Road Trip to Harris

Travelled up last night, through a blizzard at Drumochter, ended up in Dingwall. Today’s ferry was cancelled so I reverted to plan B: drive across to Uig on Skye for the delayed 7pm sailing. Turned out to be the best plan ever.

Today’s trip has been a journey across the last 30 years of my life no joking. Started the drive along to Strathpeffer where there was still snow in the ground. Our kids had collected conkers here one October holiday. Onto Rogie falls: I have a foto of a pregnant Elaine standing on the bridge with Sean in a carry cot. Garve next, we stayed in a stone cottage at Little Garve and went to the hotel where we had to switch on the lights to play pool. It was dead. Then two tour buses arrived and hunners o decrepit folk hobbled thru the door.

My mates got a great story here. A fishin’ tale wi no fishin’, the river was too big. It was huge. They were camping next to the river, went to the bar. Right, be careful lads that rivers dangerous. Two hours later ther half cut, someone runs into the bar – ‘he’s fallen in, hes fallen in!’ They’re all up, run for the door – ‘naw naw , in here’ — points to mens toilet. And there they found him, fallen in the urinal trough, floundering. Stinking too probably.

The road splits here: straight ahead to Ullapool or left on the A832 to Achnasheen. Turned left. Now we’re in the Highlands, snow on the hills, deer by the river in the glen below. The suns dazzling its lovely. Achnasheen is a scattering of houses.. and a railway station. I turned in and theres two deer walking around next to a frozen pond. They’re not shy and only move away when a dog walker appears.

Theres a turn off here for Kinlochewe but I’ve not got the time. Me n Elaine stayed at BnB there in 1995 – it was minus 17 that night. The guy who ran it was strange: he later appeared in the Daily Record for kicking out a gay couple.

I drove on and down through rhodedendron bushes to Strathcarron then followed the winding road til at last I arrived at Plockton. The views across the water were amazing, the low sun lighting up an island and the snow covered peaks beyond. Palm trees! We got the train to Plockton from Lairg in 1998, tiny Sean took a sip of my pint in the Plockton Hotel. 21 years later I had smoked haddock soup instead of lager. Getting auld.

Onwards and over the bridge to Skye. I mind o getting the ferry across. Mind getting soaked taking the tent doon at Sligachan and driving home in ma boxer shorts when the ferry man came roond collecting tickets. Even when the bridge appeared we boycotted it because of the tolls: we would get the tiny ferry at Glenelg.

I drive on through Broadford then up and down past Sconser to Sligachan. We camped there for years, first in the campsite then later between the bridges (and rivers) because it was free. Good times. My mate went fishing the Allt Dearg one time, but they were having no luck. Tried further upstream, no luck.Further on and they came across a guy shagging his girlfriend in the heather. Well he couldnae resist – “Any luck, pal?”

I drove on up the glen and down Glen Varragill into Portree. I drive down to the pier, boats bobbing, lights reflected in the water (its now 4pm and dark). Into Harry’s Bar where the locals are dramming, arguing whether its prawns or langoustines then debating the best way to prepare scallops and chorizo.

In summer 2005, I took Sean and Amy camping to Sligachan but lost the St Andrew’s cross thing for the apex of the tent. Disaster. Portree was mobbed, BnBs all full. If in doubt try a pub. I went to Harry’s Bar, kids left outside on pier and whos there but Kenny Wallace from Dunblane. He let us stay in a spare room at his works digs thank fuck. Saved me a 5 hour drive home thru the night.

Anyway enough memories, I’ve just arrived at Tarbert on Harris. Goin to drive off the ferry into the night and visit some old friends and have some good craic.

Sláinte mhath!

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