First another youth band playing jigs and reels, followed by the star group (in Gaelic circles) The Outside Tack. Very professional they were too, and it seems I am seeing them again on Monday evening in Inverness - I hope they change the jokes.

As I sit here, on my bed, with a wee Dram in one hand, and a wee mouse in the other, I realise I still have five more days of travelling ahead of me, and five more reports to write - I hope you are enjoying reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.

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