8. August 2016 Tereza Kroupová

Holiday topic

It is already a tradition of me and my friend (and this year's flatmate) to go explore a different part of the UK. In the previous years we have already visited Beacon Beacons in Wales and Lake District in England. Therefore, we chose to go to Scotland this time.

We set off from London packed with food and large backpacks and took a train to Edinburgh. After more food shopping we borrowed a car from my friend's brother for the trip and were good to go. However, my friend had not driven a manual car since driving school and I had never driven in the UK. Therefore, we needed some practise and time to get at least some confidence. After 4 hours we were ready to leave Edinburgh, but sadly it was already dark and we were in hurry when passing through the national park near Loch Lomond.

The next morning we woke up on a family farm close to the west coast near a small town called Balvicar. This first accommodation was extremely pleasant and the family we stayed with was very welcoming. They gave us a lot of advice on what to visit in the area and we decided to use it. We spent the day on Isle of Mull, where one can see for example beautiful sand beaches and a famous town of Tobermory with local distillery and colourful houses by the coast. The roads on the isle are windy single track roads with passing places. Therefore, the confusion on which side of the road to stick to was eliminated and the driving was really fun.

In the evening we reached our hostel in Glencoe, from where we had planned our next day trip to Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK. Packed with a lot of extra clothes, emergency whistles, maps, first aid kit and a compass, we set off to the top. To our surprise, the track to Ben Nevis turns into a tourist highway during sunny weather, which we were lucky enough to have. The disappointment from the easiness of the ascent was immediately shadowed by the incredible views on the top.

On the fourth day, we drove north to a small fisherman town Ullapool, where we spent the night in a cosy caravan. It was a must to visit a castle Eilean Donan on our way, which turned out to be much smaller than it seems from photos.

We reached the very north of the mainland on the fifth day. We planned to take a ferry from Thurso to Orkney Islands around noon. However, the 20 minutes we assigned for boarding was not sufficient for crossing through the gigantic ferry terminal resembling an international airport. Consequently we missed one of two ferreis leaving from the terminal on that day and had enough time to visitin John O'Groats, a place that was long thought to be the northenmost tip of the UK mainland. There is a guidepost, a restaurant and plenty of bikers now. We made it to the next ferry and together with 10 another passengers reached Stromness in Orkney in the evening. We rented bikes for our jorney from Stromeness to Evie, where we slept in a wooden hut. Eventhough we again reached the accommodation in the night and with significant help from the locals, we had a great chance to enjoy the most from Orkney's beautiful nature and landscape.

On our way back to Edinburgh (along the east coast this time) we visited a quiet city of Inverness with lovely islands in the centre. We were quite confident in driving by now and managed to return the car in Edinburgh without any scratches made by us. Altogether we completed almost 1000 miles and circled around almost the while of Scotland. It is a big and varied country, which I will look forward to come back to and explore some of its bits in detail.

 

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