Over the Sea to Skye

More catching up on the blogs!   

September 16th, 2016

Time to hit the road!

We really liked our B&B in Inverness.  The hosts were so warm and friendly.  They gave us some hints for our trip today – go to Plockton.

Again the GPS is a life saver.  I am sure we would still be meandering in the streets of Inverness trying to find our way out if not for the lovely British lady giving us directions.  I think I will refer to her as Gigi.  David calls me the Mapasaurus, img_20160919_202157because I like maps and I like to look at maps and I can remember what I see on a map. This me, mapasauring.  🙂

Gigi doesn’t get mad if you miss the turn she told you about 3 times, she just finds another route.  She also doesn’t nag you about the speed, but gives you a little beep to let you know to get your lead foot off the gas.  Saved me from having to say anything about speed and I could concentrate on the far left of the road that we seemed to be hugging awfully close!   Not that David was usually speeding.  More on that later.

Well we told Gigi where we wanted to go and she got us on our way and out of town.  The road was really pretty and we passed numerous little villages with cute names like: Strathpeffer, Contin, Garve, Achnasheen, Strathcarron, Coulags, Stromeferry and Plockton!

Along this route we discovered several interesting facts about driving in Scotland.

  • At points of interest there is often a sign that reminds you to drive on the left side (they know their tourists)
  • The speed signs are very small and sometimes you don’t notice them.  However Gigi does and likes to let you know if you are breaking the law.
  • There are an array of other signs we don’t know the meaning of (scary but true)
  • Scots drive fast.  Single lane undivided roads are usually posted at 60 miles / hour!  Thats 100km/hour! These roads do not have wide shoulders (or often much of any shoulder) and they wind around mountains, up and down.
  • Scots have a lot of single track roads.  These are two way roads that are only wide enough for one vehicle. So they provide ‘passing place’  which is not like our passing lanes at all.  They are a pull out that the oncoming car or you must pull into to allow the other car to pass by.  These roads also wind around bends and up and down so there is a lot of blind corners!  And the speed limit is anywhere from 40 to 60 miles per hour!
  • When you see a sign for caution animals on the road it could be deer – but Scottish deer are bigger, appear to be running rather than jumping and have a lot more antlers; sheep – in many sizes, colours and shapes, horned and otherwise; cows; and even feral goats.   We didn’t see deer, cows or feral goats on the roadways.  We did see sheep.  Lots of them!
  • Roundabouts.  Scots love roundabouts.  If you leave the motorway (the major road) you will more than likely enter a roundabout, followed by several more roundabouts. Roundabouts are sometimes ill-defined.  There may be no circle in the middle  of it, just a suggestion of some extra space.  Roundabouts may be more oval-abouts.  Really.  And then there are the multilane roundabouts.  If you are in the outside lane, but plan on taking the 5th exit (yes Gigi, we heard you, we just couldn’t get there) you will likely be going to the next roundabout to go back to where you made your mistake and try again.
  • Remember it is a wide right and a tight left when you are making a turn.

After a few roundabout issues we made it out of Inverness proper and onto what we would call a single lane highway (with random roundabouts).  We passed pretty villages and farms and sheep.

Then we encountered the one track roads.  Well that was fun as we were still getting used to being on the ‘other’ side of the road and oncoming traffic has this effect of making the driver want to pull further to the right, but there are no shoulders, so the passenger makes little Mapasaurus squeeky noises, while Gigi only beeps if you are going too fast and tells you that in ‘a quarter of a mile enter the round about and take the 3rd exit’.

One track roads.  Suddenly the road squeezes to a minuscule one car width and you think you just may be on a one way road, but no.  Oncoming traffic is stopped in the passing place and you scoot by and then suddenly you note that there is oncoming traffic and you have a passing place nearest so you scoot in and wait.  All very polite and little hand waves.  It works.

We pass through some beautiful scenery.  Loch Carron (which isn’t a real Loch or lake, but an inlet from the sea.

Plockton is a cute little town.  The tide is out and there is an island you can walk to.

David did but didn’t cross the island as there were hordes of midgies (small biting flies) flying about.   We wandered the harbour street and walked down to the main pier.  All so very lovely.

There are palm trees growing in people’s yards!

Back in the car and on to Skye.  The Skye bridge stands out as you approach it.  It is a big hump on a little bridge.  I only have it on video on the way there and I can’t upload video to the blog.  But here are pics of sheep on the road and the views as we drove!

Once through there we meandered along the nice wide roads along with everyone else going to Skye for the weekend. img_4098

We had sun, fine rain and lots of fine rain, and sunshine again.

Coming up one hill into the sunshine, David suddenly pulls over into a spot along the road.

Standing there as if waiting for the attention is one of the cutest cows I have ever seen!!   There were several of them and they stood placidly, chewing their cud as if waiting for their pictures to be taken.  The wee hairy coos are so cute!   The Cullin Hills are the back drop to these cute beasties.  The hills are majestic as well!

We stopped at Sligachan to have a peek at the river.  What a gorgeous spot with the Cullin hills behind us and a rocky stream flowing besides.  People were out with their dogs and doing hiking.  Truly lovely. img_4118

We made our way into Portree.  Well actually our AirBnB was just outside of Portree and we managed to find it okay.  We have a lovely little room, twin beds again, img_4123but they are comfy.  No one was about so we unpack what we needed and set out to walk to Portree itself.  It was a longer walk than we thought.

We were both hungry.  Portree has a visitors centre and when we went in it was so busy!!  We got a local map and headed back to check out the waterfront.

Portree was not what we expected.  We found some shops, a lot of restaurants were closed until 5:30 pm and generally the various staff were grumpy and surly.

 

Some of the views were very pretty though.

But overall the town seemed to lack that authentic quaintness we were expecting.  It seemed tired of the tourists.

We found a pub, but were told that the WiFi wasn’t working since the island had just gone high speed and ended up crashing the system!  We went to another bar and had a drink but they also did not have WiFi.

Headed to the last seen bar and decided we would just eat there.  When David mentioned to the barkeep that we would like to see the menu he told him that we could see it but we couldn’t eat on the bar side but would have to reserve a table on the restaurant side – the other side of the same bar some 30 feet away.  Unless we had our dog with us, then we could eat on the bar side!! What?  So we got a table.  They squished us into the smallest space.  Dinner was expensive and the portions were small and the food was cold and the service was pitiful.

Wish we had brought Tuukka with us!!

We walked back to our B&B and discovered we didn’t have great internet there either.  Oh well, call it a night and get some sleep!

 

 

 

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