Tuesday 08/05/07

Today, our visit to Glasgow comes to an end. We take the subway to Queen Street station, and buy papers, sweets and water. The train leaves at 10.10. Although the cloud persists over Glasgow, the sun comes out over Stirling. Mrs B is trying out the mobile phone she bought at Rothesay yesterday – what is that noise in my bag? – as we reach Perth at 11.15. The Highlands close in after Dunkeld, and we traverse the lonely hills up to Drummochter beyond Blair Atholl. The railway is close to the A9, the 110 mile highway between Perth and Inverness. The train calls at Dalwhinnie, which is a tiny hamlet at the northern end of Loch Ericht, a 13 mile body of water, stretching southwest past the foot of Ben Alder. We pass Newtonmore station to stop at Kingussie. There are still flecks of snow on the mountains, particularly on the Cairngorms at Aviemore. Unfortunately, the battery on my camera runs down after Carrbridge, so I’m very limited in the number of pictures I can take. Arrive at Inverness just after 1.30pm. Mrs B goes to M&S whilst I wait at the bus station. The bus to Ullapool is due to depart at 2.35, but the double-decker coach does not pull in until shortly beforehand. It also departs from a different stance from the one on the board. Once on the coach, it duly leaves and has a struggle to leave Inverness. Showers start as we join the A835 towards Ullapool. A gentleman who appears to reside somewhere in Ness, but sounds quite English, pontificates to an American tourist, and gets it all wrong. He calls Loch Glascarnoch Loch Broom, and expects to pass a dam when we have already passed said dam. One passengers jumps off half a mile past Aultguish. We arrive into sunny Ullapool at 3.50, which leaves us some time to explore. I go to a Woollen Mill to buy a new fleece. Embark the ferry at 4.45, which leaves for Stornoway at 5.12. The first part of the journey goes down Loch Broom. We appear to hold pretty far south, and as we issue into the Minch proper, after 6pm, the northernly swell kicks in – a good 5 to 7 feet. The west coast slowly recedes as we make our way west amidst sheerwaters and minke whales. The captain asks for a doctor or a nurse on board to come forward. The islands of Lewis and Harris are wreathed in cloud and mist. Only the Shiants stand out, far south. Arrive past Point and Arnish, to dock at Stornoway at the usual time of 8pm. It is very cold, and there is evidence of recent rain. After our baggage is offloaded, Linda gives us a lift home. It is very cold in the house, as the central heating has been off all week. Have a late supper and an early night.

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