Scotland – Homeward Bound 1: Ferry Cottage to Lochluichart

Starting the account of my homeward journey. This post covers the first part of the Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness rail route.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my series about my Scottish holiday. This post starts the account of the homeward journey. We are looking at Saturday June 3rd for the record.

WHY LOCHLUICHART?

Those who recall my post Getting There, will remember that on the outbound journey I had to travel on a replacement bus rather than the railway line for the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh leg of the journey. For the return journey I was on the train, and the railway route is far more scenic than the road route. Thus, this section of the journey warrants more than one post. As for the actual selection of a break off point, Lochluichart stuck in my mind both because of its name and because a large party of students (school or FE I think) who had clearly been on a field trip in the region boarded the train at that station. 

DEPARTURE

I had set the alarm on my phone, but being me actually did not need it, waking up before it was due to go off. Transferring sandwiches and bottle of cooled tap water from the fridge to the bag I intended to keep with me at all times accomplished, my parents were ready to give me a lift down to the station at Kyle of Lochalsh, and we arrived there nice and early. I had been assigned an aisle seat, but the train not being over full (this was a  train leaving at 6:11 on a Saturday morning after all) I moved to a vacant window seat later in the journey. As far as Plockton we were of course in an area that I had seen a lot of over the previous week, but the view from the train gave a different perspective.

1361136213631364136513661367136813691370137113721373137413751376Plockton

PLOCKTON TO STROMEFERRY

As one of the photos in my post about Plockton shows, Stromeferry was the original western terminus of the line when it opened in 1870, the Kyle end of the line only opening in 1897. The segment of line between Plockton and Stromeferry is very scenic indeed:

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STROMEFERRY TO STRATHCARRON

From Stromeferry the line heads to Strathcarron, the largest settlement in the vicinity of Loch Carron.

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STRATHCARRON TO ACHNASHEEN

After Strathcarron, through which we passed on the road route to Applecross – see these posts:

the railway route diverges from anything previously covered as it head rounds to Achnasheen.

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Spot on for a floral display at a train station!

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ACHNASHEEN TO LOCHLUICHART

As we approached Lochluichart I was amazed to see the platform of this tiny station in the middle of nowhere looking crowded. It turned out that it was the student group referred to in the preamble to this post, and the rest of the journey to Inverness was rather less quiet than hitherto!

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Scotland – Friday Overview

Continuing the account of my Scottish holiday.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next installment in my series about my holiday in Scotland. It is now three weeks since I returned, and I edited the last of the photos from said holiday only yesterday. This post is the first of three that relate specifically to Friday, there will also be several about the homeward journey and a special post about craft ales from The Isle of Skye Brewery. 

FRIDAY MORNING

Someone from the National Trust called round to check on the cottage’s water systems. It was from them that we learned of the presence in the area that day of the world’s last remaining ocean going paddle steamer. Once they had finished we went into Kyle of Lochalsh, and while my parents went to check in on emails I went out with my camera.

Steamer2
This was my first shot at the steamer – as you will see in a later post there were many more to come.

1329Think BikeBridge1332133313341335133613371338133913401341Tarka's IsleCastle Moil

FRIDAY AFTERNOON

After lunch I decided to do as much packing as I sensibly could given how early my train would be leaving on the morrow. This process brought to light the fact that my train tickets were no longer in my possession. All attempts to locate them and/or secure replacements having failed, the woman at the ticket office in Kyle of Lochalsh did her best for us by providing tickets for each part of the route, which reduced the cost of the tickets to a still painful £117.60. On the way back from this unwanted excursion we visited the Murchison Monument and revisited Balmacara Square, which will feature in the next post in the series. 

FRIDAY EVENING

The steamer came past Ferry Cottage, enabling me to get some more photos of it (post coming up about that). After supper it was time for bed, bearing in mind the very early start.

Scotland: Walking From Ferry Cottage To Kyle of Lochalsh

An account of the walking route from Balmacara to Kyle of Lochalsh.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in this series about my Scottish holiday. Today we deal with Monday’s principal activity, which was a trip into Kyle of Lochalsh. Previous posts in series:

 

THE DECISION TO WALK

We had noticed the presence of a footpath to Kyle of Lochalsh, and I was particularly keen to sample it. I was not expecting the walk to pose too many problems as the distance was only three miles. However, I had seriously underestimated the difficulty of the terrain. Thus it was that after a brief period in Kyle of Lochalsh we got a bus back.

LEAVING THE ROAD – WOODS

The footpath began by climbing up through some woodland, before emerging into the open. 

Stream

Shelter
This shelter framework had been built straddling the path and left there.

fernYellow flowers440Stream2Old tree

ON THE HEIGHTS – TO SCALPAIDH BURN

The middle point of the walk, until we crossed a footpath running between Scalpaidh Bay and Loch Scalpaidh, took place high above Lochalsh. This junction came at the crossing point of the only major waterway on the route (there were numberless minor waterways cutting the path at various points – this is northwest Scotland we are talking about!). 

444445447Kyleaking from aboveFerry2Stream3Stream4452Crossing point454455457458Outcrop460boat on lochalshYacht2464465466467468469

THE DESCENT INTO KYLE OF LOCHALSH

The final stages of the footpath were on a steady downhill gradient as we approached Kyle of Lochalsh. The whole walk took two hours due to the difficult terrain (there were points when the path was almost indistinguishable from what as around it). We walked it on a warm day during what had been by the standards of the area a dry period.

Kyle of Lochalsh from above
This was the first sight of Kyle of Lochalsh from the footpath.

Skye Bridge from above472

Kyle Co-op
Kyle of Lochalsh Co-op – it has an adequate but overpriced stock.
Footpath Sign
The footpath marker at the Kyle of Lochalsh end of the path.#

LUNCH AND THE RETURN

We had lunch at Hector’s Bothy, also making use of their wifi before getting a bus back. This bus service runs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and although its first scheduled stop is Balmacara Square they acceded to a request that we be dropped at the turn off leading to Glaick (pronounced Glike) wherein Ferry Cottage is located. The fares were remarkably cheap at £1.20 each (central King’s Lynn to the Hospital costs more for example). The bus is the smallest vehicle I have ever seen running what purports to be a public bus route:

Bus
The bus – a 16 seater. 

 

Scotland – Kyle of Lochalsh

Continuing with the Scottish holiday, covering Saturday up to meeting up with my parents.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the third post in my series about my holiday in Scotland. Having set the scene for the series in one post and described the journey up in another this post deals with the first Saturday.

KYLEAKIN TO KYLE OF LOCHALSH

Having checked out of Saucy Mary’s I headed towards the mainland. I started taking pictures almost as soon as I was on my way – at this stage of the day it was warm and sunny, to the extent that I was wearing shorts and to put it mildly I had time to spare.

Skye Bridge2
The bridge from just outside Saucy Mary’s

Skye Bridge

Castle Moil
In the opposite direction to the bridge lies Castle Moil

Bus on Skye Bridge

Skye Bridge both bits
The full link from Skye to the mainland.

Skye Bridge minor

Under Bridge View
looking under the bridge from Kyleakin.

ON THE BRIDGE

Naturally I made full use of the walk across the bridge…

Loch Alsh from the bridge2Loch Alsh from the bridgeView from the Skye bridge3View from the Skye Bridge 2Kyle and the minor bridgeKyle of Lochalsh from the bridgeView from the Skye BridgeClear loch waterLoch Alsh waterThe pellucid waters of Loch Alsh

Here is the island between the two bridge spans…

 

Tarka's Isle
The author of Tarka the Otter lived here, and apparently one can still sometimes see otters hereabouts (although I did not).

THE MAINLAND

Just on the mainland side of the bridge is a detailed information board:

Information Board

It was also in this area that I got this picture…

Pool and Loch Alsh

Here is a direct shot Saucy Mary’s where I spent the Friday night…

Saucy Mary's

I found a seat near the bus station and spent a while resting, taking a few photographs…

Welcome to Kyle
This picture and the next were taken before I had sat down.

ChainsBirds

Ferry
In this part of Scotland the battle was between the SNP and the Liberal Democrats.
Island
I noticed something on this island which prompted me to zoom in even closer…
Cormorants
…and I was rewarded with this.

After a while I moved on, and after a brief examination of what the town had to offer visited Hector’s Bothy for a drink and a nibble. I also made use of the free wifi. I then did some more exploring and took some more photographs…

326Double Framed Lighthouse4 birdsBridge and BusesBridge and Boats

I visited a bakery/ coffee shop and the £5 note I got in my change immediately caught my eye…

£5 obverse
This is a Scottish £5 note, which I had not seen before.

Scottish £5 reverse

I next headed for the train station…

ScotrailEdinburgh and GlasgowScotrail Map

Local MapKyle Station 2Kyle Station 1

Finally, my parents arrived in Kyle of Lochalsh at about 6PM and we headed for Ferry Cottage. 

 

 

 

Scotland – Getting There

Post 2 in my Scottish holiday series (there will be more later today). This post describes the journey there.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the second post in my series about my holiday in Scotland. This one focusses on the first day, when I travelled from King’s Lynn to Kyle of Lochalsh and then walked across the bridge to Isle of Skye, where I stayed the night at Saucy Mary’s Lodge. 

THE FIRST LEG OF THE JOURNEY-
KING’S LYNN TO PETERBOROUGH

With my envisaged train for the next leg of the journey leaving Peterborough at 9:46 and the bus journey reckoned at 1 hour 20 minutes or thereabouts I decided that prudence dictated being on the 7:34 rather than the 8:04. The journey ran fairly smoothly and I arrived at Peterborough Train Station at just after nine o’clock. 

PETERBOROUGH TO EDINBURGH 

The 0:946 to Edinburgh Waverley, scheduled to get there at 13:20 arrived in time and was not absolutely packed, although it is clearly a popular service. I got a window seat in a designated quiet coach (both parts of which represent significant bonuses to me – the latter even more than the former). This was the start of the portion of the journey that is not so familiar to me, and also therefore represented the point at which the camera got pressed into service…

Spire
Taking photos through the windows of moving vehicles can be frustrating (and all bar a few taken when the train was at rest were taken thus)

ChurchVillage viewed from trainView from Virgin Train 1Wind TurbinesP1000114ViewCooling Towers

York Model Railway
On the approach to York, the first stop after Peterborough

York Model Railway2York Model Railway3Church2P1000125Approaching YorkYorkYork2York3York4York5Old Train

Darlington1
At Darlington, one terminus of the world’s first passenger carrying railway, the Stockton & Darlington.

Darlington2Darlington3Stately homeVillage2Road BridgeBridge and riverViewfrombridge1Riverview1Riverview2Riverview3Newcastle buildingNewcastle1Newcastle2Newcastle4Church, NewcastleChurch, Newcastle2River TyneRiver Tyne4River Tyne 4

North Sea 1
A first glimpse of the sea just north of Newcastle

North Sea2North Sea 3North Sea 5North Sea 6North Sea 7Wind TurbineNorth Sea 8North Sea 9North Sea 10North Sea 11Lighthouse, near Scottish border

Edinburgh Waverley
Edinburgh Waverley

EDINBURGH TO INVERNESS

A slightly late arrival at Edinburgh meant that I had to move fairly fast to make the change to the train to Inverness. A combination of the fact that some idiot at Scotrail (part of Abellio, the profit-making subsidiary of the Dutch state railway company) had deemed three carriages sufficient for this train and the heat of the day made this leg of the journey like travelling in an oven on wheels. However, neither of these factors kept me from taking photographs…

Edinburgh AirportEdinburgh Airport 2Bridge1Bridge2Bridge3Bridge4Bridge5Bridge6Bridge7Bridge8Scottish VillageScottish FactoryChurch - ScotlandCowsRenewable EnergyRenewable Energy2RiverRiver2River3River4River5PitlochryPitlochry PlaqueRiver through treesStony RiverRiver6River7River8River9River10River11River12River13River14River15River16River17River18River19River20River21CottagesRiver22Scottish TownScottish Town2

INVERNESS TO KYLE OF LOCHALSH

Arriving at Inverness over half an  hour late I then discovered that the train I had expected to catch to Kyle of Lochalsh was being replaced by a bus service. There were two different buses, and there was some confusion of who should go on which, but we set off at the appropriate time. I continued to ply my camera…

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My first sight of the Skye Bridge, and a by then very welcome sign that the journey was nearly complete. When I first travelled this way in 1994 there was no bridge, just a regular ferry crossing.
P1000267
The approach to Kyle of Lochalsh, with Kyleakin visible in the distance.

THE WALK TO SKYE

It was still pretty hot even at 8:45PM as I began the walk to Saucy Mary’s, which according to my instructions was 2.5 miles. The reason for this is that the bridge to Skye actually starts a good half-mile beyond Kyle of Lochalsh, is itself a longish crossing and then on the other side one has to go back along the Skye shore to Kyleakin which is directly opposite Kyle of Lochalsh. I arrived at Saucy Mary’s thoroughly exhausted and went straight to reception. There I was greeted with news that I had been relocated from my dorm bed to a room normally used only by staff. The reason for this was that the people who had booked the other four beds had revealed at the 11th hour, having not mentioned it while booking, that they were travelling with two babies, and the manager had decided that it was unacceptable to put me in the dorm room in that circumstance (absolutely right, and thankyou very much). 

Scotland: Setting the Scene

Setting the scene for a series of posts about my recent holiday in Scotland.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this first in what will be a substantial series of posts about my recent holiday in Scotland. Although I still have a lot of photo editing to do from said holiday I do now have enough photos at my disposal to start the series, and I will look to interleave the rest of the editing with producing posts for you. 

THE HOLIDAY TIMELINE

I travelled up on May 26th and back on June 4th. These two dates were entirely taken up with travelling (14 hours each way approximately). In between these two days there were:

  • Saturday – most of the day spent waiting for my parents to arrive so we could go up to the house that would be our base for the week, three miles from Kyle of Lochalsh.
  • Sunday – a quiet day featuring some walking in the immediate vicinity of the house
  • Monday – A walk to Kyle of Lochalsh, lunch there and a bus back. A quiet afternoon. 
  • Tuesday – a visit to the Talisker Distillery on the Isle of Skye.
  • Wednesday – a brief visit to Plockton to book the a table at the Plockton Inn for supper, a trip to Applecross and then back to Plockton for the supper (the birthday meal).
  • Thursday – The Jacobite Rail Journey (steam train between Fort William and Mallaig, a section of railway known to vast numbers of movie goers as the route of the Hogwarts Express).
  • Friday – the final full day.

THE LOCATION

Kyle of Lochalsh is on the mainland of northwestern Scotland, very close to the Isle of Skye, to which it is nowadays linked by a road bridge. Ferry Cottage, where we were staying is located at Glaick (pronounced Glike), three miles from Kyle of Lochalsh. Here are some maps for further clarification:

Decorative MapWestern Isles Map, Ferry CottageMap, Ferry CottageLocal MapJigmap1Jigmap6Jigmap7

SOME PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE AREA

Here are a few photos from the immediate area in which we were staying:

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Kyleaking from above
Kyleakin viewed from high above
Ferry Cottage
Ferry Cottage, where we stayed.

Skye Bridge from above

Kyle of Lochalsh from above
Kyle of Lochalsh from above

Loch Alsh from the bridgeKyle and the minor bridgeKyle of Lochalsh from the bridgeView from the Skye BridgeUnder Bridge ViewLighthouse below bridgeSkye Bridge minorSkye Bridge both bits

Balmacara House to Craggan Cottage2
These last two pictures show the stretch of shoreline that includes Ferry Cottage.

Balmacara House to Craggan Cottage

THOMAS’ CALENDAR CHALLENGE

I saw some quite amazing scenery while in Scotland, and it has become something of a tradition to produce a photographic wall calendar each year. A number of my Scottish pictures will undoubtedly feature. If in the course of this series of posts you see a picture that catches your eye as worth a place in the calendar there are two things I invite you to do:

  1. Post a comment identifying the photo that has caught your eye and/ or…
  2. Create a blog post about the picture that has caught your eye explaining what it means to you and why you think it should be included. If you do this I will reblog your post.

Should you succeed in convincing me to include the picture in my calendar I will give you credit for doing so. I end with two final pictures, the second of which is almost certain to be in the calendar:

Double Framed Lighthouse
A rarity – the lighthouse is framed twice over, once by the bridge and once by the masts of the boat in the foreground.
steamer1
This is the view across Loch Alsh from outside Ferry Cottage on a sunny day (yes, Scotland does have such things) with the additional feature of the world’s last remaining ocean going paddle steamer – this will almost certainly be in the calendar.

Booking a Trip to Scotland: British Public Transport Daftness Exposed

A combination of an account of the booking of train tickets for a trip to Scotland and an expose of the sheer craziness of British public transport.

INTRODUCTION

My parents have booked a house near Kyle of Lochalsh for a week which includes my birthday. As a birthday present I have been given the wherewithal to purchase train tickets for the journey, which happens to feature one of the most scenic routes anywhere in Britain. To set the scene for the rest of this post and give you a little test here is a photograph of my railway tickets for the journey:

tickets
Can you see what it is about these tickets that even before I go any further reveals an element of daftness in British Public Transport?

BOOKING THE JOURNEY

Those of you who follow this blog with due care and attention will be aware that for some years I have been resident in King’s Lynn for some years, and had I moved I would certainly have mentioned it here. Why then is the ticket above booked as a return from Peterborough to Kyle of Lochalsh and not from King’s Lynn? 

The following screenshots will expose the reason for this and the utter craziness and illogic of pricing on British public transport.

KL-Ky
Note the difference in price between this ticket and the one from Peterborough (almost £60!!)
Peterborugh-Kyle
Given the immense price difference, the booking from Peterborough was bound to leave my up on the transaction (as you will see after these pictures in point of fact to the tune of some £50)
Outbound
My outbound journey.
return
The suggested return journey (don;t worry parents, I can also get back leaving on the later train from Kyle, at 12:08 and arriving home around about midnight)
KL - Peterborough
Even were I to rely on train for the King’s Lynn to Peterborough and back section of the journey two anytime day singles (the max I would have had to pay), would have set me back a mere £24.60 as opposed to price difference on the all-in-one of almost £60, but….

I will actually be travelling the King’s Lynn – Peterborough and its reverse route on the First Eastern Counties X1 bus, which will set me back £6.40 each way or £12.80 in total, making a saving of approximately £47 as compared to the all-in-one booking from King’s Lynn. 

You might think that having cut through all the BS re fares and booked the tickets the daftness would end there, but you would be wrong…

COLLECTING THE TICKETS

The booking accomplished yesterday evening, this morning I set about collecting the tickets. First, as a precaution since I would be needing to keep them safe for a long while I searched out a receptacle of suitable size, shape and robustness to put them in, locating this pretty swiftly:

ticketholder

Having thus equipped myself it was off to the library to print off some booking information that I was going to need to collect the tickets.

library

Then with the information printed it was on to the station to pick up the tickets. This is usually done via ticket machines, of which King’s Lynn station has two. Here are pictures of both machines, showing precisely why I could not use them…

DSCN5103machineoo

I fully understand the desirability and indeed the need to replace old ticket machines with new, but why take both out of service simultaneously? Why not take one out of service and keep the other operational until the first new machine is ready, then take the second old machine out of service and replace it, thereby keeping at least one machine operational the whole time?

Fortunately, there were staff present, and I was able to get my tickets printed at a ticket office. While waiting I bagged an image of the station plaque:

plaque

Although the process took longer and entailed more frustration than I had anticipated, I have the tickets and other info safely stowed, and am looking forward to my visit to the wilds of northwest Scotland. It will not be my first visit to Kyle of Lochalsh – back in 1993, before the opening of a swanky new toll-bridge and consequent removal of ferry services to maximise said bridge’s profits, I passed through Kyle en route to the Isle of Skye, returning to the mainland by way of the southern ferry crossing to Mallaig. 

I conclude this post with two more photos, one showing all the printed material I have for the journey, and the other ending our journey back where we started (a lot more straightforward in a blog than in a journey on British public transport!)

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