The Week And A Bit Of Random Bimbling - Part One
I have just read a couple of fine travel books. The Teatime Islands by Ben Fogle and Raw Spirit by Iain Banks. Well Raw Spirit is more of an autobiographical rant with occasional whisky tasting but it includes travel. So, in an attempt to see whither I have learned anything from them I here present unto you my travelogue of: The Week And A Bit Of Random Bimbling. Hmmm, catchy title.
Day 1: It all starts with getting up early on Saturday morning, as all holidays invariably do. However this being a bimbling holiday there is time for a spot of Doctor Who before packing the car. This I leave to Toc as that will mean it all actually fits. I just carry things out to the car. She is so good at this packing she even gets the roof down. Sadly the weather forces it back up about half an hour later. Anywho, soon we are away following The Great Western Road out of Glasgow and up the side of Loch Lomond. This is a nice, modern, road as far as Tarbet on the loch side and so we easily make that for lunch. Now comes our first decision, west into Argyll or further to the north. I am told of the fine meal that will await us if we get to Oban and west we go. To Inverary.
We arrive in Inverary, not to be confused with Inverury which is somewhere entirely different, mid afternoon and have a wander around town and the jail. Inverary has a lovely Georgian look. This is because, towards the end of the seventeen hundreds, the local landlord decided he wanted to do a Llewelleyn-Bowen style makeover of his castle. Therefore he had built a whole new town, flattened the old one and used the space to lay out some gardens. Still the town is very pretty and it has a very good whisky shop where we bought a bottle of Achentoshan Three Wood. I am well aware of the irony of where 'It' is produced but it was very flavoursome none the less.
We ambled round the Victorian Jail where I worked on the useless exercise machine and Toc enjoyed the hammocks. It is a good wee museum giving an insight to Victorian Justice and quite how unpleasant it could get while still trying to improve its inmates. Having come away vowing never to steal apples or run down old ladies while on horseback we went to the nearest campsite. It was right down by the Lochside, looked very pretty and, due to the summer weather, was somewhat of a quagmire. Still the tent floated well and the rain held off enough for a steak sandwich. Sadly it rained in my tea though.
Day 2: Much to my surprise we woke up the next morning having not floated off and so packed up and headed off, once the car engine had finally dried out. We headed south to Lochgilphead along the loch shore before turning north over the hills to Oban. Due to the, shall we say, inclement weather we sadly did not get any good views and we skipped right past Dunadd (ancient capital of Scotland) because I didn't want to get wet. An advantage to having little to look at was that Toc took all the bends in a sensible manner. This is more than can be said for some, including the two vans who had a head on collision. We came upon it after the fact, although the road was still partially blocked, and luckily no one was hurt. This was especially true as there was no phone reception in that dip. Having driven sensibly for the conditions Toc had acquired a tail gating Tonka toy which later on shot off rally stylee. We like to think that we saved him from hitting the accident while he was stuck behind us. Makes me feel all virtuous when I drive like an eighty year old that does.
Finally reaching Oban we arranged ourselves a campsite (Oban Divers, no site of the sea) and wandered into town. And busy it was too. Still we walked the sea front, got rained on, climbed up one of the multitudinous hills to a giant, granite fake amphitheatre, saw the sun, went to the distillery, heard the rain while sampling, got caught in more rain and then went to the pub to read. In my case a book including travel to The Falklands which I really felt I could relate to. Then it was out for very posh tea at a place called The Gathering. It sounds a bit twee but as it was the site of the first ever Gaelic Mod I think it transcends twee to become heritage. And the pheasant was bloomin' marvellous to.
Day 3: Wakes up with a dodgy tummy from last nights rich food. It was very nice but I am just not used to it. We head back to Glasgow a different manner, round past Loch Awe and thus I get a lunch stop at Cruachan Power Station. Built into the slopes of Ben Cruachan it was at one point the world's first reversible hydro-electric station and Europe's largest man-made cavern. At the time of excavation so much granite was produced they couldn't even give it away and so the entire operation's outside buildings, and the road along the loch, are built on this rubble which was tipped in the loch. Luckily Loch Awe is the longest in Britain and so it had a limited impact. Even today it is very impressive undertaking with a low-key touristy bit. From there it was via Crianlarich and the shores of Loch Lomond home.
We came home partly for a lie down but mostly to go to the pub for a whisky tasting session. Numerous Glenmorangies and an Ardbeg were supplied for our perusal and tasting. It is just as well I had no work the next day as I drank all mine and then began finishing off the leftovers of others. We also came away with a greater appreciation of the subtle variations in whisky, half a dozen tasting glasses, a water jug and, in one case, a full day, bed ridden hangover.
Day 4: The hangovers and so a bit of a write-off. To protect the less than innocent I shall not reveal the owner of the full dayer.
Next Time: To Englandshire where hills are viewed, lakes are rowed and Munchkin gets cocky.