Posts for September, 2015


London tourists (London, England)

Journal entry for Tuesday 1st Sep, 2015 (day 589, miles 16124)

We spent much of the morning on one of those hop on hop off bus tours of the city and confirmed that London traffic is indeed very slow. We complemented this with a lot of walking, a boat ride on the Thames and completed the day buying Nina a new rain jacket at one of London's Northface stores.

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Tourists again (London, England)

Journal entry for Wednesday 2nd Sep, 2015 (day 590, miles 16124)

Better weather today and a new range of sights. Without doubt the highlights of the day were the Cabinet war rooms, and the changing of the Buckingham Palace Guards.

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Back to the camping ground (London, England)

Journal entry for Thursday 3rd Sep, 2015 (day 591, miles 16124)

Our return bus journey was scheduled for 4:30 this afternoon which meant we had almost an entire day to us for sightseeing. We devoted this time to Westminster Abbey and the Imperial War Museum.

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SRMN Weekend (Blackmore, England)

Journal entry for Sunday 6th Sep, 2015 (day 594, miles 16124)

We spent the weekend at the annual gathering of an organization called the Silk Route Motorcaravan network. The name is a bit misleading (at least from an Australian/US point of view) as the group is really about overlanding and collectively the group has vast experience traveling exotic (and not so exotic) parts of the world in all kinds of vehicle. I have known about this group for a number of years and have poured over their website, trip reports and forum in search of wisdom about vehicles and routes. So it was a great pleasure to finally meet the people behind the organization. It was an informative and inspirational weekend.

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Another manicure for Nina (Blackmore Campground, England)

Journal entry for Monday 7th Sep, 2015 (day 595, miles 16124)

We spent the Monday following our SRMN weekend getting ready for the next chapter of our travels, and finishing up conversations from the weekend with members that stayed around over Sunday night. Oh, and did I mention, that Nina went on a journey of discovery via local bus to the near by town of Malvern to have her nails done.

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Snowdonia (Betws-y-coed, Wales)

Journal entry for Tuesday 8th Sep, 2015 (day 596, miles 16311)

A day of contrast. We started out the day on the M6, one of England's main motorways, heading towards Birmingham and finished the day in Snowdonia, Wales in lush forest, with narrow roads bordered by stone walls.

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Carnarvon (Chester, England)

Journal entry for Wednesday 9th Sep, 2015 (day 597, miles 16421)

A great sunny day, and a real treat for our quick trip through Snowdonia. We spent the morning in the forests around betws-y-coed, then up into the highlands of Snowdonia with its open moorland. The roads continued to be interesting, very narrow and bordered on each side by stone walls, leaving us only a few inches to squeeze past other traffic.

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Scotland (Balloch, Scotland)

Journal entry for Thursday 10th Sep, 2015 (day 598, miles 16693)

The day dawned bright and sunny so Nina insisted that we get going early to make the best of (what the weather report identified as) a limited window of good weather before un-ending rain sets in.

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A Day in Camp (Balloch, Scotland)

Journal entry for Friday 11th Sep, 2015 (day 598, miles 16693)

Today was a bit of a rest day. A nice camp ground, a sunny day and a few chores to do so we decided to hang around in Balloch for the day.

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A glimpse of Downton (Oban, Scotland)

Journal entry for Sunday 13th Sep, 2015 (day 601, miles 16693)

As it turned out we spent a couple of rest days at the Balloch camp ground, but I guess that is OK because this is not supposed to be work - right. We had a nice drive along the famous Loch Lomond before turning off through Rest and be Thankful passto Loch Fyne and the town of Inveraray. As we would later discover there are a number of passes called "Rest and Be Thankful". In the days of stage coaches these passes required that 2nd and 3rd class passengers to get out and push the coach (with 1st class passengers still inside).

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Mull and Iona (Oban, Scotland)

Journal entry for Monday 14th Sep, 2015 (day 602, miles 16776)

Today we did a self guided tour to the islands of Mull and Iona. A 45 minute ferry ride from Oban to Mull, a 1 and 1/2 hour bus ride across Mull followed by a short ferry ride to Iona. This is such a very common tourist excursion that you can buy all the required tickets (and return) in a single package at almost every shop in the town of Oban.

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Glencoe (Glencoe, Scotland)

Journal entry for Tuesday 15th Sep, 2015 (day 603, miles 16813)

We traveled only a short distance today along Loch Linnhe to the famous village of Glencoe. Why famous? Firstly for a famous massacre. In 1692 a group of British Red Coats and members of the Campbell clan arrived in the valley and were sheltered by the local Macdonald clan for 12 days. At the end of their stay the Campbell's and Red Coats killed 38 of their hosts.

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Curling stones, and clothes pegs (Loch Lochy, Scotland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 16th Sep, 2015 (day 604, miles 16858)

As you can see from todays photos, it was quite picturesque at the campground this morning, sunny, glass smooth water, and birds on the Loch. The good weather encouraged us to stay around Glencoe until almost noon and thus gave Nina a chance for a short hike to a local man made lake and a visit to the local cultural museum. We were both interested to see the old curling stone and see how modern machining has changed that particular toy. The old (apparently hand made) clothes pegs were pretty interesting also.

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Hogwarts Express (Invergarry, Scotland)

Journal entry for Thursday 17th Sep, 2015 (day 605, miles 17029)

This morning after driving for 20 miles or so we realized we had made a bit of a research mistake and so had to retrace our steps back to For William. The mistake was to do with the location of the West Highlands Railway. A section of track that still runs steam engines on some trains and the train that was used in the Harry Potter series as the Hogwarts Express. We had mistakenly thought that this railway line was on the Ilse of Skye but this morning we discovered that it runs from Fort William to the ferry port of Mallaig.

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Peat, crofting and Bonnie Prince Charles (Sligachan (Ilse of Skye), Scotland)

Journal entry for Friday 18th Sep, 2015 (day 606, miles 17172)

Today was a fabulous day, one of the most visually stunning days of our travels. We spent it circumnavigating the Trotternish Peninsula on the Ilse of Skye and while the scenery was picturesque the light (for some reason) had a special quality that made every view stunning.

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A trail through the wilderness (Loch Maree, Scotland)

Journal entry for Saturday 19th Sep, 2015 (day 607, miles 17259)

Today we followed some of the Ross Coastal Trail, a single track road that runs through the coastal moors of the Western Ross region. There were long stretches of what felt like wilderness but in fact the road was quite popular with numbers of sport car and motorcycle enthusiasts out experiencing the exhilarating driving of the narrow road. For us and our yellow truck the travel was slow as the pavement was generally only just wide enough to get all 4 wheels on it at the same time. How I would have loved to have been on a motorcycle, they were zipping along at 2-3 times our speed.

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Another trail through the wilderness (Little Assynt - Leitir Easaidh, Scotland)

Journal entry for Sunday 20th Sep, 2015 (day 608, miles 17364)

The center point of todays travel was to be a "backroad" from Ullapool to Lochinver that we learned about at the SRMN meeting in Blackmore. It was described to us as "picturesque". And indeed it was. Like the single track roads of the past few days it was quite outside our experience elsewhere in the world. Usually wilderness roads are gravel and dirt, and often with pot holes, washboards and dust or mud. But this wilderness road was paved, though narrow - usually only 8-9 feet wide, except for the regular passing places. The reason for the pavement though is pretty obvious as the surrounding country side is mostly moor or peat bog so without the pavement the road would probably not survive.

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Smoo Cave (Eriboll, Scotland)

Journal entry for Monday 21st Sep, 2015 (day 820, miles 17426)

We started the day with overcast sky, drizzle and biting insects and finished it camped beside Loch Eriboll, in bright sunshine, a gentle breeze and no bities. In between we traveled slowly along single track roads across the northwest corner of Scotland to the remote and sparsely inhabited north coast, really a pretty drive.

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End of the earth (Thurso, Scotland)

Journal entry for Tuesday 22nd Sep, 2015 (day 610, miles 17491)

We made it to the little town of Thurso on the north coast of Scotland this afternoon, quite a cute little town, but not so cute weather. We had expected to catch a ferry from this place to Orkney tomorrow morning and spend a day or so there seeing some of the archeological sites. But on finding out that the ferry ride would cost us something like $400 we decided on a one day bus tour (from the town of John O'Groats) as a better alternative.

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Most northerly point (John O'Groats, Scotland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 23rd Sep, 2015 (day 611, miles 17523)

This morning after checking out the tourist information center, a display on the local nuclear power station, getting some money and other such chores we headed along the north coast towards the town of John O'Groats.

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The Queen Mother (John O'Groats, Scotland)

Journal entry for Thursday 24th Sep, 2015 (day 612, miles 17523)

We spent a day sightseeing around the area. Since the weather was not bad we started our day with a walk along the sea cliffs at the nearby Duncansby Head and lighthouse.

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Orkney (John O'Groats, Scotland)

Journal entry for Friday 25th Sep, 2015 (day 613, miles 17523)

Today we took the Maxi Bus Tour of Orkney. A bus tour is not something we do often but this one turned out to be quite successful. Showing us a lot of things in a single day. As it turned out there was a lot to learn about Orkney.

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Trees and a full campground (Mountgerald, Scotland)

Journal entry for Saturday 26th Sep, 2015 (day 614, miles 17695)

We departed the North coast of Scotland today heading towards a nice seaside campground a little north of the city of Inverness. It probably was a nice campground too as when we got there it was full, no space for us, so we had to go find ourselves a roadside pull off for the night.

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We did not see Nessie (Nairn, Scotland)

Journal entry for Sunday 27th Sep, 2015 (day 615, miles 17792)

We spent today driving along the road beside Loch Ness. We had been told that the best view of the loch was to be had by driving the road North to South and so thats what we did, from Inverness to Fort Augustus and then back again. However in truth the view was not great in either direction as trees block the view from the road for almost all of the drive.

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A battle field and stone cairns (Nairn, Scotland)

Journal entry for Monday 28th Sep, 2015 (day 616, miles 17792)

We did a bit of sightseeing today. The battle field of Culloden is close to Nairn so that is where we went first. I had already mentioned the events associated with this place when we were on the Isle of Skye as this is where the battle took place that Bonnie Prince Charlie had to escape from.

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A beautiful coastal day (Fraserburgh, Scotland)

Journal entry for Tuesday 29th Sep, 2015 (day 828, miles 17920)

We followed along the coast from Nairn today, with some great coastal scenes and quaint villages alternating with pastoral areas of golden grain and rich brown newly plowed fields. All of this in glorious sunshine and one of the warmest days we have experienced in Britain.

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Yet, another beautiful day (Aboyne, Scotland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 30th Sep, 2015 (day 618, miles 17992)

Before getting underway today there was a little chore to do, replacing the water filter in the campers water system. I have not done this in a long time and it is well over due. The process requires emptying all the "stuff" we have stored in the locker under the bed. Thus the exercise turned in to a bit of a spring clean, even though it is autumn.

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