Scotland

Good bye Skye, good bye Scotland

On Thursday it was time to go home. We left at 9:30am, and were home at 18:30. That's indeed 33 hours, almost as long as to NZ. We first had to drive to Edinburgh, to get onto the ferry to Zeebrugge.

So first it was goodbye Skye:

The bridge, built in 1995 that did away with the need to go per ferry to Skye:

Then it was good bye Scotland:

After a 20 hour stay on the boat, we arrived in Zeebrugge.

Horse riding

Late in the afternoon we went horse riding, an activity AnneRoos quite looked forward to. The riding itself was a bit tame, but the environment will be hard to beat.

And yes we know, most horses you see are actually ponies...

Visit to the Campbell's

On Wednesday afternoon, August 12 we visited Alasdair's Mum and Dad. Not reachable per motor way:

Somewhere down there, on the right, it is:

This house will be a very familiar sight for some readers:

According to John Campbell, who also has visited New Zealand, Skye "can take quite a beating." We have to agree The view from his home:

We visited their church, which has a long history:

The insight had been recently renovated:

The graveyard behind the church:

It took a few tries, but we managed to get us all on one picture:

Leverburgh

We had a brochure of the Western Isles, with pictures of unbelievable beaches. Unfortunately we lost it, else I could demonstrate something, that, if you had seen it in the magazine, you thought would not be possible. But it is. There is indeed this unbelievable beach on Harris:

The water is extremely clear and indeed of milkish-white-blue-green colours.

In the brochure you saw a pair walking like it was a tropical island. That was the only part that was probably fake. This is how people typically walk on these beaches, and that in high summer:

And then we ended up in Leverburgh (population 200). This is the FP church:

And the care home:

And the manse. A bit problemetic to find it, but after asking at the care home, we found it:

View from the manse:

After a nice dinner, prepared by MarjoryJane, Mr. Macleod took us to a nearby church, the St. Clements church. It might be a church has been on this place before 1000 AD, but the current building is from 1520:

Nice view from the church:

And then it was time to find Hotel Tarbert. When we mentioned the name to Mr. Macleod he said there was only one hotel on Tarbert, and it's name was Hotel Harris. So when we looked it up again, it appeared Ida had booked a hotel some 300 kilometers East. As it appears, this hotel was also next to a ferry terminal, as Ida had asked about the ferry. But Rev. Macleod was very  kind to offer us to sleep in the manse. Daddy was a bit embarrassed, but to the kids found it only added to the adventure.

So at 6am the following morning we quietly disappeared.

Good bye rocky Harris:

We had breakfast on the boat:

And after 1.5 hours, there was Uig again:

And the rain had caught up with us:

Lewis & Harris

After having travelled over Skye a bit, we got a wild idea: Why not visit Lewis and Harris as well? We could perhaps do it in a single day! Because so many ministers of our church come from these remote parts. Why do they live there?

It appeared one cannot do it in a single day. But it was possible to take the Ferry Tuesday morning (9:30am) and take the early ferry the next day (07:10 am). So first we drove from Portree to Uig, which is about 30 minutes.

And from Uig to Tarbert on Harris it was about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Still a serious distance on a ferry. Imagine to have to do this every time you want to go somewhere!

Tuesdaymorning was rainy. A typical day on these Isles I suppose. Here comes the ferry:

Demand for the ferry is high:

Up the ferry:

The ferry terminal and Uig seen from the ferry. It's indeed a place of nothing, just a few houses:

Leaving the harbour:

And after one and a half hour there is Harris. Somewhere.

A typical picture on Lewis and Harris:

And so we made it to Stornoway, the biggest village on the island. The population seems to be 8,055 (there are about 20,000 people on Harris and Lewis). Here its ferry terminal:

And harbour facing facade:

Nothing that particularly stood out to photograph in Stornoway. Perhaps the herring girls? Or this college?

We couldn't find the FP church as the FP website didn't give a clear address, so we drove to the Callenish stones. This is probably the only attraction on the island as buses delivered busloads of tourists who could walk along some erect stones:

These are a few stones without the visitors. This is the site in full glory:

The island certainly has its share of natural beauty.

Lewis is a bit more hilly, while Harris is more rough. Rev. K.D. Macleod had invited us for dinner at 6pm, so we left Lewis to drive to Leverburgh on Harris.

Portree

We had a nice home in Portree, as I've already posted:

Interesting thing about Scotland in summer is that you can still use the hearth. And you must use it, temperatures of 15 degrees, in Summer, are the usual I think.

The view from our deck when it was raining:

Same view, on the perfect day:

Portree is a small village, about 2,000 inhabitants, which houses scattered around the harbour.

Fodderty Lodge

I forgot to put some images of the cottage near Dingwall where we stayed: Fodderty Lodge. Here the front entrance:

Here an overview of the entire house:

The house has extensive gardens, where the kids played croquet a lot:

There were two dogs, here AnneRoos with the small one:

Inside the kitchen of the cottage we occupied the first week:

This is inside the cottage on the West side which we occupied the second week:

Behind the house was a very remarkable mountain, locally known as the Cat's Back:

Dunvegan castle

We drove over the North tip of Skye, past Staffin which also had an FP church:

At the North Western tip we believe we saw the ferry from Uig to Tabbert:

And here Dunvegan castle. It is interesting because it has been the property of a single family, the Macleods, for over 800 years, possibly the longest on this earth. Certainly the family motto "hold fast" has been their guide:

From the top we had a nice view:

But from the water is was even better. We went to see the seals, which were just 500 metres away from the castle.

Up close the castle wasn't that interesting, but from the water it certainly was:

 

The Macleods table tops on the opposite side:

Portree

On Saturday we drove to Portree. Probably a typical day on the Isle of Skye. They get about 1500-2000mm a year, Broadford even seems to get up to 2800mm a year (Auckland gets 1200mm a year).

The road was fairly uphill at times:

And so we arrived in Portree, the biggest village on Skye, with somewhat less then 3000 inhabitants. This is the accommodation we have rented:

On Sunday we went to the FP church in Portree. An elder, John Campbell, took the service.

Broadford

Our first stay on the Isle of Skye was in Broadford. We had to bridge a night. Accommodation was amazingly hard to find. Somehow the Isle of Skye is overrun by tourists in summer. Ida found some accommodation on Broadford. I had to work on the last bits of the SKOF website, and only at the window I had stable GPRS.

The hotel was indeed run down as we had read in the reviews, but the views from my window were simply among the best I've ever seen:

The Old Man of Storr

On Monday I took the day off, so we went to the one thing Ida wanted to visit: the Old Man of Storr. We were not the only ones...

Taken when we drove away, gives some indication of the backdrop:

There were some amazing views, really blue water, when the sun shines:

Unfortunately, the old man was hidden in the clouds:

More close up it wasn't too bad:

Both boys managed to make personal contact:

And with its neighbour:

We had lunch up there as well:

'

We were up so high that the clouds were coming up underneath us:

It is an interesting landscape up there:

Auke and Dieuwe kept climbing:

And then we must confess a terrible crime. By the time the authorities read this we will be in international waters, so that is why we publish it here: the Old Man of Storr is no more:

Towards the Isle of Skye

On Friday August 7 we left Fodderty Lodge to go the Skye. The car was expertly packed:

Scotland is indeed beautiful:

The church of Rev. Lachlan MacKenzie, at Lochcarron:

Lunch at Lochcarron:

Initially we didn't want to go to Applecross, but as it seemed Skye wasn't that far anymore and we had plenty of time, we did. And glad we were, this is one of the most stunning drives in this world:

In Scotland, there's always another mountain:

The beach in Applecross with Skye at the otherside:

An infrequent appearance at this beach:

No wireless, wifi or anything at Applecross, but Daddy could, and had to, work a bit:

Then it was time to make our way back:

Zig-zagging down the mountain:

Somehow I think Dieuwe took most of the pictures:

Loch Ness

If you're in Scotland, Loch Ness is high on the list of things to visit. Number one we're afraid. It's probably more interesting in Fall. Anyway, we had a look. Here Urquhart castle, next to the lake:

Loch Ness, looking East:

Inside the castle:

Relaxing:

The boys went up into one of the towers, or at least it remains. This castle is not a ruin, it was deliberately blown up when the last occupants left, so it could not be used again.

Loch Ness, again looking East:

This is the castle, seen from quite far away, looing West:

All in all, too many tourists, and none of the mystery one has come to associate with Loch Ness.

Climbing the Ben Wyvis

On Wednesday we climbed the Ben Wyvis, the highest mountain in the neighbourhood, and a real landmark point. For example from the motorway:

It's above 3000 feet, so they call this a Munro in Scotland. Daddy had planned an intesting route.

This route probably works well in winter given the pictures on the website from where this idea was taken, but worked less well in winter as I will detail later. But the first part went really well.

 

In the distance looms the mountain:

And at its foot it doesn't look too hard!

And it wasn't too hard indeed. Still quite some effort required. This is probably about 2/3 of the way. It was quite windy, but the views were amazing.

 

After about 2/3 it became much harder for someone with fear of heights. It was doable, but not easy. Luckily the hard parts didn't take that long, and closer to the top it again became a nice walk up. Auke and Dieuwe are here almost at the top of the An Cabar (950m):

It was really windy at the top:

After a break, we went to the real top, Ben Wyvis itself. The walk is really easy, the views cannot be captured by my camera.

As usual the boys were first:

Yes, this really is the top of the world in this part of the world (1046m):

One more top left to go, the top of Tom a'Choinnich. We first had lunch on a slope of the Ben Wyvis, and then went downhill and uphill again:

The wind up there was just ferocious:

From here we followed the map above, but went off the beaten track. First we went downhill. Daddy and Mummy more conventionally, the kids more rolling:

We had to make our way down to the first, then left over the river along the forest for another half a  mile and then through the forest. But there is no path! Walking this underground isn't as easy as it might look, it's very uneven. It's very far to the forest. The "valley" below is cut through with empty riverbeds. There are swamps. And then finally you make it to the forest. From there it is down to the river. And then you have to get over this:

Then it's uphill again, trodding along the forest. Hoping the map is right and that there is a crossing half a mile uphill. You jump over swamps, pools, and sometimes partially in them. But luckily, the map is right, and the fence can be passed. But there's no path, only a half swamp, half grass fire barrier through the forest. Midges are all around you, your shoe gets stuck in the swamp:

A swarm of hornets starts to follow you, and you start to wonder if you should trust the map, go downhill, or left or right. But in the end we made it safely down, and only the good memories remain.

Communion in Dingwall

On Saturday July 26 we arrived in Dingwall. On Sunday we went to the FP Church in Dingwall. The minister is Rev N.M. Ross who also took the services. The next couple of days I did very little, was very busy working on the SKOF website.

Below the Church of Scotland in Dingwall:

Dingwall's most famous preacher is Dr. John Kennedy, from the Free Church, who chronicled the preceding era of Dingwall in The Days of the Fathers in Ross-shire. His command of English and the love for the subject makes this a joy to read, and the contents is of course very edifying.

Just visible on the left is the monument in honour of Dr. Kennedy.

The communion services in Dingwall started on Thursday, which we were very privileged to attend. On Wednesday rev K.D. Macleod, the editor of the FP magazine, had already arrived (from Leverburgh, that means by ferry) and he took the prayer meeting. The text was from Hebrews 11:17: By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Afterwards Rev N.M. Ross invited us for supper where we also met Rev. D Macdonald from Uist. Below the manse, a bit different from the more humble abodes in New Zealand:

The service on Thursday started at 11am and was also taken by Rev. K.D. Macleod. The text was Exodus 20:3: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. The evening service was at 7pm and taken by Rev. D. Macdonald. He had a very solemn service on Acts 13:38: Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.

The fellowship meeting was on Friday morning at 11am. The question was taken from Habakkuk 3:17-18: Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The days of the fathers are indeed gone, but the God of the fathers of Ross-shire still lives. The service in the evening was at 7pm by Rev. K.D. Macleod on Psalm 84:10: For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

The prayer meeting on Saturday was at 8am. The service itself started at 11am. Rev. D. Macdonald preached on Psalm 118:26: Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. The prayer meeting at night was at 6:00pm.

On Sunday the prayer meeting started at 8am and the service at 11am. Rev. K.D. Macleod preached on Rev 1:18: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. The evening service was at 6.30pm when Rev. D. Macdonald preached on Rom 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There was a prayer meeting on Monday morning as well, at 8am. The service started at 11am where Rev. K.D. MacCleod took his text from Psalm 51:11b: take not thy holy spirit from me.

Below the FP church in Dingwall as well as the inside. I wish I could write it had been filled to the brim. But it was good to have been here.

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