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BEN NEVIS

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Some key facts:

  • Rising from the shores of Loch Linnhe, Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the U.K.
  • Height is 4406ft (1344 metres).
  • The mountain dominates the Fort William and Lochaber area.
  • First scaled in 1771 by botanist, James Robertson. There are now about 100,000 ascents each year.
  • The 1700 hectare/4158 acre Ben Nevis Estate was acquired by the John Muir Trust in June 2000. The estate includes three other high peaks: Carn Mor Dearg, Aonach Beag and Sgurr Choinnich Beag.

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A very rare bottle of 150 year old Glenavon whisky is to be auctioned next month (November 2006). The Glenavon distillery closed in the 1850s.The bottle has been put up for auction by a woman from Northern Ireland in whose family the bottle has resided for generations. The Glenavon Distillery was situated in Ballindalloch, Speyside and was recorded as operating in 1852.

The bottle is slightly smaller than the standard 75cl and is expected to fetch about GBP10,000 (about US$19,000).

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Day 1

We catch the train from Glasgow so as to relax and enjoy the long but scenic journey to Skye. Glasgow to Fort William then Fort William to Mallaig. This takes us across the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct. On arrival at Mallaig we have just 10 mins to catch the ferry to Armadale. Connection works smoothly and after about 20 minute journey we arrive at Armadale where we collect our pre-arranged rental car from Kyle Taxi Company. We then undertake a 30 minute drive to Broadford stopping to admire the view at Eilean Iarmain en-route. At Broadford we check into the Dunollie Hotel which is a large 3 star hotel geared towards coach parties, but nevertheless proves quite satisfactory for our purposes. A sea facing room provides an extra dimension. After a pleasant evening meal at the hotel we enjoy the entertainment provided by Alan Roy.
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Day 2

After breakfast at hotel and checking e-mails via local internet access ( both at hotel and next door at the Esso shop) we depart about 1000 am for the 15 mile drive to Elgol. This is a very scenic but narrow and winding road with sheep and cattle freely roaming around. We stop en-route to prevent a cow from eating a long piece of rope which it found on the beach! On the roadside near Kilbride is parked a van with details of a local archaelogical group which we note for later follow-up. We drive on and come across Duncan House and Castle Keep at Tigh nan Druinich. This is a local craft workshop and show room which produces fine celtic jewellery and hand forged swords. Clearly, very fine products with prices to match. Upon arrival at Elgol the weather is overcast but not actually raining. So, we are able to stroll around and enjoy the scenery, noting cows grazing on the beach. There are boat trips avaialable Bella Jane and Misty Isle but we elect to have a light lunch at Cuillin View whose genial host, John is known for knowledge of whisky. John recommends us to the Malt Whisky Society where membership affords access to good accommodation in Edinburgh. Visit Scotland’s distilleries with catswhiskerstours

We then drive back the same route to Broadford and visit local shops: artist Duncan Currie, The Handspinner (sweaters and yarns) and a fascinating second-hand bookshop Made some purchases at latter, Mor Books . Note that Duncan Currie will provide one-off painting and fishing experiences during the low season. For a listing of most businesses on Skye see Skye-Net.co.uk

In the evening we elect to dine at the well regarded Claymore Restaurant which offers good food at reasonable prices with an emphasis on local seafood.

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Day 3

Depart about 0945. Weather mild but dry. Drive to Portree (capital of Skye), a journey which takes about 1 hour with many stops en-route for photos, especially the waterfalls coming off the mountains after a night of heavy rain. At Portree we avail of a coffee stop and take pictures of the harbour in the bright sunshine. Then drive on up to scenic Trotternish taking in picture stops for:

then to Duntulm Castle Hotel for a light lunch. This is a somewhat remote but interesting one star hotel which specualises in walking holidays.

After lunch we walk up to the ruined Duntulm Castle, a fenced off ruin which affords good photo opportunities.

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Return to the hotel to collect the car then on to Kilvaxter where we pay a brief visit to an Iron Age farmstead and Souterain (underground storage) only recently discovered in 2000.

Then drive on to Uig and the Fairy Glen. The latter is a fascinating, possibly unique, concentration of conical, volcano shaped hills which contributes to the unusual atmosphere of the area.

After many photos we drive back to Portree and then Broadford. At the latter we enjoy a good evening meal at the Harbour Restaurant and Fairtrade Coffee House. This specialises in local fresh fish and vegetarian dishes. Genial host, Martin recommends us to the nearby “blue chip” B&B Tigh an Duchais

DAY 4

After a late breakfast we drive about 20 mins to a parking spot near Kilbride. Then follow the trail up to Uamh An Ard Achaidh (High Pasture Cave) which takes about 5 mins. Here we are given a personal tour by arachaelogist. Martin. This is a truly fascinating and important site dating back to the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) at 7000BC through to the Iron Age about 200BC. For more information refer website but in essence the site appears to have been used for ritualistic purposes. The site is sponsored by Historic Scotland and will continue to be excavated for at least another 2 years.

We then drive on a mile or so (very narrow, single track road) to a stony beach where we leave the car and follow a rough trail for a couple of miles to the Clearance Village of Suisnish. This dates back to the 18th/19th centuries and overlooks Loch Eishort and Loch Slapin. The village was cleared in 1852/3 for sheep running. It was a township of 10 houses superseded by a crofting community with 12 crofts and enclosures. A shepherd’s house remained occupied until the late 1950s. Stunning location affording many photo opps but also time to reflect on the lives of the former inhabitants in what was a very remote community.

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Walk back to the car and then return to Broadford for some refreshment at Beinn na Caillish cafe/restaurant, a pleasant modern building combined with good service.

We then elect to drive to the picturesque villages of Duirnish (cows on the road) and Plockton. Latter sits on the harbour looking across Loch Carron to Creag nan Darach, the mountain below which sits Duncraig Castle.

Then a gentle walk exploring Plockton. Unusually, we encounter no less than three separate cats sitting atop respective gateposts. They are very friendly. Tea at The Shores Buttery with loch views then drive back to Broadford and witness some stunning sunset scenes through the backdrop of the Skye mountains which provide superb photo opps. Photograph Scotland with catswhiskerstours

Upon return to Broadford we dine out again at the Claymore Restaurant and then retire for the evening.

Day 5

Oh Dear-last day!!

After breakfast we pay last visit to local Bookshop and Art Gallery for some final purchases then drive down to the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale. This comprises a castle, gardens and the Museum of the Isles. The whole complex is very well presented and, depending on level of interest, one could easily spend a half day here. However, we have to catch the nearby ferry for the return to Mallaig and rail connection back to Glasgow. All works according to schedule. We are able to spend time for a visit to the Mallaig Heritage Centre which offers a fascinating insight into local history. After a long train journey we eventually return to Glasgow at 9.30pm. Along day but well worth the trip.

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