Thursday, 6 August 2009


I've wanted to see the Highlands since as long as I can remember - certainly from when I first saw Sean Connery swinging his sword around the place in the movie Highlander. Then Braveheart made me hungrier. So on our Scotland trip I was determined to spend a good few days getting away from civilisation and travelling around the lochs and mountains.

Loch Torridon

We picked up a car in Inverness but - almost disastrously - on the way to the car hire place, Lauren (and her 20kg of packs) slipped on a battery and twisted her ankle. She could barely walk once it swelled up. Luckily she had lots of good books so didn't get too bored when I went out wandering, such as to the awesome Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.

The Old Man, which appeared suddenly and rather creepily out of the mist.

We'd been warned about two things for the Highlands - the weather and the midges. And sure enough, the weather was a schizophrenic mix of sun, gloom and pouring rain - I think it changed about six times on the way down Loch Ness to Skye. Sadly the clouds rarely lifted from the top of the peaks. Then there were the midges. The weather meant we didn't go camping as we'd hoped, but we did get our experiences with them. I hopped out of the car to take a photo in the middle of some spectacular scenery, took a couple of photos, then noticed a tiny, fruit fly sized insect trying to suck my blood. I turned and saw he'd brought a few dozen friends. I jumped back inside the car and in a few seconds the door was open, about six came in with me. Midges are scary. You could see them rising out of the grass when we went walking near a loch.
Despite the dodgy weather and biting beasties, it was really good trip. A lot of people say Scotland is like New Zealand and it's true. The lakes, glacier carved valleys and steep, bare mountains reminded me of the central South Island, the high plateaus were like the Desert Road, while the winding, one lane roads and tiny towns on the coast were like being back on the East Coast (minus maraes). If you like the wilderness, I highly recommend the Highlands - though be warned Kiwis, they might make you homesick!

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