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Date: 8/7/99

        We left Dornoch and drove due north and stopped for lurch in Wick, the last real city in Scotland. We drove to the most northern tip of Scotland to a place called John O' Groats. From there we could plainly see the southern shores of the Orkney Islands (the Shetland Islands are above them). After reading how treacherous the waters are up here we decided to pass on waiting around for a ferry. We hightailed it west on what the map showed to be a major highway. To our surprise it rapidly thinned down to one single lane across the whole top of Scotland with little tiny "passing spots" jotted along the way. Well, you certainly don't have to worry about exceeding the speed limit on this freeway.
I have never seen so many sheep in my entire life, the whole island of England is covered with them. You would think a wool sweater or a rack of lamb would be cheap, but it isn't - it costs more than at home. The reason I mention the sheep is that every couple of miles there is a batch of them standing in the road waiting to become mutton stew on your bumper. Our average speed must have been 30 mph through all this. The scenery was wonderful, but the roads are absolutely ridiculous.
When we stopped for gas in the metropolis of Tongue, on the northern shore at Loch Tongue, several locals told us the hotels where we heading in Ullapool would be full. So I asked the lady at the Tongue Hotel to call for me and she discovered they were full. So since they had a room we decided to bed down for the night there. The run to the causeway across the Loch was breathtaking. Dinner was surprisingly good (venison and salmon).
Today Marcia drove from Tongue west to Durness (farthest northeast) and then south to Ullapool, all on a one-lane highway. After lunch, I took over after the girl at the hotel I booked in Skye told me it would take 5 hours to drive there. I finally had two-lanes for 90% of the drive and made it south, then east, then west to the bridge that crosses to the Isle of Skye ($10 toll) then north to the town of Portree and did it in 2.5 hours.
We had time to look around and I wound up in a parade of Scottish fife, bagpipe and drum corps. I also watched a sheep-shearing contest which was fascinating but got a little tiring after the 4th one was sheared.
We originally couldn't find any room in the town when I called but ultimately lucked out and got one at the Cuillin Hills Hotel and it wound up be way better than the others I had tried which on inspection were really dives. We then took a drive (30 min) up the Tottenish peninsula and saw some pretty dramatic sea cliff scenery.
A run through town by the Loch was great. I ran into a sign that said "R.C.Church" and guessed right that it was Catholic. When I went to the door it said they had ONE Mass tomorrow, at 4PM. There is no way we can wait around that long since we have a long drive to get to Glasgow. I'll see if Providence will find me a church along the way.
Dinner at the Chandlery was excellent.
Only 1-2 days more of Scotland and we will be back in England - It can't happen soon enough for me.
Att: Kilt Rock & Falls coast of Isle of Skye on Tottenish Peninsula.
Below: Marcia, looking out to the Loch at Ullapool

KJH                                                                                     Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #29 

Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD

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Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Sent 8-7-99

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Copyright 2010    Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD