Saturday, June 20, 2009

Camping Through Scotland - Part 2

Our first night camping in our brand spanking new festival kit was near Loch Lomond. We had heard stories about midges, but were not too bothered by them the first evening so we did not think too much of them. Little did we know we would be attacked relentless come morning. They are as awful as the legends and then some. They are tiny, flying creatures that fly into your ears, up your nose, into your eyes, and bite, bite, bite. I suspect if you looked at one under a microscope, you would see a set of teeth with wings. I now sport a very stylish midge net over my head to keep my sanity.

The next day, we set out and climbed Ben Lomond ( 974 m ). A Monroe is any hill over 3,000 feet in Scotland. People who set out to climb them are called Munro Baggers. I felt proud bagging my first Munro our first trip out. It was a beautiful climb and had spectacular views of the Loch from the top.

A side note on hiking in Scotland. They do not call it hiking here. Unless you are using equipment on a technical climb, it is called walking. I don't care what they say, if I'm out for six hours and gaining 3,000 vertical feet, it's a hike.

The first few nights camping were not too bad so we decided to make it a habit and became Temporary Overseas Members of the Camping and Caravaning Club. With our membership, camping is generally around 13 pounds per night and we have access to free showers, laundry facilities, and there are sites all over the UK. They even have coin op hair dryers for when it gets really nasty outside.

After Loch Lomond, we spent two nights in Glen Coe near the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way. We bagged our second Munro by climbing up Ben Nevis ( 1343 m ), which happens to be Britain's highest mountain. It was a punishing hike up steep slopes covered with rocks of all sizes, and snow at the top. Luckily the clouds cleared out enough for us to catch a glimpse of the view and look around the remains of the old observatory before heading back down. On the way down, we had front row seats to a RAF rescue of a woman who had fallen on the trail and hit her head. She was sitting up and did not look too badly hurt, but you can not take chances with head injuries. We managed to make it down the mountain ahead of the rain and in one piece.

From Glen Coe, we drove up to the Isle of Skye, stopping off at the Talisker Distillery on the way to the campground. We had a tour of the distillery and sampled an example of very peaty whiskey. Unfortunately, the water level was too low for them to produce spirit while we were there so we did not get to see the distillery in action, but the tour was still well worth the 5 pounds.

Our hike in Skye was completely different from anything we've done before. We started off on a dirt road, then followed a path through a pasture with sheep and cows grazing right next to us. Tim got a great picture of the beware of bull sign posted at the trail head. Our hike took us past some ruins and to the edge of the Atlantic Ocean before heading up and over a peat covered hill. We got to blaze our own trail through the peat and tall grass. The views from the top of the point were amazing.

The second night we stayed in Skye, a storm blew in with strong wings and heavy rain all night long and through the morning. Weathering the storm in our poor little festival tent was not all that fun. After that night we were not looking forward to another week or so of camping. Fortunately, on a stop in Inverness we found a store with camping equipment on clearance and picked up a proper tent for cheap. It is a three man tent and is vast compared to what we're used to sleeping in. We even have a separate porch area outside the sleeping tent that we can sit in and cook out of the weather. It's so much nicer now.

No comments:

Post a Comment