Wanderlust

We have the wandering bug.  When we are on vacation, and especially when we are traveling by ourselves, we tend to explore places that are not always in the mainstream, and we will sometimes do so during seasons and under conditions that might not even be considered favorable for visiting.  We just do it!  Experiencing the unexpected brings with it an additional element of surprise, and an excitement and a joy, that at the end of the day elevates the vacation experience to a different level.  Witness our recent trip to Carson City in Nevada.

We have been quite fortunate to travel far and wide in recent years. For the purposes of this blog I will focus on some lesser-known places that the wanderlust took us to during our trip to Scotland in 2016. We visited at the tail end of the winter season, but the cold weather and the occasional rain did not stop us from enjoying our adventures.

Here we are on the bed of the River Garry at Killiecrankie.  The bed of the river is, for good reasons, not an advertised tourist destination. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese pictures were taken at a remote location on the Isle of Skye where we stayed overnight.  It was getting towards sunset when we walked through open fields and the countryside to a stand of trees next to a mountain ridge.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was raining steadily when we got to Rodel at the southern tip of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was a storm underway by the time we got to Hushinish at the southwest corner of the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides.  The kids had to climb the far hill in the wind and rain, with only the sheep keeping them company, to try to get a glimpse of the Atlantic.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is Dun Carloway Broch.  It is thought to have been a fortification during roman times.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wandered the streets of Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides early one morning before the town came to life.  There is a different perspective of a place that you get when you do something like this.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe hit the northernmost tip of the Outer Herbrides where we wandered through the fields along the cliffs beside the ocean towards the Butt of Lewis lighthouse.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABack on the mainland we hiked the hill behind the town of Ullapool, the place where we were staying at for the night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATowards the end of the trip we drove along the remote northern coastline of mainland Scotland from Durness to John O’Groats.  There were many places where we were the only ones present!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can expect the unexpected when the wanderlust hits!

 

Hushinish, Scotland

Hushinish, a little village on the Isle of Harris, was one of our destinations during the trip to the Outer Hebrides in Scotland.  We had started the morning with a big breakfast at the Garybuie B&B on the Isle of Skye and driven quickly to Uig to catch a ferry to the village of Tarbert in Harris.  Unfortunately the day had started with bad weather, and it looked like this was going to continue at our destination and through the day.  This was what it looked like at Tarbert just as we were docking.
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We were determined to continue with our adventures come what may.  We started out driving to the southern tip of Harris.    It was clear that driving through the rains would be made more of an adventure than usual because the narrow and winding roads through the stark rocky landscape were for the most part one-way affairs.  There was no place for cars to pass each other other than at the occasional passing lanes.  When two cars approached each other, the first one that got to the the passing lane waited for the other one to to get to it and pass it before proceeding.  It was a process that took some getting used to, and was easier said than done.  There were places where I had to back up, and doing that in a car with a manual gear shift that I had not used for many years made it more interesting.  If you steered incorrectly your wheels could go off the road, and in the worst case you could hit something and/or fall off the side of a hill!

We got to our destination of Rodel at the tip of Harris and visited St. Clements Church.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter quickly taking in the view beyond the southern tip of the Outer Hebrides (in the rain), we drove back to Tarbert using a smaller country road.  This drive was even more awesome and thrilling, with the narrow path winding between rocky outcrops and little lochs,  and through little villages by the coast.

After getting back to Tarbert, we continued on to our next stop.  In addition to the destination of the village of Hushinish at the western end of a country road going across the island, we had read that we could also visit the remains of a whaling station at Bun Abhainn Eadarra, and perhaps see some white tailed sea eagles at the North Harris Eagle Observatory.  Unfortunately none of the secondary objectives were met due to the time factor and due to the weather.

Shortly out of Tarbert we had to turn off the main road between Tarbert and Stornoway (A859) to get on to the one-lane country road  (B887) to take us to Hushinish.  This was even more of an adventure than what we had experienced before.  It took a long while to negotiate the 13 mile stretch of roadway to its terminus. The road wound its way through the rocky landscape with plenty of twists and turns and switchbacks. And it continued to rain.  There was enough tension in the passenger seat beside the driver during the ride that we had to switch riders, but I was enjoying myself!
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We passed a tennis court in the middle of nowhere during the early part of the ride.  Since Andy Murray is from Scotland, we were wondering if he had anything to do with it.  Apparently not.  We  encountered cows that refused to move from the road.  The side of the car might have actually touched a big one with a nose-ring when I attempted to get past. The cows kept going about their business. These guys seems to think that they owned the road.  Perhaps they do.  Fortunately, they are most docile.  We saw Highland cows (also called Hairy Coos by the Scots) at some point.   This was a moment of much celebration in the car since we had been on the lookout for these unique animals ever since the beginning of the ride!
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We saw people getting ready for a walk at a place that appeared to be the start of the trail to the eagle observatory. It seems that they were well prepared for the rain and were determined to get to their destination in spite of the weather. They were not to be deterred by it. (We actually saw walkers in many areas, including a couple in Hushinish itself, who had the same attitude when it came to walking.)  We passed the Amhuinnsuidhe Castle.  And then the road got worse for the last few miles.
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When we arrived at Hushinish it was pouring.  I could see the beach and about three or four houses on the other side of the beach.   There was a small parking area and one other vehicle.   We made sure we had our raincoats all zippered up before we opened the car doors.  I put a plastic bag over my camera when I stepped out.  The wind was howling.  The adults walked just a little bit, bracing themselves against the gusts of wind, while the young ones climbed  the cliff to get a view of the ocean in the distance.  (You can barely make the kids out in the top left corner of the second picture.)
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We waited beside a rock for the kids to come back.  You could see the island of Scarp in the distance.  The island was last permanently inhabited in 1971, and you can barely see the remains of the settlement in the picture below.
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The sheep watched us with amusement undeterred by the weather.
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The clothes on our lower extremities were completely wet by the time we got back to the car.  It was time to move on.

As we drove away I stopped to take this picture of the beach.  You can see the few houses that remain.
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We drove back to the main road to Stornoway and proceeded north.  Before we got to Stornoway, we stopped to see the Callanish Stones and the Dun Carloway broch.  The stones are from the neolithic age, while the broch is most likely from the first century AD.  There is indeed a lot of old history on the islands.
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The rain was beginning subside by the time we got to Stornoway.  After checking into our room we found our way to a table at the pub to conclude the evening with some fine food and drink.  We raised a toast to the end of yet another memorable day of our vacation in Scotland.