So since deciding we wanted to travel around 4 years ago, we have finally got around to actually jetting off! Been a hectic few months of planning and saving and not to forget getting married! An amazing year so far and time for some new adventures!
  • Day8

    Applecross to Skye

    May 7, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

    The route:
    From Applecross to Skye via the Bealach Na Ba Road (Gaelic for Pass of the Cattle) and then down the side of Lochcarron and over the Skye Bridge where we then drove on to Carbost.

    The Weather:
    A little bit of rain in the morning and then another shower on route but nothing major or long lasting. Mostly low cloud in the morning which made for atmospheric skies and then a brighter afternoon with some blue sky and sunshine to boot!

    The Highlights:
    Breakfast at the junction was a good way to start the day in Applecross - no peanut butter and jam, yay!

    The drive over Bealach Na Ba was pretty awesome. It is single strack, was built in 1822, has quite a few hairpins and is the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK apparently. There was a lot of hype online about how prearious this road is but to be honest, although a fantastic road, with stunning views and undoubtedly steep turns, it wasn't as bad as many of the roads we drove in New Zealand. I think we had the benefit of coming down hill where most of the hairpins were though - so perhaps we are biased. It was a great drive though, the clouds hugged the tops of the mountains and the top of the drive was in pure cloud. No view from there, which was a shame, but it was very atmospheric and imposing, so never mind.
    On the way down, low lying green hills started to come into view on our right behind the sheer and tall rock face of one of the Peaks by the road. This rockface was grey and cast in shadow, with the hills in the distance glowing in the sunligt that had broken thruogh clouds onto them. It reminded me of a fairytale story where you have the gloomy and dark home of the villain and then in the distance the beautiful magical kingdom that looks cheerful and bright.

    Tallisker Distillery tour. This was really interesting and we were lucky to get a couple of tickets last minute as they were busy. Really interesting to learn how they make whiskey, despite not liking it to much myself. They stick to all the old methods and rely on the water from the hill behind the distillery that has served them for years - they use 64000 litres at a time!! The name comes from an old farming family that used to own the land, rather than the name of the place that it is made. We had a nosey through the window into one of their basements that stores the casks - pretty cool! They have about 6000 barrels and the room has never been cleaned since they started distilling there, to keep the authenticity of course! A really good tour and very interesting. I still odn't like whiskey though.

    The fairy pools. These have become quite famous apparently for their lovely blue colour and clear water, perfect for wild swimming if you are brave enough in summer apparently. We may have spotted a golden eagle on the walk there but we aren't sure. If it was it would have been a juvenile judging by the markings but they're hard to tell from buzzards and so we will never know for sure. Probably just a buzzard. We also got very up close to te sheep and lambs that don't seem to care much for people, much to my happiness as I think they're about the cutest things ever!
    The pools were very pretty and reminded us a little bit of the blue sprngs in New Zealand, they were just as clear and shared a very similar turquoise colour when still in the pools, but there were a lot more waterfalls here with plunge pools below. There were lots people in the way for photos though - to the disappointment of many a photographer doing their best. With the backdrop of the dark and imposing mountains in the background - especially on particularly volcano like on in the middle - I can see why they wanted to make the effort.
    Other things to mention - Rob managed to cockle over again, and discovered his boots are no longer waterproof, finally had enough after 10 years. I had the great fun task of trying to park the van on the side of a single track road with little drop on one side and in a place were it specifically said no parking. The thing is this rule doesn't seem to apply anymore and as an ever increasing tourist spot Rob convinced me to just join the others all doing the same. He didn't convince me to try parking on the verge that was so muddly it looked like we might get stuck tere, fortunately we were able to find a sturdier looking piece of verge to leave it on.

    Food at the 'Old Inn' down the road from the brewery. We eventually decided to head back to the Inn after a drink after seeing vegetarian haggis on the menu and being recommended to try this by Alex. It was a veg haggis strudel and it was absolutely delicious!!!!! I really want to learn to make this myself because I have eaten it all night long. We shared a table with another couple who visit often to continue doing some classroom work since retiring from it. They were very nice to speak to and we had a good chat about travelling, Skye and the things to do. Sound like they have had quite the adventure themselves over the years and it was nice to share a converstaion with some new people.

    The stayover:
    The Talisker car park - right by Loch Harport and with conveniently placed toilets and showers right opposite.
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  • Day7

    Ullapool to Applecross

    May 6, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

    Today we drove from Ullapool to Applecross in Wester Ross.

    The route: On route today we came across a gorge to stop off at with a wooded pine forest walk. We stopped for lunch with a beautiful vista of the Summer Isles and then continued on our way with the odd stop for views.

    The weather: A mixed bag! We have had some rain (mostly drizzle) and then blue sky between clouds. The clouds have been low, clinging to the mountains and misting over the lakes. Despite the record breaking sun and temperatures in London, I think it is actually a blessing in disguise so long as the heavy rain stays away, it adds an atmopshere that you couldn't quite get in the sunshine. Thankfully the wind seems to have died down today too - it hs picked up a bit more this afternoon but no where near like the past few days.

    The highlights:
    The forest walk to the gorge. As an unplaned stop this was well worth getting out the car and walking in the drizzle to go and see. I was not expecting the scale of the massive waterfall and extremely deep gorge that cut below our feet whilst we stood on a victorian suspension bridge. It is probably the coolest gorge we have seen and seems to just fall into an abyss. Either side of the gorge is a pine forest trail. One leads to another viewpoint that sticks out over the edge and the other is a longer meandering walk that takes you back up to the car park. The smell of the pine was gorgeous and with the slight drizzle for the first half, we felt quite refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.

    The slowest motorhome in the world! - We got stuck behin this motorhome multiple times today and never have I witnessed such slow driving so unneccesarlily. They also didn't follow the advice to let others pass when you can...grrrr. Got here eventually though!

    A lot of backtracking. Many of the views reveal themselevs a little too late for you to stop and admire them and today this resulted in lots of long drives to the next nearest parking spot before we could turn the van around and take a look. Still - it's not the end of the world having to see the same beautiful view twice!

    Highland cows!!!!! and cow puppies - as Rob likes to call them. After seeing the odd one or two before now, today we got to see lot's of them with their gorgeous babies! They were right by the road with their huge horns and long fur. As far as cows go, they're pretty impressive.

    Another animal sign to add to the collection - this time Red Squirrels. We didn't see any though.

    Up close to a buzzard - it was sitting on a telephone wire just off the road from us and did some nice acrobatics for me whilst watching through the binoculars. I never normally see them perched so this was quite nice and meant I got a much better look a them. Unfortuantely Rob's shakey hands meant he didn't get quite the same experience. Londons trains have a lot to answer for! (Line side fires and cancellations meant I was unable to collect the pair of stablising binoculars from Mike the day we were due to leave - although I had told Rob to ask about them ages ago so....).

    Fish and chips at the Applecross Inn. A lovely little pub and as the only one for miles, a popular one. We waived our veg diet as we didn't have much choice to here. The fish are landed close by and they seem to care a lot for sustainability so at least it wasn't too bad. And they were delicious - beer battered and with a home made tartar sauce that was very nice and strangely had a hint of coconut to it that we can't think where it might have come from.

    The beach vIews. The coastal roads today have revealed lots of beautiful rocky inlets and sandy bays, many with crystal clear turquoise waters that look so so inviting. The fishing boats and the odd house on the shore make each look like a mini postcard.

    The Torridon Mountains. We drove through these mountains today along the flat glacial cut valley so that they towered either side of us for some time. they're made of some of the oldest rock in Scotland and many were snowcapped with quite dramatic looking peaks. All are above 3000ft and although not staggeringly high - they were pretty impressive to look at.

    The wild deer! Just now I looked up to see out of the window and was amazed to see three deer had made their way down to the roadside near the parking bay to eat. I have just spent the past twenty mins watching them and taking pictures and now there are 1eleven with a beautiful looking stag. Totally makes up for other day when we drove back to see them and they had gone! Our neigbours are annoyingly trying to walk near them to take photos whch is making them move further away...grrr.

    The Stayover: A parking layby by the side of the road on the opposite side of the bay to Applecrss. A lovely view of the bay and the town and only a 2 minute drive to the public toilets in the town in case of emergencies! No phone signal whatsoever but this was kinda nice to be honest.
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  • Day6

    Stac Polly and Ullapool

    May 5, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Today we woke up to much nicer weather, we could even see blue sky! We started off by driving back towards the castle we were going to stay at to see if we could spot the deer from the night before. No luck. The deer had clearly made their way into the hills. It was ire to see the view again with some sunshine though, the clouds added nice shadows for contrast and we could actually see the tops of the peaks- We didn't even realise there were so many when we drove down yesterday.
    We turned around and headed back on route to Ullapool- todays destination, we had planned to walk up Stac Polly but needed some lunch supplies first. Off to the Tesco superstore we went - the first supermarket in a while!(Turns out superstore here actually means a mid sized supermarketbut they had packaged food-so all was good-except my plastic conscience of course).
    The view as we drove to Ullapool was amazing- so many peaks and ridges- some cast in dark shadows that made them look like no one should go there (the Lion king and the elephant graveyard sprang to mind). Between the peaks were valleys made up of much smaller hills and mounds that were covered in golden grasses, grey rocks and dark purple shrubs as far as the eye could see, and then we eventually made the desent down to Ullapool.
    It is asmall town that sits on one of the locks and it look very much like an alpine village as you drive down into it with the water, peaks and pine trees against the predominantly while little houses.
    So, with lunch now bought beheaded back the way we came (againi!) to find the start point for our walk. Rob managed a spectacular stumble out of the van after booting up- made funnier when he reached for the door for support, only for it to fling open wider and almost have him land in the ditch of water behind. He was ok though so we can laugh.
    The walk was steep and my legs weren't too happy about it but we made good time s stopped shy of the summit for lunch. The wind on the face we had been climbing up was absolutely ridiculous so it was a welcome relief to enjoy lunch on the other side in the sunshine.
    After lunch becontimed the loop around the bottom of the summit before spotting a route upwards that we decided to try. The actual summit would mean a pretty tough bit Of scrambling but this was ok and got is close to the top.
    Walking over the ridge at the top exposed us once again to the wind and we could barely stand, it was insanely strong! There was no way we would even allempt to Summit the precarious stacks and besides, the view was pretty damn good- we could even see the sea.

    We walked back down against the never seizing wind and got back to the car after a 2hr 15min trip. And then I smelt it, the poop I had stood in...why!? After some inventive cleaning methods we Set back off to ullapool for chinese food and a campsite by the water.
    The bar was a little odd the chippy served bad chips and thought I was mad when I asked for a few scraps on top- only to fill me a tub with them instead and charge me for the privelege!
    Now we're in the van full of yummy chinese food and listenting to the rain and wind that has finally returned.
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  • Day5

    Day 6

    May 4, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    Sunny morning but windy!- Smoo cave visit
    Drove towards Ullapool and Stopped to admire views of beaches and bays on route
    came across highland cows!
    saw a cool old castle - small but great atmosphere. bya lake and low lying clouds.
    Saw deer on route to toilets at National Park that We ended up stopping at for the night. Lovely view of lakes and peaks and a nice quiet spot- off the road and just one other motorhome.
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  • Day2

    Day 3

    May 1, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

    Fort William to inverness via loch ness
    chasing Sunshine!
    First night sleeping with heater on thank god!
    Spey bay- no dolphins
    headed to abeach bar to camp for free in car park by sea_had food inside as thanks
    painted the never ending Sunset and watched gannets dive
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  • Day1

    Day 2

    April 30, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

    Drove to loch fyne and then to Fort William via Glencoe. Beautiful day and incredible views. Walked to some gorgeous pools and just enjoyedvthevamazing views of snow capped mountains.
    Camped by Ben Nevis. Possibly saw a golden eagleRead more

  • Day0

    Rest and be Thankful

    April 29, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Today we said bye to Alex and her lovely family in Glasgow who were kind enough to let us stay the night.
    We headed toward Loch Lomond and once arriving at Balloch at the South of the Loch we headed to the shore and came across the LAdy of Loch Lomond, a steam paddle boat that is now a tea room, but on route for funding to get it back out on the water again. It is the last ever paddle boat to be built in England and is the largest too. Fingers crossed they get there because that would be awesome to see.

    We also spotted a kilt walk taking place along the shores, hundreds of people walking for charity and the occasional bagpipe too...definitley i Scotland!

    We headed to a small hill from here called Duncrine Hill which supposedly has the best view from a small hill in all of Scotland. So far I am inclined to agree! After navigating te pretty muddy initial part of the walk, going up the hill wasn't too bad. We had beautiful skies, a great balance of sun and cloud and thevista from the top of the hill was a 360 degree view of Loch lomond and the surrounding area. It was truly stunning and BenLomond in the distance could be seen with a fw bits of white snow on top.

    After a while we noticed a big cloud covering the peak of Ben Lomond in the distance. It looks pretty gloomy but atmospheric and we made our way back down before it reached us.

    It never really rained too hard - we then headed to
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  • Day172

    Another Christchurch Wander

    March 6, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    We decided to check out the cardboard cathedral after a very chilled out morning. This hostel is far nicer than the last so it was good to sit outside and eat breakfast in the nice garden and actually chill out in the TV room without feeling awkward.

    I wanted to take photos of some of the construction being done or new buildings but in all honesty there wasn't really any worth taking a photo of just yet. There aren't many complete and most are so covered in scaffolding that they don't look like much. Be better to just revisit one day!

    The cardboard cathedral is not what I had expected. It is made of shipping containers and a corrugated plastic roof and on the outside just looks like a big triangle with large panels of coloured plastic for stained glass windows. It already looks quite impressive considering what it is made of. Inside though is most impressive. There are huge cardboard rolls/tubes that line the ceiling, all the way from top to bottom, completely disguising the plastic roof and actually making the place feel very much like a church inside. The simplicity of it is quite beautiful really. The alter and other such things are also made of cardboard and it looks like a wedding might be going on today. A very clever design that completely serves it's purpose and is made from such basic materials. They want to build a small shipping container bell tower next too as only one bell cracked when the cathedrals tower fell down.

    We wandered some more of this part of the city, a few more of the older buildings seem to have survived here but there are still big gaps where the CBD once was. More awesome graffiti covers the walls though.
    We wandered through a gap filler of sofas that are designed to look like grass and some colourful grazing geometric cows. Rob managed to bang his broken toe on a shirt metal stub in the ground so we had to sit for a while. It was just starting to get better and now it is worse again. New Zealand hates his toe it would seem as this is the millionth time he has banged it. Unfortunately flip flops are the only shoe he can wear.

    We had some food, ice cream and smoothies from the restart mall after looking for some souvenirs. We got talking to a Kiwi woman behind the till about going home and it turned out she is from Kenya (her accent would never give it away) and how nice it was after years to go back and just hear the accent and the other things that despite not seeing for so long still feel familiar. She was very nice and chatty and we ended up discussing British vs Kiwi confectionary. Apparently this is one thing we miss :)

    Back at the hostel we had a snooze...Rob banged his toe again on a chair getting out of the bunk (hopefully he will still have a toe when we leave) and then we cooked dinner and watched a movie before bed. It's nice to have a couple of days to wind down like this.
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