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Late Doors

Not Camping in Scotland

Not counting numerous weekends and Rugby Trips to Murrayfield this is the third Tour of Scotland. Twice on the bike when it pissed down all week    and this one where the weather was as good as perfect. Crisp sunshine, beautiful Autumnal light and very little rain. If that sounds a little smug its because I am . Seriously it can be desperate for the tourist when the bad weather settles in and I feel for the Filth over his camping trip but we were blessed with superb conditions.


Got the Leeds Aberdeen Direct on Saturday morning and was in the Granite City by lunchtime. First time for me in Oilsville and I didn’t really know what to expect. What we got was a great city break. An uncompromising normal working city enjoying some late season sunshine.  Occaisional visitors to the country may be puzzled about the blue backdrop here. I can assure you no trickery as taken place and it is in fact what the rest of the British Isles refer to as clear blue sky.



Everyone other than the smattering of tourists and visitors completely obliviously to the stark presence of some fantastic Grey Granite architecture dotted about the town like weary sentries.



The town has everything really. Great Old pubs, The Grill on the main street, Old Blackfriars, Prince Of Wales and a littke beauty underneath some Auction room called Under the Hammer.


Had some fab tucker as well. Ace curry house called the Cinnammon although they shoved us on the table right next to the entrance away from the main area so we were surrounded by people queing up. Not a prob really. Great food.

Then a Turkish place called Nargills where I had the best chicken kebab ive ever had as well as a fab starter platter.

Last night was a chain place called Howies that claims Great Food No Frills. Well you cant argue with that. It was quality fish, meat veg, scallops the lot but service that made Roy Keane the subject of This Charming Man.

Took a day trip to Stonehaven as well and did a bit of walking. Lovely coastal rout and a beauty of a castle. I think it was used in Zeffirellis Hamlet



Two things I were not ready for was the utterly majestic old town/University area that could rival Oxford in terms of stately grandeur and a fantastic huge beach that was almost deserted.





Went into a towny bar called the Monkey to watch the Aberdeen v someone  game on the Monday night. Astonishing really. I seemed to be the only one getting excited about Aberdeen’s infrequent attempts on goal. It was all rather insipid really and didn’t really enamor me to the clubs fans or team. They seemed to be completely indifferent to the game and just seemed intent on pouring as much shit cider over a pile of ice as possible. We left way before the end.

So Aberdeen, yeah, nice surprise, a good Town and considering its supposed to be the crime capital of Scotland it seemed ok to me, Would I live there? Well I wouldn’t go kicking and screaming anyhow.

Next Stop Inverness
The Filth

Re: Not Camping in Scotland

Late Doors wrote:
I feel for the Filth over his camping trip but we were blessed with superb conditions.


Bastard.





Nice pics though.
Late Doors

So to Inverness. Last went there on a cycling holiday 1989 when we stopped in a youth Hostel. I had only vague memories of a river, a pub and wandering around the hostel stark bullock naked in the middle of the night looking for the loo.

We got the train from Aberdeen to Inverness. A long but enjoyable and picturesque ride North. Out of the station turn right up the main drag in town to our  Hotel and it was straight out but not before admiring the view south.




The Town Centre itself was a quite astonishing Architectural paradox really, superb structures that were in places completely denigrated and at time completely obstructed by ugly concrete monstrosities. All the usual high street outlets were present as well as various independent shops and other interesting cafes.  Seemed quite a bustling and reasonably prosperous town as well, It reminded me of Halifax about 15 years ago in look and feel terms. The centre generally sloped south to the River Ness which was lined at the south side with pubs and bars and more classic architecture towards the west.


The North Town Centre side hosted the castle and a fantastic riverside walk that I suppose led all the way down to Loch Ness itself. It was a superb tree lined walk along the beautiful River Ness frequently dotted with Fly fishermen wading along the river bed expertly casting in.



The river then met the Caledonian canal and the two waterways made a parallel journey into Loch Ness.



We actually did a boat trip along the canal into the Loch on a lovely sunny afternoon, fabulous.

Night time wasn’t too exciting to be honest although we were there in the early week. They obviously like their curries in Inverness; we counted four within touching distance of each other and numerous others dotted around the town. We found a couple of vey decent pubs but the local Wetherspoons was a basic rough arse one, unlike the Aberdeen place which was actually quite classy, a bit like the one in Brighouse.

The Blackfriars was opposite the theatre where a Phsychic drew a fair sized crowd in, though obviously he’d be expecting that   . Hootenanny’s was the main live music place which was quite busy but expensive. The Lad from Mull historical Society is playing there this month but there was no one of note while we were there. We found two very decent restaurants as well. I say Found, MrsD had researched them out beforehand. The Mustard Seed and Cafe One


Se we enjoyed Inverness but I think two nights is just enough to savour its charms. Next stop, Train to Kyle of Lochalsh, hire a car and three nights in Portree on the immensely beautiful Isle Of Skye.
Tank Girl

fantastic, can't wait for the next instalment.

the next bit you're off to is really beautiful.
Late Doors

Well just you settle back from the edge of that seat young lady cos here it is.  
 
Hitherto  we did everything on Public Transport but on Skye we thought we’d better hire a car. A little Ford Ka from a local Lochalsh firm but by the end of the ludicrous and meticulous examination and form filling we had to go through you’d have thought we were hiring a brand new space rocket.

They’ve built a Road Bridge from the mainland to the Isle since last time I was here and a pretty impressive looking one at that.  We were on the Isle in no time but not before we had a little drive to the picture perfect village of Plockton. Had some fab Fish n Chips from a hut near the water and then a little look around.

The drive up to Portree on Skye Took in some breathtaking scenery which we were going to see more of in the following three days. Our original plan was to stop in one B n B for three nights but that had to be changed to one night in the Cullin View and two nights next door but one that didn’t quite work out to plan as they had double booked us and had to send us a good 15 mins walk to the other side if the bay. We weren’t that bothered as the guest house was perfect with a stunning view over the Bay to Portree. So we ended up having three nights in three separate places. Not ideal but we took it in our stride.

Portree is brilliant. A quintessential British Coastal Hideaway full of charm and in the late Summer Northern light took on a kind of glow in the evening that lit everything up in warm glow .



It’s a working real life town that seems to quite happily co exist as a touristy town as well. There is nothing strained about it. The locals everywhere we went were friendly and not at all disdainful of tourists as they are in so many other tourist places. We got talking to an old character in one pub with an unpronounceable name that was clearly well known to everyone. He told us that he was a SERIOUSE fisherman and gave us a lecture on Malt Whiskies to the accompaniment of Rolling eyes and winks from the rest the locals around the bar.

We watched Celtic lose away to Tel Aviv in the Isle Inn which was pretty funny but I thought it was prudent not to laugh out too loud given the company we were in. I reckon we visited every pub in the Town more than once, A couple seemed a bit ropey but the rest were fine with The Isles Inn and The Pier Hotel Probably being the best in terms of atmosphere, beer quality and friendliness. They had live music as well with a couple of lads bashing out classics and modern indie tunes on their acoustic guitars



Another great thing about the place is that its central placed to do a tour of  the whole Island which I reckon we did in the three days we were there, Again we were blessed with 75 % Sunshine albeit with a chill and a breeze but that only seemed to add to the drama of the surroundings/





Learned a little about Scotlands past as well as we came across numerous sites of ancient carnage as The McKnackers massacred The  McNasties  and vice versa. I mean Christ its no wonder the English had such easy away days up there they were too busy slaughtering themselves to fight us. And just what that Bonnie Bugger Charlie reckoned he could do about it God only knows. He sounds a right Charlatan and a little too concerned with shagging his way across the Highlands and Europe to show any fight. I may well have misunderstood the situation there though.

They also distil their own Malt on the island. Talisker. The one morning it did rain we went there to have a look. Never been to one before but up to the distilling process very similar to ale and quite enlightening for me anyway. Weren’t shy with the tasters either, Three Measure of peaty sweet central heating, Lovely. Not without its Yorkshire connection either as i pointed out. The original old Mill machine that ground up the Barley was an ace old machine from a Leeds Firm and the Motor/Gearbox systems stirring the mix in the fermentation process was from Huddersfield.

Finally must mention a fantastic Restaurant we found in Portree. The Café Arriba, what a fine place. Informal as they come with a lovely hippy low key atmosphere. Absolutely wonderful food. A small menu chalked up and changing every day. When it was done it got scrubbed off until they ran out of everything. A treasure a place, we went two nights running. Had the last night in the a swankier place called the Harbour Lights for a  Seafood Platter but could quite easily have had a third night in the Cafe.

Next Stop A train Ride through the Highlands to Arrochar on Loch Long
bearing

Late Doors wrote:

They also distil their own Malt on the island. Talisker.


Ahh my favourite of all Malts*

*I've not tried every malt around, but it's my favourite so far.
Plastic Man

As usual, an absolutely enthralling account so far, Mr Doors, though do I detect a whiff of a drift into the Celtic vernacular...?
Late Doors

Funny you should say that PM. Everywhere I go outside the UK/Ireland people have told me I sound Irish especially in America.

Ive always had Irish Mates and maybe some twang has rubbed off but no your Earlyness, im Born n Bred Heavy Woolen and have heard myself on Video. I make David Batty and Simon Grayson sound like Stephen Fry
lebowski

Great reporting LD, loving it, some great pics too.
Plastic Man

Late Doors wrote:
Funny you should say that PM. Everywhere I go outside the UK/Ireland people have told me I sound Irish especially in America.

Ive always had Irish Mates and maybe some twang has rubbed off but no your Earlyness, im Born n Bred Heavy Woolen and have heard myself on Video. I make David Batty and Simon Grayson sound like Stephen Fry


Mr Doors, no disrespect intended, but I thought it was more like reading one of Mr Irvine Welsh's tomes - best approached assuming a faux Edinburgh burr.
Late Doors

It was going to be a four hour journey from Portree to Arrachar on Loch Long. We were originally going to go all the way to Edinburgh but decided to break it up with a Sunday night in a little town somewhere en route and Arrachar fitted the bill perfectly. What a beautiful Train ride it was, through some stunning wilderness type scenery. Rolling hills clad in rusting Fern bracken with low lying mist giving it a slightly menacing beauty that only the sporadic appearance of a Deer illuminated. There were a few stops in Ghost Town places where the scout hut appearance of the station was the only building for miles around. Dozens of walkers would disembark and some embark on the train in their garish apparel and excited but contented chatter.

The landlady of the BnB had kindly arranged to meet us off the train and drive us to the digs. A restored old country house on the side of the Loch with a stunning view across it towards the mountains.





We had a nice little Sunday Afternoon stroll round the Loch to the end and round towards the foot of the mountains on the other side. It’s a famous walking mountain and by this time late afternoon dozens of walkers were coming down the last straight in their masses of walking gear. A few of them eyed us suspiciously as it must have appeared to them that we were setting off on the 4 hour ascent in our Jeans and trainer. We were only going to base camp just to catch the view and by this time we were the only souls about. That is until three Asian Fellas came down behind us in their sandals and robes and walking sticks. Honestly it looked like a biblical scene and we struggled to contain our laughter.

We got a bottle of wine from the offy and sat on the balcony taking in the cooling evening chill as the descending darkness finally erased the Mountain view. Wed already spotted the pub of choice for the evening earlier on and although we booked a table on recommendation the place was only half full.




It was a big old place full of old wood that still gave the impression of a cigar  smokers haven even though the air was impeccably clean. The ales were good and although diners made up the vast majority in the place several ensconced bar drinkers made it a decent quaffing venue as well.

By this stage of the hol we were both well in the holiday chill out zone. You know that nice feeling you get just after half way through. Nicely relaxed and comfortable in the knowledge there’s a lot more to come. That’s just how we were sat on the huge table in the spacious but homely dining room sipping wine, not knowing what time it was, not caring and forgetting what we’d ordered. I remember it was very nice though.

So the next day it was back on the train to Edinburgh. Right up there in our view as one of the best cities in the world.
ashthepash

LD - I know you wrote Seinfeld BUT you really should be writing for a Mag/Journal of some sort.
Outstanding stuff!
sheeps

ashthepash wrote:
LD - I know you wrote Seinfeld BUT you really should be writing for a Mag/Journal of some sort.
Outstanding stuff!


Agree.
Mick McCann

Ace thread LD.

Thanks very much.

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