Friday, September 27, 2013

Taking a breather

This morning I have done my laundry - oh what a good feeling to have clean clothes.  My room looks like a Chinese laundry as so much of my stuff is technical material.  And I have been making a fuss over an adorable little terrior named Bonnie.

I decided to sit in the conservatory of my bed and breakfast.  As I sit here I know the sea is just a few yards away even if I can't see it due to things like a bowling club, etc. in the way!!!  Never fear; I shall be out and about this afternoon.  My friend Claudia is coming to get me at noon and we will walk over to Sovereign Harbour for the afternoon.  Tonight is a double Corrie and a total repack of my suitcase.  I am such a night owl - ha!  I love my little room but haven't been sleeping well for some reason.  While I am not really under the weather I am starting to feel the effects of three weeks of nonstop activity.

Yesterday was superb.  Claudia and I took the bus to Seven Sisters Country Park and walked up and down all Seven Sisters.  The weather was great and it just felt wonderful to be alive and I was so grateful I am able to do things like this - physically and financially.  We had planned to walk as far as Beachy Head but found out no public bus back into Eastbourne so off we went again.  We kind of got misplaced on the South Downs Way and ended up on another path.  It involved steep steps down so Claudia had to help me as my knees were so darn tired and giving me grief by then.   That was the most difficult part of the walk for me aside from one or two of those "sisters". (we gave them names like Brunhilde and Augusta)  Everyone walking was so friendly and happy - absolutely loved it.

We stopped at Birling Gap for our picnic - bought teas and sat outside - I of course had picked up a prawn and mayonnaise sandwich from Marks and Sparks.  Is there any other kind? 

I had "done" the Seven Sisters in 1997 but walked from Beachy Head to the Seven Sisters Park the other way and I'd advise anyone doing it to do it that way (if you are just doing that and not the entire South Downs Way) as the wind was in our face. 

Here are some photos in the order of the walk:








Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back by the sea

I'm happily ensconced in Eastbourne right now.  Eastbourne is a city of about 100,000 people situated on the English channel.  It is known as a place for the "mouldy oldies" to go but I picked it as a central base from which to explore.  The guest house I am in is situated on the main road that runs along the seafront and my tiny room has a small balcony from where I can see the sea. 

Today my friend Judi and I took a train to Rye which is an ancient town that is known for having gangs of smugglers.  Lots of beautiful old houses and the lovely cobbled Mermaid St.  I hadn't been there since 1981 so was well overdue. 




We also visited a local church, St. Mary's...


 


We then took a taxi to Winchelsea as we had just missed the bus.  I was blown away by St. Thomas the Martyr church there - I think mainly because it was partly ruins.




We had tea/coffee and cake at a lovely local farm shop and then headed back to Rye by bus.  Then train back to Eastbourne.  A great day. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Busy in the Cotswolds!

Well I have been very lax in doing my blog these last few days.  We have been so busy and by evening time it is all I can do to upload my photos and drink our allotted amount of wine.

Seriously it's been three absolutely fun filled days.  Highlights:  visiting Sudeley castle in Winchcombe, walking to Broadway Tower and going to the top then walking over to the delightful village of Snowshill yesterday and today we walked over to Stanton, a gorgeous little village.  We got on a first name basis with lots of sheep and I was chased by a horse (ala Eilleen 2006 in the Black Hills..you had to be there...) ...okay okay maybe just followed but it totally freaked me out as while I can appreciate how beautiful horses are I am not feelin' the love, sorry.  June had to lead me away like a little girl...not one of my better moments I must admit. 

I will post in more detail later...but it's been awesome. 

It has been hard finding the time to blog when you are busy all day walking and are tired in the evening...

Rest assured I am keeping a written journal (sort of) and will post on the wonderful places I've seen in detail later.

I would post some pictures but this wifi connection is very weak.  We are in Cheltenham now - taking the train down south via London tomorrow morning.

Next stop - Eastbourne and the sea!!! 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sunshine in Edinburgh

We all headed off in the direction of Edinburgh on Tuesday morning - June got off in Kinross to visit family and Robynn and I headed to Edinburgh.  I had booked a room at an airbnb place which turned out to be quite nice.  The only pain...the bathroom was upstairs which made for some careful nightly wanderings.  Not the type of stairs you want to fall down!! 

Robynn and I had a bit of a wander around the area before purchasing some food from the shop opposite. One of the big advantages of airbnb besides the cheaper price and getting to meet the locals is being able to cook your own meals.  Makes life cheaper plus you get to try the local produce - or ready meals in my case.  I heated up a lamb casserole for supper which was nice. 

Becky, the host is very nice and the other people in the house are friendly as well including Ruth, a gal who is attending university.  I love living like this.

Anyway I am supposed to be talking about sunshine in Edinburgh - and shine it did.  I had been in Edinburgh on two occasions previously where I never saw the sun. 

We took the bus to town and walked over to the castle and were in the que to get tickets when I read the interior held mainly military artifacts.  Ugh.  16 pounds for that?  So we carried on along the Royal Mile and walked over to Grassmarket and also Greyfriars Kirk where I visited the graves of Greyfriars Bobby and his master.  Also had to pay homage at Bobby's statue!!!


 We had lunch at Greyfriars pub where I had a mushroom and chicken pie which was just okay. 

We then visited St. Giles Cathedral which was beautiful. 

We wandered along the Royal Mile a bit and then headed over to the New town (from the late 1700's!!) and did some shopping.

Back to Ashley Terrace where we had M & S salads for supper. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Over the Sea to Skye

Our guest house - Lynver - was wonderful and we felt pampered.  Sunday evening we watched a movie called "Angels Share" which was amusing.  What we could understand!!! 

The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast - we took the continental option which was great.  Meat, cheeses, buns, toast, fruit and we had started with a  small bowl of porridge so we were set for the day!

Then we walked over to the Tourist Info centre and got on our tour to Skye.  We had a most informative driver/tour guide.  He wasn't as funny and personable as the one I had out of Glasgow but we did learn a lot.  Now if I could just remember it!!  There were 29 of us - from all over the world.

Our first stop was Eilean Donan castle...wow.  The weather was the pits so the pictures could have been better but oh well...I plan to do a separate post on this castle when I get home....it is privately owned and was a ruin until earlier last century.  What a stunning backdrop for the castle.




Then over the bridge to Skye.  When I last visited Skye in 1994 there was no bridge - just a ferry.  We drove through Broadford and on to Portree where we had an hour and a half break to have lunch and look around.  We immediately headed down to the harbour.


We then grabbed a sandwich and had a quick cup of tea in the pub after looking in the shops.  I really liked Portree and can see me basing myself there some day and taking day trips (by bus of course) around the island. 

Our next stop was at a waterfall and scenic outlook.  Don't ask me where...but it was lovely. 


View of the bridge to Skye from the Kyle of Lochalsh
It was a great day out regardless of the weather. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Great Glen Way Day 6

I am really behind with my blog - well two days but I am not getting the detail I had wanted to.  It is difficult to keep on top of even keeping a journal with the busy days.  I flop into bed at night exhausted. 

The evening of Day five we dined at the Fiddlers Inn in Drumnadrochit - we had fish and potato soup which was tasty.  We were spread amongst three bed and breakfasts and I was upstairs at the Fiddlers Inn.  It was okay.  I was so exhausted I just sprawled on the bed and watched Elton John in concert on the telly. 

Anyway without going into details we got to Inverness with smiles on our faces...

We then headed to the pub where we got our certificates and had a celebratory drink. (and bowls of lovely broccoli and stilton soup)  We then headed over to our bed and breakfast on Old Edinburgh Road which was lovely.  We made tea and rested for a couple of hours then we walked around the shops a bit before going back to the same pub (not my idea...)for a Sunday roast.

We felt quite proud of ourselves - even though it was not all of the 79 miles we had 'done good'! 

I will write more about the Great Glen Way when I get home.  There is a fine line between spending too much time on the computer when you are on a holiday.  My journal is sadly neglected so hope to work on that tomorrow....
Helloooo  Inverness!!! 

Caledonion Canal near the end of the walk

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Great Glen Way Day Five

After another yummy breakfast at the Bracarina House in Invermoriston we were on our way.  We almost immediately started a long climb and I mean long....it went on and on.  Once we got up there we kept going up and down and up and down..get the picture?  The views were stunning. We were so lucky with the weather but as usual in Scotland it was changeable and clothes were coming on and off constantly.   14 long miles of up and down...we were all tired but I must admit I was a bit of a bitch on wheels at the end as both feet hurt, both knees hurt and my right hip hurt. 

We did something out of the normal walking day and stopped along the way and had a cup of tea at a bed and breakfast.  It was strange as the path felt so remote yet at times we were a stones throw away from the busy highway along the banks of Loch Ness. 

However what a beautiful walk.....  through the forest and along the top of the mountain surrounded by heather with gorgeous views of Loch Ness, along a country lane with sheep and cows in the fields...marvellous!  But I was damn glad when it was over! The kicker was that we stopped at the pub in what we thought was our final destination of Drumnadrochit and had a drink (to show you how tired I was I had a coke and not my usual glass of wine).  We walk out expecting to find the Village Green around the corner and we are in the wrong damn village! We were in Lewiston.  Luckily the village was just a short walk down the road but none of us were too amused.

Here are some of the highlights....

Getting ready for the walk


We stopped and had tea along the route -a  nice break and we were served by this gentleman. I accidentally locked myself in their toilet but let's not talk about THAT!!!



Tons of heather everywhere

What a view!

Another view of Loch Ness

Are you nuts lady?

Getting near the end

Oh boy were we happy to see this sign




Friday, September 13, 2013

Great Glen Way day four

Well today was "only" 8 miles.  Piece of cake!!  After another Scottish brekky we started our ascent out of Fort Augustus.  As luck would have it our b an b was right on the trail so out the door and turn left.  The ascent was hard but we did it and there were a few ups and downs that were kind of a pain in the a** at times.  Some nice view of Loch Ness and walking on a logging road.  It then turned into a smaller path and we followed that down into Invermoriston. 

I must mention the fact that long distance walkers are almost their own community and we keep running into the same walkers.  A couple of fellows from Virginia - probably in their 60's who did the West Highland Way and decided to add on the Great Glen Way.  We just ran into them at dinner again tonight!  Also a couple from Australia and a couple from New Zealand who we always chat with and two young fellows from London. 

Today we also met a fellow heading to Fort William who was from Nanibia. 

It is such an awesome way to travel and we are all having fun - sure there are tough times now and again but we do have a lot of laughs and are constantly amazed by what we see.  And meeting the people is the very best thing. 

Upon arrival into Invermoristion we saw the Telford Bridge which was lovely and then we caught a bus to Urquhart Castle which I will talk about at a different time as I haven't uploaded my pictures yet.  Too tired - sorry!!

We had a nice dinner and now I am relaxing in my room. 

A big day tomorrow - 14 miles and it is the most challenging yet.  We are up for it!!! 

Great Glen Way Day 3

Okay I typed this up on word pad last night but somehow must not have saved it...it was the wine, I blame the wine...

So I did write in my journal so will try to piece it from there...

After another hearty Scottish brekky (once we stop walking it is back to toast and cereal) we headed off down the same horrible road back to the path.  At one point I did not have room to walk and just had to stand while vehicles thundered by me and started walking when it was safe to do so.   Not nice but soon we were in the forest and enjoying the trail.  Garnet saw a bench and thought "hmmm..must be a view" and sure enough.  There was a ruined castle on the opposite shore as well as a half sunken ship.  Garnet is a hoot and a real story teller so he decided he was Jack Sparrow!!  Well I guess you had to be there...

Anyway we carried on and enjoyed the walk as it was lovely, flat and in so much simple beauty - trees, moss, rocks..lovely.  At one point Garnet stuck his arm into the moss and it was about six inches. We then walked through a field to the Caledonian Canel and followed the canal all the way to Fort Augustus.   It was so interesting to see all the boats and the locks...at the last lock we stayed and watched some of the boats and after we left we found out one had caught fire!  The hills are so beautiful with fire trees and heather...it really is wonderful walking in nature like this.  It was a twelve mile walk and while it didn't seem that long time wise my feet were pretty sore by the end. 




Lock keepers's cottage along the way

Garnet and June talking and chatting

This is the boat that caught fire - note the dog Belle in the background


It started raining for the last fifteen minutes of our walk so we arrived to a soggy Fort Augustus.  First stop was a place for tea/beer - tea in my case.  We had our drinks then all the women left our stuff with Garnet in the pub and took off shopping.  I managed to buy a couple of gifts and we bought tiny bottles of wine for later that evening.  :)   We also went to the tourist info centre to get specific instructions for our bed and breakfast that evening.

Back to the pub where we had supper - I ordered a ploughman's lunch which came with a ton of cheese that I could never have eaten so I took it with me and we enjoyed it with our wine later that evening in the lounge that evening. (our group were the only ones in the B & B so we commandeered the lounge)   Dogs are allowed in a lot of pubs here....


Ploughman's lunch:  bread, three kinds of cheese & branston pickle.  yum!

 
We then started walking to the bed and breakfast (Thistle Dubh which was quite nice) and stopped off at the Rare Breeds centre and saw some "Hairy Coos" (Cows) 
 

 
 We then got back to the bed and breakfast and enjoyed our wine and cheese in the lounge.  My feet were bothering me so I gave them a lovely moisturing rub with lotion.  
 
And that was day three!!!  (Thursday Sept. 12th) 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Great Glen Way - Day 2

This morning after another full Scottish breakfast - complete with black pudding - my first and last thank you very much.  Two bites were enough!!!  - we got a ride back to Gairlochy and off we went in the rain.  I got to test out my new rain pants I got in Glasgow for half price.  They performed well.  We walked through a beautiful forest and beside Loch Lochy. (yep that's it's name!!)  Today's walk was hillier than yesterday although much worse is to come!  The forest trail was lovely and the air so fresh...even better when it stopped raining.  We walked along the Loch for most of the time although the vegetation was so lush we couldn't see it for a lot of the time.  We walked mostly along a gravel road that was undulating up and down although like I said not too bad.  Gorgeous streams and little waterfalls - moss in between the towering pines.  It was like a fairy land.  The sun never really came out to play with us seriously today but did flirt with us a bit.  However that was okay.  It did warm up and we all stripped down to our t-shirts. 

The walk was between 13 and 15 miles.  We came to South Laggan and had to walk along the canal and then a busy road (which was quite stressful when you are exhausted and walking along the narrow side and no one slows down of course) to get to our bed and breakfast, Forest Lodge which is lovely.  Even lovelier for five pounds they will do your laundry. I have been hand washing a lot of stuff but three of us pooled together and we probably got at least one load. 

June gave us all a foot rub which was absolute bliss.

Our B & B is in the middle of nowhere as far as shops, etc. are so they are taking us to a local restaurant and picking us up later so that's nice. 

Lots of stretching again tonight as well as water. I know I will be sore tomorrow morning...I think it is only 8.5 miles tomorrow...today was a tough day but not as tough as the last one will be...AND the hills get bigger!!! 

No pictures to post yet as I haven't uploaded since Monday.  But I will post them later....

I guess tomorrow's walk will start with a return trip down that busy highway back to the path...