Mud On the Road

we're about to go shopping in Salisbury...

Goodbye to all that

9 am   

Alderdale Bed & Breakfast in Luss.
Delightful and dog friendly.
We leave Luss after breakfast and set off on the magnificent road to Skye via Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, places and landmarks with evocative, magical names like Loch Lochy and Glengarry and Eilean Donan...

        The last time we attempted to journey together into the great MacStretches, we’d planned to camp. Under canvas. In October. The notion being we might avoid the worst of the midges.
        For that great adventure, Shedley bought a pop-up tent with the aim of saving himself the protracted, onerous and largely solitary labour of erecting the big tent on single-night-stop-overs.

 Our first and, as it turned out, only single-night-stopover, was still in England. We had lingered to admire the Angel of the North and so were in Northumberland when it began to get dark and we thought we should find somewhere to stop for the night. 

        As we entered a surprisingly full campsite it began to rain heavily.
        It rained especially heavily on Shedley who, 20 minutes later, was still outside in the rain. Having casually popped-up the pop-up tent in three seconds as promised by the instructions, he was having considerably more difficulty inflating the airbed which did not want to be inflated and sought only to fight him and do mischief.
        I stayed in the dry car with the dogs. I brewed tea and listened to the dismal weather forecast on the radio and my husband's cries, strangely muted by the wind and the rain.
  From time to time I called out to him, words of comfort mainly and helpful advice, as he continued to do battle in the torrential rain and increasingly howling gale with the airbed and the electronic foot pump. 

       Finally, the airbed was inflated. 

       Now all that remained was for Shedley to administer the insertion of the two-person airbed into the two-person pop-up tent. Even I, with my limited spatial awareness, could tell that this next task was going to require extreme physical exertion and acts of squeezing, manipulation and  compression and I mentioned this to Shedley. 

        His difficulties were further compounded by the fact that the airbed, now fully inflated, was waving about in the wind and the rain and attempting to get airborne.
        It became apparent to anybody watching that, whereas the airbed was designed to accommodate two adult human beings of average width and length, the pop-up tent had been devised with far, far smaller beings in mind. Hobbits perhaps or Borrowers.

       I'm fairly certain several people were watching from behind their canvas flaps. Very likely many of them were having what the sort of people who actually enjoy camping - mainly Liberal Democrats I imagine and people who wear socks with Birkenstocks - would probably call, 'a good chuckle' at Shedley's trials.
        At last and following a series of terrible rubberised grinding noises and ugly squelching sounds, Shedley announced he was done. The airbed was inside the tent and he proposed we dispense with niceties of supper and wine and have an early night the better to make an early start.

        As one of the two persons for whom both tent and airbed were intended I lowered the car window a cautious inch or two. What I saw was not so much the airbed inside the tent as the airbed wedged into the tent's opening with a good two feet or so of the sleeping area still on the outside.

        And by now the airbed, the tent and Shedley were all wetter than the wettest thing imaginable.

        I pointed these things out to Shedley and I explained further that: having had time to consider my options and my long term health, I would not be introducing my dry person into the freakish-looking and totally sodden sleeping cavity which had been fashioned for me;  I would be more persuaded to spend the night in a paddling pool filled with water and slimy things than this caricature of a sleeping compartment; I hoped we never had to face a nuclear winter or meteor strike because I doubted we had the necessary survival skills to withstand such a catastrophe and our line would therefore dwindle and die out.

        I confirmed I would be sleeping in the car with the dogs and also the free standing fan heater which I had with great foresight brought to Northumberland and which I had, on arrival, plugged into the campsite power supply and which was keeping the inside of the car very toasty, thank you.
        There being no room for Shedley in the now tropical interior of the car, he spent the night in the tent with half of his legs and all of his feet outside the tent. 

        He did not sleep and he did not dry out.

        At 5 am, after some wild manoeuvres and strenuous gesturing, he burst forth from the tent with a ghastly wet sucking noise like a monstrous fish expelled by force from a deep wet hole of mud.

        He declared he was done with camping and we would be abandoning the trip and abandoning all thoughts of Scotland and returning home immediately.
        Which is what we did.
        The ‘immediately’ bit of the new plan proved awkward since the pop-up tent, having popped-up with such marvellous alacrity, had experienced life in the round and now stubbornly refused to pop back down and return to its dormant flat-packed state and would not fit in the car much less in the miraculously tiny bag in which it had arrived and so had to be strapped down and fastened to things and was afterwards donated to a relation.


2.30 pm

        Two years and a month or so later we have finally made it to Scotland. There is an hour or so of  wintry daylight left to colour the final stretch of our journey from Loch Lomond, And as we drive over the road bridge onto the Isle of Skye, head into the Black Cuillin mountain range and then journey northwards to our rented cottage in Portree, I can tell you already, it was well worth the wait.


Loch Lomond to Skye

Loch Tulla, Argyll and Bute, 29 November 2014
Clouds rolling in,  Loch Tulla A82

Lochan na h-Achlaise, Rannoch Moor, 29 November 2014
Lochan na h-Achlaise, Rannoch Moor, desolate lunar-like beauty
Abandoned by a loch in Scotland
This reminded me of the Jane Campion TV series, 'Top of Lake', set in New Zealand

Glen Coe, 29 November 2014
Two and a half of the Mighty Three Sisters, Glen Coe 

Cluanie Inn, Skye and Lochalsh
Plus fantastic coffee served here - Cluanie Inn, Glen Shiel, 

The Commando Monument, North of Spean Bridge, 29 November 2014
The Commando Monument looking across to Ben Nevis
Glengarry Shinty Club, 29 November 2014
Like it says on the tin...
also some of the best free loos in Scotland!
Eilean Donan Castle, Skye and Lochalsh, 29 November 2014
Eilean Donan Castle - breathtaking

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