By Janis and John Brown –
On Saturday 5 August we were given the usual warm welcome at the River House Restaurant in Stirling.
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Twenty six cars took part in the event from various parts of the UK as well as some from as far afield as Australia and Canada! We were flagged off in good style on our way to Tain on a fine summer morning, with the top down, a taste of things to come. After passing through Killin we turned onto a single track road through beautiful countryside, managing to dodge the odd shower.
The following day, Sunday, we set off on a beautiful morning crossing the waters of the Dornoch Firth, looking calm and serene in the sunlight. There followed a good run up the east coast to John O’ Groats and then to the ferry at Gills Bay. It was a perfect day for crossing the Pentland Firth, with little wind and water like a ‘millpond’. After disembarking at St Margaret’s Hope we drove across the four Churchill Barriers blocking the eastern approach to Scapa Flow, en route visiting the remarkable chapel built by the Italian POWs brought in to construct the barriers during the Second World War. We dispersed to our various places of accommodation, meeting up for dinner every night at the Standing Stones Hotel.
On Monday there was a ferry trip over to Hoy to visit the Scapa Flow Museum and learn about Orkney’s contribution in both world wars.J ohn and I had taken our car over on the ferry as we wanted to walk to see the Old Man of Hoy, well worth it for the spectacular coastal scenery. Others went back to the Orkney mainland to do a tour of Highland Park Distillery. Coming back on the ferry to Houton the water was a gorgeous blue.
Tuesday was ‘Neolithic Day’ with visits to Maeshowe, the Standing Stones of Stennes, excavations at the Ness of Brodgar, Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae and Skaill House.
Reluctantly on Wednesday we took the ferry back to the mainland and then drove to Tongue, calling at Dunnet Head lighthouse on the way. Thursday we drove down to Dundonnell, calling at Corriesshalloch Gorge to view the Falls of Measach.
On Friday the day opened somewhat wild and wet but cleared up later and our drive finished at the Isles of Glencoe Hotel, south of Fort William, whose rooms look out on the beautiful Loch Linnhe. The diehards may have made it round the Applecross Pass in the mist and driving rain. The event finished in Stirling on Saturday lunchtime.
The trip gave us the chance to see some familiar faces and also gave us the opportunity to make new friends. We always enjoy driving on unclassified roads that we would otherwise never travel on and seeing parts of beautiful Scotland we would never discover ourselves.
A big thank you to Jackie and David Reid for coming in at the last moment to lead the trip and an especial thank you to Douglas and Tilly Arthur for all the work he has put into planning the event over the last few years. Every trip organised by the Caledonian Centre has been very well organised and this was no exception. That fact and the warmth of the welcome keep us ‘Outlanders’ heading back north for more.