Friday, 17 June 2016

Our Scottish Tour - Part 6

Scotland Day 21
Tuesday 14th June 2016

This morning found us parked up on Glen Nevis Campsite which will be our home for the next few days. The morning was warm and sunny, so it didn't take us long to be ready to go out on our planned walk along the Glen to the lower and upper waterfalls of the River Nevis.  However, the start of the walk was about two and a half miles from the campsite, but we couldn't take T4rdis2 because of weight restrictions on the road. Therefore, it was Shank's Pony all the way, which made our walk about 12 miles, and initially we had to walk on the road, but the stunning scenery, much of which was sculpted by glaciers made for many interesting views all the way.

After about 3 miles we arrived at the Lower Falls, which were very picturesque, with small pools and many separate water flows dropping several metres, and the smooth sculpting of the rocks gave you an idea of how it would maybe look when full spate.  From here we continued along the river side path from were we had views of Polldubh crags where we could see several people kitted out in climbing gear scrambling up the almost sheer face.

Our journey continued along another short road section and then we came to what was to be the highlight of our walk - a very steep sided gorge where the rocky rough path clings to one side and far below the churning waters of the river rush through deep pools and over huge rocks that have obviously fallen from high above.  As we entered we spotted this sign which seemed a bit ominous, but we weren't going to be deterred at this stage!

After about a mile and a half the path opened up into a meadow, and the huge Steall Falls presented themselves directly in front of us.  The fall is about 350 metres high, but to get to it's base you need to cross the river, and the only way to do this is via a  wire rope bridge that remains in place from an old settlement.   I did try to persuade John to climb up and pose for a photo, but he declined, and after my fall the other day, he wouldn't let me do it either!

However, not going across didn't detract from our pleasure or view, we had the pleasure of sitting directly opposite while we ate our lunch and sipped our coffee.

Then all to soon it was time to start our return journey back the way we had come, but by changing direction new vistas kept opening up before us, so our trek continued to maintain it's high level of interest.  However, we did wonder, if on the way back, we could miss some of the road section out, and instead walk by the river.  Unfortunately, the track was so rough and indistinct it looked hardly passable so it was going to have to be back the way we had come, but before we set off again a break seemed like a good idea.  Therefore, we found a  comfy rock and unpacked a snack, only to quickly change out minds when the midges descended in great numbers!  So then plan B emerged, and we thought we would buy an ice cream from the van in the car park - but when we saw the unusual black wriggling sprinkles on other peoples cones we soon changed our minds!

Maybe plan C was better - a nice cool beer when we got back to the midge free confines of T4rdis2!

Scotland Day 22
Wednesday 15th June 2016

Rain stopped play today - but we can't really complain because this is only the 2nd time in 22 days that the weather has put us off going out!  The rain had started some time during the night, and when our alarm went off at 8am it was banging on T4rdis2's roof - so we snuggled down and had an extra half an hour!  Then we had a slow get up and a full English (whoops Scottish but with black pudding instead of haggis), before we even considered venturing out.

But we didn't want to let the whole day pass us by, so in the early afternoon, when the rain has slowed to a fine drizzle, we donned out walking gear and set of up the West Highland Way to find 'Dun Deardail'  which is a 7th century vitrified fort ruin that is set high on a lofty knoll and provides 360 degree views of the glen and surrounding lands.  To start with our walk was mostly uphill and along a track that led through deep dark pine forests, and it would be here, that in the Forts hey day, that bears, wolves and wild boar would have roamed.

To find the fort we needed to leave the West Highland Way and follow a path that heaved up very steeply, and then became steeper still and required us to climb a narrow little staircase that is set into the hillside. Then, when we reached the top - there really was nothing left of the fort except an outline around a crater like basin where the vitrified walls have grassed over with time.

However, we had done the work of getting there so we were determined to enjoy our little outing and explore what was left to the full.  So with this in mind, we circumnavigated the walls - a jaunt that at times was quite challenging, because by now the winds had picked up and they were trying to hurl us off of our lofty place, and  along with that, my hair was trying to blindfold me, and there were lots of stones  scattered about forming trip traps thus making our little trek slightly hazardous!  However, we got home safe and sound and we were very glad we'd been out and blown the cob-webs away.  And we only just got back in time before the rain started again - oh well, fingers crossed for tomorrow!

Scotland Day 23 and 24
Thursday and Friday 16th and 17th June 2016

Thursday nights home!
On Thursday we had planned to go cycling, but sadly I still wasn't feeling 100% since my little trip a few days ago (painful ribs) - so we changed our plan towards having a more restful day, and moved further South instead. And really, there isn't much more to say about it, we had a pleasant walk along the banks of Loch Linnhe where we found some lovely cycling tracks, and promised ourselves we'll return to them sometime in the near future!  And then it was on to the other side of Oban where we found a convenient (free) parking spot for the night with views over Loch Feochan.

On Friday we moved further south still, initially following the coast road, but we hadn't gone far when we stopped of at Kilmartin Glen to see  The Slockavullin Standing Stones and the 3500 year old cairns.  From a distance the stones really don't look much, but apparently they line up at the midwinter sunrise and the autumn and spring equinox sunset!   Next came a really pretty meadow with 2 stone circles - again thought to be connected with rituals connected to  the passing seasons and the movement of the sun and moon riding through the heavens. And finally we visited a Neolithic chamber tomb that was reused and rebuilt at least twice by ancient people.

Now, in most of the photos I took a strange figure kept appearing in the distance.  At first I thought it was a little pixie or a gremlin - but when I looked closely I recognised him!

The information boards invited you to step between two portal stones to explore a once-sacred place - but I thought the ghosties might get me so I didn't bother - it was a bit of a creepy place really, especially as we were disturbing the resting place of very ancient beings - but John emerged safe and sound!

Once back in T4rdis2 we had our regulation cuppa, and then set off once again following the main road, first around  Lochgilphead, then  Loch Fyne and eventually on to Loch Lomond  and Port Glasgow, and by that time we were on the lookout for our nights stopover.  At that stage we weren't sure if we would find another 'wild-camp' spot, or if we would have to nip into a proper campsite - but then Lunderston Bay presented itself with it's huge lay-by parking area just above the beach.  Apparently, in times gone by, this area would become a tent city in the summer and people would stay to enjoy all that the bay had to offer - so why should we break with tradition!

And it's very conveniently situated for tomorrow's event!  We're meeting John's little sister Cath and her husband George who are nipping over from their home on Arran to spend the day with us.  We're not sure what we're going to do yet but that will be in the next story.