Ihr findet die deutsche Version HIER zusammen mit Teil 13.
Glasgow (Scotland)-Kirkby Stephen (England, Durham County)-London-Hamburg
August 3, 1974 (Saturday)
From Glasgow we set off for home. We want to stay at Barnard Castle because somehow I would have liked to see Alan again. But there is only a note with ’sorry, no vacancies’ on the door. Since I still want to speak to him, but he is not there, we first go to a snack bar. Then I go back alone, without luggage. This time he’s there. King, his black dog, jumps at me to sniff. But where is Topsy, the gentle, spotted one? Alan confirms the contents of the slip but doesn’t recognize me. He just says we’d be in good hands at Kirkby-Stephen Youth Hostel. I thank him and leave in a hurry.
Barnard Castle, market place, photo: booking.com
To Kirby-Stephen we travel with a strange young man who has just built a house. He is very social and is always joking. With him you don’t know what is meant seriously. The youth hostel is tiny, I think it has 28 beds. The Warden is a bit older and sits around a bit lost and unnoticed in the common room / kitchen. [Today I think that one absolutely should have found a topic to talk about with him.]
In the evening, as always, we want to have a little fun. Fortunately, two men approach us who give us a recommendation so that we can join the village club. We are introduced to the intricacies of bingo, a lottery game that is boring in my eyes. I prefer the music of the really good band. However, those present seem to take the game extremely seriously. They get really upset if you don’t cross out a number that is being called. Ils sont foux, les romains!
Kirby Steven, one of this cosy little places, photo: Visitbritain.com.uk I think.
August 4, 1974 (Sunday)
The next day brings us wonderful sunny weather, and we hike a little through the area. We refresh ourselves at the Black Bull inn. There are only men present . and they are trying to persuade my friend to play the guitar. She refuses, saying that she only plays for cows and sheep. Then these grown men start mooing and mowing like idiots. We can hardly stop laughing. As the weather worsens, we hurry back to the hostel.
The Black Bull hotel, former Black Bull inn, photo: Visitbritain.com.uk I think.
August 5, 1974 (Monday)
The next morning, London stands before our minds. Kirkby-Stephen in the morning is a very quiet, lonely affair. We are already figuring out how many hours we will have to stand and wait, when a mini with two young men stops. And where do they want to go? To London! Fortune favours the, yes, what, the timid, the patient or the fools? 😉 They are from Glasgow and often go to London. They usually take the M6, the west coast motorway. Only today did they exceptionally choose the A1, „for a change“. Isn’t that ridiculously lucky? – Their names are Lesley and Robert. Lesley short and plump, a fun-loving Glaswegian; Robert a bit taller, blond and slim with a hint of a cowboy image. Lesley can play the guitar and performs songs by Billy Connolly. He thinks we’re nice. „It is fine to meet nice girls. There are so many not nice girls. “ – Robert keeps getting quieter. I have the impression that he would have preferred the other kind of girl. Lesley lives apart from his wife because he wants children and she does not. But he wants to go back to her.
In London we drive like crazy, it’s fun! We are making fun of some Indian royalty who are slowly cruising through London with a chauffeur and who we strangely meet again and again. Lesley and Robert have transported a till that they want to sell to a takeaway owner. However, for some reason it wasn’t the right one. Now the long journey has been in vain. „We can as well dump it into the river! I am not going to take it all the way back,” says Lesley. He tries to take the whole thing with humour. I can’t figure out Robert.
I call Badhe and Bola from Chelsea train station and learn that we cannot stay with them, the landlord does not allow it. So we’re trying to get back to our well-known Summer Hostel. „We are desperate,“ I say to the receptionist. „Me too,“ I get as answer. Finally they put us on camp beds for one night.
We spend the rest of the evening in Hyde Park and watch the sunset over the lake.
Sunset in Hyde Park, photo: flickr
August 6, 1974 (Tuesday)
We are invited to dinner at Badhe and Bola’s. They are very sorry that they could not accommodate us. Bola cooked chicken for us so that we could have something decent to eat on the ferry! She is a very sweet person.
I then buy a fabulous pair of boots in red and blue metallic for my African friend and just hope he’ll like them. [In case you should be concerned: he was delighted.]
August 7, 1974 (Wednesday)
The crossing is uneventful, luckily, no storm, no seasickness. My best friend and I are very melancholy and brooding for various reasons. I would have loved to swim back, just like last time. My girlfriend spends the night outside on one of the rescue boxes. But it’s too cold for me and I stay in the foul-smelling canteen.
One thing is certain: it will not be the last time I have been to Scotland!
[Tip: if you don’t like to fly, there is a ferry from Rotterdam to Hull, which is already in the north of England. Then you can also visit Yorkshire and the wonderful Lake District on your way to Scotland. And they have the Humber Car Museum in Hull!!!]
Finished, over, end of story … 😉 🙂
After Scotland we finished the boring secretary school (which was actually quite useful) and then began to work, and adult life started for real.
Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER zusammen mit Teil 14.
July 29, 1974 (Monday)
Cross-eyed, tongue-biting Francesca, who is actually very nice, drives us to the main road to Edinburgh the next morning, on the orders of Bob, who kisses us goodbye. Bob is a really nice, down to earth guy.
We arrive there around noon already, and there are only two beds left in the youth hostel. So we would have to sit in front of the door for two hours to be the first when it opens at 2 p.m. We say thank you very much and move on to Stirling. This city is very nice, with old half-timbered houses and a small castle-like building with an inner courtyard and lattice gate as a youth hostel.
In the evening we go the inevitable walk to the pub, the ’Red Lion’, a pub for young people, where a lonely guitarist makes music. Here we see a boy with the currently so modern, individual, coloured strands of hair. Also popular are those Spanish matador pants with a high waist and then an earring in the left ear. In the cities, the boys also run around with pants that only go to the ankle, but have wide legs (the trousers). The girls all look the same on Friday evening, because almost without exception they wear the latest fashion and makeup, without much variation. Of course, we really stick out, no make-up in our backpacks.
July 30, 1974 (Tuesday)
The next morning we plan a trip to Bannockburn, where Malcolm’s mother lives. We can get there without difficulty, but neither Mrs. MacInnes nor Malcolm and Margaret are at home. They will probably spend a few more days in their caravan in Morar, they had hinted at something like that. Since we‘ are in a bad mood anyway, we stroll around Bannockburn and spend most of our time eating.
[History: The Battle of Bannockburn (24 June 1314) was a significant Scottish victory in the First War of Scottish Independence, and a landmark in Scottish history. Stirling Castle, a Scots royal fortress, occupied by the English, was under siege by the Scottish army. Edward II of England assembled a formidable force to relieve it. This attempt failed, and his army was defeated in a pitched battle by a smaller army commanded by Robert I of Scotland (Robert the Bruce). I don’t want to be negative, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have helped them much …]
July 31, 1974 (Wednesday) (July 31 to August 2; departure August 3, Saturday)
The next day we continue to Glasgow. We want to spend the next three days there, such idiotcy! We don’t know what to do without Margaret, who is at Loch Windermere with Eddie and the girls. Mainly we go shopping and get bored. My best friend is homesick and finally wants to go home, while I would like to move on forever. In the evening we don’t dare to go anywhere on our own, except to a really nice Italian restaurant, where they are very friendly and courteous.
Some of the other hostel guests tell us stories that once again put the friendliness and helpfulness of the Scots in their true light. A very young American was picked up by an elderly couple somewhere in the country, soaked in the rain. They took him home, gave him food and let him stay overnight while his clothes were drying. The next morning they gave him a thick sweater as a present.
Another boy says he was stranded alone in Glasgow one night. A police officer gathered all the young hitchhikers he came across in the shelter of a bus stop, because it was too dangerous at night alone in Glasgow.
One evening we are walking in the vicinity of the youth hostel when a blond, slightly drunk Scot approaches us. I think his name is Alex. He really wants to show us a really great pub. On the way there he keeps slapping us clumsily on the shoulder. The barmaid in the pub is classy to look at, with short, straight, black hair, very painted, but that probably follows with the profession. Alex calls her ’Fury’: „This is Fury, she is a really good friend“.
Then he drags us to another pub, where, it seems to me, mainly very young girls (around 13 years old) and older men hang out. One of them joins us, a friend of our blonde. He is a typical slime and tries to get into conversation with me. He tries out all sorts of topics, including football (yawn). Every time he tries, I just reply: „I do not know anything about this!“ or „I am not interested in that!“ – That way I get rid of him very soon. [I wonder why we went with this guy in the first place, but I guess we had to pass the time somehow. We didn’t have too much of a drive at that time.]
Coming back to the hostel, a letter from my African friend is waiting for me, in which he gives me precise instructions regarding his boots. Snake skin is out! How good that we didn’t buy them at the beginning of the trip. 😉
Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER, zusammen mit Teil 11.
A short part, our last day at Mountquhanie Estate.
There is also a dog on the farm, a completely uneducated, black, smooth-furred island dog named Moy, who is beautiful but excruciatingly annoying. While eating, he playfully bites our legs under the table and tears everything off the table that is not nailed down, if you leave him alone in the kitchen. Once he spreads half a pound of butter on the floor and sprinkled it with the contents of a large bag of peanuts (peanut butter, hehe).
[I can’t remember the older boys, maybe they weren’t even there, just the two girls and the baby.] The girls have ponies that look very fat. I express the desire to ride, so of course the two girls also want to and put on their fancy riding gear, only to ride an ungroomed pony bareback. The animals have not been ridden for a long time and obviously want to leave it at that. Believe it or not, we have to shove them out of the paddock!
Once outside, they show themselves more willing. I’m sitting on the bigger pony with one of the girls behind me. It could be very funny if Moy (the dog) weren’t chasing after us snapping at the pony. When he then bites into the tail of our pony and lets himself be dragged along, it’s too much for the horse. It jumps into the air a few times with all fours (with two riders !!!) and kicks out, with the result that Moy runs away, howling. The pony must have hit him hard. We see him chase around the house a couple of times like a black lightning and then disappear into it. The rest of the day he remains unseen, as does my riding companion. Of course we fell off during the bucking, but we didn’t fall deep and into soft grass. Anyway, I have the pony to myself for the rest of the time. And Moy is unlikely to venture near a pony again anytime soon.
Felicity is now planning her vacation trip. Her choice falls on Cyprus, from where, because of the war, all foreigners are being evacuated. (But nowadays it is no longer called war, but ’conflict’.) She loves to go where there are not so many tourists and where there is something to experience. (I find this snobbery inappropriate. After all, people are dieing there!)
On our last day in Mountquhanie, a new au pair arrives, Francesca from Edinburgh. The girls hope that she is not a ’Beauty Queen’, because those are useless.
In the evening the five of us go to the pub (Jim with four women, he enjoyed that …) [ I think Caroline the secretary was the fourth woman], for a welcome drink for Francesca and a farewell drink for us, because we want to leave the next day. I think it’s pretty boring because the conversation is almost all gossip. Francesca is very nice. There is only one thing I don’t like: she sometimes underlines her stories by squinting, sticking out her tongue and biting on it. That should be ’cute’ for sure, but after the umpteenth time it loses its charm and looks silly (at least to me, maybe men see it differently). Anyway, Jim seems very taken with her. And he finally gives us a plausible answer to the question why one puts milk in one’s tea: „Because otherwise it is too hot!“
[At that time the estate was mainly used for agriculture, at least that’s how I remember it. Nowadays rooms in the manor house and cottages on the estate are rented out to tourists, often golf tourists. (It’s close to St. Andrews, the Scottish Gulf Mecca.) In my opinion, the rooms didn’t look as nice as on the website at the time, but maybe I just didn’t see them. We all ate together in the kitchen. However, the link does not work anymore, Mountquhanie does not appear on that B&B website anymore.]
Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER (Teil 11 und 12 zusammen. Wie ihr sicherlich bereits bemerkt habt, habe ich mich bemüht, mehr und bessere Bilder zu finden).
Perth-Mountquhanie Estate (Cupar, Fife)
July 26, 1974 (Friday to Sunday, departure Monday July 29, 1974)
Our next destination is Mountquhanie Estate, a large estate in County Fife, near the village of Cupar. We got the address from a Franciscan nun, an acquaintance of my friend. In response to a letter, we were invited to visit. [I don’t remember exactly why we were invited, but the owner at the time was a very hospitable man.]
We are taken to Dundee by a Scottish politician named John Fairly [I googled and could only find one Jim Fairlie who fits in age and with the political activities] (he was either an SNP politician or a union man). He reports that he used to hitchhike himself when he was still studying and had no money. We have a very interesting conversation with him in the parking lot in Dundee. We tell him about the radical from Invershin. He says that in ten years Scotland will be independent, without violence, democratically. [That was 1974. Unfortunately that didn’t happen in 1984; in 2015 they had a chance though.] I also mentioned the Scots‘ depressing attitude towards their own country. “No wonder,” he says, “if you tell a people for centuries that it is worthless, in the end they will believe it themselves!”
However, he also has a question for us. A group of Bavarians recently visited Scotland and said that they played a role in Germany that was similar to that of Scotland in Great Britain: Bavarians were also denied independence. In my opinion, the two situations cannot be compared. Bavaria was a member of the German Confederation, which later resulted in among others the Federal Republic of Germany. Bavaria was not colonized by its neighbours, and its raw materials are not being bought by the neighbouring states at underprice, at least I don’t think so. [That is what we were told in Scotland, that they have to pay more for their own products than the people in London. I heard the same said in Wales on a later travel. I do not know, if it is true.]
We say goodbye and make our way over the Tay Bridge. It’s long, longer, longest, if you have to cross it in a strong headwind. The place on the other side is called Newport, apparently a settlement of better-off people, where we have lunch at the Seymour Hotel. The young waitress finds it boring here; she would rather live in Dundee. I don’t find Dundee particularly appealing myself. But maybe there are nice spots there too.
Bob, the owner of Mountquhanie, picks us up from Newport. Felicity, his wife, reminds us of a decadent noblewoman; Bob seems more down to earth. They have six children, two girls and four boys, one of whom is still a baby. Two au pair girls are always employed on the estate, ’Felicity’s slaves’ and Jim, an agriculture student, ’Bob’s slave’. I would prefer to work for Bob. The girls are busy washing dishes and cooking food all day and otherwise have to take the children for a drive in the car or do something else with them. Bob also has an agriculture secretary, a sturdy girl.
In order to earn our food in some way, we offer Bob the work of our hands (those lily-white hands). The only thing that bothers me is my cold. I feel really bad.
Bob actually finds us a job. We are supposed to help clip the wings of the pheasants.
There are four large cages full of the critters. They are to be driven into a small wooden hut in front of each lattice, cage by cage. With the first cage, it’s still comparatively easy. Meanwhile, however, the others have noticed that something is going on and are behaving accordingly hysterically.
One of us has to go into the hut (small, narrow, filled with pheasants in advance), grab a bird there and reach it with the head first through a small hole outside, which is opened by means of a flap from the outside at the command of the one that is seated inside. There the other receives the animal and holds it while Caroline (the agricultural secretary) trims the feathers of the wings. We are getting used to it very quickly. Sitting in the hut is uncomfortable. The frightened animals get scared (and the runs) and bite and scratch as far as they can in this narrow space.
At the end of this battle we load the pheasants into wire baskets and put them in a large outdoor enclosure while Bob prepares the houses for the new chicks. Until now these have been housed in an empty hayloft in an empty barn, in small, round cages that are unfortunately open at the top. When we start to catch them, a good number of them scuffle over the fence and hide behind the chipboard that is conveniently standing everywhere. Pheasant chicks are cute, like all chicks. I don’t know how many there are, but very many, an endless bustle. I find it kind of cruel to transport these many chicks in just two wire baskets, stacked on top of each other like sardines.** Not everyone of them survives the transport intact; some arrive with sticky, bloody feathers or a broken leg or wing. (But farmers somehow have a thicker skin. How else can you raise animals just to be gunned down by some people? But I am a hypocritical meat eater: if I had to kill the animals myself, I would be a vegetarian.) [Since 1983 I’m a vegetarian.] We count the chicks into the little houses where Bob has now hung up heating lamps, because if possible there should be the same number in each one. ** [I thought later that maybe even more would have been injured, if they could have moved freely in the wire baskets during transport.]
Kingussie – Pitlochry (river Tummel) – Birnam the loop way – Perth
23. July 1974 (Tuesday)
We plan to spend the next night on the river Tummel. We are picked up by an elderly English couple. They tell us about Lord Atholl, who is the only Lord who still has a private army of, I believe, 20 men. He is said to have driven a woman out of his county, who ran a prosperous hotel, using boycott in order to get also this source of income into his possession. He likely used threats and bribery as well, they said. Somehow the matter throws a strange light on this rich Lord.
The couple persuades us to come with them to Pitlochry, a few kilometers past our junction. Since we think we still have a lot of time, we eat with the two who are really nice and then visit Pitlochry. It’s a pretty little town. In a bookstore we meet the Belgian horde from Kingussie again.
We also see some college boys in kilts and realize that they don’t suit everyone. (The blond giant from Braemar last year, he looked good in a kilt. A picture of a man! 😉 )
Finally we hitchhike back to our intersection. The street that is destined for us doesn’t look very reassuring, so empty and poorly maintained. A VW bus full of children of different nationalities takes us to where the youth hostel had to be. But where is the sign? I go down to the Queen’s Hotel, a beautiful, well-preserved castle, to ask. [There isn’t any Queen’s Hotel anymore, and I cannot find the building in question.] I get inhibitions when I enter the elegant hall, which is thickly lined with wonderful carpeting. I feel like a real saddle tramp in my jeans and oil jacket. Basically I am, am I not? I learn that this castle was the youth hostel until the end of last year. (So one really should get a new youth hostel guide every year!) That is a hard blow for us, stranded on a lonely forest road. Above all, it is raining cats and dogs every ten minutes.
A woman comes out of a house like a saviour angel and walks towards her car. My best friend asks her if she could take us with her and explains the situation to her. Little angelically, she refuses harshly and wants to send us to Loch Rannoch (that is, further out of our way), but then lets herself be persuaded to invite us. My friend doesn’t give up because there is hardly any chance for us to get away from here, and we are accordingly desperate. In such situations, my friend often develops courage and willpower while I resign. I was reluctant to speak to the woman and in my mind I was already walking back down the road …
On the way we rave about the river Tummel and how wonderful it must be to have a house here. This way we make her noticeably friendlier.
And it’s not even a lie, because this is one of the most beautiful regions in Scotland from what we’ve seen so far. (It’s amazing how easy it is to win people over with flattery and compliments, however smart or cunning they are.) Finally, we come to the topic of Glaswegians, a fertile subject in Scotland. One should, however, sound out beforehand what the interlocutor thinks of them. But we tell her frankly that we don’t find them as bad as they are always portrayed to us. On the contrary, we felt very comfortable in Glasgow. Fortunately, we hit the bull’s eye! Our lady joins in enthusiastically and says repeatedly: „There is not a thing wrong with the Glaswegians!“ – We won her heart. Maybe she or someone she knows is from Glasgow.
Happy to be back in Pitlochry, we thank her profusely for her great willingness to help and reap a smile and a “You are welcome”. (Hypocritical old woman, I think, just as hypocritically.) Suddenly a totally drunk old woman stumbles past us and our lady comments with contempt: „What a disgrace!“ – My friend thinks it is typical for this woman to say something like that.
We try to hitchhike on to Birnam with the weather alternating between burning sun and heavy rain. Not even the impregnation of our backpacks can withstand the amount of water that falls on us. Finally, a work car picks us up with a few young guys, who would like to have us with them as far as Perth. But we decided to spend the night in Birnam (Macbeth !!!), where a ’simple’ youth hostel awaits us again. I think it’s one of the most primitive around.
A younger German couple arrives with two children. They want to spend the night in a different and more adventurous way. For these people, a youth hostel is obviously a giant step back to nature. They act like heroes at the front and as if a hostel was THE gag. I feel very annoyed and explain to them that they all have a job to do in the morning before leaving, as this is the way in hostels. (Knowing this, however, doesn’t stop them playing stupid the next morning and asking for their IDs without asking about their jobs. The Warden, not a jubilant guy anyway, gets even more grumpy. At that moment, I just hope that nobody notices what nationality we are.)
In the evening in Birnam we go to a small, cozy pub. There we meet a very nice couple from New Zealand. We tell them that we plan to raise sheep in New Zealand. They smile at that a little, but still give us their address and invite us to come over for half a year or more. But we should leave our kith and kin at home, please.
An old Scot tells us about his time as a soldier in the Rhineland, where he had a very nice girl. Most Scots we meet see Germany as a great nation, in contrast to Scotland, which makes me somewhat sad (that they disregard their own country), but they also warn us of possible hostility towards Germans. We did not encounter any anti German hostility on the whole trip. Only in the newspaper do I read of two cases in London where girls were killed on the subway and the railroad because of their German nationality. As I said, we did not experience any hostility.
July 24, 1974 (Wednesday)
The next hitchhiking stretch to Perth is very short. We have wonderful summer weather to take a look at the city.
For the next day we are planning a trip to neighbouring County Angus. A fish truck driver heading to Aberdeen picks us up. The driver tells us that he will come to the same place every morning at 10 a.m. in case we want to ride again with him at some point.
Angus is a rather agriculturally developed region, highly civilized, because there are fences everywhere. Here we cannot sit in the landscape where we want, like in Morar, but have to be content with the roadside. We drive back to Perth on a different road. Gypsies [traveling people is the correct term, although I never thought of the word gypsy as something degrading, I have always romanticized them, Sainte Marie de la mèr und so] live on the kerb in front of the city. If there weren’t people, one could think that it was a junkyard. It looks very poor. [In the meantime I have seen Travelers in various countries. Even in Romania it didn’t look that bad. They are best organized in France. There are special places with fountains for the Roma to spend the night along the country roads. They also seem to be more prosperous there. I hope that the conditions for the traveling people have improved in Scotland after 1974, just like they did in Glasgow. They actually did not look like Roma.]
Perthshire is also called Dewar’s County because of the many whiskey distilleries. My friend didn’t particularly like Perth. I on the other hand have a preference for this city without being able to say exactly why.
In the evening we do our pub studies again. The slightly finer one in the back of a hotel is boring. Nobody is talking to us. The ordinary Central Pub is more interesting. An elderly gentleman tells us endless stories about where he has already been, how many languages he speaks, etc. etc., and he puts on a connoisseur-of-all-things-face. [Haha, first we got too little talk, then we got too much.] When he is powdering his nose, three other, younger men come over and shield us off. They tell us that nobody speaks to this man anymore, so he approaches strangers who at least still listen to him. He’s actually a first rate irritator. While we are talking to the others, he tries to tap us on the shoulder from behind their backs to regain our attention. One young man first tells me that his wife always wears jeans too, like us. Then he talks about a Danish girl, who spent a whole summer with him in his caravan: „That was a fine lass!“ (Oho, I think, these subtle allusions. I have the impression that in Great Britain they don’t take fidelity too seriously.)
(To be continued)
P.S.: I found it, the „castle“ on Loch Tummel, couldn’t let it rest, on the Geograph page.
Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER zusammen mit Teil 10.
Carbisdale Castle – Inverness – Kingussie
July 22, 1974 (Monday)
The next morning brings us rain for a change and we try hard to hitchhike. We find two French girls from the hostel sitting not far away on a wall, covered by an umbrella. They’d rather wait for hours than walk 5.5 kilometers to the next transport hub. But we prefer that and get off quite well. We make our way with short lifts from village to village to Inverness. One of the drivers is a farmer who proudly tells us that he brought in his hay yesterday, even though it was Sunday and the neighbors are looking at him crookedly because of it. Today everything would have gotten rained on, like everyone else’s.
Inverness is teeming with civilization, which confuses us to some extent after a long time in the backwoods. The people we ask for directions are all strangers themselves, which one can hear from the broad Scottish accent, because in Inverness they actually speak good standard English, as we have noticed several times on our trip so far.
However, we still find the right road (across the central highlands via Aviemore). We have barely placed ouselves, when a car from the AA Service stops (something like the German ADAC) and picks us up. On the way, a couple beckons whose car is parked on the side of the road. Our driver dutifully stops, but comes back quickly. “They just wanted a lift to the next workshop. Their car broke down, but they belong to another road club. „
In Aviemore he drops us off with the advice to inquire about accommodation in the youth hostel. If there aren’t any beds, he’d take us to Kingussie in two hours. There are even two youth hostels in Aviemore, but no vacancies. We don’t like Aviemore anyway. It is a fashionable ski tourist destination and accordingly expensive. So we continue to Kingussie with the AA gentlemen. On the drive I notice that the village shops bear the name ’Mackenzie’. I draw the immensely intelligent conclusion that we are on Mackenzie soil. On the way we consciously try for the first time to be invited to a free overnight stay. We use lamenting remarks about the possibility that there are no more beds in the youth hostel in Kingussie either, and what we should do then. But he doesn’t take the bait.
In Kingussie, our AA man makes inquiries at the youth hostel for us. He is friends with the Warden, whose name is Mackenzie. His name is also Mackenzie, but they are not related to each other. There are still beds available, he announces. He definitely seems happy about it. Maybe he even pleaded with the Warden to take us in, in order to get rid of us. In any case, we thank him profusely and enter the hostel full of expectations. „This hostel is full, we have no vacancies,“ the warden welcomes us. I almost start crying while the Warden can’t check his laughter. My best friend is more sensitive and notices immediately that he is pulling our leg.
His wife is a dragon, as we shall soon find out. When my friend wants to play the guitar in the bedroom, she shoots like lightning into the room and says that it can’t be done. When we ask „Why not?“ We get the answer: „It can’t be done, it’s not allowed!“ – We obey, but don’t understand it, because after all we don’t disturb anyone and we don’t smudge or destroy anything with guitar playing. Later a girl tells us that the woman was lurking behind the door to see if my friend would start playing again (refusal to obey orders complex).
In the evening we go to a pub again, to the lounge, that is the nicer part for the ladies. There a long, ugly boy approaches us. He is from Glasgow and works at the hotel across the street. He offers us two beds in the servants‘ rooms, because then we could go to the folk festival tomorrow and would not have to be in the youth hostel at 10 p.m. We look at the premises, but they seem just as dubious to us as the whole guy. You can’t lock the door! In addition to all of this, I had noticed that the people in the lounge were all looking at us strangely. He seems to be a young man of ’bad reputation’. Since we don’t know how to get rid of him right away, we go with him to the pub in his hotel. Against the lounge from before, this is a downright barn, but there is a TV, so it is packed! Our Casanova’s friend sits down next to us, a disgusting lardass. They are both a little drunk and talk a little carelessly. My girlfriend picks up a few things that we are ’unwilling’ or something similar. Finally the two apologize themselves for a moment, probably to coordinate things. I tell my friend about my observations in the lounge, which, together with what she has heard, makes us somewhat alarmed, and we try to inquire with people. „This boy is not good, he is a drunkard,“ my friend says to her neighbour. The good man just says: „Girls, if I were you, I would slap the door!“ – We then do that with unrefined haste and the whole pub starts to roar with laughter.
We spend the rest of the evening contemplatively in the common room. We meet some young people from the Flemish part of Belgium who eagerly speak to us in Flemish because for some reason they believe that we are from Belgium too.
Achintraid-Gairloch-Carbisdale Castle [At that time County Sutherland, now part of ’Highland’]
July 15, 1974 (Monday)
The next morning greets us once again with a gray, rainy expression. We get to Shieldaig (the beautiful retiree health resort) with an English couple who have an English sheep dog, one of those white-gray shaggy-coated dogs, where you can’t find out what’s the front and what’s the behind. Its dimensions are like those of a one year old Saint Bernard. „But it’s still growing!“ the proud owners tell us. This little doggy sits on my lap for the whole trip and puts his front paws on my unarmoured foot. His blue eye (because the other one is brown) peers at me confidentially from behind a lock of hair, at eye level! At least I’m not feeling cold for once. (He is a real darling actually!)
In Shieldaig they pity us with all their heart because of the weather, but these compassionate people don’t want to change their travel route because of us anyway.
We finally have to take the bus to Kinlochewe, as there is almost no traffic at all and the weather is getting wetter and more uncomfortable. There, too, we stand for a few hours until a delivery truck takes us to Gairloch, another vacation spot popular with the Scots. Suddenly the sun is shining here by the sea and we immediately feel much better. The Scottish hills can be quite depressing in fog and rain. We actually meet a neighbour of Margaret’s in Gairloch, whom we met on a bus in Glasgow.
The Carn Dearg youth hostel is located directly on the cliffs, on a narrow asphalt road that gets lost in the sand a few kilometers further on. [It doesn’t do that anymore.] This is the first hostel we come across, where you can work for a free overnight stay with extra jobs (e.g. window painting). But we are too lazy for that, after all, we are on vacation!
July 16, 1974 (Tuesday)
The following morning the weather is sunny but cold. We visit Gairloch, about 2 kilometers from the youth hostel, and climb around in the cliffs. On the opposite side of the bay you can see the mountains we came from the day before. Compared to the grassland here they are huge and the low white clouds that cover their peaks make them seem mysterious and connected to the sky.
For me, sitting here in the sun by the water, the mountains are a symbol of the promised land, they are my brothers, big and strong. I feel one with the earth and believe in peace.
I want to: join the mountains; listen to the birds and the wind who tell me their wisdom without showing off; let the sun give me strength; admire the harmony of this creation and become one with it. [If there is any doubt, it’s mine. 😉]
July 17, 1974 (Wednesday)
When we go for a walk again the next day, a car full of girls stops next to us and they invite us to have coffee with them. The female pack consists of Margaret (17 years old) with two younger sisters, who both give me the impression that there haven’t been quite enough ingredients for them, when they were conceived, as well as a young woman who is a friend of their’s with two small daughters, whom Margaret wants to turn into fine ladies by force. They are all from Edinburgh. Margaret’s parents are both no longer alive, and now she is planning to modernize the house where we are drinking coffee. It is a former school that she bought together with her brothers. On the coat hooks in the corridor you can still see the names of the former students burned in: Gillivray, Farquharson and similar Scottish names. The young woman with her two daughters will emigrate to Australia in a few weeks.
Back at the hostel we meet a skinny, tree high cyclist, who has already caught our eye in Morar because of the enormous amounts of food that he devours. He eats at least three heaped plates full of indefinable cereals and for dessert he slaps green salad on his white bread. He doesn’t remember me when I speak to him, which he regrets very much and accordingly often apologizes. „I can’t remember faces,“ he says.
July 18, 1974 (Thursday)
The next morning we set off north again. We want to go as far up the west coast as possible. We are incredibly lucky and a short time later we are in Ullapool, a nice little fishing village with a nice little youth hostel. Ullapool is very touristy, but not as full of trinkets as e.g. Aberfoyle or Fort William, but with class. We are advised to hitchhike north with the fish trucks at night, but that seems too risky and inconvenient to us.
July 19, 1974 (Friday)
James Munro, an elderly man from Lairg on River Shin, takes us with him from Ullapool, and we will be in touch by letter for many years afterwards. “I like a good knee in the front”, he says when I sit down next to him, which in my naivety I again don’t catch. He quickly convinces us that it would be nonsense to hitchhike further north because there is almost no traffic there. We are already noticing that. Instead he takes us to Invershin** in the heart of Sutherland, where he buys us a drink in the pub. My friend gets a hot toddy (grog with whiskey) because she has a bad cold. My eyes, unclouded by alcohol, rest on her with envy. **[Something should flow into something else at Invershin, should it not? And it does, about 1 km north of Invershin, the river Shin flows into the Kyle of Sutherland.]
The way to the youth hostel is quite unusual. We go to a disused train station, on the driveway of which it says ‚SNP‘ in large, white letters (Scottish National Party. We have reached the arch-patriotic part.) From there it goes on a railway bridge over the ‚Kyle of Sutherland‘, over various fences, through a hole in the wall and up an endless hill. This hostel is housed in a large castle, Carbisdale Castle. Some English nobleman had sidelined his wife here. The adventure trail is recommended, if you don’t want to hike 5.5 kilometers to the next bridge (Bonar Bridge) and then 5.5 kilometers back on the other side.
[Unfortunately, the Scottish youth hostel Association had to give up Carbisdale Castle, because it was too costly to maintain. It is for sale now.
Carbisdale Castle was built in 1907 for the Duchess of Sutherland (the sidelined lady) on a hill across the Kyle of Sutherland from Invershin in the Scottish Highlands.]
Since the weather is tolerably warm, we later lie down on a meadow near the hostel. I feel so good that I fall asleep without further ado. So I’m a little confused when a boy calls out to us a little later and asks for directions. I explain it to him in detail, including the hole in the wall. I can’t have made a very reliable impression, because he doesn’t take the route, as he tells me later. He takes the long way over the next bridge. He has only himself to blame! [The railway bridge situation is still the same.]
July 20, 1974 (Saturday)
The next morning I spot the long cyclist again, who this time comes straight up to me with a wash tub full of cornflakes with the words: „This time I recognize you!“
In the afternoon I go on a walk to the nearest tiny village because my best friend needs to be alone. On the way I meet an old lady who tells me that the salad is wonderful this year and offers me sweets from a giant bag. Such a lovely lady!
In the evening we go to the pub (we have to cross the railway bridge again), where we get to know the artist soul of the area, Joe the painter, with his beautiful collie. One of the Scots at our table keeps telling jokes about the Irish, but I only understand half of them. He is the first, and perhaps only, Scotsman to speak at a truly Italian pace. Meanwhile, my friend is talking to a young, drunk and broken guy who she feels sorry for. He wants to get married the next day, but doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about the idea and asks my friend to stay with him. Again and again he shows her cartridges that he is holding in his hand and predicts that in three years there will be no more castle and no more pub, since both belong to English people. “We’re going to kill them all, everyone, with women and children! We have to annihilate them ”, are his words. The others are embarrassed and they declare him crazy and say that he can only talk like that because he doesn’t know how terrible a war is.
Finally my cyclist arrives. After some time of conversation, he asks me if I would come for a walk with him, to pick up his friends from the camping site. That’s the last thing I need, no desire to do so, so I say „no“. As soon as one has left, the next comes: Keith the tooling engineer, the boy who asked for directions to the hostel. He is accompanied by a bearded young man who turns out to be Australian, but only after, I, of course, ask him if he is American, about which he is quite offended (scandalo, scandalo). Keith asks if they can sit down with us and without waiting for the answer he is already sitting next to me and squeezing me between himself and my friend’s chair in a way that makes me stare at her with my mouth open and I am speechless over his cheek. The cyclist comes back, sees us with the others and drowns his grief in whiskey. He also goes home early while his so-called friends make fun of him because he can’t tolerate alcohol. Great friends!
July 21, 1974 (Sunday)
The next day we hike to the Shin Falls. The road that leads up to them is wonderfully laid out: quiet, mountainous, grand! At the wayside we find wild strawberries that I see and eat for the first time in my life. A surprise awaits us at the ’summit’, because there is a lunch stall, a souvenir shop and a large number of cars. I feel reminded of the trip to Loch Kathrine last year. People flock to the falls on the weekend (it’s Sunday) to watch the salmon jump. In any case, the Shin falls are spoiled for me. I don’t even look at them. [That was very stupid, girlie! It is not the fault of the falls … ]
My friend bought a postcard, with a salmon jumping on it, of course. It’s such a clumsy trick shot, however, that it just makes me grin. The salmon is not only almost as big as the whole waterfall, but it is also clearly visible that it is painted on (the salmon). But the card has an absolute kitsch value.
There will be a few more posts about this, as we are only half through the trip … ;-), among others we spent a few interesting days in the pretty county of Fife.
Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER, zusammen mit Teil 6.
July 13, 1974 (Saturday)
The next morning, Margaret and Malcolm give us a lift to the main road near Fort William, for which we are extremely grateful, because the road leading there is totally ’deserted’. Apart from us there is no vehicle to be seen far and wide. A couple is already sitting at the side of the road and when we ask whether they want to hitchhike too, the answer is: “We’re waiting for the bus! Hitchhiking is WORK! „
We get picked up pretty quickly by two young men from Glasgow, David and Joe. In the meantime, the ’Glasgow Fair’, the industrial holiday in the second half of July, has started. During these two weeks the Glaswegians can be found scattered all over Scotland. David and Joe turn out to be very nice. David has long, straight, blonde hair and apparently a gentle nature that my best friend is immediately attracted by. Joe, on the other hand, is short and stocky, with dark, thick hair and a gorgeous mustache. His eyes sparkle with joie de vivre and humour when he jokes or tells stories.
Actually, the four of us want to go to Skye. „Failteach an Eileann“ is written on a sign, „Welcome to the island“, which I can easily translate later thanks to my little booklet „Gaelic without groans“. [At that time there was a ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh to Skye. The Skye Bridge has existed since 1995.] Unfortunately, all youth hostels are occupied (yes, yes, Glasgow Fair) and we have to go back to the mainland. There are still beds in Kyle of Lochalsh, but we are asked to continue to Achintraid as we have a car and they want to consider hikers. We’ll call them beforehand to see if we would find accommodation before we set off. David and Joe are so nice to take us with them all the way.
Achintraid is a tiny place on Loch Kishorn, overlooking the Applecross Mountains on the other side of the loch. [Applecross is also a very popular vacation spot with the Scots. The county was then called Ross & Cromarty, but was dissolved in 1975 and divided into ’Highland’ and ’Western Isles’.]
[Apparently not much has changed in Achintraid. One of the houses right on the waterfront used to be the youth hostel. It’s low tide in the photo.] Idyllic in sunshine, which is rarer here than cows. There are only sheep, and of a special kind, with thick, very white, neatly curled up fur, unlike the usual shaggy highland sheep.
We offer to cook for David and Joe. We want to do something special, curry bananas on rice. I’ll take care of the meal. Next to me, a young man is cooking a lonely clam. He looks into my pot with interest and thinks the contents is very ’exceptional’, after all, people are polite in Great Britain. I like him right away! I think he’s in his early 30s, his face is very masculine, but not macho, and his hair is like sheep’s wool, just black. We talk for a while longer until I bring the results of my cooking skills to the table. Joe and David are not very enthusiastic. I have to say that we have neither curry nor salt left, and I don’t have the presence of mind either to ask my new acquaintance, the one with the clam, for salt at least. Probably his blue eyes distracted me too much! Our two ’chauffeurs’ find the food “very filling” and only pick out the raisins and the bananas.
In return, they invite us to the pub in Strathcarron. It is very crowded there. Strathcarron is probably a kind of ’district village’ where everyone meets at the weekend.
I have the feeling that David and Joe have divided us up among themselves, my girlfriend to Joe and me to David. But that doesn’t work out, because I stick to Joe, as I know that my friend has eyes for David, and I’m actually thinking of the clam man. However, they make a good face to the bad game and the evening develops into a very nice one. A band is playing folklore, but only when we are on the way back to the youth hostel, because the front doors are being locked at 10 p.m. David and Joe are a little tipsy and drive extra slowly to extend the time together with us. „If the door is closed, we’ll just spend the night outside!“ they say. We are not so excited about that. But we arrive on time. Hardly anyone is in bed either. I ask black sheep hair about his clam. „I threw it away, it didn’t look good!“ he says. He made a drawing of the lounge, including the wet clothes drying over the stove. I think it is very good, and he shows me others too. „Is drawing your hobby?“ I ask him. – „No, it’s my job, so to speak!“ – He doesn’t give any further information, and I find it impolite to ask.
July 14, 1974 (Sunday)
The next morning my only worry is whether he is already gone or not. He is not! My girlfriend and I accompany the two boys to the intersection. On the way back we meet the curly black haired man. „I thought you left!“ he says. – ”No, just the boys”, we answer. – „I thought you were together!“ he again. – „No, they only gave us a lift up here,“ we clarify. A little banter follows, where from, where to next and a mutual, deeply regretful look.
We spend the afternoon in Shieldaig (approx. 15 km from Achintraid, on Loch Torridon). A German tourist takes us with him. „There are two girls standing all by themselves in the middle of the moor, it’s like Shakespear!“ he says. He clearly sees himself as our savior and protector. Shieldaig is a four-house health resort for retirees. But the tearoom is wonderful. (Pensioners always know where to get the best food and the best cake, especially the elderly ladies.) I also buy my Gaelic guide ’Gaelic without groans’ there. Due to bad weather, however, we are soon on our way back.
Towards evening it clears up, sunshine and blue sky over the bay! My girlfriend and I sit on rocks a little further apart from each other and play music. I’m afraid my flute can be heard across the loch. I have to admit, however, that my instrument has a good tone and it sounds wonderful outdoors over the water. This evening was really a nice closing of the weekend.
Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER, zusammen mit Teil 7.
Scotland 1974, part 6
Morar and Loch Ailort
July 11, 1974 (Thursday)
The next morning the sun is shining! So my friend and I sit down in the landscape to play music. On the opposite bank of the bay I see the stripes of the white beach ’The white sands of Morar’, which has made Morar popular as a seaside resort (at least with the Scots). We have hardly unpacked our instruments when it starts pouring again.
In the next moment of sunshine we hike to Morar, four kilometers away. Seen in the light [the day before we walked it in vertical torrential downpour, if you remember …], this route is very picturesque, but I would still have frozen if I, like some Scots, had been sitting on the beach in a bathing suit. But they are used to their weather. I’m dressed in a turtleneck. At the end of the trip my face, hands and a small piece of forearms are tanned …
In Scotland they say that the weather is fine, when there is a piece of blue sky big enough to make a kilt out of.
The salmon streams we pass are all fenced in and private owned. They are mainly owned by aristocrats or influential Englishmen or the royal family, as is practically everything valuable in this country. That must be a remnant of old times, despite the SNP (Scottish National Party) and „A man’s a man for all that …“. That just seems like wishful thinking. It is the title of an old song (for those who don’t want to read the whole song, here is a brief summary of the contents:
Better poor than a slave; an honest man, even if poor, is a king; a man who thinks independently laughs at titles and medals; Let us pray for sense and self-worth to prevail and for people all over the world to become brothers.
(Pretty progressive ideas for the 18th century in Scotland, where there was still a rather strict hierarchy, also in the clans.)
Full song text: Is there for honest Poverty That hings his head, an‘ a‘ that; The coward slave-we pass him by, We dare be poor for a‘ that! For a‘ that, an‘ a‘ that. Our toils obscure an‘ a‘ that, The rank is but the guinea’s stamp, The Man’s the gowd for a‘ that.
What though on hamely fare we dine, Wear hoddin grey, an‘ a that; Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine; A Man’s a Man for a‘ that: For a‘ that, and a‘ that, Their tinsel show, an‘ a‘ that; The honest man, tho‘ e’er sae poor, Is king o‘ men for a‘ that.
Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord, Wha struts, an‘ stares, an‘ a‘ that; Tho‘ hundreds worship at his word, He’s but a coof for a‘ that: For a‘ that, an‘ a‘ that, His ribband, star, an‘ a‘ that: The man o‘ independent mind He looks an‘ laughs at a‘ that.
A prince can mak a belted knight, A marquis, duke, an‘ a‘ that; But an honest man’s aboon his might, Gude faith, he maunna fa‘ that! For a‘ that, an‘ a‘ that, Their dignities an‘ a‘ that; The pith o‘ sense, an‘ pride o‘ worth, Are higher rank than a‘ that.
Then let us pray that come it may, (As come it will for a‘ that,) That Sense and Worth, o’er a‘ the earth, Shall bear the gree, an‘ a‘ that. For a‘ that, an‘ a‘ that, It’s coming yet for a‘ that, That Man to Man, the world o’er, Shall brothers be for a‘ that. (1795, Robert Burns)
[For those interested in Scottish history I can recommend John Prebble’s books: The Highland Clearances, Glencoe and Culloden.]
In Morar we sit down in the doll house like, really cute little pub. Our music [that must have been my friend’s guitar] soon attracts a young Scottish couple, with whom we have a lively conversation. Their names are Margaret and Malcolm and they come from Bannockburn. For the next day they invite us to dinner in their caravan. Malcolm is in love with my girlfriend’s guitar. He would like to take it with him.
July 12, 1974 (Friday)
In the afternoon, Margaret and Malcolm take us on a sightseeing tour of the area, and we visit a salmon nursery at Loch Ailort. Malcolm would like to find work here on the coast because his dream is to own a fishing boat.
In the evening we sit comfortably together. From the caravan you can see the bizarre outlines of the islands (Hebrides), with the strange names ’Rum’, ’Eigg’ and ’Muck’. Margaret shows me a typical Scottish handicraft, gemstones from pressed heather (heather gem). It looks very nice, and depending on which parts of the plant are used, the rings or cufflinks or pendants are mostly green or purple. Later I’ll buy a ring, the ’stone’ of which is made from sliced heather stilks. That is, of course, in shades of brown.
Malcolm went to Glencoe once too. There the landlord in the pub asked him: „Are you a Cambalaich?“ – „No, I am a MacInnes, why?“ – „Because I am not serrrving a Campbell over this counter!“ – Almost 300 years after the massacre, still such an irreconcilable hatred [13 February 1692; in 1974 it had not been 300 years].
Fortunately, the next morning we know where to go, because I still remember the way to Loch Lomond from last year. On our way to the motorway we come through a strange neighborhood. The first thing you notice is that there are so many people just standing around, mostly men. If you look into the inner courtyards, behind a high wall or a high fence, you can see that the houses are one-story barracks with a well in the courtyard. In one house you can see the inside. The floor is made of stamped earth … This is the first time for me that I see slums. I never thought that there could be such poverty in Western Europe. [After the discovery of the North Sea oil, things are better, I have been told by a Scottish friend. The slums are gone.] When we ask an elderly gentleman in very worn clothes for directions, he answers us in a nice, educated English. You can never judge by the outside.
Here it happens to us for the first time that stupid guys want to pick us up: A boy about 18-19 years old with three 10-12 year old boys grinning from one ear to the other. At first we don’t want to go with them because the car is already so overcrowded, then they leave us in the dark whether they are going in our direction at all, ”we might”! In spite of all that, we get in. [Speaking of stupid … I guess we felt safe because of the young boys, stupid, stupid.] On the way the eldest stops again to stow our backpacks in the trunk. This is closed with a wire, which the boy has a hard time to loosen. While he is doing this, he asks us what we thought of sex. When we express our lack of interest, he just managed to untie the wire. Now he has to fasten it all again, without having achieved anything, while we stand by with a sneer. However, we only burst out laughing when they leave. We don’t want to embarrass him too much in front of the little ones.
After a few short lifts, we walk along beautiful Loch Lomond. Unfortunately, the weather is mixed and we are very happy when a small truck finally takes us to Crianlarich. We are lucky that someone stops at all, because the main road along Loch Lomond and through the Trossachs is only just wide enough for two tourist buses to pass each other and shave off the lowest branches of the trees with their roofs.
Crianlarich is a very small, nice place. The youth hostel there belongs to the category ’simple’ and is accordingly cold. So my friend and I go to the village pub to warm up. This pub is the first and last where we hear folk music, albeit from a record player [explain to your kids, what that is … ;-)].
July 10, 1974 (Wednesday)
The next morning we ask the Warden about our mandatory job that everyone has to do before leaving the hostel. This can be something like sweeping the floor in the dormitory or similar small jobs. We are supposed to put the blankets neatly together at the foot of the beds in our dormitory. We take care of it, and when he comes to inspect our work, he starts to laugh out loud. He wants the blankets to be folded in a very specific way. How should I know that? Me foreigner! While laughing, his back bumps against the fire extinguisher that hangs behind a curtain on the wall. This makes him giggle again, and he feels the object, believing that someone is standing behind the curtain. (And then he feels it?) I feel a little queasy when he behaves like that, it’s not completely normal, and I look over to my friend, worried. But he is recovering and we are folding blankets again.
We don’t have to wait long on the street when a young English couple stops and asks us where they are. „In Crianlarich“, we answer, and our ’perfect’ pronunciation makes them wonder if we are Scottish. They take us north-west with them.
We drive past Rannoch Moor and then through Glencoe. A part of the gorge looks very strange, completely flat at the bottom, and green with small puddles or almost lakes interspersed with individual trees and boulders. These rocks are invariably rounded (glaciers?) And are randomly scattered, as if two armies of giants had pelted each other with them. I have to think of the story of the Feinn, the original inhabitants of this area from the Gaelic legend, a people of heroes who lived in the neighboring mountains [I don’t remember, from whom I got that story, I cannot find anything about it now, the Wikipedia starts the history of Glencoe with the Jacobite uprisings] ).
There is also a story that says the sun would never shine here again after the Campbells slaughtered the MacDonalds in Glencoe. In fact, the mountains on both sides cast dark shadows into the valley and the rest of the light is muffled by the low-hanging clouds or the rising fog. I tend to believe that this is due to the general high level of humidity in the valley and that the sun never or rarely shone here before the massacre either.
The couple invites us to the Glencoe Folk Museum, a small, ancient Shieling (a traditional house built from natural stones and roofed with thatch. In addition to the old costumes and weapons, you can look at various books about the legends and historical events. At such moments, I always regret to be dependent on a car owner and that we don’t have unlimited time.
[Now there is also something like this: Before you explore, find out more about the landscape, history and wildlife at the award-winning Glencoe Visitor Center. Including exhibition, viewing platform, cafe, shop and ranger information point. I have no idea, if this existed back then.]
After a while we set off towards the west coast. Fortunate for us, the English couple takes the road along Loch Leven, a beautiful lake situated between steep wooded slopes. Instead of taking the car ferry across Loch Head like most motorists do, we take the Ballahulish Ferry, two crazy, converted ships that have to turn around each time before mooring because you can only go up at the stern and back down again. [It looks on the map like there is now a bridge over Loch Head. Surely a lot has changed!]
[Look what I found, a YouTube movie with the ferry! I was wrong about driving backwards, they had a rotating loading area!]
The couple drops us off in Fort William. This city is just like last year: filled with tourists and souvenir shops. My friend and I get some sandwiches first and then discuss what to do next over hot pie in a pub. We plan to take a closer look at the west coast.
The road to the west is unfortunately lacking any kind of traffic. That wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t rain cats and dogs. A young man finally takes us a few villages with him to Corpach, which mainly consists of a hotel and a train station. There we stand in a phone booth for a few hours, because it is pouring down and not a single car comes by.
Suddenly two boys join us, French, who tell us that a train to Morar and Mallaig would leave in 15 minutes. We are seizing this opportunity. The two French people are very nice, one long and thin, the other round and small. The thin man is wearing a black and white bonnet and I ask him if that would be the tartan ’Scott black and white’. He is upset and proudly says that these are the national colours of Brittany! (I don’t seem to have lost my talent for creating a scandalo.) – On my flute he plays Breton dances for us, which remind me of old Scottish and Irish tunes.
In Morar we get off the train. The boys want to go on, across the islands. It is only four kilometers from Morar train station to the youth hostel. That is not a great distance, at least in good weather! But it is still pouring and we are soon convinced that we have already passed the hostel. Then we pass houses and when we ask about the way to the Garramore Youth Hostel, they answer us: „Just carry on!“ – So we drag ourselves on, up and down hills, against wind and weather. On the way we meet the young man who picked us up in Fort William. He’s working on a boat with a friend. He recognizes us and waves to us.
Finally we arrive, soaking wet and completely exhausted. However, a hot meal soon puts us in a good mood again. [Yes, back then we were still robust and sporty!]