Scotland, Day 3

LOCH LOMOND/BALLACHULISH/ULLAPOOL

Up early—I might have gotten a little bit of sleep, but not much—and over to the airport for coffee. We then had breakfast in another area of the airport. This is where we discovered that Jack Daniels sells Jack & Coke in cans here. Well, we just knew that at some point we’d have to get some and try it out.

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Checked out of the hotel, stashed stuff in the car, and it was off to Ullapool.

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Helluva drive—both lovely and terrifying at the same time. We went past Loch Lomond, and stopped for a spell in a viewing area called Firken Point.

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Our next stop was in a village called Ballachulish.

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It was originally just a name Paul had put into the GPS to give us directions—once we’d reached that point,  we were going to input Ullapool from there. However, we saw something that made us stop here.

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It turns out there used to be a slate quarry here, and what we had seen was the entry to an informational walk around the old quarry grounds. Beautiful, sere, haunting—it was well worth the half-hour or so that we spent there.

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From Wiki: Slate from the East Laroch quarries, established just two years after the infamous Glencoe Massacre of 1692, was used to provide the roofing slate for much of Edinburgh and Glasgow‘s skyline in the succeeding centuries. It is of good quality but one weakness is the presence of Iron Pyrite in the rock. These crystals quickly rust away when exposed to the weather, leaving clean square holes and a brown rusty streak. Over 75% of the slate cut from the quarries was unusable as roof covering for this and other reasons. The quarries closed in 1955. Optimistically, tests have recently (2008/9) been carried out to see if it is feasible to extract slate from them again.

On our way to Ullapool, we figured that we’d also go to Inverness, since we were heading in that direction (east, then north). The further north we went, the more evident the Highlands became. Such overarching, huge mountains! Desolate though—they reminded me of the area below the Oregon border, where the trees have given up and there is nothing but wind and grass. Beautiful.

Oh boy—those roads! Some of them I think you’d have a hard time getting two opposing skateboards past each other, never mind cars. Paul was terrified—by his own admission. The narrow roads were bad enough, but the rock walls and lack of easement made it even worse. Especially when a truck or RV was coming at us. We were so glad to get past those!

Some of this area was familiar, as we were on the same roads that Gayle and I and the girls had been on during our bus tour a number of years ago. It all became crystal clear when we saw the Scottish Commando Memorial along our route. We had seen that back then.

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Paul, of course, hadn’t seen it. We stopped to check it out and to take pictures—and we were certainly not alone. Quite a few tourist for this time of year. I could see why—the weather was glorious at a time when cold and damp were the norm.

Well, the cold was definitely with us—that wind went right through my coat!

We also walked over to the memorial garden. Quite a few markers have been added since the last time I’d been there.

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We decided to skip Inverness after all, and head straight to Ullapool, since Inverness was an overnight stay on the way back, and it was getting late.

There was no trouble in finding our B&B.

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Our hostess, Kathleen, was a real sweetie. We had a gorgeous room, and the bathroom had a claw-foot bathtub. No shower—that made Paul’s morning ablutions a bit of a challenge.

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We got settled in and walked through the town. It was closing up, as it was around 6pm. We scoped out the ferry area, then had dinner in a pub recommended to us by our hostess.

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Beer and dinner. Getting to be a habit.

Back to the B&B. We sat in the common room in front of a small fire for a bit, then I went to bed.

Hard time getting to sleep, but it was adequate.

Tomorrow: Best. Day. Ever!!!

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