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Scotland Soaks Us!

May 17th, 2022

The entire ferry trip over to Scotland, it rained and rained.

What our EU map now looks like:

Scotland, as you know, is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain sharing a 96-mile (154-kilometre) border with England to the southeast and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast and the Irish Sea to the south. It also contains more than 790 islands, principally in the archipelagos of the Hebrides and the Northern Isles. Most of the population, including the capital Edinburgh, is concentrated in the Central Belt—the plain between the Scottish Highlands and the Southern Uplands—in the Scottish Lowlands.

The Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the 9th century and continued to exist until 1707. By inheritance in 1603, James VI of Scotland became king of England and Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms. Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain. The union also created the Parliament of Great Britain, which succeeded both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England. In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain entered into a political union with the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (in 1922, the Irish Free State seceded from the United Kingdom, leading to the latter being officially renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927).

In 1999, a Scottish Parliament was re-established, in the form of a devolved unicameral legislature comprising 129 members, having authority over many areas of domestic policy. 

The flag of Scotland is called Banner of Scotland, also known as St Andrew’s Cross or the Saltire which consists of a white saltire defacing a blue field.

Scotland’s favourite beer is Tennent’s Lager.  

We got off the boat and went about 10 miles to the town of Ballentrae where there is a spot on the beach with five large motorhome parking spots.  There was one there already and we took a spot and spent the night.  In the morning it was sunny and we realized we should have paid!  It was such a torrential downpour last night we didn’t notice the sign!

Next morning it was lovely! But we were being sucked in…..

Doug went for a walk and then we left to head towards Glasgow for a peek around.  First we stopped to get diesel and groceries.

Glasgow is a large modern city with freeways and lots of buildings.  We found a place to park on the street for  a “quid” and wandered through the Necropolis

The Necropolis has been described as a “unique representation of Victorian Glasgow built when Glasgow was the second city of the empire.  It reflects the feeling of confidence and wealth and security of the time”.  IT is a memorial to the merchant patriarchs of the city and contains the remains of almost every eminent Glaswegian of its day. 

On many of the tombstones, often over what looks like an urn, is a “curtain” draped over it.  This represents the “curtain between life and death”. 

We went back over the road to check out the church but it has just closed for lunch!

We returned to Minou and made our way on city streets to the City Chambers building.

And then the crane called  Fennieston??? which is a city landmark.

Last stop enroute out of the city, was the Riverside Museum for its unusual shape and the tall ship docked beside it.   We did not go inside as transportation is not really our cup of tea.

Now we have booked a train ride on the Jacobite ….. for Sunday and the start, Fort Williams is not that far away but we had to decide how to fill in the three days in between.  We looked at the ‘pings’ for points of interest that we’d found and decided we could tour the Isle of Skye before Sunday afternoon.

We made our way northwest towards Loch Lomond and the town of Alexandria; here there is a public swimming pool that offers showers to people like us for £2.50 in a handicapped bathroom – who knew!?

After getting all shiny and clean, we arrived at the Loch; we were quite disappointed by how commercial it was mini putt, a bird of prey zoo, a shopping mall(!) and cruise boats.  We didn’t stay long however the drive up the side of the Loch (lake) was beautiful.

We drove about 100 miles passing mountains, farmland and boggy meadows.

Fran found what looked like a place to spend the night – most of the ones we saw on our apps were just roadside pullouts but this one was down off the road and with a spectacular view.

Fran went for a walk to finish her steps on a nearby trail and came upon more beauty:

It was quite windy and it rained overnight but we were safe and dry inside – happy to have no leaks after all that rain.

It was supposed to rain all day on Thursday but we awoke to party sunny skies and hit the road to try and see what we could before the rain came.

Eilean Donan Castle – on it s own little island

Skye Bridge – the bridge to the Isle of Skye

Eas a’ Bhradain waterfall:

We then stopped in the town of Sligachan to see its famous old bridge.

The Old Sligachan Bridge was estimated to have built between 1810-1818 by engineer Thomas Telford. The rubble bridge consists of three arches, although these are of uneven size. The bridge is single track and has a hump over the central arch, which is characteristic of the time.   It is currently a pedestrian only bridg

And the legend that goes along with this place goes as follows:

The Sligachan Bridge Legend: Scáthach, Scotland’s most fierce female warrior lived in Dunscaith Castle in the south of the island. Scáthach was super tough and could beat any man in battle. Rumours soon began to spread about her greatness and it was only a matter of time before she was challenged by renowned Irish warrior, Cú Chulainn who was half god with the strength of a thousand elephants, the pair was evenly matched and a fierce fight raged for weeks. The two warriors were so strong that their crushing blows caused the whole landscape to change. The earth shook as valleys were created and mountains were formed.

It seemed like the fight would never end and it soon became clear that there was only one way to conclude these proceedings… a fight to the death. Scáthach’s daughter was distraught, seeing no way that her mother could win the fight. She fled and ran to the Sligachan River. Here she emptied herself of tears whilst pleading for the fighting to stop. 

Unbeknownst to her, the water acts as a gateway between our world and the faerie world. Her cries were so passionate that the sound made it through the portal and these magical sprites decided to help her. They commanded that the daughter dip her head below the surface of the water for 7 seconds to discover how she could stop the violence. She did as requested of her and emerged from the river enlightened. 

Knowing that time was of the essence, the daughter sprinted around the island collecting everything from nuts to herbs. Upon returning home, she stewed all that she had gathered into a hearty broth. As the scent of the food rose into the air, the daughter fanned the smoke, knowing the wind would catch it. 

Smelling the delicious food in the distance, the warriors fought on, until their pangs of hunger became too much to bear. It had been weeks since they had eaten and they were famished. The warriors agreed to take a break from fighting for a food break and made their way to Scáthach’s home. 

After being greeted by the daughter, both warriors feasted together. It was this meal that would come to mark the end of the fighting, just as the faeries had said it would. By eating in Scáthach’s home, Cú Chulainn had become a guest and therefore, neither warrior could hurt the other any longer. The battle was over. 

In the continuing sprinkle and fog

we drove to the viewpoint to see “The Storr” rocks:

This viewpoint had a large pay bathroom but free cassette dumping, so we took advantage.

Finally we arrived at Kilt Rock and the Mealt Waterfall where we spent the night in the parking area.  Here we encountered our first bag pipes music complete with a man in a kilt!

We had a super quiet night and both slept well although as we are so far north we found ourselves waking up early as the sun comes up so early, like 5 am and then doesn’t go down until 10pm! We are at about 57 degrees north.

Friday morning we awoke to breaking clouds and some sunny periods but it didn’t last long.  We actually left our campsite about 7 instead of the usual 9ish as we hoped to get ahead of the crowds and more importantly, the rain.

Well best laid plans… began raining shortly after we left enroute to Quiraing Viewpoint: (photo at the top of the post is the Quiraing as well.)

The Quiraing is a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The whole of the Trotternish Ridge escarpment was formed by a great series of landslips; the Quiraing is the only part of the slip still moving – the road at its bas, requires repairs each year.

The name Quiraing comes from Old Norse Kví Rand, which means ‘Round Fold’. Within the fold is The Table, an elevated plateau hidden amongst the pillars. It is said that the fold was used to conceal cattle from Viking raiders.

On this tiny single lane road we had another bumper incident; we backed up at a passing layby and hit the corner of the bumper on a signpost!  We gotta learn to let the cars pull over instead of us.

We enjoyed the viewpoint and returned to the highway to amek our way around the top fo the peninsula to see Duntulm Castle ruins  Unfortunately, the grounds were fenced off so we couldn’t actually wander them but it was a lovely view.

Here we took at look at the bumper and saw that we had broken piece off one corner and cracked the taillight so we drove back to where it happened and found the pieces and Doug was able to fit them all in and put clear tape over the area.   Could have been worse.

Next stop was to see if we could see the Dunvegan Castle without entering the grounds as they charge a bit more than we are prepared to pay to see another castle.  No luck.  Too many trees.

But heading south through the town of Dunvegan, we did see the museum to Giant Angus MacAskill although it wasn’t open.

Angus MacAskill (1825 – 1863) was a Scottish-born Canadian giant. The Guinness Book of World Records in its 1981 edition stated he was the strongest man who ever lived, tallest non-pathological giant in recorded history at 7 feet 9 inches (2.36 m) and had the largest chest measurements of any non-obese man at 80 inches (200 cm).

His father was Norman MacAskill, who was 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall, and his mother was Christina Campbell. He had twelve siblings, several of whom died young, and he was an ordinary-sized baby. After several years in the Hebrides, the family settled in the fishing community of Englishtown, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia around 1831.

Young MacAskill was said to be of normal stature, but in entering his adolescence he began to grow rapidly and by his 20th year had attained 7’ 4” (2.24 m), eventually reaching 7’ 9” (2.36 m) within another year or two. His early adult weight was 510 pounds (230 kg). His shoulders were 44 inches (110 cm) wide, and the palm of his hand 8” (20 cm) wide and 12” (30 cm) long; his wrists were 13.5” (34 cm) in circumference; his ankles measured 18” (46 cm) in circumference; by 1863 he was wearing boots 17.5” (44 cm) long. His feet were probably around 16” long and 8” wide. He had “deep-set blue eyes and a musical, if somewhat hollow voice”; and “a mild and gentle manner.” Despite his size he was well proportioned.

He was known in his home community of St. Ann’s as “Gille Mòr” (translated to “Big Boy”). He was also known to many as the “Cape Breton Giant” or simply “Giant MacAskill.”

When MacAskill was approximately 14 years old he travelled on a fishing schooner to North Sydney and the crew took him along to a dance. An altercation with a dancer led to MacAskill striking his tormentor’s jaw with his fist. The man landed in the middle of the floor and was unconscious for so long the other dancers thought he was dead. When the captain returned to his schooner he found MacAskill on his knees praying that he had not killed the man.

MacAskill was rumored for feats of strength such as lifting a ship’s anchor weighing 2,800 pounds (1,300 kg) to chest height, and an ability to carry barrels weighing over 350 pounds (160 kg) apiece under each arm or reputedly able to lift a hundredweight (50 kg) with two fingers and hold it at arm’s length for ten minutes.

In 1849 he entered show business and went to work for P.T. Barnum’s circus, appearing next to General Tom Thumb. Queen Victoria heard stories about MacAskill’s great strength and invited him to appear before her to give a demonstration at Windsor Castle, after which she proclaimed him to be “the tallest, stoutest and strongest man to ever enter the palace”, and presented him with two gold rings in appreciation.

After a show business career demonstrating his size and strength in Europe and North America, he returned to his home community of Englishtown and purchased a gristmill, a general store and several other properties.

In the summer of 1863 MacAskill undertook a trip to the colonial capital at Halifax, where he had been planning to sell produce and purchase stock for his store that he would need for the winter season from the city’s wholesalers. During the trip, he suddenly became seriously ill and was returned to St. Anns, where his family moved him back to his parents’ home. His original childhood bed was hastily lengthened and put up in their living room to provide for his care. The doctor’s diagnosis was brain fever. After a week’s illness, MacAskill died peacefully in his sleep on August 8, 1863. The Halifax Acadian Recorder of August 15, 1863, reported that “the well-known giant… was by far the tallest man in Nova Scotia, perhaps in British America” and that “his mild and gentle manner endeared him to all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance”. The whole county mourned and he was buried in the Englishtown Cemetery alongside his parents, who were of average size; the size of MacAskill’s burial mound dwarfs those of his mother and father.

Angus next to his father

 The weather had not improved much; off and on, more on than off rain and fog here and there.

The temperatures are okay, rather spring like so not cold but a lot of the times, the wind is quite biting.  We are using our down jackets a lot as they protect from both wind and rain and as it s not too warm and not too hot to wear in general.

Our next stop was way back down south and inland: the Fairy Pools.  We got parked (they charged a small fortune for this privilege: £8 for motorhomes and you cannot stay overnight).  As it was sprinkling we decide to make breakfast before our hike.  It did stop raining but began again shortly after we started what we thought was a three quarters of a mile hike; turned into double that.

We never saw “pools” as we expected but saw lots of small water falls.  We’re sure it would be quite stunning if it was sunny but we’re not sure that every happens around here!

On the return walk it rained even harder and we were both soaked to the sink (except under our coats) and had to completely change upon returning to Minou.  We felt sorry for those in cars and buses who did not have their “homes” with them to get warm and change!

As we’d gotten up early today we decided to make it a short day and found a place to spend the rest of the day and overnight back on the mainland.

We drove to Stormeferry where this is a forestry camp spot where you can stay for a maximum of one night.  No services except one picnic table and some rubbish bins but it had a 4G signal so we were set.  We actually moved to a different spot after parking because we were under big trees that kept dripping  as the rain would not let up and when it did for a bit, it was still noisy.  When a different camper left, we moved over out from under the tree.  We had a quiet evening during which it again cleared up after dinner and was okay by morning by the rain began again shortly after leaving.

Our plan was to drive a scenic route a bit north of here but after driving 20 miles to get to the start, we saw the road signs said no motorhomes/coaches etc due to steep grades and windy roads so sadly we had turn around to be safe.

As it was on and off again rain, we made our way back to Fort Williams hoping to get a spot in a campground to get showers, dump and do some laundry (we had a lot of wet and dirty stuff from yesterday’s hike).  Upon approaching the city, we realized the World Cup mountain bike competition was happening this weekend and we were not sure we’d get in anywhere.  Pickings were slim in this town as it was.  We drove over to Ben Nevis Campground to learn that yes, everywhere in town was full but we could dump and have showers for 10£ if we wanted.  Since we think we can hold off a day for showers and know of a laundry in town we opted to do that.  We had found a parking lot (one of the few) that allowed overnight parking but made our way to the launderette first where we learned we were allowed to park overnight in the lot there and there was a bathroom open until 9pm.  Nice!

It continued to on and off rain today as well and we hear the same for tomorrow which is too bad as we have our steam train ride tomorrow.