Inverness to Loch Eriboll by Ka
First off, the route I drove can be found here. The weather was awful, it was cold, windy and very rainy. Most of the things I’d loaded in the car were wet and my water bottle also leaked on the passenger seat of the car. I hadn’t driven the car before so it was difficult at first to drive it smoothly and to change gears so I was just hoping I didn’t end up in a lake to round everything off.
The drive was more enjoyable as I left the city and got on to the main road. The wind and rain got worse but the thought of being in a completely new place, driving a new car and being on an adventure made it all okay. The roads were open and the views were once again stunning. There were areas with a huge incline which led to me being on top of a mountain (or a large hill) and driving through a cloud, where the visibility was limited to about 100 meters, and there were also long, flowing bends in the road which were fun to drive through as well.
Everything was going well until I reached the single-track road Google Maps warned me about. Driving in such weather was difficult enough on a road with two lanes, it got even harder when there was just one bumpy lane with drivers coming the other way. I’d never driven on such roads before which is why I ended up driving the car into a large puddle the first time I encountered an oncoming car. It was down to my stupidity as I was going at about 60 mph, not looking far enough down the road and expecting cars coming at me and was in a position to suddenly move out of the way while braking hard. I felt a heavy bump and hoped that I hadn’t damaged the car. After getting out in the rain and checking all around the car I found no damage, luckily, and decided to take a more conservative approach on that road from then on.
The single-track road lasted for about 40 miles, all the way up to and past my destination in fact. But the more I drove on it, the more I enjoyed it. One thing I didn’t enjoy were the foreign drivers who would often pull over to the ‘wrong’ side of the road when letting me past, which caused confusion.
However, after a 3+ hour drive, some photos and some stops to admire the scenery, I’d made it to the farm where I’d be staying.
I forgot to mention, the area was full of cows and sheep. Lots and lots of sheep and their cute little lambs.
Here are some photos from the journey.
Edinburgh to Inverness (Part 2)
Continuing from here…
The train was on the move shortly after I gave up live blogging my journey. The day had been long so I decided to make notes on my phone instead and get back to it later.
Much, much later evidently, but we got there in the end.
Once the train went through a dark tunnel, stopped at Haymarket station (where a lot of people were disappointed in their efforts to get on a crowded train during rush hour) and past Edinburgh airport, I was treated to the glorious views from Forth Bridge, see here for an example. I was truly overawed by this brilliant piece of engineering, but didn’t feel comfortable enough to take photos myself in front of all the usual commuters who have seen it many times.
The whole journey was filled with the most beautiful views of hills, streams and rocks (of which I’d see a lot of in the coming days).
As I was bracing myself for a long journey only made bearable by the sights, a friendly lady came and sat opposite me. A combination of the boredom and the declining battery level on my phone caused me to initiate conversation with her. As it turned out, it was a great decision. She was one of the most interesting people I had ever spoken to. Of Indian descent, she’d spent time in Africa before moving to Scotland. She runs a Sociology research centre at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We spoke for the duration of our journey to Inverness and while I thought my life was interesting, hers included sailing between ports in Europe with her family and living in a farmhouse in the Highlands. She was a good conversationalist and even invited me to visit if I was ever around the area!
The train got to Inverness station in good time, but it was about 9:15 pm and I was very tired and hungry. I decided to hit up the local Morrison’s, conveniently located en route to my overnight hostel accommodation, for some snacks to reward myself with for this epic adventure I was undertaking.
The hostel was a 15 minute walk away from the station. I’d never been inside a hostel before so my expectations were very low (and very wrong). While I was pleasantly surprised with the facilities and standard of the hostel the smell in my dormitory took some getting used to. I went to have my dinner (crisps and a sandwich) in the huge, well-equipped, self-catering kitchen downstairs. If I’d known they’d have such facilities I would’ve just bought a pizza and baked it in the oven. A note taken for next time.
I went back to the dormitory (which slept 6 people) to tidy away my luggage for the night. For some reason, I did not feel that my belongings were safe (but they were). I put my wallet and phone under my pillow. I wasn’t able to fall asleep at first as my phone was charging next to the door. There were only two visible power sockets in the room and they were next to the door. Very convenient. Once I’d taken my phone off the charge (and many difficult trips down the little bunk bed ladder trying to be quiet), I tried to sleep but stayed awake as I was too scared to wake the others in case I snored. Luckily for me, one of the other guys started snoring and then I was able to sleep knowing I could blame someone else. I woke up early in the morning as I had to do my week’s shopping in advance, as Eriboll had no shops nearby, before getting the hire car.
The hostel had a good mixture of people staying. There were young couples, a group of primary school children, cycling enthusiasts and lots of middle-aged men. They freaked me out a little as they seemed like the type who had been kicked out of their homes, or they were just saving money by not staying in a hotel, maybe. But there was a definite homoerotic vibe from a few of them.
The weather in the morning was awful. There was constant rain and blustery winds which made my early morning shopping all the more annoying. Still, I braved the elements and picked up a few essentials for my time in Eriboll. Stupidly, I didn’t think of getting the car first and carried about 15 kgs of shopping in my hands back to the hostel in the rain. I then ran back out to get the car, just about managing to sign the contract with my frozen hands.
I was given a relatively new Ford Ka, which was the cheapest car I could get. I had to inform the rental company that paying the young driver surcharge (£27 a day extra) would not be feasible in our budget and they managed to help me out on that. But I had to put down £800 of deposit. When all was done, I got in the car, turned the heater on and tried to get used to it as soon as possible. Being wet, cold and tired wasn’t ideal but luckily I didn’t stall or hit anything on the way to the hostel, despite getting lost right after leaving the car park of the rental company.
Upon my return to the hostel, I packed all my belongings into the car and tried to get the navigation on my phone working. I just about got a decent enough internet connection when I broke my in-car charger and everything felt doomed. However, I found a USB port in the car (hurray for new cars!) and was able to charge my phone from that. With everything just about falling into place I began the 100 mile drive to Loch Eriboll in my little Ford Ka.
BBC iPlayer Android app frustrates meBetween returning from a remote area of Scotland and jetting off to Malta, I thought I’d catch up on all the shows I’ve missed. So I used the last bit of WiFi I had in the B&B in Bournemouth to download the latest episode of In the Flesh, a couple of documentaries about British Airways, Mock the Week and a few episodes of, uh, Episodes.
An hour into my flight, I got bored and decided to watch some of the shows I’d downloaded. Upon launching the app (with my phone in Airplane mode, of course) it tells me it’s offline, which is fine. I then tried to access the ‘Downloads’ page where it just crashes. I try again and the same thing occurs.
Upon closer inspection (looking at the error log), I realise that something is going wrong when the app is trying to obtain some DRM data so I can watch the shows legally. Of course, without WiFi or mobile data it is not able to do that, so I gave up and decided to return to it when I next had a data connection.
I tried to access my downloaded shows at the hotel in Malta with my data turned on. To my surprise, it crashed again, repeatedly and cost me money too.
I also tried to watch a show when I eventually found some WiFi but the same thing happened. Now, being an IT person I couldn’t leave the issue without trying the old “turning it off and on again”.
I removed the app and installed the latest version. “This might be better.”, I thought to myself. So I loaded up my downloads…and there’s nothing there! The app removed all the shows I’d downloaded (all 2GB of videos!) when it was uninstalled.
Upset and broken, I made the effort to complain to the iPlayer support team. Someone even replied within the hour, which was nice, but it didn’t change the fact that I had nothing to watch until I got back home.
Turns out the issue has more to do with the app having issues with the latest version of Android which my phone is running rather than not having an internet connection. It was frustrating and very disappointing.
However, the shows were worth the wait and I would recommend to everyone that they check them out if they haven’t already.
ScotRail have complimentary WiFi!
My short term concerns can go to hell. Train is packed but I have a seat and WiFi. Fuck yes.
Edinburgh to Inverness
I like the Scottish people’s attitude to timing.
Leaving at 17:34? Alright, you’ve got till 17:36 to get on the train. Don’t worry about it.
I’ve caught the evening rush traffic it seems, which is not bad because at least I am surrounded to people with jobs and access to showers etc. No more armpit smell enthusiasts, hopefully.
I got quite close to starting a conversation with people here. They don’t seem any more friendly than the folk in London. They seem just as frustrated with their life, however. I only want to talk to them to hear their adorable accents…which I don’t seem to understand unfortunately.
Train’s just set off. Not that far off the schedule so I’m hoping I’ll be in Inverness at a humane time of day. I have no expectations of the place, but I certainly don’t want any bad experiences. Hoping for the best.
On go the headphones, now on to the 3h22m of this journey.
…and we’ve stopped. Balls.
London to Loch Eriboll (yeah, there)
I am making my way (downtown) to one of northernmost parts of Britain to help a disabled student in their Geology field work. Since I got bored of the train journey, I thought I’d document my thoughts.
So the train to Edinburgh just set off from Newcastle, where a lot of the passengers got off and a few got on.
I expected the standard of the rail passengers to drop the further north I got but what just happened was incredible. The woman sat across me, who just got on at Newcastle, put her hand in her armpits and smelt them with care, one for each armpit. This is what made me write about my journey.
Despite (very) hasty preparations everything seems to be going alright until now. Yesterday, I packed my bags and essentials. Today, I booked the train ticket, overnight stay in Inverness and the car hire. Well prepared.
This train is running a few minutes late and with only those very few minutes to make my interchange at Edinburgh, I’m not quite sitting comfortably. I’m sure it will be fine. I’ll write about it in case it isn’t.
The ‘armpit hand smelling’ woman has now gone to sleep. If anyone looks at her just now they’d never be able to tell she’s capable of horrifying actions like the ones I had to witness. The woman next seat down is knitting, she’s wearing cycling gear and there’s no smelling of body parts. Now that’s what a rail passenger should do. That, or passively writing about others on a train without their knowledge.
Another hour or so until my first stop. Wish me luck.