Our big trip in July was actually not in Scotland, but in Norway where we went for our 10 month overdue Honeymoon!!!
Norway is Mike's second favourite country after Scotland so I yielded and gave up my holiday in the sun for a rather wet week in the Norwegian fjords.
Unfortunately, there is no equivalent to Secret Scotland in Norway so we had to plan the tour using
- the Lonely Planet guide (too much to read & dull),
- Tripadvisor (too many different opinions) and
- Internet research (very time consuming).
It was quite an eye opener and we were wishing we could get a refund on the Lonely Planet book as it gave us some duff information. We kept turning to one another and saying "if only we had a Secret Norway tour guide".
The experience of planning a holiday in an unfamiliar country was useful for helping us refine our own guides and we have some new ideas that we will start to work into our Scotland Tours. For example, where to find a petrol station near to the airport when you are wanting to refill your hire car before returning it.
A few days after our return from Norway, we set off on a trip up to Morar and Skye to expand our list of B&Bs on Skye. On the way to Skye, via the Mallaig ferry, we spent some time searching around Loch Morar for some picnic spots that Mike recalled from his childhood holidays in this area. As it happened, Mike was able to find at least one of them because there was still a rope swing hanging from a tree in just the way he remembered it!
A must see in the Morar area is the great beach at Camusdarrach where they filmed some of the scenes from the film "Local Hero". The weather was perfect and we could have spent a long time here, but the ferry was calling so we had to press on.
We managed to time our arrival in Mallaig with the appearance of the Jacobite Steam Train. We didn't quite get there in time to see it pulling into the station, but we have got some video footage of the train being de-coupled and set-up for the return trip.
As it happened, our visit to Skye coincided with the Portree Highland Games so we knew that accommodation on the island would be even harder than usual to find. Consequently, we had booked into a hostel several weeks in advance. We always try to stay in a few hostels from time to time so that we are covering all ends of the market. Well our not so friendly hostel owner had re-let our room to someone else before we arrived....Grrrrr!!!
Our hearts sank because we know how busy Skye is at the best of times, but Games day in Portree is the worst possible time to find yourself without a bed for the night. A frantic phone around our list of recommended B&Bs and miraculously "The Spoons" B&B had a vacancy for the first time in 3 months!
It meant spending rather more than we had budgeted for, but what a treat after thinking that we were either going to be sleeping in the car or knocking on the door of a friend of a friend to see if they'd let us sleep on their floor. By curious coincidence, The Spoons is just across the road from the friend of a friend that was our fallback option. It's a small world!