Tag Archives: scotland

203/365 – A braw Scottish break

After five glorious days in my beautiful homeland, I’m now on a plane back to London feeling tired but super relaxed. As I recounted in my 202nd and 200th blog, we’ve travelled on four ferries, visited three islands, clocked up around 900 miles in our hire car, seen numerous Scottish wonders and climbed Arran’s highest mountain. Not bad considering we only had four days.

This morning I tried to go on a run, but only had 10 minutes before breakfast so it was more of a short, fast sprint. It’s just as well really because my legs were less than subtlety reminding me of all the climbing they did the day before. I’ve continued to feel heavy limbed today after scaling Goatfell. After convincing Elaine that we should visit the Machrie Moor stone circle (pictured above) on the west of the island, the 4-5km walk felt like a real challenge with my tired wee legs. They made it, but needed some gentle encouragement at times.

The positives

While I’m physically tired, thankfully the fatigue I’ve been feeling in London recently has faded in Scotland. Four out of the five nights we’ve been away I’ve managed to get eight or more hours sleep and I think this has had a significant impact to my energy levels.

 Also, getting out in the fresh air for extended periods has definitely helped. It has made me feel strong but also tired me out in a wholesome way. Give me a wrapped up stroll home over running to catch the tube anyday. 

The negatives

While it might be one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it’s cuisine has got to be one of the most fattening. If I see a cooked breakfast, giant homebake or battered anything in the next while, I’ll be running in the other direction. Also, why does tablet have to be so moreish?! I’m planning a week of nothing but salad to unclog my arteries and delay my imminent diabetes.

Also, Scottish people like a drink for many reasons, a key one being they need warmed up on a chilly July day (I’m coming back in the summer). My liver needs a detox after the last few months and this holiday has been a glorious send off to the joyless land of sobriety.

While I can’t say I’m looking forward to being back in London, I feel in a much better state than when I left. Thank you Scotland for a memorable, fun and healing few days. 

200/365 – Roadtripping in Skye and Raasay

The first part of our Scottish adventure has drawn to a close and what a packed few days we’ve had. As I have still not completed the driving with myasthenia process, poor Elaine had to do all the work while I snapped the surrounding scenery and provided the entertainment (poor things). Thankfully we had a night in a Paisley hotel before setting out to ensure we both (mainly Elaine) felt well rested before the long journey ahead. We then hired a car in Paisley and drove up to the Isle of Skye via Glencoe, Fort William and Eilean Donan castle. 

With the sun shining, the journey was made sweeter with each new dramatic landscape. The road between Fort William and Kyle of Lochalsh was particularly stunning with a new wow-worthy mountain, valley or loch view around every bend. 

The last part of our first day was a little rushed as we had to catch the Raasay ferry from Sconser in Skye. We thought the last one was at 6.15pm but on arrival it turned out there were two later ones. After a flat out last hour, I took a deep breath and prepared for sailing to Skye’s wee sister isle. A tank full of oxygen couldn’t have prepared me for the excitement onboard – wild dolphins doing flips alongside the boat. Even the epic Cuillins skyline that we were sailing away from paled in comparison as the whole boat oohed and aahed at the beautiful creatures.

On Raasay, our bed for the night was just a two minute walk from the boat – the grand Raasay House – and I would recommend it to anyone. As accommodation was so short on both Skye and Raasay, Elaine and I spent our second night in a dorm room in this incredibly community-run house. My next blog will be on shared accommodation and myasthenia, but the house does do private rooms if you book early enough. It also has a selection of outdoor activities each day, a fantastic restaurant and cosy bar where you can watch the sun set over the Cuillins. After an intense drive, Elaine and I had a couple of whiskys with some of the staff of the hotel and Raasay House pup Ruby. (Picture below: top left Elaine delighted on the ferry after seeing dolphins, top right Eilean Donan, bottom left Raasay House Ruby and bottom right Raasay House)  

The next morning, Elaine’s birthday, we were out early and on the (dolphin free) boat to Skye. First up was a quick stop in the island’s main community Portree, followed by a drive up to the Trotternish Penisula to see the Kilt Rock of Staffa and the Quiraing. After a walk into the Quiraing, with photo stops every second step, we were driven off the road by an aggressive bully who drove on as we were stuck in a ditch. Thankfully, a group of lovely Americans and French tourists helped us push little Kia out. 

Next up, I had planned a boat trip from Elgol into Loch Coruisk in the Cuillins. After realising that everything on Skye takes time, we pushed this back and just enjoyed the drive through the Cuillins to the southern tip of the island. When we did arrive at what felt like the end of the earth, it was worth the white knuckle experience of the hairpin bends and dodging cows and sheep on the road.

Once onboard the Bella Jane, the guide shared stories of the small isles (inner Hebrides) Rum, Eigg, and Canna before we were face-to-face with a colony of seals lazing in the afternoon sun. Loch Coruisk, in the heart of the Cuillins, was even more beautiful than I had imagined surrounded by the jagged Black Cuillins and softer Red Cuillins. (Picture below:  top left view of the Cuillins from Elgol harbour , top left Kilt Rock and bottom left the Quairaing)  

Arriving back on dry land even more in love with Skye, we checked into our B&B before heading to Coruisk House for Elaine’s birthday dinner. The restaurant with rooms is owned and run by a Londoner who is passionate about using local, fresh produce and changes the menu every day depending on what’s available. The food was incredible – don’t salivate too much at the pictures below – and the staff and setting were equally special. We shared a bottle of Malbec and discussed dreams of moving to Skye as the light faded and the sky burst into reds and oranges. (Picture below: top left Elaine enjoying our cosy table at Coruisk House, top right Veal, bottom left out amazing parfait and creme brûlée desserts and bottom right monkfish and scallops)  

Although today we planned to travel to Dunvegan to check out the castle, time was a little short so we ran up the Old Man of Storr instead. While my eye has been better over the last few days, after the burst of exercise this morning it’s been looking great ever since. 

Now we’re on the road to Arran where we’ll stay until Monday. After a hectic few days of sightseeing and driving, the plan now is to spend our time walking and running. After all the gorgeously rich food we’ve been eating, a bit of fresh air and exercise is well needed before the return to London on Monday evening. 

199/365 – Last ‘break’ for a while

Elaine and I fly up to Glasgow tonight and will spend her birthday in the Inner Hebrides. On paper, the five day break looks hectic with lots of miles to cover, three Islands to explore and a promise of some action for our walking boots. However, I’ve always found visiting the Scottish isles relaxing due to the laid back mentality – the locals start work at ‘9ish’ – and being immersed in stunning scenery.

It’s Elaine’s first trip to the Hebrides and a life long dream after being delighted by the Scottish travel tales of her grandparents. While trying to see as much of the islands as possible, we’ll also try to get a well deserved rest. This will be our last holiday together for a long time so the emphasis will be on relaxation and exploration in equal measure. 

After a rushed finish at work today, I’m ready for being surrounded by dramatic landscapes, for a dram or two and unruly sheep roaming free. My signal may not be great over the next while, but I’ll try to update the blog when I can. 

121/365 – Wet and wild walk

With three weeks today until we set out on the Camino de Santiago, Elaine and I decided that this weekend we needed to get out walking. The Scottish weather had other ideas. 

We were up visiting my friends and family in Edinburgh so I had looked at routes in the Pentland Hills to mimic the undulation of the Pyrenees and the Fife Coastal Path to get the much needed miles up. When we woke up yesterday to the rain chucking down, both of those options lost their appeal and we decided to stay much closer to home. With inappropriate clothes on, jeans and rain are a terrible combination, we only lasted 10km before our soaking wet clothes got the better of us. The only thing that could make it better was a wee dram to warm up.  

As I’m off to Rome next weekend, time is of the essence to get walking fit. This week I plan to spend as much time walking, and as little time on public transport, as possible preferably with my hiking shoes on to make sure they are properly broken in. I’m just hoping the weather decides to work with me in my drive to clock up the miles!