A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Day 21

Isle of Skye to Huntly

large_SAM_0997.jpgWe woke to overcast but dry conditions. We left reasonably early and retraced our steps past all that beautiful scenery almost all the way back to Fort William. We then branched off for Loch Ness and Inverness. We stopped on the side of the road and took a few early snaps of Loch Ness. We did so in the expectation that we would get more shots later on as the road follows the lake shore for about 20 miles or so.
Our plans changed just up the road where we encountered a solid wall of traffic. We were stopped for 10 minutes or so then crawled forward a short distance before again stopping for a long time. When we eventually started moving we encountered emergency services and an incapacitated bus off to the side of the road. We don’t know what happened but some passengers were sitting and lying on the side of the road behind the bus.
We had several kilometres of banked up traffic behind us and decided not to stop and get stuck trying to get back on the road. We drove into Inverness and had lunch at the Eastgate shopping mall. Darlene did a little shopping after lunch and then we headed off towards Huntly.
We arrived around 3.30 pm and checked in. The hotel was built in the 18th century and an open fire greeted us in the foyer. The hotel was not going to be full tonight and we were offered a suite on the first floor but turned it down and stayed with the room we booked on the ground floor. We are a little out of town here and the town is small so we stayed here and ate in. Over dinner we met the owner, a retired ship's captain who has travelled all over the world and lived in many different countries. He made us feel very welcome.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 08:41 Comments (0)

Day 22

Huntly to Edinburgh

large_SAM_1006.jpgAfter a pleasant stay at the Castle Hotel we moved on towards Edinburgh. It was cool and overcast but dry as we left. The forecast for Edinburgh was cold, wet and windy. Sure enough, within an hour of hitting the road we reached the rain band.
The owner of the Castle Hotel had a chat with us last night at dinner last night. Upon hearing we were heading for Edinburgh, he recommended we visit the Glamis Castle. He rated it as the finest castle in Scotland. That was sufficient recommendation for us so we headed straight there. We arrived shortly before midday and joined the midday tour. No photography was permitted inside but we have some snaps from outside.
After the tour we had lunch in the castle’s kitchen and then visited the gift shop before continuing on to Edinburgh. Our Sat Nav device got us to the street but not to the right building. A quick phone call and we found where we needed to be. By this time the temperature had dipped to 8 degrees, the wind was blowing a gale and it was drizzling sideways, or so it appeared.
Our apartment is over the road from and overlooks the cold and forbidding shoreline. We had a few hassles connecting to the internet but sorted it at the third attempt. We visited the local supermarket and bought Indian to cook in tonight. We have a bottle of red wine and will have a quiet one inside where it is nice and warm.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 11:36 Comments (0)

Day 23

Edinburgh

large_SAM_1067.jpgThis morning we had breakfast in our apartment and then headed to the Ocean Terminal shopping centre. Darlene toured the shops and Ian toured the Royal yacht Britannia that is moored alongside the terminal. Ian had a coffee and a cheese scone on-board in the royal cafeteria. Darlene had a scone and a tea in Debenhams café (similar to David Jones). We met up as pre-arranged and left around midday and headed into the City Centre. We were lucky to find a parking space right on the Golden Mile. We visited a number of shops in the area and had lunch in a café named the Rabbie Burns. We shopped some more and then drove around to see more of Edinburgh. It was still wet & windy and around eleven degrees. We returned to our apartment later in the afternoon after stopping at ASDA supermarket for an eat-in dinner, a bottle of wine and a DVD movie.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 10:57 Comments (0)

Day 24

Edinburgh to York

large_SAM_1091.jpgWe woke to more of the same overcast cool weather. It was not raining initially but it started before long. We almost had a mishap before we got out of our street. A black Tiguan pulled out in front of us requiring me to brake sharply. Bloody VW drivers! After the compulsory change of underwear we used the Sat Nav to get us out of town and heading the right way. Then we followed the route we mapped out last night. Somewhere along the way we missed a turn off. We were going to stay on the A68 and bypass the big cities but we found ourselves on the A696 heading straight for Manchester. Oh well. Our unplanned detour took us through a small village called Otterburn. We didn’t need to back track as we would get on the M1/A1 a bit earlier and could then continue as planned. We found a Services turn off the M1 and had some lunch. By this time the rain had cleared (finally). After lunch the weather improved and we had a largely sunny afternoon.
We headed into the centre of York and visited the inner walled part of the city. We had a map and our brilliant navigator found a parking area, but it wasn’t the one we intended to go to. D’oh. We walked through the gardens and over to the amazing York Minster Cathedral. We paid the 9 pounds admission and wandered around inside. We have a few photos and a few videos. The video allows panning to better show the enormity of it. I would estimate that the inner roof reaches around the same heights as a 15 storey building. After the Cathedral we walked the narrow streets between the old shops and buildings. It was truly delightful. We then walked a section of the old wall surrounding the inner city. Darlene managed the steps to get up and down and we walked along two sections of the wall as we headed back to the car.
We waited 15 minutes at reception to get them to arrange a taxi and another 10 for it to arrive and then we returned to the old part of the city for dinner in an Italian restaurant. Good Pasta. We found that all except the eateries were closed after dinner so we found a taxi rank and returned to our hotel.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 01:06 Comments (0)

Day 25

York to London

We checked out around 8.45 am and headed out of town for the A64. We founds a Services centre just up the road and had breakfast and used the Wi Fi to check email und upload the text for the blog for yesterday.
We headed off around 9.15 am. We followed the A64 to the A1/M1 and headed south for London. We did not stop till we arrived at Bronwyn’s flat at around 12.45 pm. We encountered patches of heavy traffic but nothing that stopped us from travelling at the speed limit for very long. Some people treat the motorways as an autobahn. We used cruise control and sat on the speed limit of 70 miles (112 kilometres) per hour. People were passing us at speeds we estimated around 120 miles per hour.
We unloaded the car around the corner in the side street. No parking is permitted outside the flat. Then Ian drove it back to the car rental company, filling it up on the way. We were fortunate enough to return it with no damage. We travelled 3167 miles (5095 kilometres) on our little drive around UK & Ireland. We drove for 20 days and saw some wonderful countryside and attractions. Clearly we did not see all there was to see but that would take months if not years. We are content with what we achieved and saw in the time we had.
Ian walked back and bought some groceries on the way. It was a pleasant walk in partly overcast partly sunny conditions with a light breeze and around 18 degrees.
Bronwyn emailed us travel instructions and a link to the Ivy restaurant web site. Our mission was to meet her there for dinner. Our trip into town consisted of a 220 bus to Hammersmith and then the Piccadilly line tube to Leicester Square station. Whilst we had no problem finding the place, the train ride was an experience in itself being peak hour. There were just us and a few thousand of our closest friends. We let the first train go because it was too full. We got on the next one, just a few minutes later. No complaints about the frequency of the service. Darlene got a seat but it became more and more crowded. We pulled into one station about half way in and the train was already full by Melbourne standards. The platform was lined with people 5 and 6 deep waiting to get on. And somehow a good proportion of them did. We were pleased to get off it a few stops later.
We had a pleasant meal in this rather upmarket restaurant. Bronwyn booked the table 4 months ago and got the last one for the Monday evening. The restaurant was fully booked. It was fairly expensive but it was also a special occasion, her 27th birthday.
We caught a less congested tube ride and bus back to Bronwyn’s flat where Bronwyn opened her presents.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 01:03 Comments (0)

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