Over the years, we’ve had a few trips abroad with an undercover group known sometimes as Bad Boy 7. We’ve hit places like France 2006, Achill 2008, and Wexford 2009. Along the way we’ve lost a few founding members (Mick and Luke) but got some newbies (the Dave Cronin Experience in Wexford). So for 2010 we reformed the crew and headed to Scotland. There were 8 of us, including shock horror: GIRLS. Donna, Sinead and Louise made debuts. The plan of action was 4 days in Scotland.
Day 1: Perth/Inverness
After flying over to Prestwick, we picked up a van and drove north. McCartan and Crowbar loaded up on Buckfast for the journey. Donna got her gluten free grub in Sainsbury’s and off we set. We hit Scone Palace in Perth, the home of the Scottish kings and parliament once upon a time. It also had a cool maze, a walled garden as well as the original Douglas Fir tree. We then drove across the Highlands on our way to Inverness. We saw a few castles but the highlight had to be the fish ladder in Pitlochry. A 310m fish ladder to allow the salmon to swim upstream impressed even the sceptics among the group J That night we hit the town in Inverness after McCartan had a good jam (sorry, marmalade) in the hostel on the piano and guitar.
Highlights: fish ladder, Buckfast, maze, walled garden
Lowlights: 200 mile drive, Mossy missing exit sign for motorway, sleeping on top bunk
Day 2: Highland Games & Loch Ness
Celtic played Inverness on opening day of SPL, so we left just in time to avoid rush (and odd hooligan). We hit the Highland Games in Abernethy. This was great – a real cultural celebration. We saw Ceilidh dancing, tossing the caber, weight throws, plenty of kilts and even 3 legged races. Plus plenty of bag pipes and tartan. Each town/area has a games on different dates, so we were lucky to arrive at this one. I thought about entering the 10 mile race they had, but we weren’t staying around long enough.
On we trekked to Fort Augustus on Loch Ness. I’ve ticked a box now to state: have you ever swam with Nessy in the Loch? TICK. Water was lovely actually, although the bus load of Indians who stood by and took photos of us probably thought we were a bit mad.
That night we ended up drinking in Saucy Mary’s on the Isle of Skye. This involved dancing on the tables and £1.50 drinks, so you can imagine the rest. The night turned into a disaster when the hostel owners threatened to kick us out for causing trouble and making noise. As if?? Honestly it was a bit much, so drinking beers on the beach was canned.
Highs: Highland Games, swimming in Loch Ness, pint in sun at Fort Augustus
Low: crappy lunch, missing 10 mile run in Highland Games, hostel owners (minus crack)
Day 3: Isle of Skye
The weather was cracking so we headed to the west of the island. We found a little fishing port called Elgol which had a deadly café with amazing scones (or skunes if you say it that way). The views of the sound and peninsula were incredible – mountains falling into the green sea with a blue sky in the background. And without the sound of humans or cars, just seagulls. Postcard stuff.
Our mission was to find a pub showing the Waterford vs Tipperary All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Final, but alas we couldn’t make it happen. Just as well as the text updates we got confirmed the worst pretty quickly. Maybe next year (without Dan the Man and co).
Highs: Elgol’s scones, swimming in the river pools, hearing Gaelic being spoken on the ferry
Lows: missing the Waterford vs Tipp match, narrow lanes called “roads”
Day 4: Fort William & Loch Lomond
We had plans of climbing Ben Nevis, but after finding out about the 6-8 hour trek involved, we settled for something more manageable, given some delicate heads in the group. The alternative was a walk up to the 2nd highest waterfall in the UK along the Glen Nevis valley. The waterfall was impressive, but getting eaten alive by midges was annoying (especially since we’d all ignored the bug spray in the hostel).
On the way back to Prestwick, we passed Loch Lomond which was nice. We even passed Ibrox, which looked like a bit of an eye sore in a kip of a town. So all in all a cracking trip – I’d definitely go back. Next time I’d stay on Isle of Skye for a few days to relax and maybe cycle around a bit. I’d also try more outdoor sports and do less driving.
Highs: Glen Nevis waterfall
Lows: midgie bites all over, no Ben Nevis climb.
More photos on Facebook and Picassa