Day 33 – UK – Scenery, scenery and yet more scenery

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Just how beautiful can one country be. We woke to blue skies again and set off at 8.30am for the scenic coast road to Ullapool. We started off with more rolling green farm areas and I was beginning to wonder if the whole coastal area would be like this. But then we spotted the mountains in the distance.
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The scenery was just incredible and around every corner or bend it was even better. I lost count of the times Pop and I said beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, fantastic, spectacular and awesome. Words fail to describe the land we drove through so hopefully these photos will capture some of it. And truly amazing part was that everywhere was 360 degree views.
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We stopped at Smoo Cove to stretch our legs and take some photos.

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Later we stopped at a Spar and bought some lunch ingredients. I few minutes up the road we found the most amazing place to eat. There was even a picnic table for us to have our picnic lunch. It was a little chilly out but it was too magical a day to eat indoors.

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We had make your own wraps…

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Followed by some butterfly cakes…

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Driving on down the coast (and slightly inland) we had a number of photo stops, including Ardvreck Castle.

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We were admiring the view (again) and coming down a big hill when I spotted our caravan park in the distance. WOW!! Another magical location.

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Once set up the girls went off to play on the stone beach. Pop & I enjoyed a cup of tea/coffee then we all went for a walk around the park. I took LOTS of photos.

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The girls flew a kite….

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Christy made rock sculptures…
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and they both sat together on the beach being loving Sisters (actually they were getting on very well all day today).

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Poppy and I relaxed. I thought it only fitting to read Coast magazine.

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Dinner tonight was pasta with a tomato sauce.

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We played some blackjack, I typed up todays report and we headed to bed at 9.30pm. Another beautiful sunset.

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Day 32 – UK – Orkney

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I woke around 6.45 and would loved to have gone back to sleep. Instead I dragged myself out of bed and over to the laundry – hoping to get our clothes washed and dried before we left. Unfortunately that didn’t happen – after an hour in the dryer we had to leave so I tried to hang up everything around the van in the hope they would dry.

Then it time to head off onto adventure. Firstly we caught the Orkney ferry over to Orkney – it was a 40min but seemed to take forever. We thought it because it was misty and we couldn’t see anything but we found the same on the return trip.IMG_4300

IMG_4302 When we arrived we hopped straight on board the bus and headed off for todays tour. We had seen a dog on the ferry and were amazed when she came on the bus!

Unfortunately it was VERY misty this morning which meant we couldn’t see very much. Most of the 70 islands which make up Orkney are used for farming so we saw lots of sheep and cattle. Our driver told us the story of how it used to be a big free range chicken (egg) farming area (for 7 years) until one day hurricane force winds took ALL chickens away!

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We drove over the Churchill barricades built to keep the Naval fleet safe in Scapa Flow during WWII. Originally sunks ships were used but after a German U-boat got through Italian prisioners of war were used to build the barricades – which then became causeways between the islands. You can still see some of the ships and they can be dived upon (which we know Kevin would like).
Our first stop was a brief one in Kirkwell where we got some hot drinks to enjoy on the coach. Then it was on to Stromness where we had lunch at a pub. I chose the cheese and caramalised onion wrap which was delicious.

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We then had a quick walk around the town which was very pretty.

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I could have spent a lot of money in this wool/knit shop but Amy & I just chose a pair of gloves.

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Then the highlight of the day – Skara Brae. We saw the short film then out in the field. It was bitterly cold and drizzly and not to pleasant outdoors at all. This meant we did walk around the site as quick as possible. My first thought was that it was much smaller than I thought. It was pretty amazing though – esp. seeing the stone furnitures – bed & storage areas.

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Part of our ticket also included a visit to Skaill House – which we didn’t but it wasn’t much of anything – esp. compared to the other houses we’ve visited. I didn’t even get any photos outside as we were feeling rather sorry for ourselves. We still nearly half an hour till we had to be on the bus but was too cold to be out. We picked up a little snack which we ate in the bus.

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Next stop of the Ring of Brodgar – a standing stone circle. Much bigger than Stonehenge but I didn’t think it as impressive. Christy thought it great that she could touch the stones here. Again it would probably have been nicer if the weather was better but at least it wasn’t still raining.

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We also visited the standing stones of Stenness but we didn’t bother to get out of the bus at this 5 min stop. Instead we watched some swans and signets and two seals sunbaking in the distance.

It was then onto Kirkwell where we had a two hour stop. We did a bit of shopping – so many LOVELY things here. I would love to have bought some of the jewellery but I didn’t see anything I HAD to have. I did buy another pair of wrist warmers :-).

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We also took the opportunity to have an early dinner. I had the Orkney Cheese salad which was just what I was feeling like. The cheese was delicious but I only made a small dint in the large amount served :-).

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Our last stop for the day was the Italian Church. This was built by the prisioners of war and is just so cute. When you walk you think the walls are tiled – but no – EVERYTHING is painted!!!! It has to be seen to be believed.

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On the way home the weather had cleared up so we were able to see what we’d missed this morning.

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Then the bus back to the ferry and back over the seas to John O’Groats, where we arrived cold, tired but happy at 7.45pm.

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Time for a cup of tea while I finish drying off our clothes then off to bed. We even had a nice sunset tonight.

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Day 31 – UK – To the end of Scotland

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We left Inverness just before 10am.  Except for Pop we were all moving pretty slow today. We had absolutely beautiful blue skies with white fluffy clouds and it was warm – about time!  We drove through yet more beautiful scenery.
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Our main stop today was Dunrobin Castle.

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We arrived just before 11.30am and went straight down to see the falconry to watch the demonstation. Even though we’d just seen a similar show at Warwick Castle this was different enough to be well worth while. The birds were flying close overhead and even brushed by my arm.  After the show the girls were able to sit beside an owl as it digested it’s meal (a dead mouse).
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We then explored the gardens – stopping to take lots of photos. They were beautiful and looking up at the house from the gardens was breathtaking (esp. with the brilliant blue sky behind it).

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Next was lunch in the tea rooms.

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Dad & I both had the Split Pea Soup which was delicious.

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Amy ordered a steak pie and this is what she got.

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After lunch we explored the house which was much better than I thought it might be. There was no guided tour but the rooms were set out in order so it was easy to follow around. And every couple of rooms was a guide so you could questions if you wanted. We all enjoyed our visit here and was very glad we’d made the stop.

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From here was drove another hour and half through lots of farm country (which I surprise to both Dad and myself).

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Finally we arrived at todays destination – John O’Groats (the northern most town in the mainland UK).

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We checked into the van park and got settled before heading off to explore the town – which comprises one museaum, a ferry terminal, a few coffee shops and a handful of stores. There are some houses but they are a few minutes back down the road.

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We visited the museum – the last house in Scotland – which was surprisingly free. There quite a lot of interesting artifacts and photos here. In the shop we were able to send a postcard which will be postmarked “last house in Scotland”.

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We checked out the other shops but other than the candle shop (which sold lovely handmade candles) most were just tourist traps. We went back the motorhome to discover I had inadvertantly left the water tap open this morning – which meant when the water had gotten turned back on, the tap run and the grey water tank overflowed flooding the floor carpet. It also meant that even though we had emptied and filled tanks just this morning, we had to do it all over again. Not fun. I then had to wash the towels (again) that we’d used in the clean up. In amongst all this I had to treat Christy for her head lice – which is always a fun job. Luckily Amy & Pop were able to get dinner organised while all this was going on and we finally got to eat around 7.30pm.

Shortly afterwards Dad spotted  some cows in the nearby field so I grabbed the big camera and headed over to take some photos. Quite a few of the babies came right up to see me at the fence so I was able to get some up-close photos. They were SOOOOO cute.

Finally I got the towels all dried (they took ages) and was able to type up todays trip report and head to bed. We’ve got a big out tomorrow visiting Orkney.

Day 30 – UK – The road to Inverness

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Unfortunately Christy got struck with the same vomiting virus we’ve all had during the night. Poor little thing. I ended up sharing my bed with her so I could attend her, which meant I didn’t get much sleep. Since she was so ill and the weather was very poor (despite me seeing blue sky at 4.30am) we decided to hang around until 12pm. Christy slept once she stopped vomiting, Poppy did some washing for me (including our bed sheets) and I found out I could get internet access for 3 pounds for 2 hours :-).

We left just before 12pm after waking Christy up and getting her settled on the lounge. Having the motorhome meant she could sleep lying down while in her seat belt. Probably not the safest but it was necessary today.

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It was steady rain when we set off. It started clearing within about 10mins and I was able to spot the B&B we stayed at last time – it’s the end one on the left.

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We stopped in Fort William for some supplies (poor Christy not only has this virus but she had nits as well!) and a few miles up the road we stopped for lunch. Wish I could have lunch with a view like this every day.

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Lunch today was a cheese and onion roll.

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We then continued our drive. The weather continued to get better as we drove north. Pop and I wanted to stop at the canals but we couldn’t get close easy parking (as Christy would have to stay in the van).

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Loved this gorgeous old bridge.

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We had lovely views the whole of todays drive.

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Finally we arrived at Loch Ness. I’d forgotten just how big it is.

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We had planned to visit the Loch Ness Center – thinking the girls would find it interesting but Christy wasn’t feeling well enough so just Amy and Poppy went.

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Poppy wasn’t too impressed but Amy enjoyed it.

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Then onto our final destination today – a caravan park on the outskirts of Inverness. The girls immediately spotted the waterslides coming out of the leisure center that is right next to the park.

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Amazing Christy felt well enough to want to go – KIDS!!! So after getting organised and remaking the bed I took the girls over for an hour before dinner. On the way we spotted a Goldie. I wonder what people think when I suddenly whip out camera and take a photo (which I try to do discretely :-)).

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It was fantastic set up at the pool and the girls had a fabulous time.

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Here you can just see them at the bottom of the slide.

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We were back at the van by 7pm, just in time to enjoy that BBQ that Poppy had prepared for us.

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And what’s this? Hopefully a good omen for the weather tomorrow.

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It’s actually now 10pm and we’ve had the most beautiful blue skies this evening – which seems to be a bit normal around here. I’m off to bed to read and get a good nights sleep.