Postcards from Scotland – 1

Early start. Sun is already up, let the dogs out, strong coffee. One quick glance for last minute forgotten items. Bags in the car. Adress in the sat-nav. Off we go.

Ahead of us 578 miles, a long drive that would bring us closer to Iceland than our own home. Strange thought. And exciting. Exhilarating to feel free again, after months of lockdown and uncertainties, weeks of food shopping outing only or exercising once a day.

I took the first shift. Straight North. Hours of motorways, passing caravans and run-down service stations. Quick lunch in a cafe near Loch Lomond. Finally mountains, pink rhododendrons line our way in salute. More lakes, bends on the road and fields of sheep.

And then the Highlands.

Wide open spaces.

Get out of the car and breath.

… Glenns, straths and tall peaks…

We even race a steam train on the line made famous by the Harry Potter movies and the Hogwarth Express! The West Highland line was voted the best in the world in 2009 by Wonderlust magazine, ahead of both the Trans Siberian and the Cuzco to Macchu Picchu in Peru.

West Highland Railway

By mistake we arrived in Mallaig at the ferry port… when we should have driven to the Skye Bridge… to retrace our steps would have taken us another 3 or 4 hours on top of the 9 we had already done. No thank you. We bought a ticket and sat on the standby queue with our fingers crossed.

Had a stroll along the harbour that is the main commercial fishing port on the West Coast of Scotland, and during the 1960s was the busiest herring port in Europe. Mallaig prided itself at that time on its famous traditionally smoked kippers, but today only one traditional smokehouse remains, Jaffy’s and Sons.

We were lucky. Very lucky.

The crossing is short, about 40 minutes. On a clear day it might have been fabulous.

We docked in Armadale, a small town on the Southern part of Skye and two hours later than planned we arrived at the jetty where Gus was ready to transport us to the tiny Isle of Ornsay, our home for the next week.

Eileen Sionnach, a delightful cottage perched on a small island.

The sea out of every window.

A wood stove and tweed covered sofas.

The voice of the wind down the chimney.

Bliss.

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