Day 5 in the Highlands

Once again we headed out with our piece of paper with directions for the day that M planned for us.  Off I went with the mouths and M got her quiet day.

First stop was tall trees and historical roots at Reelig Glen.
Reelig Glen is a narrow, steep-sided gorge, cut by the rushing waters of the Moniack. The woodland is a mixture of old conifer and broadleaved trees, but its real glory is a stand of Douglas Fir trees that are well over 100 years old. They soar above you to a height of about 170 feet (50 metres).
One old giant measured over 200 feet (64 metres) in the year 2000 – the tallest tree in Britain at the time. After a local competition, it was named Dùghall Mòr – Big Douglas!

 

Our next stop was in Beauly not knowing that the Highland Cross was going on.
The Highland Cross is a 50-mile duathlon (20 miles on foot, 30 miles on bike) traversing the spectacular Scottish Highlands coast to coast, west to east from Kintail through Glen Affric and Strathglass to Beauly.

Highland Cross exists to raise money for causes that benefit the people of Highland, disadvantaged by disability, ill health or social need.

Beauly Priory is one of three priories founded in Scotland in about 1230 for monks of the Valliscaulian order. The Valliscaulians came from Val-des-Choux (‘Valley of the Cabbages’) near Dijon in France, and adhered to strict ideals of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Beauly, meaning ‘beautiful place’, must have seemed to the monks a wonderful location in which to devote themselves to worship. Only the abbey church still stands today, housing some fine funerary monuments.

We left Beauly by the back roads to avoid the traffic of the Highland Cross.  Fred wasn’t sure where he was going but managed to get us back where we were supposed be.  I wanted to stop at the Kiltarlity Old Church on Beauly River.

The monument consists of the remains of the sixteenth century parish church of Kiltarlity, which may have succeeded an earlier one on the same site.
The dedication is said to have been to Thalargus (Talorgan) or, according to another account to “Tarrail”. It is situated in an old graveyard on the S bank of the River Beauly. The rectangular church measures 19.1m E-W by 8.4m over walls 0.9m thick. The walling is a mixture of random masonry roughly coursed with rubble.
The gables are approximately 4m high, while the side walls stand to a maximum of 2.5m. The gables have opposed square-headed windows with segmental rear arches. The W gable has a plain window (now blocked) on the upper level. There are two entrances on the S side and a window. A small credence niche is located in the SW corner.

http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/SM5570

I also found a Geocache which I wasn’t looking for but it was just sitting there, so I showed the boys what it was.

 

We didn’t have a long day because we did things around the croft.  When we were walking through the Tall Trees I noticed how quiet it was, this is when I figured out the boys were quiet when we were walking in the nature.

 

 

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Day 4 of the Highlands

M and I decided it was our turn to do something together, so we decided to go to Inverness.  We needed to go grocery shopping and I needed to get some presents for the kids and grandkids. We also hit the charity shops.  We had a great time exploring the town.  I had been there many times before but it is always nice to go back.

We left our men on their own, a little scary but we needed some quiet time.  They were sitting at the dining table when we left.  When we got back they were still there.  I think the only thing that they did was Fred showed David around the sound studio. I think the rest of the time they were just looking things up online.

 

M and I had wonderful day together.  We came home and the boys were still at the table. Believe it or not they were still talking.

Day 3 in the Highlands

I told M that I wanted to take David to see the sock tree.  I had driven past it many times but never stopped to check it out.  Off we went again with our piece of paper with places to go. Clootie Well is not far from Fred and M’s house, so we started there.

The Clootie Well is a rather weird remnant of an ancient tradition once commonly found in Scotland and Ireland, of holy wells to which pilgrims would come and make offerings, usually in the hope of having an illness cured. The tradition dates far back into pre-Christian times, to the practice of leaving votive offerings to the local spirits or gods in wells and springs. With the arrival of Christianity, the practice was simply adapted to the new circumstances.

The holy well at Munlochy is said to date back to – and probably beyond – the time of St Boniface or Curitan, who worked as a missionary in Scotland in about AD620. Pilgrims would come, perform a ceremony that involved circling the well sunwise three times before splashing some of its water on the ground and making a prayer. They would then tie a piece of cloth or “cloot” that had been in contact with the ill person to a nearby tree.

As the cloot rotted away the illness would go away as was believed back then.  They even would leave their children there over night in hopes of making them well.  Not sure if that worked or not because I think it would have scared them more than anything else.  It is a very eerie place.

Today people leave pieces of clothing but they are made from man-made material and don’t rot away. David said the  whole place smelled of mildew from all the damp clothing. This isn’t great for the environment but people still believe that it might work, so they leave all kinds of articles of clothing.

David and I tied a couple of Fred’s socks to a limb. I wonder if that means Fred will get double healing, since we tied his sock there.  I hope he can be fixed but I doubt that there is anything that can cure him of crazy.

https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/munlochy/clootiewell/index.html

 

Our next stop which will be a big surprise to everyone was Black Isle Brewery.  We were given a tour by one of the brewers, Sandy.

This is from their site

Welcome to Black Isle. We are the UK’s premier organic brewery, making world-class beers from the finest organic malt and hops grown on farms without chemicals, just as nature intended.
We have our own organic farm where we grow malting barley for brewing and even have our own brewery house cow, who eats the malt from the brewery mash tun and gives us 20 pints of fresh, creamy milk every day.
Based near Inverness, this is our beautiful, unspoiled, unpolluted, wild, and more than a little bit wet highland home – and we love it!

It was a great place.  Well worth a visit. They have won several awards for their beers.

https://www.blackislebrewery.com/

 

Fred got to talking to the girl that waited on us and she mentioned she had written a couple of books.  Fred got into telling her about his film studio he was starting.  We finally managed to pull him away so we could go on our next adventure. One of the lighthouses on Moray Firth.

The dolphins were out but were not playing so I didn’t get any pictures of them.  It was a nice day, so I did get some nice photos.

The last stop of the day was at Clava Cairns. There is not a whole lot known about the cairns except that they are believed to be around 4000 years old.  It is believed that they were used for burial.  I just always thought it was a peaceful place but the day we went there were several tours there.  I guess it is now a tourist attraction.  I just thought of it as a cool park in the country.

There are a lot of stones circles and cairns all over Scotland.  Many people have them on their land.  They just don’t say anything about them because they want to be left alone.

Well the boys did pretty good on this day because we were out of the car a lot.  They tried to make up for it when the got back in the car by talking even more.

We headed back home after the cairns where Fred cooked yet another good meal.

 

Day 2 in Scotland

Armed with a piece of paper that M wrote down all the places she had planned for us to go see today we headed out.

First stop was Glen Ord distillery where we planned to go on a tour but the next one was a tasting one which was 18 quid.  We thought that a little pricey, we just went through the museum which was just our price, FREE.

Glen Ord is a whisky distillery in the Scottish Highlands and is the only remaining single malt scotch whisky distillery on the Black Isle. Its principal product is an eponymous 12-year-old single malt whisky. The distillery won awards for the best single malt at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 1994 and 1996

The distillery is off the A832 at Muir of Ord, 15 miles west of Inverness.

https://www.malts.com/en-gb/distilleries/glen-ord/

Our next stop was Rogie Falls.  I really enjoyed the nice, easy walk to the falls.  We walked across the suspension bridge.  There was a couple with a small dog, who was scared to death on the bridge.  The poor dog just laid there shaking. I thought the bridge was way cool.

I read that you can see the salmon leaping up the falls in August and September.  Just like at home in Alaska. The falls flows from slopes of Ben Wyvis. The falls are really worth seeing if you are in the area.

https://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/visit/rogie-falls

Here I also discovered that the men stopped talking as much when they are walking and enjoying the nature. I hope M plans more trips with a little walking in nature, so I can get some peace.

Next stop was Ullapool where you can get the best fish and chips. Ullapool is a small, quaint fishing village which has many things going for it; like hillwalking, nature, and beautiful views.  You can also take the ferry to Stornoway.

http://www.ullapool.com/

Seaforth Bar & Restaurant is the place to go for fish and chips.  Don’t go into the fancy bar and restaurant just go to the chippy that is on one side of it.  They are always busy, but the make the fish fresh and it is wonderful.  There is nothing like chips from a chippy shop. The chippy has won all kinds of awards.  Sit at the picnic tables outside and enjoy the sea air.

https://www.theseaforth.com/

After stuffing ourselves on the great fish and chips we started off to Achmelvich beach.  Now is time for taking pictures out of a moving car.  Fred did actually stop once for a photo op.

Achmelvich Beach is a stunning, white sandy beach with a popular caravan and camping spot nearby. A popular spot with water skiers, windsurfers and kayakers, Achmelvich is a bustling beach during the summer months. Dogs are not permitted on the beach during the peak tourist season and neither of the camping and caravan sites allow dogs. The unique morphology of the area, means there are many nearby walks and climbs, including the famous Suilven, for those interested in hiking. The beach is popular with fishers with cod, haddock, whiting, pollack, saithe and mackerel being common catches.

The sand reminded me of where we I grew up on Padre Island in Texas.  I just love the sea and beach. I think they are so peaceful.  We went early enough in the season that there was not many people there which was really nice.

We did make one more stop on our way back to the Byre. We stopped at Ardvreck Castle and Calda House.

Ardvreck Castle was built by the Macleod Clan in the fifteenth century on a promontory of land that juts into Loch Assynt. It witnessed regular local clan warfare throughout its history but it became infamous for its role in national events in 1650 when James Graham, Marquis of Montrose was betrayed there and handed over to his Covenanter enemies.

http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/highland/ardvreck_castle.html

Calda House
The second MacKenzie of Assynt , Kenneth, was persuaded by his wife to abandon the austerity and discomfort of Ardvrek in favor a new house at nearby Calda. Begun in 1726 it was the first classical style house in the northwest highlands and at that time would have been very grand indeed.

Amid mounting debts the luxury loving Mackenzies were forced to put their grand house up for sale and a struggle for control of Assynt now ensued between the MacKenzie Earl of Seaforth and the Earl of Sutherland. In 1736 some MacKenzie supporters deliberately torched Calda House to prevent it ever being used by the Sutherlands!

 

Now it was getting late, so it was a fast trip back to the Byre.  M says she has to stay home for the business and Sam, the great dane, but I believe it is because she wants peace and quiet.  David and Fred have not stopped talking since the have met.  Good thing I raised 5 kids because I can tune them out.

 

Trip to Scotland

Before anyone notices that we went North, back South to go North there is a reason.  I had bought my tickets to fly to Glasgow long before I had the dates when we could visit Anna and William.  So just to let you know that I do know what I did.  I know sometimes it looks like I don’t.

I wanted to take David to meet my really good friends Andrew better known as Fred & his wife M.  Fred told me to fly into Glasgow and then we could drive along the Lochs back to Kiltarlity.  Fred said there were some great places for photos.  I was thinking that I had been on a sight seeing trip with you before and I knew how you would do this.  You drive 70 miles per hour and say this is a Loch, this is a castle and just keep driving.  If I needed to pee I would tell Fred and sooner or later he would pull over by a bush.  He said, “Oh no, I will stop”.  So enjoy these photos that I took while driving down the road.  I didn’t get any photos of the Lochs because I was sitting on the wrong side of the car and did not feel like rolling all over the back seat to take photos of the Lochs.

 

 

Fred told us we would stop at Fort Williams for some fish and chips. I asked if he knew where one was.  He told me that he looked it up on the internet and all he could find were Chinese and Indian take outs.  When we arrived there he had to ask a local where one was.  We found it.  I did take a pee at the pub across from it, so I didn’t have to stop at a bush. There was a table in the shop, but would he seat there, no we sat in the car.

 

We made it to the Byre, http://inchbrakie.tripod.com/the-byre

It was great to make it back to a place which feels like home to me.  When I lived in England and I would need to get away from all the people we would go here.  It is hard for a girl from a little town in Alaska to be in a big town like London.

David and Fred seemed to hit it off, so I was happy!

Flat Ole Hippies Do England

This nice couple, Cindy and David, are so much fun.  They take us everywhere with them. We went to The Four Thieves and had a beer with them.

We got to ride the underground.  It was a really big train.

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We went to Swiss Cottage where we had a beer and fish and chips.  We hung out by the taps and our friends David and Gary.

 

We got to go to Chester on a train.  It was a lot of fun. To our surprise our new friends found yet another brewery pub called Brewery & Kitchen.  We had a nice beer there with a good head.

Then back on the train to go to Bebington which we were told was on the Wirral.  We were really tired and kind of slept through those few days.  We did get up to ride the ferry to Liverpool.

We got to go to The Cavern but I didn’t see the Beatles.

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Back on the train we went to head back to London.  We were told we were flying to Scotland next.

 

 

Liverpool

We had a few hours before we caught our train back to London, so we went to explore Liverpool.  I wanted to take David to The Cavern. On our way we found this group busking, playing music in the street or another public place for voluntary donations. They were really good and David got to talking to them.  They will be making a CD soon and are sending one to David to play on his radio show.

 

I then managed to find the Cavern with the help of the band.  This is not the original cavern but they used a lot of the bricks from the old one.  It is still pretty cool.  We went in and had a beer.

 

When you leave the cavern and walk to the corner you will find the Beatles Hotel.

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There is tons more to see in Liverpool, but we had limited time.  We then headed to the train station to get our train back to London.

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After a few hours we were back in London and back at Gary’s flat.  I then had to pack for our trip to Scotland the next day.

 

The Royal Iris Ferry

No trip is complete without a trip across the Mersey River on the ferry, as “Ferry on the Mersey” plays on the speakers.

This Royal Iris is not the famous one because it is decaying in the Thames River.

The MV Royal Iris sits in a dilapidated state whilst moored on the south side of the River Thames near to the Thames Barrier.To use the royal on a boat, pubs, hotels and any other thing you can thing of can only be used if there has been someone royal in or on the place.  The Royal Iris had hosted the Queen and Prince Phillip on Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

The Queen and Prince Philip aboard the Royal Iris on the Mersey in 1977.

So I think the new one just stole the royal from the original ferry because it was previously the Mountwood.  I feel that this is like stealing some war heroes medals because Iris was awarded the Royal.

Enough of my ranting and back to our ride across the Mersey River.  Before catching the ferry we went and looked at the World War I submarine and some old buoys. I got some photos of Liverpool from Birkenhead.

 

We then went and got our tickets.  We walked down the walkway which I think is so cool because it goes up and down with the tide.  The tide was out when we went because the walkway was going downward.  Got some great shots of Liverpool while crossing the Mersey.