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Drama on the Nile

Egypt - Aswan

sunny 29 °C
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The train ride wasn't too bad... we got a lie in and didn't get woken up by the Adhan at 4:30am. But the toilets were grim and breakfast was a three course selection of different types of stale bread. We had a bit of chance to enjoy the Nile Valley, as most of the population (and therefore all the transportation routes) are along the banks of the great river. By mid-morning we had arrived in the southern city of Aswan.

Welcome to Aswan

Welcome to Aswan

We started by taking a visit to Philae, a temple dedicated to Isis (the goddess, not the group...). The temple sits on the island of Agilkia, in the Aswan Reservoir - the area between the Low and High Dams.

Temple of Philae

Temple of Philae

Until the construction of the dams, it sat on the island of Philae (hence the name) which was then submerged and required it's relocation to the neighbouring island. However it is near enough the same as it was - same position, almost the same orientation, and still requiring a boat to get to it.

Boarding the boat

Boarding the boat

We arrived at the marina, which as surrounded by locals selling tat, as well as millions of flies. Trying to avoid both, we eventually made it onto a boat, where we were joined by some local salesmen before we finally reached the island.

Philae

Philae

The temple was a standard Egyptian complex, with colonnades leading to a gateway portal and inner sanctuaries. Was it the best temple in Egypt? No. But it's setting on an island did make it very interesting, plus it had some pretty cats to look at...

Cat at the temple

Cat at the temple

We headed back into Aswan, arriving at the hotel - the same one I had originally booked to stay in in March 2020. We checked into the room and had a few hours to ourselves. Some of the group decided to take a walk around the area, grab some food and visit the souq. I had Pringles and decided to have a rest instead. I've overdone it on previous trips and having had a rubbish breakfast... (If I never see stale bread again, it'll be too soon)... I was best off resting.

It was also the first time since the brief few minutes in Cairo that I'd had chance to connect to the WiFi and the outside world - so the time went by pretty quickly. Before I knew it, it was time to regroup, and after meeting in the lobby, we headed across the road to board a small boat.

At this point of the river there are many islands. The largest of which, Elephantine, contains luxury hotels to the north and a Nubian village to the south. The Nubians were the original inhabitants of this part of Egypt, and are of more African complexion as opposed to the majority of the Arab Egyptians from the north. For the first time it felt like we were actually in Africa. Northern and cosmopolitan Egypt is very much part of the Middle East.

Boat Tour

Boat Tour

We circled the island, including views of the Old Cataract Hotel (where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile), before taking a walk around the village.

Old Cataract Hotel

Old Cataract Hotel

After the tour we then visited a local family's home for dinner. Once again it was local food - grilled chicken, rice, tagine, stale bread. Fine, but nothing special. Thankfully it was still relatively early, as the next day we had a very early start.

Sunset from the Nubian Village

Sunset from the Nubian Village

At 3:45am the alarm went off... I took my travel pillow and blanket with me and prepared to board the coach that would take us south to Abu Simbel. I was ready to knock any grannies over if necessary in order to claim that back row all to myself. But thankfully I boarded first so didn't need to... I settled in to grab a few more hours sleep, as it was a four hour drive to Abu Simbel. To ensure our safety, this was via a police escort which had enforced this disgustingly early start.

After a few hours of sleep I awoke to find sunrise as we drove the last hour or so through the Sahara Desert.

Waking up through the desert

Waking up through the desert

Abu Simbel, like the temple at Philae was moved due to the construction of the dams at Aswan. Previously located within the cliffs on the banks of the Nile, it has now been moved to relatively flat land above Lake Nasser (the lake that was formed by the Aswan High Dam). Consequently artificial domes have been created to house the relocated Temples, which look ridiculous and so out of place!

Back of the Temples

Back of the Temples

But the temples themselves are very impressive. As we had a fast driver, we were one of the first groups down to the Temples.

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel

This allowed our group to take what was essentially a photoshoot outside. Just half an hour later and the place was completely crowded!

Not long later...

Not long later...

There are two temples. One for Ramses II, and one for his wife Nefertari (not to be confused with Nefertiti).

Nefertari's Temple

Nefertari's Temple

We looked around the temples, impressive, with lots of side rooms, but quite small, considering the scale at their entrances

Inside the Temples

Inside the Temples

After spending several hours here we then headed back through the desert towards Aswan. We were so far south that we were on the other side of the Tropic of Cancer, where even before midday, it was hot enough to form a mirage. An incredible sight.

Mirage

Mirage

After having had some lunch out of a snack box, we arrived back in Aswan. We crossed the Low Dam, just managing to get some sights of the High Dam, before we stopped at an Essences store.

Aswan High Dam

Aswan High Dam

The store showed us examples of natural oils that can be used as an alternative to medicines. I didn't buy anything but came out smelling lovely... That evening we went for dinner at a restaurant beside the Nile, before taking a night time walk through the souq.

View from the hotel

View from the hotel

The next morning, thankfully later than yesterday, we had breakfast at the hotel before heading back down to the river. We were now leaving Aswan, but slowly... We would sail down the Nile on traditional Feluccas - wind powered boats.

On the Felucca

On the Felucca

The boats had mattresses upon which we would sit. And with our luggage aboard, we sailed off. The group had been split into two, which allowed us views of the other boat at close proximity. We didn't travel very fast, as the wind was not overly strong, and was coming from the north! Therefore we spent much of the time travelling across the river from side to side.

Felucca

Felucca

As the boat had no toilets or other facilities, we would make regular stops with the support boat in tow. Having sailed for a few hours already, we stopped along the western bank of the river just outside the city for lunch before restarting our journey north.

Getting to know our travelling companions, the sunshine and views meant despite being stuck on a boat all day, time went by quickly. It was also a well needed opportunity to have some relaxing on what was so far a very busy trip.

After a few hours we stopped again. And this is where the first disaster took place. The support boat pulled up beside us and everything was roped together. Then we were able to get off and have a walk around or use the facilities. One of the older ladies from Canada popped to the toilet, then when she came back attempted to walk on the boards heading to the river bank. As she did this the boat moved slightly, she grabbed the pole holding the boat in place, which dislodged and then she fell into the river. Queue panic with all the staff...

She was fine, but shaken up, as she had been fully submerged into the river. She stayed behind with her sister and our tour leader on the support boat to clean herself up, get changed and recover from the experience. A little later, the support boat caught up with us, and the three of them re-joined us.

It wasn't much later before sunset. And as the boats did not have lights we needed to stop sailing for the evening. We pulled up at another riverbank on the western bank, and began to get sorted for the evening. We re-joined our other travel companions and chatted over dinner.

Evening on the boat

Evening on the boat

Many hours of great conversation went by, discussing our experiences and before we knew it, it was already pretty late, with a busy day tomorrow.

The boats had a blanket wrapped around them to give us some privacy, but it made it pretty difficult to find our way around! I managed to grab my bits, sort out the blankets and settle in for the night. It was a bit cold, but pretty peaceful, and I got a better night's sleep than I expected.

The transformation into beds

The transformation into beds

We awoke to a pretty chilly morning, and this is when the second disaster on the Nile occurred. One of the younger Canadians had been sorting through her stuff ready for the day when she suddenly heard a plop... she looked over and realised that her bum bag containing her passport, money and phone had dropped over the edge of the boat and into the river, sailing submerged under the water downstream.

Cue panic, for the second time in 15 hours... The felucca began untying itself to sail down the river and see if it could locate the bag, before the support boat joined. But sadly, to no avail. The bag and it's contents were lost forever...

Early morning hunt

Early morning hunt

After returning to the one remaining static boat, everyone moved their belongings onto the support boat where we enjoyed breakfast. The sun was starting to rise and I was finally feeling some warmth for the first time in hours!

We then made our way across the river where we were picked up by a coach and began heading north to Kom Ombo, where there is a double temple - dedicated to two Gods, Sobek and Haroeris. The former of which being the Crocodile God.

Temple at Kom Ombo

Temple at Kom Ombo

We took a look around the temple in the morning sun, before heading next door to the museum full of mummified Crocodiles, in Sobek's honour.

Mummified Crocodiles

Mummified Crocodiles

After a short time at this odd museum, we made our way back past the tat sellers and onto the coach, to continue to the final major stop on this Egyptian Adventure - Luxor!

Posted by kmmk17 18:44 Archived in Egypt Tagged desert boat temple train river egypt museum island ancient mummy Comments (0)

Back To The Past

Channel Islands - Sark & Rural Jersey

sunny 28 °C
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The Channel Islands are a collection of islands located off the coast of France, and made up of two distinct British Territories - the Bailiwick of Jersey, which contains Jersey and some other off shore islands; and the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which contain all the other major islands. Although they are often collectively grouped together, they haven't been united since the 13th century.

We would today aim to get to Sark, the fourth largest of the Channel Islands, and located within the Bailiwick of Guernsey, just a short ferry ride away from Jersey. However not having full confidence things would run smoothly, after yesterday's visit to the Port, we made sure we were there nice and early.

It was relatively quiet when we arrived. We headed to the check-in desk and advised that we had bought through Condor Ferries rather than direct from them. "Oh" the sole lady on the desk said. It wasn't on her system, and so she ran over to speak to someone from Condor. We then spent the next half hour bouncing back and forward between the desks, where Condor stated that they had got us on their system, and had passed this over to Manche Îles; whilst Manche Îles claimed they hadn't received the information from Condor. This wasn't an automated process, and someone somewhere hadn't processed the email with this information. Thankfully we weren't the only ones with the issue, and multiple people were put aside at check in as they also weren't on the system.

As time went on, many of the people at Condor who were helping us left as it was the end of their shift, and we got more and more anxious about whether we would actually make it to Sark. Although the tickets weren't super cheap, as we were here I didn't mind buying new tickets and trying to sort out a refund later - it would be more expensive to come back to Jersey at a later date to visit Sark then. But then, just 20 minutes before the ferry was leaving, the printer started sending out loads of tickets - the processing had finally been done. We received our tickets and were finally able to make our way into the departure lounge, where everyone else was sat waiting!

It had been a long day already and we weren't even on the ferry yet! The small foot passenger ferry would only take an hour to get to Sark, and spent half the time travelling along the beautiful south and west coasts of Jersey, past lighthouses and other defensive infrastructure.

German WWII Defensive Tower

German WWII Defensive Tower

Sark is an interesting island. It was a fiefdom until 2008, and is entirely car free. The island has relatively steep sides, and from the port there are two options to get into the town - either walk up the hill or take the tractor bus for £1.50. Along with most others, we waited for the tractor.

The Tractor

The Tractor

When arriving at the top of the hill it was instantly reminiscent of traditional villages from historical dramas. We walked down the main street past the post office, cafés and shops, enjoying the ambience.

Sark Village

Sark Village

Being a small island it was only half an hour before we arrived at the beautiful La Coupée, the isthmus linking the peninsular of Little Sark with the mainland.

La Coupée

La Coupée

The path sits above a huge ridge with stunning views over the local area, and as far as the island of Guernsey. After spending time here, we headed back towards the town, past many fields as well as the Methodist Church and Cricket pitch.

Views from La Coupée

Views from La Coupée

The weather was hotting up. Although the middle of July is always nice (part of the reason why we had come here this weekend to begin with), there was a massive heatwave coming, with Monday due to be the hottest day in UK history. Even with the sea breeze, Sark was boiling, and any time out of the shade was hard going! After a surprisingly strenuous walk back to the centre of the village, we went to one of the Cafés for a cool drink and a bit of food, before making our way back to the Port.

We took a detour, and headed via Sark Henge, a modern Henge located on the south coast, before heading down the hill to the Harbour.

Sark Henge

Sark Henge

After exploring the older, Creux Harbour, we waited for our ferry return back to Jersey.

Creux Harbour

Creux Harbour

We arrived back with beautiful views of the island, and once again wandered through the town, past the Jersey Cows monument - where they even real?

The elusive Jersey Cows

The elusive Jersey Cows

The next day was our last on Jersey. However as the flight wasn't until the evening, we had lots of time to still explore. Leaving our room and checking out of the hotel, we headed back to the bus station, bought some day tickets and then headed north. We got off the bus a few stops before the end in the middle of nowhere and walked down a track. We then arrived at the northern coastal path and made our way westwards.

Coastal Path

Coastal Path

There were some beautiful views along this rugged coast, but we didn't walk too far. It was already getting very hot, and with some very hilly sections and our luggage in tow it was already getting exhausting. At the next access point we headed back into the interior, and walked the short distance here to the Zoo.

Getting exhausted

Getting exhausted

Andrew met us inside the zoo and whilst on his break gave us a tour of the various enclosures including the Orangutans, Lemurs and Bats.

A shading Orangutan

A shading Orangutan

By now it was already mid afternoon, and so we headed on the next bus towards Mont Orgueil Castle that sits imposingly over the village of Gorey. As it was hot, we decided not to explore the castle in too much detail, and instead took a connecting bus along the beautiful south coast towards St. Helier.

Mont Orgueil

Mont Orgueil

After grabbing a bite to eat, we then jumped on our last bus this holiday, taking us back to the airport. The airport was lovely and cool compared to the warm outside air, and once through security we sat upstairs in the viewing gallery where we could watch the other planes coming in.

The flight home was again short, and as it was a glorious day there were beautiful views over the other islands, the Cotentin Peninsula and Southern England.

It had been an interesting visit to the Channel Islands - lot of unique things to see and do, and we had been fortunate with the lovely weather. A shame we didn't have more time to visit Guernsey, Alderney, or even some of the nearby French ports like St. Malo, but it was a lovely place to visit for a long weekend.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 10:21 Archived in Guernsey Tagged cliffs airport zoo island castle ferry channelislands Comments (0)

A Journey to Jersey

Channel Islands - St. Helier

sunny 22 °C
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In this post* Covid world, travel has restarted - but it is not 2019 again. Being the first summer in three years there is pent up demand, but equally the travel sector has not recovered from the massive lay offs. Add to that the Brexit effects and the virus still lingering in the background to make people ill it's still not easy to travel.

After a lot of time spent at home, we wanted to get away somewhere but had a lot of indecision about where to go that suited us - somewhere warm but not too hot, safe and with decent flight times from Luton. Waiting for the airlines to decide which flights they weren't capable of running after the chaos at Easter and Half Term, it meant a lot of the places we had thought about still hadn't returned to the same amount of flights as in the past. With few exciting places to choose from we had to have a wide open search, and that's when we thought about Jersey.

Although still (sort of) in the UK - to get there it was easiest to fly, and being the middle of July the weather would almost certainly be good - a great place for a long weekend.

We left on Thursday lunchtime and headed up to the airport. It was a relatively quick flight across the South Coast and the English Channel before we made it to the Channel Islands. There were some beautiful views of Alderney, Sark and Guernsey before we flew right over Jersey and landed at the airport.

Alderney

Alderney

By now we could already see that surprisingly for a small island like this, it was relatively hilly. The end of the runway sat on an embankment overlooking the beach below, whilst blustering winds hit us. In anticipation of up to 30C by the end of the holiday, right now vests were a bit optimistic.

When landing we noticed a Jet2 airlines plane next to ours... were there some tropical destinations for these islanders or was this the tropical paradise? (turns out it's the latter.... bad luck!) Entering the small terminal building there was lots of bunting, celebrating the recent Platinum Jubilee.

Arriving at the Tropical Paradise

Arriving at the Tropical Paradise

We then took the bus and after around half an hour we arrived at Liberation Square in the centre of town. This square commemorates the liberation of the island after its occupation during WWII - which we'd explore in more detail tomorrow. From here it was just a 10 minute walk to our hotel. After checking in we then headed over to the nearby supermarket to get bits for the stay before grabbing a quick dinner.

Liberation Square

Liberation Square

By now it was already evening and so we settled in for the night before our first full day on the other side of the Channel.

The following morning after eating some breakfast we headed out back to the bus station and boarded a bus to the War Tunnels. After around half an hour passing First Tower, one of the many defensive towers on the island, we arrived at the tunnels.

First Tunnel

First Tunnel

These tunnels were built by the Nazis beginning 1941, firstly as a barrack and ammunitions store, then later as an underground hospital.

War Tunnels

War Tunnels

It was built by slave labour and although never finished, is now open as a museum detailing the occupation period of the islands from 1940 to 1945. This was the only part of the British Isles to have been occupied during the War, and was a fascinating insight into what could have been.

Inside the Tunnels

Inside the Tunnels

After this we headed back into St. Helier. Once here we walked down to the Port. We had decided to visit Sark on the Saturday but were having issues with the ferry tickets. As there was no refund policy if we caught Covid, we didn't book the tickets until just before going. But after keeping an eye on them, when we finally came to book they suddenly all disappeared from the website - every ticket with the company to any port over the next few days was no longer available. I emailed the company to query this, but after not having heard anything in the meantime we figured it might be worth heading down to the port. I had managed to buy the tickets through Condor Ferries, who although not providing the service directly were taking orders on their behalf.

When we got to the port, it as as we feared. Few people around to speak to. No one at the ferry desk for Sark, and at Condor Ferries' desk, only confirming that our tickets were confirmed at their end, and that we should arrive early as the other company "don't know what they're doing". In the meantime we checked the websites - Jersey's Port website said the ferry was still due, and the actual ferry company had now relaunched their tickets. We'd just have to head down in good time to ensure we'd sort it in the morning.

After this, we headed back to the hotel to change. We had worn cooler clothing as the tunnels were a constant 17C. But when we got back to St. Helier it was much warmer.

We then made our way to the Jersey Museum. The museum detailed the history of the island, from it's Norman rule to the present day, and was worth seeing with lots of exhibits.

The closest we got to a Jersey Cow

The closest we got to a Jersey Cow

After this we headed back across St. Helier for a walk across the now dry causeway over to Elizabeth Castle. Although we didn't go in due to the very overpriced tickets, it was still a nice place to see from the outside.

Elizabeth Castle

Elizabeth Castle

By now it was getting on for early evening and so we headed over to one of the only chain restaurants on the island - TGIs.

After a post meal crash at the hotel, we headed back out into town to meet up with one of Chris's friends - Andrew, who now works at Jersey Zoo. We had a few drinks and a catch up before finally heading back to the hotel for the final time today after a busy day exploring.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 19:06 Archived in Jersey Tagged museum island tunnel plane war ferry channelislands Comments (0)

A Mooch in Antigua

Honeymoon - Antigua

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As the Caribbean can be quite samey, we had made a conscious effort to explore different things in each place. However with a run of busy days and with none of the possible excursions really tickling our fancy, we decided to have a more chilled day today.

After having got up in our own time and had breakfast ("Two Apple juices?" said the waiter who by now knows what I want each day), we made our way down to the port to have an exploration.

P&O were quite good at having hand sanitizer stations everywhere, however their ID card printers are such poor quality that the hand sanitizer wipes away all the ink and leaves them unreadable. Instead of investing in good quality machines, or giving everyone plastic lanyards to keep their cards in (they charge £5 for these in the shop), the solution is to get the passengers to request a new card.

Having already had to ask for a new ID card just a few days into the cruise (as the one I was given initially was already half wiped off before I even picked it up), by now, day 10 on board, my card was getting pretty bad again. Still possible to read, but not ideal.

Getting down to the disembarkation area the lady looks at my card and says "you need a new card". Yes, I know - because your printers are awful, I think to myself. Then she just carries on looking at me. "What... now?" I ask. "Yes, now" she snaps back at me. Despite the fact the card is still readable, I now need to traipse all the way back up 3 decks to the reception and then wait around whilst yet another new card is printed. Thank God we didn't have an excursion booked or we would have missed it.

It was not impossible to speak to customers nicely, but clearly they've just employed anyone they can find even if they are rude to the passengers. Eventually after now having my third card in the space of a week I could traipse all the way back down and finally get off the ship.

Whilst most of the ports had not required any kind of Covid checks, Antigua was a bit tighter, and required us to do temperature checks on the jetty before we made it into the cruise terminal. Nevertheless, we had so far managed to dodge Covid and even the hot temperatures still gave us a normal reading, so we were allowed into St. John's.

Cruise Terminal

Cruise Terminal

The terminal was full of the usual shops and cafés, and we had a little look around before then heading out into St. John's proper and to the eponymously named cathedral that overlooks the town.

St. John's Cathedral

St. John's Cathedral

From the outside it looked a bit of a state - but inside it was completely unexpected - being completely panelled in wood.

Inside the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

Although it was undergoing some renovation, it was still lovely to see. We then headed south through the back streets of the town to the VC Bird Monument - dedicated to the first Antiguan President, but bizarrely painted like no monument should be.

VC Bird Monument

VC Bird Monument

Ironically, Antigua sells itself as the island of 365 beaches, and yet not one of them is a walkable distance from the port, and so after just under an hour or so, we were already back at the port. We had another wander around the terminal before re-boarding the ship.

We spent the afternoon once again lazing around the pool, before enjoying a sail away through Deepwater Harbour and past Fort James.

Fort James

Fort James

At tonight's dinner we once again picked up lots of the small plates of different foods and had our fill, before having a chilled evening watching some of the on demand entertainment.

Dinner

Dinner

Although when we had travelled northwards there had been a sea day between the Windwards and the Leeward Islands, on the return journey southwards we would have continuous port days. We therefore travelled on a relatively direct route, and this meant before bedtime we were passing very close to the island of Montserrat.

Montserrat

Montserrat

As we didn't have a balcony, I went out on deck to take a look - being able to see a silhouette of the volcanic island as we passed. After taking in the views, I then went for a quick wander around parts of the ship I'd not yet seen, before finally heading back to the cabin for the night.

Pool by Night

Pool by Night

Posted by kmmk17 17:18 Archived in Antigua and Barbuda Tagged food city island cathedral caribbean Comments (0)

Unlucky by the Lochs

Lochaber, Cairngorms & Inverness - Highlands

semi-overcast 16 °C
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As we continued towards Fort William, our next base, we kept a keen eye on the developing crack. After stopping just outside Spean Bridge we realised the crack was worsening, and with another 3 days and 200 miles still to drive, this problem needed fixing. But with no Internet we had little choice but to continue on our 3 hour journey to Fort William.

Once we arrived we discussed our options, and realised our only option was to swap the car, but with no Avis base in Fort William, all we could do was drive back to Inverness Airport which was 2 hours away. En route we tried to call them to check this was possible, but being on hold with a dodgy signal meant this was not very successful.

Eventually, at around 4pm we arrived back at the airport, where we would be in just a few days time. Thankfully we were able to swap the car but it was now another two hours back to Fort William. Trying to create some sort of silver lining we decided that we would shuffle around our schedule and today would be the Loch Ness day.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness

We stopped en route a few times for views of Loch Ness, as well as grabbing some souvenirs. Loch Ness really is huge, and most of the detour to Inverness had meant driving along side it. So much so, that by the end we weren't even interested in it anymore!

As it was a very long day, after eventually getting some dinner we decided tomorrow needed to be much more restful, and so we scrapped our planned visit to Tobermory.

No longer needing to make a ferry, we had a lay in and leisurely made our way over to the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This viaduct was made famous in the Harry Potter films and has great vantage points from the nearby hills.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Glenfinnan Viaduct

As we were walking towards the viaduct itself, we were treated to the sight of a local train crossing it. Although sadly we were a few minutes too late to see it from the better vantage point.

Walking underneath, and then climbing up the hill beside the viaduct, we got a beautiful vantage point of the embankment and the adjacent valley whilst getting attacked by midges. I walked a little bit further along for a view of the nearby loch, before we turned back and walked down to the loch itself.

Loch Shiel

Loch Shiel

Beside Loch Shiel is a monument commemorating the location of the beginning of the Jacobite rising, from where Bonnie Prince Charlie attempted to regain the British crown.

We then popped into the giftshop to get a few souvenirs when we heard a sound... I ran outside and saw a steam rain making its way around the hill side. Sadly we had missed seeing it in all it's glory crossing the viaduct, but at least we had seen this.

A few minutes up the road from here was the station itself, where there is a small museum detailing the extension of the railway line to the coast. We took a look inside before continuing further west to Loch Eilt, which is the setting for the island of Dumbledore's Grave in the Harry Potter Films.

Loch Eilt

Loch Eilt

From here, we would have continued on a long winding road down to Kilochan Port, but after yesterday's drama this was the furthest we were now going. So instead, we turned back and headed to the Neptune's Staircase, made up of eight adjacent lochs - the longest staircase loch in Britain.

Neptune's Staircase

Neptune's Staircase

From here it was only a 5 minute drive to the hotel and being almost check in time we decided to head straight there. This was the nicest room we had had so far, and we had a view overlooking The Parade - a lovely garden in the centre of town.

As it was still only mid afternoon, we then headed out towards Glen Coe, where we had initially planned to visit the previous afternoon. Although we had seen hundreds of valleys by now, this did live up the hype and was certainly one of the most beautiful. Even despite the miserable weather.

Glen Coe

Glen Coe

It had been a long day by now and so we wouldn't venture too far for the rest of today. We went back to the hotel, dropped our stuff and then went for a quick wander around the town.

There wasn't much to see, but we did stop at the site of old Fort that gave the town it's name, which sits imposingly beside Loch Linnhe.

Fort William Old Fort

Fort William Old Fort

After grabbing dinner at McDonalds, where I went full Scot by ordering an Irn Bru, we settled in for the night. The following morning we had a Full Scottish breakfast (the same thing, just with Haggis and a tattie scone) before checking out and visiting the final sight in this area - Ben Nevis.

We weren't climbing it, but we did get a decent viewpoint at it's base in Glen Nevis, where we managed to upset the local sheep who quickly scarpered as soon as we got out the car.

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis

Having already seen Loch Ness on our unintended diversion back via Inverness, a few days ago we decided to head north on a different route, cutting across the country and stopping in the Cairngorms.

The Cairngorms weren't vastly different from the Highlands, just perhaps with more trees. We drove to Aviemore, and had a wander around the woods outside the town, before driving through it. It really felt like nowhere else in the UK - the town is haven for Winter sports, and felt an alpine village in that aspect, despite being in northern Scotland.

Snow in June

Snow in June

From here it wasn't far to Inverness, where we checked into our final hotel of the trip before driving into the city centre for a quick look around.
After missing the entrance to the car park the first time, we eventually parked and ended up in the middle of the shopping centre.

Inverness wasn't particularly big, and after we walked down the high street for five minutes we arrived at the castle, where there were impressive views from the hill over the river.

Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle

After seeing what the town had to offer, we headed for dinner before chilling for the rest of the evening.

The following morning we checked out of the hotel and headed back to Inverness Airport. Parking up after driving exactly 1000 miles, we saw that our previous hire car hadn't moved from where we'd left it, but the crack had grown even further - a good job we had dropped it back off when we did!

The Crack!

The Crack!

As there was a BA flight back to London around half an hour before ours, the tiny airport was overwhelmed and it took ages to get through security. But there was no real rush, there was little to do in the departure lounge and we had plenty of time.

The flight back home was less comfortable than our outgoing flight, as there were a lot more people on it. We were surrounded by others, and despite wearing face masks we didn't feel overly safe knowing that no one here needed to take any kind of tests to spend over an hour non-socially distanced.

When we landed back in Luton it was like arriving in the Med in summer. Although it hadn't been cold in Inverness, it was around 8C warmer down south and came as a shock to the system after a week in Scotland!

Despite the car drama and the less-than-great weather, it had been a enjoyable trip. Not only as an excuse to get out the house after 15 months of Covid, but also as the scenery was incredible. A hire car is definitely the way to go on a Highland trip!

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Posted by kmmk17 14:12 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged lakes snow fort airport island valley castle Comments (0)

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