Scotland & The Outer Hebrides Road Trip. July 2017



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Video of the Hebrides Bit



 


May 2015

   We're sailing through "The Minch" off the west coast of Scotland, which separates the Isle of Skye from the Outer Hebrides, and heading straight into a 2 day Atlantic storm as we make our way to Alesund in Norway on the good ship, "Black Watch".  Miss would spend the next 48 hours with her head down the toilet, but It was the mystic Hebridean coastline we were seeing right now as we stood on deck watching it all glide past which prompted me to remark that we should go back north of the border for a road trip sometime..... but next time include the Outer Hebrides into it.  Miss agrees. 

  We hadn't done a run to the land of tartan together for a few years so we were both feeling the need to return there sometime soon. Over the next 18 months or so the idea was put on the backburner but we kept returning to it periodically - it became one of those "someday" ideas as other things came up which seemed to be more exciting, but still it never went far away.  It doesn't matter where in the world we go, Scotland always calls us back, there's nowhere else quite like it.


December 2016

    Fast forward to Dec 2016 and our thoughts had turned to what adventures were were going to get up to during the new year. We'd thrown about a few ideas for summer that were centred around a run down through Italy with a return via Montenegro and Croatia, but by the time late 2016 arrived Brexit had also arrived with it, and as things stood it looked like the UK was going to drop quicker than an adolescent's nadgers, signs were also beginning to emerge that the politicians were going to make a monumental cock up of the whole thing. So, maybe it wasn't a good time to go visiting Europe while all these nadgers and cock ups were in evidence, and we returned to the possibility of the run to Scotland and the Hebrides. It would be nice to do a road trip that didn't involve borders and passports for a change anyway, so plans are soon well underway and by April 2017 the accommodation and all the ferries are booked for a July trip north ....To infinity and beyond!  

 


July 2017

     Rather than head straight for the ferry and the Islands, we decide that a revisit to a few mainland places first would be good, so as our route takes shape it becomes:  Balmaha on Loch Lomond's lovely east side, followed by a run north to Grantown-on-Spey in the Cairngorms for a couple of nights. 

From here we go west over to gorgeuos Wester Ross and spend a night at a stormy & wet Poolewe, then the following day head south via Applecross to Skye with two nights at the nice little harbour town of Portree.

The early morning CalMac ferry from Uig takes us over The Minch to Tarbert on the Island of Harris - a two hour crossing on flat calm water. We then drive north on the Isle of Lewis to spend 3 nights in a rented house in Stornoway, which is an ideal base for exploring the island.  

When we leave there, a day's drive south via more ferries to Berneray / The Uists and Eriksay eventually brings us to the tiny southern islands of Barra and Vatersay. Here we stay in a B&B in the little town (village) of Castlebay for 3 nights before heading back to the mainland on the 5 hour ferry crossing to Oban - on not so flat calm water.    

 

Route map thingy 




 

The Scottish Mainland Bit


We arrive at Balmaha, Loch Lomond late afternoon under overcast skies - 
a feature of the weather which was to accompany us for most of the trip

 


A short walk from our hotel,"The Oak Tree Inn" brings us to the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. 
This side of the Loch is less tourist trod than the coach trip infested western side, and it's all the better for it. 



 


Day 2 - Somewhere north of Aberfoyle in the Trossachs.



Driving through the Cairngorms is always a pleasure no matter what the weather.
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Among my favourite turn-offs in Scotland (apart from Nichola Sturgeon) is from the B976 onto the A930, 
one of the many old military roads here. This road cuts right through the Cairngorm National Park and 
it's up there with the best driving roads in the UK

 


Stunning Cairngorm roads,  random late afternoon photo stop. 

 


Sleepy Grantown-on-Spey from the guest house window.

 





Day3 - We leave Grantown under gloomy grey skies and by the time we reach 
Wester Ross it's wet as well - and a howling gale has sprung up, just to complete our enjoyment  ............

 


....... so after reaching the hotel by early afternoon we do battle with the wind and the rain and take a walk back up the road to a 
little cafe we'd spotted on the way into Poolewe village. Coffee and cake, can't beat it for cheering you up on a stormy day......

 

 
..........Then back to the hotel (the only one in Poolewe) which had a good bar where they served a decent pint of Guinness.
Actually, I lied about the coffee & cake,  it was the Guinness that cheered us up . That's Loch Ewe through the window




Day 4 - A slightly better day in prospect weatherwise as we leave Poolewe and drive south through beautiful 
Wester Ross and turn off onto the incredible Applecross road, another of Scotland's little gems

 

 

 

 



In the words of Clarkson: "Look at that road, just look at it"

 


Road to Applecross with the Island of Raasay in the background and the Cuillin Hills on Skye beyond that.

 



Highlan' Coo Roadblock

 


Kodak moment on the Applecross Pass.

 


Eilean Donan, probably the most photographed place in Scotland, rude not to pay a visit though seeing as we're so close. 
I've got loads of photos of this but never managed to get a decent one of it yet. 

 


 

The Skye Bit


Days 5 & 6 - Skye

 


Portree Harbour - looking for food and Guinness

 


The Quiraing looking south

 


The Quiraing looking north towards the sea

 


Typically Skye

 

 


Neist Point, Skye. This was one of the landmarks we passed on the "Black Watch" ship back in 2015. 
 It was the inspiration for us wanting to come back and do another road trip here. 

 


Neist Point taken from the ship in 2015 as we sailed past the Isle of Skye, you can see the appeal? 

 

Next stop, The Isle of Harris .......... Page 2

 

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