Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Scotland 2004

As some of you will know I am getting married on July 10th so life is taken up by mountains of wedding tasks at the moment instead of actual mountains! I've not had time to do any blogging of late but I did find this old trip report from one of my first proper trips to Scotland with two of my best friends Nikki and Woody from 2004. You could say it was a first ever blog entry for me in a way. Hope you enjoy it, obviously it was written several years ago so its not well written but I'm sure you'll enjoy the trip, it was one of my favourite ever holidays and extremely funny...

Friday, we set off to Scotland and got to Glasgow in the land speed record of 2 hours 20 minutes. Glasgow was the miserable dump it usually is. We stopped at Loch Lomond on the way up to the highlands for lunch where Woody was told his soup of the day would be Wild Game and the look on his face was classic! We got to Glen Coe late evening, the area had a lot of rain fall before we arrived and the water was pouring of the mountains and we managed to see a road side waterfall in full flow. We got to the Red Squirrel camp site in Glen Coe and set up camp, then went down to the Clachaig Inn for a beer or two, Nikki and Woody had the local tipple, 7% Beast of Skye. We then got back to the camp site and played in the raging torrent of a river then went bed and laughed at how pathetically small Woody's airbed was.

Woody & Nicki by waterfall on A82 in Glencoe

Saturday, we got up in the morning to find that Nikki's marshmallow teacakes had been nibbled at by a mouse, the furry friend was then named by Woody as "Nathaniel". Nathaniel was to become a big part of our holiday. He left his droppings for us in our food boxes and on top of our clothes bags. After bacon butties in front of the mountains that surrounded our tent, we went for a drive down the gorgeous Glen Etive. We saw some dodgy looking smugglers who had vans and looked like they were waiting for a delivery to come down the sea loch at the end of the glen and Woody accused them of being Pirates. Then on the way back out of the Glen a deer walk out of the forest about twenty metres in front of us, looked at us then scarpered. We also went for a small forest stroll through thick dense forest and saw some fantastic cartoon like mushrooms. On our way back to the camp site we visited the Glen Coe visitor centre where Woody decided it would be funny in the toilets to splash water all over my lower regions to make it look like I'd p*ssed myself! We set off in the afternoon on our mission to bag our first munro (mountain over 3000ft above sea level). We chose to climb one of Scotland's most appealing mountains, the Beauchelle Etive Mor, which stands proud next to the main A82 road and is a hell of a view. We saw the track leading down towards the bottom of our planned walk and tried to park the car, I saw a huge rock in the ground and thought the car would go over it, which it did, however we then became stuck on it! We tried everything to get the car off the rock with no success and feared that any damage to the engine would mean the holiday could be over after one day. Luckily three fellow walkers came to our rescue and between the five of us we managed to bounce the car to safety. The great escape it certainly was. So eventually we set off up the gully of Coire Na Tulaich, which we underestimated as it was a really hard scramble. Eventually after some pretty scary moments and Nikki thinking her life may be over a few times, we got to the summit. A great achievement even for Baz`and Woody but especially for Nikki who had never climbed a mountain before so to climb this giant was a true achievement, although when we got to the top she was really ratty as her lighter no longer worked! We had gone up later than expected so had to leave the cloudy summit quickly. We got to the top of the gully we had scaled already and Woody decided it was time for us all to go Scree Sliding down it which was great fun! We got to the bottom of the walk in pitch black. After our hard efforts we went to Fort William and rewarded ourselves at my favourite chinese restaurant, the highland star chinese.

Woody, Nicki & Myself on Buachaille Etive Mor summit cairn

Sunday, Nikki gets up and makes Woody his first ever Bean and Sausage casserole. We decided to go to the Sea Life Sanctuary in Oban as the weather hadn't quite picked up yet. On the way we stopped by at Castle Stalker where we also ate wild berry's along the old rail line and on the beach Nikki and Woody decided it would be fun to throw stones at Baz from a distance while he took pictures of the impressive old castle. The Sea Life Sanctuary was great watching the feeding of the otters and the seals. We then did a wooden playground challenge which involved us not touching the ground at all and Baz was winning until his premature celebrations at the final hurdle caused him to fall on his arse right at the end and the giant seals outside were a good laugh too. We visited Oban itself and went to see the McCaigs Tower that stands above the town. Woody was patronised by a 5 year old. When we got back to the camp site we decided to have a barbecue and fire on the river bank. The fire was the usual Baz and Woody disaster but eventually got going and the peat bricks we'd bought were great. The barbecue was tasty and then a clear up was needed so Baz took everything back, at which point Nikki shouted at him "Make sure you put all the food away". After sitting out for a while Baz decided to go find the torch in the tent, however Nathaniel had other ideas, Baz had stupidly left the plate of cheese in the tent and Nathaniel had smelt it and was happily munching away on it until Baz disturbed him, Nathaniel angry at Baz for disturbing his cheese supper decides to charge at Baz in the tent to which Baz screamed like a little girl "Woody help me!". Woody and Nikki came to rescue Baz from the terrifying experience of meeting a tiny mouse! Baz was told off for leaving the cheese out and in his defense said that "Only cartoon mice eat cheese". As the battery powered torch was getting dim we decided to get the gas lamp out of the car boot which hadn't been used for ages, after turning up the gas it wouldn't light straight away but eventually blew up in Woody's hand as Baz just stared motionless while a disturbed Woody looked on in horror as a ball of flame was dangling from the end of his arm. We all calmed down eventually and sat by the river again, the sky cleared and Baz told Nikki and Woody to look up and they would see a shooting star, then 30 seconds later a shooting star flew across the sky to there delight as it was there first, and was the first of many we saw that night. At the end of the night two loud scouse lads turned up and scared the living daylights out of us as they crept up on us in the dark.

Castle Stalker in Loch Laich

Monday, the plan for Monday was simple "Lets Do It". We had to climb Ben Nevis while we were up there. Baz and Woody were excited and nervous and Nikki was just nervous. We started off from only 30 metres above sea level to tackle the long ascent of 1343 metres, a scary thought. It was very hard going at some points as it seemed to go on forever along the zig zag path, the views across to the west were something else, the weather was just right for the views on the way up but the summit was covered in cloud. We reached the summit with a massive sense of achievement. Two other lads who had done the climb decided to get naked on the summit cairn. After celebratory lunch in a shelter on the summit we descended the mountain and took a much steeper short cut which again involved a little scree scrambling. We then had a pint at the bottom then went into Fort William for a pub dinner and played guess the Westlife song!

Nicki, Myself and Woody at Ben Nevis summit trig pillar

Tuesday, packed up camp in good time, the car was over loaded and Nikki had to endure yet another journey squashed in the back and being attacked by Woody's huge wardrobe! Nikki had wanted to Pedalo while we were on holiday so we took to the still waters of Loch Leven. The weather was now scorching hot and sunny. After the hour pedaloing on Loch Leven we then set off on our trip to Skye. The road to the Isles and the ferry from Malaig was the plan. We stopped off however on the way to see the gorgeous white sandy beaches at Camusdarach and Morar. We'd got barbecue and food on the way through Fort William so had them on the beach and then Woody decided to run into the sea in his boxers followed eventually by Nikki in her underwear and then slowly by a whimpering Baz in his apparently too tight boxers who didn't like the cold Atlantic Ocean. All these underwear frolics meant we had ran out of time and when we got to the ferry port at Mallaig we discovered that the ferry had already gone as the usual ferry was broken down in repair and a smaller one in its place. So our only choice at this time was to get a B&B as we didn't need the hassle of tent erecting and taking down etc. We eventually found a great little B&B in the middle of the country behind the beaches at Camusdarach, so we setup there and then went to the beach and had bacon butties while watching the sun go down. Woody started feeling a bit off as we were all going bed and then got some kind of fever or food poisoning which is now known as "Woody Disease". He was up for 5 hours with the disease and in a really bad way, lucky we were in a nice B&B and not the tent really! He got worse and worse and eventually Baz and Nikki had to drive out at 3:30am to somewhere they could get a mobile phone signal to call NHS direct who suggested to stop drinking fluid for an hour then go sleep then don't eat for 24 hours so we got back and made Woody do as the nurse said and he felt a little better and could sleep.

Nicki and Woody in Pedalo on Loch Leven

Wednesday, Baz and Nikki start the day with a cracking full english breakfast as a rather morbid looking Woody starts his 24 hour fast. We leave the B& B and set off for the ferry again only to find that once again we are too late! The ferry has gone and the biggest problem is that we have to get to Skye by 10am for our whale spotting trip. So Baz starts stressing as we are going to miss our trip, Baz phones the whale spotting tour people to let them know and they offer to send the speed boat to come and pick us up from Mallaig much to our delight! Woody still looks like Mr Dead but comes with us on the boat, we didn't see any whales but saw plenty of Porpoises. We also got to have lunch on Eigg which had some fantastic views towards the mainland. The driver of the speed boat decided to show us what it can do on the return trip and we got a hell of a white knuckle ride! We had to waste 2 or 3 hours in Mallaig so we went back to Morar and had a barbecue on the white sands there in the glorious sunshine, absolute tranquility, until two scallies turn up and put there car stereo on full blast with crap music and play footy on the beach, so Baz decided to pick a fight with them not realising that he had no backup as Woody was dying on the sands asleep with the swan geese pecking his head. We got back to the ferry very early after our last two attempts but got there too early and sun bathed on the car park while a weakened Woody slept in the car. The ferry was quick over to Skye and we arrived in the sunshine to pitch the tent, however it was left to Nikki and Baz to erect the 5 man frame tent on there own as Woody slept on the grass next to the pitch. At night Baz starts to feel a bit ill and goes bed early as Woody ends his fast by eating half a brunch bar.

Woody looks half dead on Morar Sands while Nicki soaks up the sun

Thursday, Baz storms out of his bed and declares he has caught the "Woody Disease" and rushes to the toilet. Today is the day of the Loch Coruisk boat trip and trek and Baz has to stay at the tent as he is too ill, this leaves a driving dilemma as Baz is only person who can drive his car. So Woody joy rides Bazza's car and Woody and Nikki go on there own day of fun. Baz has told them both the wrong time for the boat trip so they panic and rush to Elgol, tackling sheep and cows in the road on there way. They arrive to the relief of the boat leaving an hour after they first thought, but also to the case of the payment not going though as it didn't go through on Bazza's debit card. They eventually get on the boat which takes them through to Loch Coruisk which looked great in the sunshine. They leave the boat and go on a small trek bagging there first Cullin which they named Wooky. They have great fun walking through waterfalls and Woody discovers he can walk vertically up the cullins rock, Nikki also tried this and ended up hanging by three fingers off a sheer cliff. On there return journey Nikki joy rides Bazza's car and they pull over into a small pub where they meet Stu the p*sshead farmer. They spend a few hours driving around the Isle Of Skye as Woody took hold of the map and got them lost. They arrive back at camp site and Bazza greets them bored and in relief of finding his car in one piece. Bazza hasn't eaten all day and in his weakened state goes bed early. Nikki and Woody have the greatest ever fire on the beach behind the tent and aid the sand shrimps with there mass suicide.They watch shooting stars on the beach and then go to bed at 2am, Nikki stamping on Bazza's head on the way to bed.

Nicki on Meall na Cuilce above Loch Coruisk

Friday, easy day today, Woody is just about recovered from the Woody Disease and Baz is still weak after yesterday. So we set off on a tour of the island in the car. We went first to the amazing coral beach just north of Claigan where we played Frisbee and soaked up some more of the glorious sunshine. We then drove to the other side of the island and had a picnic underneath the Storr and visited the Kilt Rock and the Quirrang. For our last night in Scotland we decided to go to Portree for the night, we ended up in a few places but the last bar was by far the best with some live music from a guy called Greg McKay. Woody nags Baz all the way back too camp that night to stop for firewood but Baz is too busy concentrating on things like foxes running out in front of the car and the dodgy Skye roads in the middle of a dark night. Baz goes bed early as he has long drive tomorrow and Woody and Nikki go to the beach for one last night by which time the rain from the week before has returned. As Baz starts to fall asleep he is woken by a noise under his car outside which eventually ends up in the tent, Baz is safe in the inner part of the tent but starts to panic like mad as the noise gets louder and starts running round the tent and all over everything. A scared Baz hears Woody and Nikki returning and screams once again like a little girl "Woody Help Me!" Nikki and Woody rush to the tent and as Nikki pulls the zip up she screams like Baz as something scarpers out of the tent and brushes past her legs! We will never know to this day what it was but it certainly scared Baz who was still shaking 15 minutes later!

Woody and Nicki on the Coral Beach near Dunvegan

Saturday, the weather had turned pretty nasty by now and wind and rain helped in our decision to go home today and not tomorrow. We packed up the tent and put it away all soaking wet knowing full well it would have to be dealt with when we got home. We set off on the journey home which would in the end take us more than ten hours. We went back to the mainland over the Skye Bridge so we could see the areas Kintail and Glen Sheil, and also pass the beautiful Eilain Donan Castle which we visited just after we had got back on the mainland. We then drove in good time towards Fort William before we hit the traffic jam which was caused by an accident just outside Fort William at Spean Bridge. The police opened the road after some time and we eventually arrived home late on Saturday night.

I have uploaded the photos from the week here.

Route Map... ( Buachaille Etive Mor from Altnafeadh )

Route Map... ( Ben Nevis from Achintee )

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