The ferry from Malaig to Skye took forty minutes. After disembarking we drove north to Portree where the town elders were canny enough to provide a large car park on the edge of town. We were able to park the camper and walk up to the town centre in the pouring rain and choose one of a variety of restaurants in the town and on the quay. We had oysters and sea bass – it was still raining when we came out.
We then drove north to Uig where we found a campsite which rapidly filled up with motor homes, a few caravans and even some families in tents. It made you proud to be British! It was extremely wet and windy, the rain had hardly stopped for the last twenty four hours and the forecast for the next few days was poor – but in spite of the weather the holiday makers (mostly British but some Dutch and German), carried on regardless – pitching their tents, walking the dog, visiting the towns and the beaches. Everyone was well wrapped up and no-one seemed to notice the weather – even the adolescents seemed rosy cheeked and communicative!
The next day we awoke to brilliant sunshine – but all too soon it clouded over again.
In the past we have spent a lot of time at Balloch on the shores of Loch Lomond. We could cycle from the campsite along the river Leven and eventually arrive in Dumbarton – the family seat of the Sweeneys.
On this occasion we were only staying in the area for a couple of days so Graham and a family friend, Joe Bell, took the train from Dumbarton to Balloch where we had lunch.
River Leven at Balloch
The following day we enjoyed a scenic drive along the shores of Loch Lomond to the Scottish Highlands, passing through Glencoe and Fort William. We spent the night at a campsite near Malaig from where we would take the ferry to Skye. The campsite was in the middle of nowhere but had “No Vacancies” signs along the approach road and, sure enough, it was full.
The helpful owner managed to find space for us by the front gate. In the morning we took advantage of a small break in the rain and walked down to the beautiful sandy beach.
We found ourselves back in the UK by the 23rd June, several weeks earlier than usual and, having done our democratic duty in the EU Referendum, we headed north where we planned to explore the more northern parts of Scotland. Our journey north took us to the home of Judy and David Barber in the Chilterns and then on to Lancashire to visit our niece, Angela and Jon.
It did not take many hours of driving to reach Scotland although it was a wet journey which rather spoilt the view. We stayed at Kirkcudbright (not pronounced as it is spelt, more like Ker-koo-bree) at an 120 acre campsite overlooking the Solway Firth. There was a golf course adjacent to the camp site and we wandered up to the clubhouse for an evening meal. The blakcboard menu didn’t look very exciting but when we spotted an Asian chef in the kitchen, we decided the chicken curry would be a clever choice. However, when we sat down to eat we could see through the open kitchen door neatly stacked shelves of cash and carry pre-packed sauces. My chicken curry turned out to be cooked chicken served with a jar of mild curry sauce! The poppadum was OK though.
The following morning when visiting the shower block I came across the two ladies responsible for the cleaning. They were both elderly, stick thin, with tightly permed grey hair and large plastic teeth that clicked and clacked as they chatted together. I first saw them sitting outside the building, barely visible through a thick cloud of cigarette smoke – I wish I had taken a photograph. They could have been sisters and I enjoyed listening to their grumbling and gossiping as they sloshed bleachy water everywhere.
Heavy rain was forecast for the next day so we decided to move on, not wanting to further test the skills of the kitchen staff at the golf club!
It was now time to head home towards the UK. We travelled using the toll roads, stopping overnight at Langres just north of Dijon at a campsite alongside a reservoir. It was a beautiful sunny evening but the site was pretty waterlogged from earlier heavy rainfall and more rain was forecast overnight so we took the precaution of parking on the access road, rather than risking the grassy pitches.
The Reservoir At Langes
We arrived in Calais the following afternoon, giving us plenty of time to shop at the big hypermarket and stock up at Majestic Wines before we got the Eurotunnel home. Blog ends . . .
We arrived at Vallon on a Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t until the Sunday that we unloaded the bikes and visited the local town. As a rule Sundays in rural France are quiet days with the shops and homes hidden behind closed wooden shutters with just the occasional sight of a black clad octagenarian shuffling in the shadows.
Vallon was a pleasant surprise. The small town was situated at the head of Les Gorges de l’Ardèche and was the centre for outdoor activities, walking, cycling and canoeing. The town on Sunday afternoon was open for business and was full of people. The restaurants and cafés were busy and all the little touristy shops were open and doing good trade with folks enjoying Le Weekend.
The Pont D’Arc – 30 metres high
Sunday Afternoon In Vallon
The next day we cycled up the valley of the river Ibie that flows into the Ardèche. At that time of year it was mostly a dry river bed but there were a few pools where people were able to take a cooling bathe. Unfortunately we didn’t have our bathing costumes with us.
Not Me Swimming In River Ibie
We stopped for lunch at Lagorce, a small village set at the top of a hill. We were panting and puffing when we arrived but it was fun after lunch travelling downhill at a breakneck speed. We were careful to have only one small beer and a tiny glass of red wine with our meal.
We arrived near the town of Ornans in eastern France, home of the famous artist, Gustave Courbet, (me neither!). The town was bisected by the river Loue. We were in the Jura Mountains and the scenery was beautiful and, at last, the sun was shining – but not for long as our weather app showed rain coming later in the week. There was a restaurant on site and we enjoyed a tasty, home cooked meal sitting outside with the evening sunshine warming our backs. This time we paid €50 for a starter each, two main courses and a dessert plus a bottle of rosé. I had steak tartare and Tony had trout, everything was freshly cooked from local ingredients.
River Loue At Ornans