Our 1st wedding anniversary get away

12 months ago today Louise and I got married, to say every day has made us smile wouldn’t be that far from the truth. As a mini celebration we have headed to Seasalter, Kent, a small village just 2 miles from Whitstable. With our passion for things a little eccentric, we are staying in the most quirky and colourful beach house I could find and you could imagine.

The view out to sea from the decking area is so peaceful.

The morning view from the bed

Up the steep stairs there is desk and office area which is an amazing area for me to make some edits to my book The little book of Nozbe. The volunteer proofreaders have certainly given me plenty to do with 30+ edits so far (I’m sure there will be more!)
I’m looking forward to getting stuck into them in the next few days in-between reading, exploring, relaxing, theatre trip and a tandem bike ride for the 1st time…

Day 8 – St Conners Kirk & Kilchurn Castle

For our last day in Scotland before driving home we headed south for a change to the town of Oban via a church and a castle, well it is me a Louise after all!

Some places make the inner photographer in me come to life, St Conners Kirk is just such a place. Completed around 1930 it draws upon so many design and architectural styles it’s a very bizarre yet amazing place to wander around.

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The 2nd destination was the ruins of Kilchurn Castle a few miles down the loch. It must of been a lovely building at the end of Loch Awe and it’s great you can wander around and up it today.

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Lunch turned into a birthday treat from me at a great fish restaurant on the quay in Oban, the fresh crab was excellent and Louise’s halibut almost made me think I’d made the wrong menu choice! A few souvenir purchases later we headed back to the cottage to pack and escape from the crowds! :)

 

Day 7 – Mallaig train journey

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Today has been a more relaxing day for us both, a late start, a short drive to the station and a 3 hour round trip by train to the coastal town of Mallaig, the gateway to Skye. (Before they built the bridge I assume?)

The journey is known as ‘one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world’ The Telegraph’s words, I’m not going to disagree. (and I catch the 07:40 to Waterloo each day!)

I made the conscious decision to put my camera down today and enjoy the journey, the moment, but I couldn’t resist one small picture as we plodded through the Glens and Mountains. It rained for part of the journey, just to remind us were in Scotland not Canada!

If you do make the journey yourself, aim to sit on the left of the train facing forwards, you’ll get a better view for 70% of the journey. During the summer months (May onwards) the same journey can be made (for twice the price) on the ‘Jacobite’ steam train. I’m sure the scenery was just as spectacular in our modern Diesel train!

Day 6 – Nevis Gondola & Steall Falls

The day took an unexpected turn as we headed to the Fort William station to catch a train to Mallaig, for the 1st time in a few days the high mountain clouds had disappeared, the winds had dropped and we could actually see the tops of the nearby Ben and other mountains that had been looming over us all week. So rather than sit in the train (now tomorrows journey) we headed out a short drive to the Nevis range gondola.

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The 2150ft high cable car ride takes around 10 minutes with some great views on the way up, as always travelling with Louise in a cable car is always an experience to remember. To her credit she didn’t curse as much as the cable car ride across the Thames to the O2 in London! A quick breakfast at the ski lodge (Bacon and Black pudding bap) and we went exploring the mountain side.

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The downhill mountain bike start looked terrifying!!

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We shared the mountain side with about 10 people as there was a lack of real snow for any skiers. The views were amazing, getting about half way up the mountains was great.

After a few more curses from Louise on the way down we headed back towards Fort William to a walk I’d found online: –  head down the Glen Nevis road, keep going till the road ends in a car park and then exit the gate at far end to begin the walk…. and we find this!

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Bah, we laugh in the face of danger! Onwards! The walk was rocky, uphill, across some mountain streams and waterfalls, but thankfully no deaths! You hear the water booming beneath from some semi hidden waterfalls along the whole route.

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Louise laughing in the face of danger, one slip and it’s a fast 200ft decent to the river below. I was told to stand away from the edge on more than one occasion! Ah the mothering instinct never seems to go away!

About 1hr of walking a very steady pace we came to and amazing glen, high(ish) up in the mountains a perfectly flat glen and the Steall Falls, yet another Harry Potty film location! (Where Harry battles a dragon for the Triwizard Tournament in The Goblet of Fire) I only found this out researching how to spell Steall just now!

It’s an amazing place, we had the whole glen, river and waterfall to ourselves! I’m starting to get into this walking lark!

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Yes I did have a go on the rope bridge, no I’m not publishing them!

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At the end of a great day we even got a nice sunset from our cottage in Fort William.

Day 5 – The Isle of Skye

An early start (by holiday standards!) had us on the road once more driving to the Isle of Skye, before I continue let me state for the records the roads are amazing up here and driving is so far removed from driving ‘down South’! Sweeping bends, undulating hills and the most amazing scenery you could hope to see! So even though we covered a lot of miles in the car it was always with a smile and a sense of wonder at what was around the next corner!

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Anyway, back to the day! The Isle of Skye is now connected to the mainland for a few years now and it makes it that much more accessible for day trippers like Louise and I. The bridge is not what I expected (It’s not the prettiest gateway to the isle you could imagine) but it is special in its own way, approaching its steep curve I did feel like a stunt driver with just the sky and tarmac ahead of us as we headed for its cresent.

First port of call was the largest town Portree for a spot of lunch (Steak Pie for me and Mushroom and Brie Ciabatta for Louise, thank you for asking) following which we headed for our 1st real destination ‘The old man of Storr’.

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This craggy outcrop was an invigorating hour-long walk up the hillside, but the views once near the rocks was amazing. To be honest the old man of Storr looked very impressive from the approaching road also, but you had to hike to get the best views!

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We had to cut our walk to the summit a little short as we had a number of places we wanted to visit. Yes I was also knackered and the wind was really getting up (the lean into type of wind!) so we headed back down at a pace. Luckily our timing was spectacular. The heavens opened just as we returned to the car, when I say opened… I mean biblical rain. Of course being Scotland, it was sunny again within 10 minutes!

The next stop after some more winding (empty!) roads was Kilt Rock and it’s waterfall, one thing not captured in the photos was the tubular safety rails playing an almost melodic tune in the high winds!

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Next it was time for afternoon tea…. (note to reader, this is not turning into a food blog…..) I’d found a very recommended place on Trip Advisor a mile or 2 from Kilt rock called Ellishadder Art Cafe a lovely home (We had to double take as we approached the door!) that sold the owners art and made some very scrumptious cakes, coffee’s and teas. If your passing drop in, it’s lovely with some great art to purchase.

Our final destination of the day following yet another amazing drive (and a small hike) was Coral Beach, it’s well hidden, not signposted and off the beaten track, but it’s an amazing stretch of coral sand on the north of the island. The white coral and turquoise water is completely at odds with the surrounding black volcanic rocks and green fields, it creates a very Caribbean feel, just the fleece and gloves we were wearing reminded us we were in the far North of Scotland.

P1020684  SnapseedWatching the rain falling in the distance was mesmerizing!

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The coral was amazing close up.

Walking back we had the nagging feeling we were being watched….. 10 or so seals were happily watching us watching them or playing around with each other, it took me an age to get Louise to start the walk back to the car and had me wishing for a higher zoom lens.

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We had such a great day in Skye, on the drive home we saw more deer than cars on the road! The scenery is so varied on the Isle with snow capped mountains, amazing bays, rolling hills, lochs and some really quiet unspoilt areas of natural beauty that would take some beating anywhere in the UK you really should pay it a visit.

Day 4 – Loch Ness & Urquhart castle

As a boy I used to devour stories of the supernatural, Ghosts, Big Foot, Crop Circles and of course The Loch Ness monster. Over the years I’ve become more and more sceptical probably dues to my continual education! So to me, a trip to Scotland had to involve a visit to Lock Ness and Urquhart Castle, the scene of one of the most memorable Nessie photo’s I can recall as a child.

The Castle has a nice visitor centre and starts your journey off with a nice short video and a great ‘surprise’ at the end of it. The castle itself is very open and allows (encourages?) you to touch and clamber all over them. A refreshing change from the National Trust roped barriers I’m used to!

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We then took a short drive to the Loch Ness visitor centre at the old Drumnadrochit Hotel  which boasts a ‘multimedia’ experience, telling the story of the Loch and ‘The Beast’, it’s run by a former Nessie hunter who over the years has become more sceptic as more science and data was collected. It was enjoyable seeing all the evidence presented to you both for and against. Who knows, there may well be a beastie in the Loch. At almost twice the height /depth of the London Eye and 24 miles long, there’s a lot of water for it to hide in!

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One fact that you find is that you could submerge 3 x the whole human population into Loch Ness… whoever worked that out might need some counselling, why pick on humans!!

 

Day 3 – Glenfinnan and the coast.

1st order of the day as our Scotland trip started in ernst, we purchased 2 sets of waterproof over trousers! The weather forecast looks decidedly… well… Scottish!

We took a look at Neptune’s Staircase, a series of 8 Locks for the Caledonian Canal in Fort William then headed to Glenfinnan and discover more about the Jacobites!

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The Glenfinnan monument and Loch Shiel.

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The 1901 Sir Robert McAlpine viaduct, aka ‘That bridge in Harry Potter’.

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The bog we had to negotiate to get to the vantage point to take both photo’s!

We then drove on wanting to find the Atlantic before returning home. The road towards Malliag is called the ‘Road to the Isle’ and it is spectacular drive. A rail track runs by it’s side and we decided that we would take a rail journey from Fort William to Malliag later in the week. So rather than go the whole way we turned off the main road and explored, errmmm, we explored somewhere else! We were both to busy looking at the scenery to actually take in where we were heading! Eventually we decided to turn around and head back home as the weather came in….