Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Cornwall Coast

Okay so I didn't get around to catching up on writing any posts while on the plane home but I will continue on here, even though I'm home now, so that our travel adventure is complete.

When we arrived in Weston-Super-Mare last night it was overcast and bleak but we awoke this morning to beautiful sunshine, ideal sightseeing weather. Weston-Super-Mare is very close to where Cornwall meets Wales at the start of the Bristol Straight.
It was fascinating to see how far the tide went out. Where there had been water here last night, this morning we couldn't see any for miles. We have seen a lot of boats beached on the sand like this in our travels. It seems that every time we've been near tidal water ways the tide has been out.
The Cornish countryside is beautiful with a patchwork of paddocks divided by hedgerows and trimmed with cliffs dropping into the sea. The hedgerows are taller here than in other parts of England so you only get glimpses of the scenery every now and again when your on the crest of a hill. To be truthful I'm a little over the hedgerows.
This is the coast near Tintagel Castle where we stopped for a good look around. 
Tintagel Castle is associated with the birth of the legendary King Artur.

The views from the ruins were stunning no matter which way we looked.
And the the wildflowers were so pretty growing everywhere, amongst the grass and rocky crevices.
We had set off this morning thinking we would get all the way along the north coast of Cornwall and some of the south as well but it's something than cannot be rushed, it is so beautiful so we decided to head for our accommodation at Truro and continue Lands End tomorrow.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Back in the Highlands

LSilly me I forgot to hit publish yesterday so you will have two to read today.
Afternoon finishing our Britannia tour,we hit the road back to the Scottish Highlands. Following a couple of comments on Facebook about some things we had missed seeing at Fort William, we thought we might regret not making the effort to back track the 200km. It doesn't sound like much in Australian terms (a couple of hours) but when travelling in the UK driving is a bit slower 200km was going to take at least 3+ hours and that's without stopping, but we were compelled to stop to take in scenes like these.

The photos don't really do justice to the majesty of these mountains. We have higher mountains in Australia but here in Scotland the roads follow the valley floor so the mountains rise up on either side, almost swallowing you. At one stop we had a piper adding to atmosphere, ahh, there is something about the bagpipes and these mountains. About 4 hours later we arrived at Fort William, which sits at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK's tallest mountain, and is Scotland's major ski resort.
The next morning we got moving early as there was lots to see and do.
First stop Glenfinnan Viaduct also known as "Harry Potter" bridge.
The view in the opposite direction with someone hamming it up. I had to include one of these photos and our kids will get it. The tall skinny thing near the lake is a monument to "Bonnie Prince Charley".
Next stop Neptune's Staircase, a series of 7 locks on Calondian canal. These locks a capable of taken really big boats. This prawn boat was travelling from the sea in the south west to Loch Ness.
Next a cable car ride up Ben Nevis.
This is as close as you get without a big trek.
The view down to Fort William and Loch Linnhe. We enjoyed lunch near the top and back to our lodgings. We were all a little weary so decided to have a rest afternoon.
Following day we said goodbye to mountains and made our way south again to Yorkshire.
Not many photos today apart from a few of Loch Lomond along the way.
Thanks to Jane and Faye whose Facebook comments prompted us to revisited this beautiful part of Scotland it was well worth the 2 days of our travels, most memorable.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Contrasts of Scotland

 Scotland is a country of contrasts, well it was for us today. We had to change our plans for the weekend, we were going to Fort William, where the highest mountain in the Scotland is, but would you believe it, the Mountain Bike World Cup was on there. Accommodation was impossible to find and as it turned out access to the mountain was limited and the weather was crap. 
We left the cloud covered mountains of the west and travelled east to the other side of the country. There were a couple things we had on our "maybe list" that we thought we may as well do. One was visiting a shop/mill in Elgin where they make beautiful cashmere & woollen clothing and blankets. Unfortunately everything was a little expensive (eg $50 for a pair of socks) for me to justify parting with any cash and I didn't think to take any photos.

I mentioned the contrasts of Scotland these two photos above are a good example. The Scots have no problem putting the modern architecture of this bridge within viewing distance of a derelict abbey.
The afternoon activity was going to be a "distillery crawl" but we settled for a guided tour of the best instead. Glenfiddich means deer in the valley.
Brenda was the photographer for the tour (I left my camera in the car, dah). The whiskey is still made the same way it was originally. The stills are exactly the same size and design as they always have been.
It was a very personal tour with just the four of us with this lovely gentleman, a wealth of knowledge. And, of course, when in Rome you have to taste the end product, yes even me (Brenda was dezzie, not that she minded). It wasn't too bad, in fact, it was quite pleasant after the first taste, which cleared the sinuses. With a "couple" of samples bought we hit the road for Inverurie near Aberdeen.
With Brenda driving the boys got moved to the back seat so I was able to take some photos while we drove along. Here you see the contrast to the first photo, beautiful green pasture in the sunshine and how fabulous is that sky?
The Scots don't seem to have a problem dotting their landscape with wind farms, they are everywhere.
Hope you have enjoyed a little bit of Scotland, more tomorrow.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Near Disaster

Okay, so the title of this post might be a little dramatic, and considering what else is happening in the world it certainly is, but in my small little holiday world it nearly was a disaster.
The short story (I could drag it out but won't). In an effort to get a good photo of this waterfall I ventured off the road to get a bit closer and ended up on my toosh with both me and the camera wet and muddy. Not so bad for me but could be disastrous for cameras. I eventually got the camera cleaned up (after an hour) except for one sneaky drop of water under the lens filter (how does that happen?) I couldn't get the filter off, grrrrr, then it fogged up, more grrrr. I was pretty annoyed with myself and was resigned to holiday snapping with iPhone and iPad, not ideal in my world.  
The photo I should've been happy with. The waterfall is bigger than it appears in the first photo, if you notice on the left the blue speck is man, that gives you a better perspective.

While the camera dried out, with help from the car heater(fingers crossed), I made do with substitutes to capture the stunning and varied scenery.

By the afternoon the camera filter had dried but with residual fine dirty specks. Fortunately they don't seem to be affecting the photos.

Happy to have my old friend back in hand we stopped at Dunvegan Castle on the west coast of Skye. Very grand as all the castles are but maybe not as impressive as some. I think the gardens are the main attraction here.
Meandering paths through brimming garden beds.
The season is very late here, given that it's supposed to be summer the garden are only at early spring stage. You can just see that everything in the formal walled garden is just waiting for some warm weather so it can burst into its glory.
The gardeners planting over 1000 marguerite daisies and fuchsias for a what will be a fabulous summer display. 
So for day that started with a bit of a hiccup at a waterfall and it finished with a flourish with natural waterfall in a garden (a gardeners dream).
A good note to finish on.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Lake to Skye

What a fabulous scenery day it was today, breathtaking, beautiful and some how comforting. I think it's because it reminds me of driving through the Snowy Mountains back home, minus the gum trees. I must admit I had been missing the mountains.
We started our day by finishing our circuit of Loch Ness.

As you can see the weather was an improvement on yesterday and the lake had much different look and feel about it. Much better for photographs too. 
We said goodbye to Loch Ness, without seeing Nessie, surprise, surprise, and travelled along the coast between Scotland and the Isle of Skye to be blown away by the scenery.
There are literally hundred of these little waterfalls trickling down the mountains. 
We have learned pretty quickly in Scotland the weather is very fickle and don't get out of the car without putting on a raincoat.
Eileen Donan Castle is a restored castle that sits on a very small island at the junction of three lochs, Alsh, Long and Duich.  
It was only mid afternoon when we arrived on Skye and the sun was out again so time for a little exploring.
Our accommodation overlooked Loch Alsh and the bridge that is the main link with mainland Scotland.    The bridge was built in the 1990s, before that the island was accessed by ferry.
After tea we strolled along the waterfront and the others walking to the top of the bridge. I opted out, it was too cold and windy for me, and I was too tired. Back in our room I promptly fell asleep and left Ross locked out of our room. No amount of knocking was going to wake me so he had to get the receptionist to let him in. She was a bit suspicious about his motives until she opened the door and saw me, flaked out and fully clothed on the bed.
Note to self, don't leave me alone in the room with the key at night.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

In search of Nessie

We had a lovely night in a 300 year old inn at Bankfoot and headed off to explore Scotland and find Nessie (the Loch Ness monster).
First stop for the day was Blair Castle. It is unlike other castles we have visited in that it is very bright an light inside but once again photography wasn't allowed except
for the ballroom. It is fair to say that the family like deer hunting. There were antlers everywhere, not only here in the ballroom but they lined the passages as well. There was a chair and light fittings made from a antlers, taxidermy heads here and there and a whole deer laying in the entrance hall. I know a certain boyfriend who would've been in heaven. There was also a massive gun collection. Blair Castle has its own regiment though we didn't see them.
The castle grounds are a huge parkland planted with so many beautiful trees.
In centre of it is this enormous walled garden which is both productive, lots of fruit trees, and decorative.

Long wide paths go all the way around the garden, great for the daily constitutional. Running a few laps around here everyday would do me.
A lake in the centre with lots of birds making their home here including.....
this lovely lady and her three babies, what a treat. In the previous photo, the white spect on the other side of the lake is her mate out stretching his legs, saying hello to Ross.
Heading further north we were greeted by snow on the mountains. There aren't a lot of places to stop and take photos (though Scotland is better than England) so sometimes you have to share the view with some cheeky bikers who took great delight in being part of my photo.
When we got to Loch Ness the weather wasn't great, drizzling and really cold, but we made the most of it with a drive along the less travelled and narrower road on the eastern side. 
At Fort Augustus, which at the bottom of the Loch Ness, not something you see everyday. It is one of the lake cruise boats holding up traffic as it passes through town.
We travelled half way along the other side of the lake (no sight of Nessie) to our castle accommodation at Dingwell.