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Scotland Beginnings - & Middle - and End!

I am currently on a 5 week adventure, with the first three weeks and final 3 days being in Scotland. I just wanted to pop in and out with a few little bits of reporting. :) My first week I spent with 3 friends, in Edinburgh and near Aberfeldy. I am now off on my own and sitting in my delightful BnB in Tobermory on Mull.

Edinburgh: just a quick mention of the really nice little BnB we stayed in - 53 Frederick Street (bet you can’t guess the address). Up a couple flights of stairs with no elevator, but a really good location and wonderful hosts. Breakfast, which you have the option of adding or not, was at a next door basement restaurant, with a lot of menu choices.

Aberfeldy: We actually stayed in the tiny town of Camserny, population 20 (or 24 after we got there, as our host said). Aberfeldy was about 5 miles away and was the location for a grocery store, restaurants, and gas station - plus some beautiful hiking, a gorgeous old bridge, and miniature golf.

We booked through booking.com at The Green House - an entire 2 bedroom house with a sauna out front that our host fired up for us whenever we wanted. Again, the couple who own the house (and who live next door) cannot be beat for Scottish hospitality. And the views from the living room are gorgeous.

Close by was the Scottish Crannog Center, Loch Tay (and boat rides, kayaks, and paddle boards for rent), a garden, and Castle Menzies, as well as the Kirks of Aberfeldy for not very difficult hiking.

After hiking up to the waterfall in the Kirks, I met a guy walking his dogs and he mentioned he had worked in the tourism industry - so of course I asked for his generalizations on tourists from different countries! He had actually worked as a tour guide at the Aberfeldy Distillery - and after he mentioned a few typical generalities (French are the most particular, followed by French Canadians, with Japanese and Chinese being very interested in the actual process and knowing their stuff, and Germans just wanting the samples), he mentioned that a lot of Rick Steves tours came through and were hilarious. Mind you, I had said NOTHING about RS or his tours, etc. Lol! So I also didn’t ask what “hilarious” was - but for any of you who have been on this tour, here is your inside scoop. You may have been hilarious. There are worse things. :)

Yesterday, I took the Staffa Tours trip to Staffa and Lunga to see Fingall’s Cave and the puffins. Because I was already in Tobermory and not staying in Oban, this was the only tour I had as an option (missing Iona). But it was great!

However, too often I see people planning this trip who want to do one of these tours and trying to schedule a set day. That may work but may often not. Weather, which has not been great so far this year till this week, may prevent the boat from going. Or as with my tour yesterday, we got halfway to Staffa and one engine sucked some plastic in, making it inoperable. So we had to turn around, go back, and get a different boat. This didn’t affect me at all - I was giving the tour my whole day and staying on the island - but some people had to get off the boat and leave after getting so close, because we were going to be back so late they were going to miss the last bus back to catch the ferry to Oban. A really sad choice, but they had no flexibility in their scheduling. Pay attention to flexibility for weather, etc., when coming to the islands of Scotland!

However, the funny story that goes with this…. a nice gentleman, whom I had not seen nor been around till that minute, came up as the group was walking to the second boat and asked, “Where are you from?” Trying to be a good non-presumptious resident of Texas, I replied “From the U.S.” - to which his response was, “Well, I know THAT. But where in the U.S.?” I just had to chuckle at being instantly spotted as American.

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It sounds like a wonderful trip so far! I can't wait to hear more! And it looks like all the RS tour groups will now have a reputation to uphold. :)

Quick question - how was getting from the boat onto Lunga? I keep reading things about how only young fit people will be able to do it, and it's making me nervous. I think I will be taking the Staffa Tour as well, since I'm also staying in Tobermory.

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Mardee,
I took that tour in 2009 and it was a bit treacherous, especially for older people. My parents were in their 70s and found it a bit tough. We had to climb over big rocks to get to the shore. But, maybe they've added a pier by now? Still, it was TOTALLY worth doing. The Puffins were great, the scenery beautiful, and for birders, Harp Rock was a real treat. Thousands of birds! Staffa was fantastic! But, I recommend hiking to the top of Staffa first, as everyone else was heading to the cave. We hiked to the top of the island and had a bird's eye view of the cave all to ourselves. Quite fascinating. Plus, when my parents and I went back down to the cave, everyone was done with it and we had that all to ourselves. Awesome place to visit!
TexasTravelmom hope you have a great time in Scotland! I'm a fellow Texan, from Dallas!

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4330 posts

Lol, Mardee - I am neither young nor fit. But seriously, plenty of people did it. They pull the boat up to a bouy-type gangplank and hook on. Then they go to shore, so the gangplank leads right onto shore and all you have is a step from the boat to that. There is a step, a rail to hold, and people to help. The amount of wind makes a difference, as does tide; but we had a strong wind and were delayed so tide was higher - and it was fine. I did bring a hiking pole with me to help with balance on the way up and it was great with the rocks on shore before you get to grass, as well as the walk up to the puffins.

Hey, fellow Texan! Yes, it WAS great! I went as far up as seeing the birds all over the side of Harp Rock - there was further that some people went, but I wanted to be sure I had time to get back since I do it all slowly and carefully. For Staffa, I did not go up - I waited to be toward the last of our boat and just went to the cave. I didn’t have to rush inside either by being toward the last of our group. Weather was getting bad and we had a bit shorter time on the island because of wind and high tide (and our delayed start), so I did the part that was most important for me.

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Thanks, ReedMan and TexasTravelmom, I feel better now - I will have trekking poles with me so I'm sure that will help. Someone online (not here) was posting about having to climb big boulders, and that worried me. But what you both are saying sounds doable.

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14249 posts

Woohoo!!! Great start to your trip and I'm glad Rick's tour groups are hilarious! Yes, we have fun!

So happy you got to see the Puffins and I so agree that you need time to have these trips work out. I did Iona on the RS trip and it was touch and go as to whether the weather would allow the ferry to run to Iona or not. Much better to have several days to work with weather conditions!

Did you guys do the Crannog Center? It burned after I visited in 2018 but my brother still refers to locking up the house at night as securing the Crannog, lol.

Thanks so much for starting your TR. Looks like a wonderful time so far and a lot more to come!

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Pam, we looked at the Crannog Center but didn’t tour it. Although there looked to be some areas left on land, I think losing the house itself is a big deal. Hopefully they will get that rebuilt soon - but may be moving it to a different place.

Meanwhile, my 3 friends returning home today were on this plane. Sure glad the crew was able to land safely.
https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/emergency-operation-at-shannon-airport-for-passenger-jet-with-hydraulic-issues-1334188.html

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2497 posts

Oh my goodness! I am glad your friends are safe.

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10395 posts

Thanks for posting. I’ll be following your adventures and whet my appetite for our upcoming trip. P.S. I hope your shoes cleaned up.

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33313 posts

thanks for the beginning.... now for the middle and the end

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Iona: Today I am an expert on West Coast Motors - the Mull bus company. Lol.

Today’s adventure was a trip to Iona on my own. From Tobermory, this involved 2 busses and a ferry each way, all coordinated to work together - an all day affair.

My bnb hostess suggested checking with West Coach Tours and meeting them (by bus from Tobermory) in Craignure at the ferry. If I had been able to do that, it would have given me a later start to the morning (as opposed to 7:25). However, WC Motors office could not figure out a way for me to get a paper ticket from Oban, since I was already in Tobermory. Paper? However on the bus, you just tap to buy your ticket. They CAN take cash, but everyone is tapping and I love it.

The weather was cloudy, windy, and cold as I arrived on Iona but quickly became sunny and beautiful. It was a lovely day in a peaceful place.

At 3:20, I was one of the first on the return bus. However soon came an announcement from the driver that everyone with just a day ticket had to get off - there were too many people and they were giving tour people priority (the “tour” consisted of WC Motors providing bus and ferry tickets as a package - the same tour I had tried to purchase).

This meant I and 7 or 8 others had to wait 2 ½ hrs for the next (and final) bus of the day. It was simply another day to have packed my patience and flexibility.

This apparently is a common problem for the drivers this year. Current scheduling is not good and tourism is building back up, while they are short busses. The 3:20 is a combined regular service and tour service. So when they have more tour people, they have less room for those just buying a bus ticket, like me today.

As I waited, I actually had a lovely time talking with an Irish couple traveling Scotland via their own boat, which was tied up in Tobermory. I also had a lovely lunch in the garden of the Iona Heritage Center talking with a couple from Germany touring via motorbike. :) I may see them tomorrow, as well. I also saw the gentleman and his wife who already knew I was from the U.S. Lol! It really was a great day in spite of the unexpected delay.

Moral of today’s story: if you don’t want to leave Tobermory at 7:25, buy a tour to Iona before you get here and pick up your PAPER ticket at the ferry terminal in Oban. Provided you don’t almost miss that ferry like I did…. Or be willing to be flexible. And relax - my motto for this trip (and travel this summer) “It will all be just fine”. :)

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10395 posts

Great motto in these trying times. Flexibility and patience is key this year.

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4293 posts

I'm glad Iona worked out for you despite the bus challenges. Are you going to risk the bus again and go to Calgary?

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Allan, I could have - - but I opted to sleep late, linger over breakfast and coffee, sit by the harbor and catch up on some necessary email, then walk to Aros Park (via the waterfall) and back, then have fish & chips from the food truck, and go to bed early that day!

I will add that, in spite of my one adventure, busses seem universally easy to use here. Get on and tap to pay!

Edit: Oh and I successfully arrived on Skye this evening!

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I am now halfway through my 4 night stay on Skye. It is beautiful.
Observations:

  • Reserve a place to stay early. I know you can find places last minute but it won’t be easy - or maybe where you want to be.
  • Distances are not far but driving is slow.
  • Passing places are not as hard as I was afraid - unless you are headed up a hill and come nose to nose with a pick up clearly driven by a tourist, who has no concept of backing up to the passing place they just went past or of not pulling off into the drop off. Only happened once and I won.
  • Single track roads with passing places are actually very efficient and there’s a real rhythm to them. Plus you never have to worry about which side of the road you are supposed to be driving on. LOL!
  • Driving a standard appears to be like learning to ride a bike - you never forget how. I was supposed to have an automatic, but a standard is what I got. It’s been 35 years, but I can still do it.:) (Remember, It will all be just fine.)
  • I talk to fewer people when I have my own car, but I have great flexibility in doing whatever I want whenever I want.
  • I am not a hiker, nor do I play one on TV, but getting off the Bella Jane at Loch Coruisk and being the only person there by the mountains and small waterfalls for 45 minutes is pretty priceless.
  • Dunvegan gardens are absolutely gorgeous. I don’t regret going into the castle, but the gardens are the star here.
  • People are nice.

I knew traveling the islands like I wanted to on this trip would not be simple getting from one to the other without a car. But for some reason, my planning brain balked at the thought of taking a car on a ferry. So at the end of this trip, I will have rented 4 different cars. Ha!

To get from Tobermory to Skye actually worked like clockwork, but it was a lot of moving parts.

  • 25 min Calmac ferry Tobermory to Kilchoan;
  • Shiel bus (actually more like a 20 or 24 passenger van) that met the ferry and went to Fort William (then time for a late breakfast);
  • train Fort William to Mallaig (time for lunch);
  • Calmac ferry to Armadale;
  • rental car delivered to Armadale - and a 1 hr drive to Broadford, where I am staying.

Tomorrow it’s on to Portree and the northern part of the island for a day and a half.

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Dunvegan gardens are absolutely gorgeous. I don’t regret going into
the castle, but the gardens are the star here.

I can't speak for Dunvegan, but that was the theme of our trip as well, we enjoyed the gardens more than the interiors of the castles.

I'm nodding my head at your single track driving experiences. I found it easier than than single lane highways with one lane each way.

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Allan, I think I up the driving experience with each trip. This time I actually drove in Edinburgh. Then the small road highlands. Now the single track. PLUS with a standard. Waiting to see what happens next. Ha! I went back and re-read your report. I am sorry you missed Iona, though. After taking the bus, the thought of driving that particular road does not appeal…..

Tammy, I have 4 different cars because basically this trip is Scottish Frankenstein. Not scary - but just made up of so many different pieces of trips kind of sewn together. Way back in 2019, when I was reserving for 6 weeks in 2020, I did not want to rent a car and drive it on and off a ferry - NOR have it for my whole trip. Cancellation left me with credit for companies on Skye and on Lewis instead of a refund. THEN I decided I would keep my week (and a half) down into York and over to Manchester (I was going to fly home from Manchester). So I decided to rent a car for after leaving York. I have a couple of things I wanted to do that are not easy by train or bus and I didn’t know when I might get back for them. THEN my 3 friends decided to go to Scotland for a week right before my reservations began, so that I could do that week with them (I hadn’t bought flights yet). But they also wanted to get out into the country - and that required a car. And I am the designated driver of the group. Also because of the York piece, I am flying back from Stornaway to Edinburgh next week so I couldn’t have rented for the whole time unless I drove the whole time. It all kind of makes sense, but mostly - don’t plan a trip this way. 😂🤦🏻‍♀️

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I’m really enjoying your report and hope to see photos at a future meeting. I loved the week we spent in Scotland many years ago.

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Thanks, Barbara! Today will be the Skye Museum of Island Life before I drop the car at the ferry and head over to Tarbert on Harris.:)

Yesterday I checked out of my lovely BnB near Broadford and drove up to Portree, getting here just in time for church. I just picked a place kind of at random, but it was Church of Scotland in a lovely old building on the center square. Trying to come up with a comparison, it seemed most like one of the mainstream Methodist churches at home. Apparently they are just beginning to meet in person again and the request was that everyone be masked for the service. It is the only place I have been so far that has asked for masks (or that people were wearing them).

There were a number of places open for lunch and I meandered into the nearby Portree Hotel restaurant for soup and bread - it filled up fast after I sat down!

Then I drove up the east coast (do I even know directions?) as far as An Corran Beach, making sure I would be there for low tide so I could find the dinosaur footprints. The beach itself was lovely, but not large, and easy to walk along. On the way I stopped off for views and pictures of The Old Man of Stor and Lealt Falls, but definitely no hiking!

Dinner came from the Coop grocery store - few restaurants still open in the evening and those were all full. :) I could have made a reservation earlier, but didn’t care enough to plan ahead for that.

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What a fun report - you are a wonderful writer! The Scotland information is helpful, and the travel attitude information, is priceless.

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Driving a standard appears to be like learning to ride a bike - you never forget how.

You have NO idea how good that makes me feel! I was starting to dread the idea of renting an automatic because I knew it would be expensive and possibly hard to find, but was worried about driving a stick. I learned to drive on a stick and drove one for 25 years (in fact, I rented a car with manual transmission for my first trip to the UK and drove on the left then) but wound up switching to automatics about 18 years ago. So that is good news!

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4293 posts

Did you find the dinosaur footprints?? Was it worth the drive?

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14249 posts

"Did you find the dinosaur footprints??"

Ohhhh...I love tracks and trackways!

What a wonderful time you are having! Interesting to know about the bus and tour vs "regular" customers.

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Oh, Lisuza, thank you! I kind of feel like this report is nearly as disjointed as my trip is. Ha!

Allan and Pam, yes I DID find the dinosaur footprints! I think there are supposed to be about @ 15 (17?) and I found 3. Maybe I could have found more but that satisfied me. And whether it was worth it depends on what you like. And somehow that caught my imagination. :) You really do need to go at low tide, but I knew that was at 2pm, which worked perfectly for my day. The parking gods were not with me for that stop, so I had to go on down a bit to park and then walk back. But where I parked made it easy to stop, then turn around when it was time to leave.

Mardee, you will be fine! You have driven a standard far more than me! I get my next car day after tomorrow - supposed to be automatic but who really knows?

This morning I drove up the west side to the Skye Museum of Island Life. Good road to Uig and then lots of single track (and some mountain). But it was “worth it”. I enjoy historical places and this showed how islanders lived in the not terribly distant past. And as everywhere, the scenery is breath-taking.

As I meandered by on the way back to Uig, I also stopped at a little place (but it has parking and I was the only one there!) called the Iron Age Souterrain. It is the entrance to an underground tunnel 17 meters long (@ 50 ft) (which if you are something like a caver, you can really crawl through! I sat at the entrance but it is so low there that I would have had to crawl in on my hands and knees. Also to get there, I walked by the remains of an ancient round house - a farmstead about 2,000 years old. Both are just hanging out in a field. Walk through the gate and there you are, on your own. Places like this and Dun Beag Broch are like magic for me….

Ferry time: I negotiated back to the ferry, filled the car up with gas, and as instructed put the keys under the drivers seat, left it unlocked, had lunch, and caught the nearly 2 hr ferry. This was a BIG ferry. I had no idea. I sat part of the time in the Pet area, part of the time outside in bright sunshine and part of the time outside in complete fog (the foghorn was cool). In my cabin area, we even saw dolphins out the window once. :)

I am now at the budget portion of my stays: I am at the Backpackers Stop, a hostel at the end of the street above the harbor. Comfy well-set up bedroom with 4 beds, with another similar room next door, at the top of,the stairs. We’ll see how many others show up - so far only 2 more reservations. But it’s hard to beat £25/night, with serve yourself breakfast and close to the harbor. So far so good!

Oh, at lunch I talked to 2 Australian ladies here on their first trip out after Covid. They were having a grand time - didn’t seem to know much about Scotland (or Skye) but having fun anyway.

I am about to go wander the streets a bit and see if there are dinner options. Whatever I end up doing tomorrow will be a surprise, as I have no plan. :)

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7012 posts

I am loving this report - such wonderful things you've seen and done!! I'm going to keep this bookmarked and print everything out when I get closer to my trip. Thanks - and I look forward to reading more!!

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"Allan and Pam, yes I DID find the dinosaur footprints!"

This and this alone is almost enough for me to return to Scotland and go rent a car on Skye!

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Tuesday: Yesterday was a slight vacation from vacation: fresh eggs from the hostel owners’ hens and toast and coffee provided free for breakfast (if you cook and clean up yourself). It was a delightful start to the morning, with conversations with a lady from Germany and her friend from Edinburgh and a family from Tennessee. I had my room all to myself last night and tonight I have one nice roommate from Germany who is cycling through. I was worried everyone at the hostel would be young, but actually everyone I have seen so far are not - except the Tennessee family’s 2 sons.

Oops: Apparently my brain started on vacation last night because I left my little crossbody purse hanging on my chair at the restaurant (Hotel Hebrides) last night…… When I discovered that this morning, I wasn’t even worried. I just strolled back on my way to catch a bus and sure enough, they had it carefully put away in their safe, hoping the owner would realize it “before they left the island”. Good grief.

Busses, Trains, and Automobiles: I had wanted to drive the circuit of Harris and see the scenery, which I had read is very different - west coast sandy beaches versus east coast rocks and drama. There isn’t a bus that does the whole circle, so I took the Spine Route (west) down to Leverburg Pier, knowing there was a bus coming an hour later that would go back the east way. I figured having waited 3 hours for a bus on Mull, surely I could have a stroll and some coffee and kill an hour. Well, picture me getting off the bus and there being almost nothing there….. I did find out later there is more town a much longer walk away but all in my vicinity was a ferry waiting room with bathrooms, WiFi thanks to Calmac, and peace and quiet. :) And sheep….

Anyway, the bus (12 passenger van) showed up pretty close to on time (he was delayed on the one track road by a funeral ending) and I had a really cool ride back to Tarbert. The scenery on that eastern /middle side is breath-takingly unworldly. I was sad I was in a van hurtling down the TINY one track road for not good pictures, but incredibly happy I was not driving that road.

Wednesday: Today, I took the 1 hr bus up to Stornaway, where I got my next rental car. On the way I had a good visit with my 2 new best friends from Budapest, who gave me a list what to see and do, as well as phone numbers and an offer to show me around when I get there in Oct. :) (If you haven’t gotten totally bored with this report yet, you can tell I like meeting people - and it has been really easy to do so.)

A New Car!: I rented from Car Hire Hebrides, right at the ferry/bus terminal and I will return to the airport on Sunday. I know my standard and I were friends but I have to admit to now being in love with my little red automatic. LOL!

Bosta: I immediately drove to Bosta Beach and the Bosta Iron Age House. Even though the house is a reproduction based on what discovered, the setting is beautiful and compared to Skye the road was nice.

I also stopped at Callanish 8. People know about the Callanish Stones but there are a number of sites. This one is right off the road and has 2 large stones left.

Serendipity: Then I stopped and watched a man shearing his sheep. He was working also right by the road and had a whole pen full. I did ask if it was ok to watch. :) He said he had already done 30-50 but he still had at least 20 left. Real work being done in real time. :)

Lunch or Dinner?: By now it was about 2:00 and I was hungry, so I stopped at a recommended place for pizza to go - a shipping container turned immobile food truck (Crust). Just sitting out in the middle of what looks like nowhere….. But good!

I am now at my BnB technically in Vatisker, just north of Stornaway. I have not been disappointed with any of my choices yet!

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Thursday: Pony trekking and beaches. A ride on the beach with Traig Mhor Pony Trekking - not really a pony but a “just my size” horse. They have rides of different lengths and to different surroundings, but I have never done a beach ride before. :)

Then I checked out several beaches and the high overlooks there. Way too cold for swimming (although I talked to someone in the afternoon who swam on Tuesday!), but the beauty of the sand, sea stacks, wildflowers, and water is hard to put into words. :)

Afterwards, I switched gears and wandered through Lews Castle and small adjacent museum. The highlight there was some of the Lewis Chessmen on loan from Edinburgh (apparently the bulk are in the British Museum who doesn’t lend them out). The woodlands around the castle are large and I may go back for a wander.

Dinner at The Boatshed and my first langoustines finished the day.

Friday: Easy day! I paid a lot to have my laundry done for me in town (there’s a self serve option also) - but I’m on vacation. :) Then I wandered town, had a cappuccino, bought myself a Harris Tweed hat, wandered yet another beach, and had a reflexology appointment at my B&B. Ha! I also figured out the bus schedule from Durham to York for train strike day - this was a major accomplishment. Then back to town to get the clean clothes and on to dinner at Harbor Kitchen for salmon.

I decided I like Stornaway and Lewis. The horse guy said it doesn’t feel crowded because it can only be reached by ferry or plane and with ferries being limited in size and number, it limits crowds.

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My last full day on Lewis was jam-packed. :) This was the day I drove the western sites. Callanish Standing Stones (sites I, II, & III), Arnol Blackhouse, Dun Carloway Broc, Norse Mill & Kiln, Black House Village, & a stop in Shawbost for the best fish & chips I had the entire 3 weeks - at Mollans Fish & Chips (also the smallest - a tiny spot in someone’s driveway).

And I made it back to Stornaway to pop in on a ceilidh - a Gaelic jam session: Celtic harp, fiddle, melodian, & bagpipes. :) It was so much fun!

Sunday: time to leave the island, but first I stopped for church at the Free Church of Scotland. I have no idea of the theology differences between this one and the church in Portree, but apparently there are some. Then I turned in my car at the airport and boarded my small Logan Air flight for Edinburgh. No chance of lost luggage on this flight!

On my flight I chatted with a woman (originally from Edinburgh) who has lived on Harris for 43 years - farming and livestock. We talked about the difference between Harris and Lewis and she rolled her eyes and said that Lewis gets all the money. :) She said they would welcome more tourism on Harris but right now all the infrastructure isn’t there (and that was my perception). She also said tourism this summer is not at the massive levels last summer were when the British couldn’t as easily go outside the U.K. I love conversations…. We also talked music - she has Bruce Springsteen tickets for next spring. 🤣

I stayed Sunday night at the Royal Mile hub by Premiere Inn and was very intrigued. I had the small standard room, but it was so well-organized that I had plenty of space and it was actually easier to manage than some of my larger B&B rooms. While it might not have quaint charm, I admit to being ready for some of the modern touches - larger shower, nice lighting, usb charging within easy reach, and no string to pull for turning the hot water on. Lol. I would definitely stay again.

Monday I said goodby to Scotland for a week and a half, catching my train from Waverly to Durham. I will come back later for “the end” with 3 days back in Edinburgh for some Fringe. :)

A wonderful and varied 3 weeks!

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Scotland Wrap-up
After 11 nights in England, I took the train back up to Edinburgh for a slow 3 nights at the Fringe. I am a fan of both Elsa MacTaggart’s music and the person she showed herself to be during quarantine. So I bought tickets for 4 of her shows and not much else.

I did attend an early evening performance of the Tattoo on Saturday. I had been ambivalent only but it was a happy, relaxed, calm, and happy crowd - and the show was really fun. So it was a win all the way around! Getting a single ticket was easy and I had a really good seat!

Lodging in Edinburgh during Fringe is NOT cheap so I ventured out to Highfield Bed & Breakfast, 2 miles south of the center. It is a jewel of a place, run by 2 sisters, and busses were plentiful and easy. It was also nice to see an area I had never been to.

Notes

Best purchases for this trip:

  1. extra battery charger for my cell phone. Using my phone for maps takes battery and I didn’t figure out how to get speaking via the car speakers when using the USB charger until my final car rental. Video also takes a lot of battery! I generally turned on low-power mode as soon as I charged my phone and that helped a lot.
  2. And my new raincoat https://www.columbiasportswear.co.uk/p/womens-weekend-adventure-waterproof-long-shell-jacket-1989263.html?dwvar_1989263_color=363 Suggested by someone on the forum (but now I can’t find who). Thank you! I liked the extra length especially.

Thoughts:

  1. Could have brought a holder for my cell phone for the cars (or figured out the screen connection sooner).
  2. It was cold almost every day. I did have sufficient clothes (4 long-sleeved, 4 short-sleeved shirts). I brought one fleece jacket (I sure was tired of it by the time it got a little warmer), one lightweight nicer-looking but not as warm jacket, and my raincoat. Three pair of pants worked fine.
  3. Those dry overnight clothes? They didn’t dry overnight in the chilly rainy island weather. Instead I did laundry three times during my first 3 weeks, then I could get by with sink-washing.
  4. Brought 2 dresses and could have left one at home and subbed in another jacket.
  5. Never wore the sandals I brought. I really thought I would want them for my last 2 weeks (and they are great to walk in), but I missed the heat wave.
  6. Tap and pay was everywhere. I had 3 lodgings and one restaurant that asked for cash (ahead of time) but almost everywhere else preferred card.
  7. Some restaurants added a tip to my bill and some didn’t. Of those that didn’t, there didn’t seem to be any expectations but appreciation if I told them what to run it for. Some asked ahead if it was ok to include it and some didn’t. And sometimes to add the tip, they had to run my card as signature needed. There was a variety of set-up and process.
  8. WhatsApp didn’t seem to be as common as it has seemed in other parts of Europe.

Data & Orange: So if you have read much from me you know I am an eSim proponent. More info on how Orange worked for me this trip:
Places having a phone number would have helped (when I didn’t have it) 1) Arnold Clark in York REALLY wanted a phone #. 2) calling my own taxi to leave York and 3) calling my own taxi to leave Edinburgh (and although I didn’t need it, I had to lock myself out of my B&B at 4:30am on departure day and having a what-if # would have felt good).

However Airalo worked perfectly for me for data for my last 3 weeks and I had coverage everywhere. I used an average of almost 1 G/week.

I am still an eSim proponent. By having either my home cell or my travel data/phone as an eSim, it enabled me to easily have the choice to turn on my home # to get a code if absolutely necessary.

This was definitely a year for flexible planning, the ability to roll with things, and a bit of forethought for the potential of needing a Plan B.

Posted by
3355 posts

Catching up on some previously unread parts of your trip report TexasTravelmom and really enjoyed it, especially the Isle Of Skye part so I could re-live my trip to Scotland in 2018. I sure would love to go back, thank you!

Posted by
33313 posts

this really helps me plan my (deferred from 2020) own trip up north.

Posted by
4330 posts

Thanks, Tammy and Nigel!

Tammy, sometimes people ask me where I like the best - and I find that pretty much impossible to answer. Lol.

Nigel, hopefully ya’ll make it this year!

Posted by
132 posts

Love reading your trip reports. Thanks for sharing!
I am very interested in visiting Harris & Lewis, so this was very helpful info. Thanks!
Just got back from England & Scotland myself. Check out my trip report on each if you have time. :-)
MC