Tag Archives: Rain

A Scotland Adventure – Part 5, The Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye

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Hello, and welcome back to your annual story time of Ben and Sarah’s international adventures! Keeping with the tradition of the last few years, Sarah and I visited with her family, this year going back to Scotland.

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Saturday, 28-Dec-2019

 

On our first full day in Skye we went searching for The Old Man of Storr.

The old man is old – I don’t know how old rock pillars are, but they’re probably extremely old, right?  Millions of years?  Yeah, that seems right… and Wikipedia confirms it – something around 2.8 billion years old.  Which kind of seems too old to me… but then again, I’m not a geologist, so I don’t really know.

The Old Man of Storr is old, let’s just roll with that.

The Old Man of Storr is also rainy, we learned.

 

As all piled out of the van at the parking lot, and immediately grabbed all the rain gear we could find before heading into the mist and rain.

As we climbed higher, the rain kept getting worse – to the point that Bill and Henry had to turn around to protect their camera equipment.  Sarah, Leah, Greta and I powered onward and upward though, continuing on as the rain turned from “rain” to “Bleak”, and then went through “Dreak” and even into “Lashing” at one point.  It was impressive… but thanks to the waterproof phone, I was able to get some pretty excellent pictures!

We sort of saw the Storr, but only barely.  Still, absolutely worth the adventure, in my book.

 

After turning around and coming back to the warm van, we moseyed onward toward Kilt Rock for a quick peak at the waterfalls, before heading back into town to dry off and warm up!

 

A Scotland Adventure – Part 4, Driving to Skye

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Hello, and welcome back to your annual story time of Ben and Sarah’s international adventures! Keeping with the tradition of the last few years, Sarah and I visited with her family, this year going back to Scotland.

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Thursday, 26-Dec-2019 and Friday, 27-Dec-2019

 

After Christmas day, we packed up the van (Yep, there was a van!) and headed into the great unknown!

Well, unknown for us.  Bill and Greta had made this drive a few times already, so they were our tour guides for the adventure!  We set off from Aberdeen (on the Eastern side of Scotland) aiming toward the far Western side… though not all the way West, just pretty far West.  The lovely isle of Skye!

 

To get there, we passed through the Cairngorms, a beautiful mountain range in the center of Scotland.  We’d done a bit of hiking there the last time we were in Scotland, so we really enjoyed this chance to tour through the mountains in their entirety – we made a few tourist stops to get some amazing views, and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

The weather and conditions were actually quite mild compared to our expectations – There was some snow, but none near where we stopped off, and I don’t think we actually got any snow underfoot at any point.  It was absolutely cold, don’t get me wrong, but it was somehow a more enjoyable cold than I was expecting… not quite the sharp biting cold that I’ve gotten accustomed to in the Pacific Northwest mountains.  More of a seeping cold, that slowly creeps up on you through the various layers and jackets.

It was amazing.

 

Our final stop on the first day was the historic Loch Ness, where we stayed at the Ben Leva Inn.  After a long day of driving through the mountains, it was absolutely perfect.  We had amazing sunset views over the Loch, and the Inn had the exact warm and welcoming feeling that you’d hope for in a Scottish Inn at the end of a long travel day.  The main room had excellent / hearty food, and the fireplace was warm and roaring.  We ate, played some cards, chatted, and turned in for an early night.

 

 

The second day of driving took us past Loch Ness and on toward our final destination on Skye.  It started early, but thankfully it also started with some very lovely bagged lunched by the Ben Leva staff – so absolutely a win in my book.  Though… maybe not so much a win for the drivers, who had to navigate the dark Scottish roads hours before sunrise.  But they handled the van adroitly, and we wound our way steadily toward the coast.

 

One quick side story here: The Loch Ness Monster.

We never saw Nessie, though I do now have a personal encounter story.  You see, we stayed over at Loch Ness, and the morning that we left our hosts gave us some lovely bagged lunches.  There was a sandwich, a fruit, and a soda for everyone.  Cokes, Sprite, and even a few IRN-BRU Scottish drinks.

We stopped off to get groceries later on in the day, and when we came back one of the IRN-BRU cans was leaking everywhere.  “Ohh no!  I must have left it open on the seat!” I cried.

But no – the can wasn’t leaking from the top!  It was leaking from a puncture mark on the side?

And wait a moment… there wasn’t any soda anywhere.  No wet spots, no puddles, no sticky residue.  It was as if the soda hadn’t ever even existed.

That was when I realized that the puncture hole bore a striking resemblance to a Plesiosaur tooth.

Now, any logical person will cite Occam’s Razor, and will tell you that the soda must have absorbed into the seats, or dried up, or something of the like.  But I know the truth.  In my heart of hearts, I know that Nessie likes IRN-BRU.

 

Anyways aside from Nessie, there was Skye.

Skye was beautiful.  We saw it first from the shore, a bit after we stopped at Eilean Donan castle to see the most photographed castle in Scotland, but before we crossed the huge bridge connecting Skye to the mainland of Scotland.  It was gorgeous, even with the omni-present rain.

Somehow, to me at least, the rain really makes the whole picture.  Scotland in my mind isn’t sunny and warm… Scotland is harsh, and bleak, and has at least semi-constant mist.  That makes the few rays of sunshine that much more poignant… and boy did Skye not disappoint that first day.

We started off with a quick stop at a beautiful seaside down, moseying inland past Sligachan bridge, and toward the Talisker Distillery.  We even stopped in at a beautiful artists shop above the distillery, where Sarah got a chance to chat and talk shop with one of the owners.

We explored, photographed, got a bit rained on, and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

 

Later on the day, once the house we were staying at was ready for us, we headed into Portree to the nice warm house…

 

A Scotland Adventure – Part 1, the overview!

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Hello, and welcome back to your annual story time of Ben and Sarah’s international adventures! Keeping with the tradition of the last few years, Sarah and I visited with her family, this year going back to Scotland.

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From Saturday, 21-December, 2019 all the way through to Saturday, 04-Jan, 2020

 

Part 1 – The overview, and photo highlights

The general framework of the trip is detailed below; we didn’t come into the trip with any major plans or goals, we were really looking forward to the time to relax after the busyness of 2019. It’d been a pretty amazing year, full of huge amounts of growth… but with that growth had come a number of challenges that left us fairly drained.

A visit to the Highlands was exactly what the doctor ordered.

 

Quick summary of our trip to Scotland!

  • Leave Portland on Saturday, 21-December-2019
  • Get stuck in San Francisco due to a delayed flight, and stay overnight at the super-posh Grand Hyatt while also getting to walk around the city and visit my cousin
  • Arrive in Scotland on the 23rd… but unfortunately without our checked bags
  • Explore Aberdeen for two days (Tuesday and Wednesday), getting to see the Art Museum, attend the midnight mass at St. Maccars, and even watch dolphins jumping in the surf outside of town
  • Drive to the Isle of Skye, staying overnight at the BenLeva Inn on Loch Ness. We don’t see Nessie… but we do have a full can of Irn Bru (a type of soda) vanish, leaving only the pierced and empty can…
  • We spent three full days on Skye, and had an excellent time exploring and photographing everything we could find. Some major adventure points were:
    • We hiked up to the Storr (in the rain)
    • Explored the town of Portree, and ate some extremely good Cullen Skink
    • hiked the Quiraing route from the parking lot down to the town of Flogetty
    • Walked out to the Fairy Pools
  • Back in Aberdeen, we spent a day touring around the countryside, seeing standing stones and other amazing points of interest.
  • We spent another day back in Aberdeen exploring the city – seeing Greta’s office, visiting shops, and walking through some amazing museums