Sunday, October 28, 2007
Scotland, in medias res
Monday morning. Pack all things necessary for 4 days trip by car and in the car. Yeah, car became our vehicle and house in one. So the price of rent covered the price of hotels as well, cause it is impossible to sleep outside in this kind out weather (5-10C, humid, foggy... Britain...) without sleeping bags, as naugthy British would say, we killed two birds with one stone... So we packed duvets (I have never ever traveled with some thing more homelike ...), maps and warm clobbers and departed. Our first destination was Forth William, or more precisely Ben Nevis. The dramatic effect of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, is emphasised by the fact that it begins its rise from sea-level on the shores of Loch Linnhe, to tower 1,344m (4,406ft ) above the town of Fort William, providing an almost paternal presence. It doesn't sound much for Europeans familiar with High Tatras, or Alps, or whatever other mountains. But before you judge, consider the fact that Scotland is more northerly latitude which creates climate similar to Arctic regions and you shouldn't neglect that the starting altitude is 9m, so you literally climb the whole 1340m. Western rules and safety precautions are little more rigid, so the guide at the visitor center asked us, if we want to climb it today. Well, yes? We were not really thinking about all these facts, we just wanted to go for a walk. It was something around 2pm and the weather was nice (relatively in Scotland, though!). She told us that the hike might take 7 to 8 hours, even though the good time is 5 hours and national record is 1 and 1/2 hour! So we were forced to change our plans. No problem, we will come tomorrow.For today we can check the Loch Ness. Another spectacular and well know place. We founded on a map small hill, which we decided to climb to get in shape for Ben Nevis. It was a lovely walk... We slept on the banks of Loch Ness, which can be characterised as dark and deep (280m), surrounded by hills. At the night we had a small dancing party around the car... teachers unleashed after two months! All Scotland lacks trees, so any kind of hill looks massive and offers amazing views.No matter what I will say in next few lines, one should be always well prepared for any hikes! Just because you are in mountain region! Only if you are really keen hiker, and don't have all the necessary equipment with you, then go for it. I did it in skateboard sneakers and regular trousers with cotton shirt! The last mentioned sucked a lot, but who cares now! It took us respectable 7 and 1/2 hours up and down - as the lady mentioned, but well we were talking all the time... anyway it is not short at all. According to the travel guide, 9 out of 10 days the summit is covered with clouds. During the whole climb it looked like we were not going to see much from the top, which is one of the reason you are doing the effort, isn't it? It was extremely windy, cold and upper quarter of Ben was dipped in thick milky fog. But we were really lucky because few meters before reaching the summit, the clouds started to vanish and as we get to the top, the weather turned 360 degrees, revealing breathtaking views and showing natur´s magic called rainbow - this time circular! As usually, the way down was more tiring and quite bones damaging, well especially on the shortcuts we took!Wednesday. Once again we woke up on the shore of a lake, they call them Loch here. We were quite wasted, I was starting to feel serious muscle fever on my calves. Nothing else, just calves, I guess it's from the steps-like-track on Ben Nevis. You can't imagine better step aerobic! So we decided to have a little more tourist-like trip in a car. We drove all around Isle of Sky, which was recommended as one of the highlights of Scotland. Yes, it was lovely but I spent all day in the back of our car, so all I remember are just few 15min. stops on various places. No matter how spectacular they were, I didn't really enjoyed them. How could I? We were like Japanese tourists in Bratislava -taking pictures, and making wow sounds! But at least we covered lot of miles! What was good on it, was that we were exploring what happens when 3 individuals close them self in rather limited space and spend there whole day - antecedent by other two days together. As I experienced before, we developed our own language and particular jokes... As usually we slept near some Loch.Thursday: The highlight of this day was the very morning! We stopped for coffee and tea, and decided to enjoy them on benches with marvelous view of Atlantic ocean. We reached the top of Scotland and we were aiming to town Tongue. The innocent morning tea extended into ecstatic swimming in the cold ocean with outside temperature not more than 15C on the sun! The cliffs were amazing, beach marvelous and ocean lovely and refreshing. We were in the water only for few minutes but during the next hour or two we were energized as after adrenalin shock from free fall.
The rest of the day was lovely, too. We knew that our trip is slowly coming to the end, so we discussed a lot and were really nice to each other. And of course, we made fun of British and Scottish people, well, what do you expect from three foreigners on theirs first break! It was lovely, marvelous and so on...
Posted by janči just a traveler