Category Archives: Scotland

Build a rainbow or two, with a missing ferry, and hotel?

Totally confused? Oh, I hope so, as thats the plan to make you read this, lol.

OK, catching up on the week so far. Yesterday was more memorable for the things that didnt go to plan, whereas today, with one exception, went pretty well to plan.

So yesterday, lets start with the usual culprit, Trans Pennine, and their non-express service. OK, lets say wonderful service from a member of staff from same company! Even more confused? Oh good!

We arrived at Huddersfield yesterday morning, to find our train was running 13 minutes late. Then it got to 18 late, actually left 16 minutes late, so yes, they have as much clue as a certain US president does, lol. Not surprisingly, it lost more time before York, and basically, we werent going to make our train at Newcastle, and all plans could have gone haywire from there. So, I thought I’d buy a coffee, and at least enjoy that on the journey, when…the conductor told us our train was actually behind us going into York. It was probably going to overtake it en route to Newcastle (it did!), so he got us off there, wrote a sweet message for the guard of the other train, we got on it, and sorted.

Well, apart from my coffee, which was the item I then couldnt carry, and half got lost in the transfer, but anyway…

Next, Edinburgh! I had rashly assumed all platforms were pretty much in one area, and that the transfer, even with limited mobility on our parts (Eric even more than me), it wouldnt be that hard. Unfortunately we were dropped off on a platform about half a mile from the main area of the station, and it was a challenge to get there. Thankfully, we had plenty of time, so survived.

The rest was straightforward enough, other than the amusement on my part, when I saw they’d put Eric down as Mr Carpenter on the invoice. I know, one name on the booking, twin room, so…Still found it funny, but thats just me? Hotel is lovely by the way.

Today, to Kyle of Lochalsh. OK, this is where the title comes into play. You could call the Skye line, the LGBT line, because we saw rainbows both ways, a very spectacular one heading there, less so coming back. 2 of the stations, the platforms are so ‘large’ they only open 1 door on the train, because thats all thats on the platform!

OK, first the missing hotel. Eric has got one of those ‘drivers eyes’ videos of the Kyle line, but the thing is, it was made in 1987! It therefore showed a building I first saw as a child, the Achnasheen Inn Hotel, on the platform of Achnasheen station. So, someone was looking forward to seeing an old friend again, right? Wrong, seemingly, as it burnt down in 1995! I did wonder if I was missing something, until I found out the news at the museum on Kyle station! Just glad I didnt say anything at the time, as locals would have thought me crazy asking about something that burnt down 23 years ago!

Oh fine, the missing ferry. No, not the one at Kyle, though that is definitely gone. Funnily enough, there was a large boat moored where the ferry used to leave from today though. But further up the line…

The first time I saw this corner of the world, by road, was 1971. We were using an old road map (about 1968?), and it showed the road crossing to Stromeferry, by ferry. I was navigating just fine, until we approached the area, and the signpost said something totally different to my map. Thankfully, wisdom prevailed, I followed the signposts, not the map, as the ferry had been replaced by a new road the year before! In truth, today, nearly 50 years on, I couldnt make out either point where the road met the ferry, so to speak, on either side of the water. Passing of time, and all that!

Tomorrow, so to speak, we go back in time, on a steam train from Aviemore, to Boat of Garten, and back. Lunch booked on the train, ooh! No, I havent bought a flapper dress with me, though maybe I should have done? Thursday, we head back south. More on those 2 days at end of week, I’m sure.

Apologies, but no video tonight. We do have wi-fi at the hotel, but its not quick enough to play videos, from You Tube, for sure. Probably would have gone with the theme from Rainbow, for those who wish to find their own!

Edited to add the video. Yes, the full length version, a first for me

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Speed, bonny ferry

I had initially planned to save this blog for Sunday, the last day before the trip to Scotland, but I’m short of ideas, and hopefully something will inspire me before Sunday to solve the issue arising then! Lets just say Thursday isnt going to be an issue for blog material, will be a duplicate blog, and leave it at that, for now! 😉 One or two will know why, but for the rest of you, wait and see!

The last time I visited Kyle of Lochalsh would be somewhere in the early/mid 1980’s, and back then, if you wanted to visit Skye, it was go on the ferry boat, or not go at all! I actually did go on said ferry boat, the only time in my life that I have been to Skye, though that was in the 70’s, I did go back after that, but not to Skye. Now, that ferry boat is but a very distant memory, as there has been a bridge to Skye for over 20 years now, which I have only ever seen in pictures, not in person. Next Tuesday, I plan to change that fact while there.

Scotland has always seemed to have a lot of routes that required ferries to get you to your destination, and I’m not just talking to the other islands. There are a lot less now than there used to be, and most of the road ones are now gone, the only one I really know that still exists being the one to go to Cape Wrath, in the very north of Scotland.

Funnily enough, the ferry that was closest to my heart in the Scottish Highlands, was one I rarely used, which was the one crossing Loch Leven, at Ballachulish. There were 2 good reasons for this. Firstly, in summer, the traffic jams to use the ferry was legendary, and it was often quicker to drive around the Loch (about 15 miles), via Kinlochleven, than wait to get on the ferry! More principally for me at least, it was the case I had some distant relatives living in Kinlochleven, so we were heading there, so no point using the ferry! Inevitably a bridge was built, to clear the traffic jams, which opened in 1975, and that was the end of the days of the ferry. Unsurprisingly the road around the loch went from being busy much of the time, to an almost deathly hush!

The final ferry I’m going to mention is another I never got to travel, only over the stunning new bridge that replaced it. Going back to the very north of Scotland, you’ll find a tiny village named Kylesku, heading up the north west coast. Before 1984 the ‘main’ road (it was single track up until the last 40 years or so) simply ran down to the ferry at Kylesku, and you had to take the ferry to Kylestrome (or vice versa) to go any further north. Given it was the late 80’s, or early 90’s before I went up that far, with my partner at the time, the ferry was gone, and the mighty bridge stood above the water. But that night, we stayed at Kylesku, in the little hotel there, and walked down to that ferry point, where so many cars had queued over the years, and looked across the water. The next morning, we left, crossed the bridge, and headed north, and I’ve never been back. Nor am I likely to now, as to put it mildly, public transport in that corner of the world is nigh non existent!

Oh, if you still want to go on a boat, over the sea to Skye, it can still be done, from Mallaig, to Armadale, though that, like the Glenelg, to Kylerhea routes are not the famous crossings of history. No, that was Kyle of Lochalsh, to Kyleakin, a route that Bonnie Prince Charlie would now not be able to use.

No, I’m not planning to cross to Skye, its not easy to do as a non driver nowadays, and besides neither of us are in the first flush of youth (by a long stretch), and we dont have that much time anyway. So I’ll settle for walking down to where the ferry used to leave from, and look across to Skye…and remember!

Oh fine, the video is the very obvious one, really!