Hairy coos and standing stones

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
1
7
23
Trip End Dec 16, 2009


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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Monday, August 31, 2009

Hello! I'm back in a city with internet connection after a tour of the Scottish Highlands. We went to some really remote places (fab pics of rugged Scottish countryside and coast that I cant wait to post when I get back to my laptop eventually) so not a lot of internet connectivity. Often not a lot of phone connectivity either but that was kind of nice. You really felt you were out in the wild sometimes. It was a six day tour on a mini bus with a group of 13 people plus our guide. The group was really good, I was lucky with that. Plus i travelled with Jes, so it was nice travelling with a friend for a while. Lots of Aussies on the tour (5 out of the 13) but a nice mix of personalities and some people from Germany, Czech Republic and South Africa. Our guide was Scottish and heavily into mountain climbing, so some of the walks we did were maybe a bit adventurous for me but worth it for the views we got. On most of the walks we didnt see any other people, especially no tourists, which was a nice change.

Anyway, in 6 days we packed in a massive amount of stuff so to avoid a list type scenario I've decided to give you my five highlights. Plus probably some more ramble at the end when I remember five more things that were fantastic!

1. The accomodation was really good - not typical youth hostels. The first night we had this great cabin right on a massive loch. Waking up to that view was awesome! The scond night we were high up on the hills on the Ilse of Skye and that view was pretty awesome too. The night we stayed there we could see the Northern Lights. They werent that spectaular because we werent quite far north enough but still it was a pretty glow in the sky. Coolest accommodation was on the Isle of Harris, which is an island in the far north west of Scotland, so about as far away from Australia as you could get! There was a village of old 'Blackhouses', which are traditional drystone houses with thatched rooves. They are built partly into the ground and the traditional ones had no chimneys. This meant that when you lit a fire inside the walls eventually turned black from the soot and smoke, hence the name. Ours was traditional on the outside but had been converted with a modern kitchen, bathrooms and fireplace inside. We stayed there two nights and it was so much fun!

2. Ok that last one was a long one but this is an easy highlight to explain - wild dolphines! We went out on a fishing boat on a sea loch and saw a pair of dolphins. It's apparently rare for them to come in so far inland. They stayed and played around the boat for about half and hour and we all just stood there mesmorised. I was so so excited by that. Its the closest Ive ever been to a dolphin in the wild. On wildlife - I also saw a red squirrel, which are the rare ones.

3. Scottish beaches. I was not sure about this, but they actually do have really beautiful beaches with proper white sand. The beaches reminded me a lot of Wilson's Prom. The becahes are probably even more untouched than Wilson's (well the ones we went to anyway). It was absolutely freezing and often raining though, which did reduce their appeal a bit.

4. Standing stones at Callandish and Clava. Saw two different types of standing stone circles. Unlike Stonehenge you're actually allowed to got right up to the stones and touch them. Callandish also had a very nice tourist shop and one of the best hot chocolates ever (the fact that it was approx 8 degrees and pouring rain may have something to do with that). Clava's stones were in this beautiful grove of elm trees, planted there by a previous owner of the land in the romantic period, beliving the stones were to do with Druids. The stones at Clava are something ridiculous like three to four thousand years old! It was a very atomspheric place, very tranquil.

5. Hermitage walk. This was a beautiful walk we did through a bit of forst which was given to a Duke? I think as a pleasure garden/forest. Kinky! Was a beautiful old forest with a huge stream running through it and a series of little buildings and riuns, even a cave. There were blueberries growing there which we ate as we walked. Plus I saw wild salmon jumping up the river. They have to go upstream to spawn, a very tricky task!

Ok you're probably all Scotland-ed out. I'm in London now at a very well set up hostel (thanks for the recommendation Lot!). This arvo Im flying out to Switzerland then on to Northern Italy.

xox Hannah

PS - just added pics from Scotland to this entry. Enjoy!
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Comments

Tiff on

Ahhhh... Hannah, I finally made it back to your blog and now my heart is absolutely aching. I did a wild in scotland tour when I was over there, and it was the best week of my life. I completely fell in love with the county, whether it was fairy glen on the isle of sky, the amazing lochs, the spine tingling beauty and tragedy of glen coe, the amazing little countryside homes, covered in snow or the ruined and standing castles so seeped in history that I felt I could feel the world from which they came. or of course the hot guide with his great scottich accent (I think of the 6/7 girls on our trip...5/6 were in love with him by the end of it...)

I need to go back there... NOW!

p.s I could never be Scotland-ed out...

love xoxox

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