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May 17th, 2009

Hijinks Ensue

Last Tuesday

I've got rather behind on my holiday blogging because I lost a long post with two full days of stuff in it, and I've been too busy enjoying myself to try to catch up. I'm going to try to do a few short posts now with a photo and a bit of commentary on each day.

Last tuesday, after making my last post way back in Rhenigidale, we went and successfully got petrol, then headed up the east side of Lewis to Stornoway, which was rather too touristy for me, especially after the few days we had just spent in much quieter rural parts of the Western Isles. We had some excellent fish and chips for lunch there, then crossed over to Garenin on the west coast via a particularly undulating road across the Black Moor.

Garenin Youth Hostel is in a traditional Black House in a little preserved village with a museum and a few holiday cottages. I've attached a photo of Wibble in the middle of it. After bagging our bunks we headed down to have a look at Dun Carloway Iron Age Broch, then the Callanish Standing Stones. I was very impressed by the stonework of the broch. Wibble's enjoyment of the standing stones was spoilt rather by a group of foghorn-voiced Tourists. Finally we headed further on down through some gorgeous scenery to sit overlooking a golden beach and eat Wibble's birthday box of chocolates.

Back at the hostel I built and lit my first coal fire. The place was pretty much full but it didn't feel too crowded. After supper we went and wandered along the beach, which was covered with curiously rounded stones in bands of several different sizes. We had to make up our bunks in the dark when we got back because another hosteller had already gone to bed. :)
Last Tuesday

Hijinks Ensue

Last Wednesday

After packing Lin we wandered around Garenin for a while. The attached photo shows a part of the next bay south of Garenin. It really is a beautiful location, especially with the weather we had. When the museum opened we had a quick look around (it's very small) before heading back to Stornoway to catch the ferry to Ullapool back on the mainland.

Wibble had a bit of an ME blip on the ferry and slept through most of it, while I listened to podcasts, did gift shopping, ate expensive cheese and crackers, and looked at navy ships through my telescope.

Back on the mainland we drove up to Durness through fabulous mountain scenery, via a long scenic coastal diversion. We popped in to have a look at Achmelvich Beach YH as we went past. It looked like a pretty enough place if white sandy shell beaches are your thing... ;)

We were both pretty tired by the time we checked into the Lazy Crofter hostel. Our room had a two bed bunk in it that took up about 75% of the floor space, so not much room left for our luggage! :) It was a clean, modern, tidy place in a small village with a beach on the north coast.
Last Wednesday

Hijinks Ensue

Last Thursday

The morning before we left the Lazy Crofter was when I spent ages writing about the previous two days, then got distracted by another hosteller and accidentally hit the cancel button, which causes the LJ Windows Mobile client to immediately discard everything you've written without asking if you really want to do that first. Grrr.

The first place we visited was Smoo Cave, which was pretty cool. After lunch we visited Strathy Point and saw the lighthouse and the coast around it. The photo shows me using my telescope to look at some birds nesting on a small island. Wibble thought they might be Cormorants. We also saw a mad sheep scratching itself so hard against a fence post that it looked like it was nearly cutting itself in half. Next we went on to Dunnet Head (the northernmost point of the mainland, with an excellent view of the Orkneys), before stopping briefly at John O' Groats just to say we'd been there. I bought a block of Orkney Fudge, which later melted in my pocket!

The last thing we went to see that day (having had to skip Duncansby Head due to time pressing on) was the Grey Cairns of Camster (rhymes with Hamster), where we were able to crawl inside the ancient burial mounds. Wibble said they were very peaceful and she would have liked to sleep in one. Not sure if that had anything to do with the knock on the head she sustained while crawling through the entrance tunnel! :)

We got in to the Helmsdale hostel (formerly SYHA, recently turned independent) fairly late and very tired. I had a couple of Lorne sausages for dinner but made a mess of cooking them and incinerated one side!
Last Thursday