A Travellerspoint blog

Friday, August 21st

Into the Highlands

rain 20 °C
View Europe 2009 on bryceb's travel map.

I've always had a fascination; almost a sense of "belonging", with the Scottish Highlands and my plan was to get there as quickly as possible. I wasn't disappointed; we left Glasgow and travelled north towards Fort William and the scenery got better as the traffic got thinner. We travelled through the beautiful valley of Glencoe, the site of the infamous massacre of the Macdonalds by the Campbells, then on to Fort William past Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain. We went over the "crack" that runs diagonally through Scotland and splits it in two, and headed out on the "Road to the Isles" (Bonnie Prince Charlie fame") towards Mallaig. On the way we stopped at the Glenfinnan Monument, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenfinnan), which was erected in 1815 to mark the place where Prince Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") raised his standard, at the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. I paid to climb to the top via a spiral staircase inside, where I had a great view over Loch Shiel. We continued on to Mallaig, a small fishing village, where we were to catch the ferry to the Isle of Skye tomorrow. I had never heard of Mallaig until a Scottish nurse from Mallaig came to work on our ward for a short time. Our B&B was close to the water with good views across the bay. Late that afternoon we started following a track behind the B&B, and continued up and over a few hills to another bay on the other side, where we were able to see the Knoydart Peninsula, (http://www.worldreviewer.com/travel-guides/trekking/the-knoydart-peninsula-on-foot/53377/), one of the most isolated wilderness areas of Britain. It was raining and very windy but not cold, so we eventually arrived back at our lodgings, and then drove to a lovely old hotel in an elevated spot, full of Scottish finery, where we had a hearty meal as the sun set over the Isle of Skye. Because we were now at such a high latitude (57 degrees north), and it was summer, the sun set quite late.

Posted by bryceb 16:06 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Thursday August 20th

The Long Haul

overcast 20 °C
View Europe 2009 on bryceb's travel map.

As I was quite keen to spend as much time in Scotland as possible, we left Oxford this morning, and drove the entire 600+ km to Glasgow today. As it was all on the motorways, we were there before 5pm; a fairly uneventful journey with a bit of rain. We stayed in a motel that only showed as a bare block of land on Google Earth; it had only just been built. For tea we went to a nearby shopping centre; generally speaking we found the Scots a very friendly and helpful people.

Posted by bryceb 15:42 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Wednesday August 19th

More of Oxford

sunny 24 °C
View Europe 2009 on bryceb's travel map.

The next day began by finding a geocache near our lodgings; this took us to a large tree in a grassy field near the River Thames. After having a feed of blackberries, we made our way back into Oxford, following the Thames. We spent the remainder of the day wandering around and discovering new places. We later drove out to the "Kilns"; the house where C.S. Lewis lived for many years, and then went to a nearby church where he is buried under a hard-to-find gravestone.

Posted by bryceb 03:29 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Tuesday August 18th

On to Oxford

sunny -23 °C
View Europe 2009 on bryceb's travel map.

Not too early in the morning, we walked around the corner with our bags, to the Hertz Rent-a-Car place, and picked up our blue 1800cc Astra sports model with low profile tyres and tweaked engine. It had a few dents and scratches, but it performed flawlessly, had plenty of grunt, and stuck to the road like glue. Leaving the depot, we were hit with the London Congestion Tax, an 8 pound fee for entering the congestion zone. As the depot was inside the zone, we had no choice. Anyway we took the motorway out to Oxford, and booked in at a bed-and-breakfast in Oxford, within walking distance of the main street.Again we had to lug our suitcases upstairs to our cramped quarters. The manager was very helpful, although his dazed look and the funny smell led us to believe that all was not as it seemed. In addition to the weedy smell, the hotel also smelt like the morning's breakfast, with the cooked fat smell lingering everywhere. Nevertheless, the manager and his assistant couldn't have been more helpful, giving local advice, sorting out car parking, and cooking substantial breakfasts on both mornings, with a choice of foods to suit almost every taste. The area we were in, had a lot of students and residents of foreign extraction.
Anyway, having driven the short distance from London, the day was still quite young, so we wandered into Oxford, and spent the day exploring the main centre, with its universities, pubs, churches, monuments and coffee shops. The theme for the next 2 days was "CS Lewis" as Oxford was his home town for many years, and some of my favourite books in my early teenage years were his Narnian Chronicles, before they became commercialised. So we had a drink in the "Eagle and Child", where he used to meet most Tuesdays with "The Inklings", a like minded group including JR Tolkien. If that was dry, they would go to the "Lamb and Flag" across the road. We were later to learn that most pubs in the town had provided them with refreshments on a number of occasions.
Oxford was a surprise to me. It was refreshingly old, quiet, undeveloped and a little run-down in parts. Cars were few, as there was a "Park and Ride" system outside of the town. The main river was the Thames, a little narrower than in London but still a reasonable size. After spending the day in Oxford, we headed back to the B&B, then later that evening, walked to a local restaurant for tea.

Posted by bryceb 10:28 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Monday August 17th

More walks in London

sunny 25 °C
View Europe 2009 on bryceb's travel map.

As we were right next to Hyde Park, we headed to London city through Hyde Park, Speaker's Corner and then Buckingham Palace, where hundreds of people were waiting to see the changing of the guard. We could see the guards, and figured they wouldn't look much different if they did change, as they all looked the same anyway. So we continued on, down to the houses of Parliament and Big Ben, where I lost my map in the heavily fortified grounds, as it blew off the bridge. Fortunately I had another, as I found it difficult to carry out my job as Tour Director without one. We passed the London Eye; it was rotating so slowly that we decided we could get much more done in the same time. We passed No 10 Downing Street, and then by chance stumbled across another "Changing of the Guard" on horseback. This time we were so close that we had to step out of the way. We walked through the West End, had lunch at Trafalgar Square, and eventually reached the British Museum, where we spent the next hour and a half. From there we walked home again. That was the abridged version, but I know we walked another 18km at least. But after those 2 days in London, I am satisfied that we saw as much as we could have.

Posted by bryceb 14:56 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 50) « Page 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 »