Category Archives: travel

A week on a Scottish Island ~ North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

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Rocky beach on North Uist.

Back in August ( was it really that long ago?) we made the journey North to the Isle of Skye, stopping overnight in the small ferry port of Uig, before our crossing to Lochmaddy on North Uist, the following afternoon. So why did we choose a remote island in the Outer Hebrides as our holiday destination?

Some years earlier we had enjoyed watching a TV show called Monty Hall’s Great Hebridean Escape, where marine biologist Monty Halls and his madcap dog Reubs stayed in a restored crofters cottage on North Uist whilst working as a volunteer Wildlife Ranger on the island. The TV programme definitely put the thought into our heads about visiting the Outer Hebrides but it wasn’t until eight years later that we were flicking through a Unique Cottages holiday brochure and saw the cottage they had lived in for six months had been renamed Montys Cottage and is now a holiday let. We decided to book it there and then. 🙂

Over The Sea From Skye. Our time on Skye was brief but we did manage to visit a couple of places on the Saturday morning. After a comfortable stay in the Uig Hotel ( very friendly and welcoming, especially to our dog Hugo 🙂 ) we took ourselves off to the mystical Fairy Glen. Its miniature round grassy hills, one of which is basalt topped and from a distance resembles a ruined castle, have been used as landscapes in fairy tale films ‘Stardust’ and ‘The BFG’. We also visited The Skye Museum Of Island Life at Kilmuir. This collection of thatched Highland cottages housed everything a typical crofters village would have needed to make a living from the land and the sea.

The crossing from Uig to Lochmaddy on North Uist takes a little under two hours. Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries operate services to the islands and we spent the trip up on the deck, watching shearwaters skim the surface of the water and gannets dive-bombing the waves. There are dog-friendly areas inside too, so this journey is easy to make with a four-legged friend. 🙂

As we approached Lochmaddy we were welcomed by late afternoon sunshine and we couldn’t wait to get into the car and drive the 40 minutes north to our accommodation.

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Monty’s Cottage.
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Interior.
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Lochan in front of the cottage.
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Ruins on the way to the headland.
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Highland Cows on nearby beach.

Monty’s Cottage. Located down its own secluded lane, a few minutes walk from the sea at Griminish, Montys Cottage looks just like it does in the brochure. A cute white washed crofters cottage with a thatched roof and incredibly thick walls, surrounded by the most beautiful countryside. It felt surreal that this place where Monty Halls had mapped out walking routes for the islands and Reubs the dog had run free on the sands, was to be our home for a week. 😁. Inside the cottage was cosy and well equipped. The owner had left us fresh milk, bread, eggs ect, which did prove a godsend as there were no shops open the following day. Be prepared that shops in the Outer Hebrides don’t usually open on a Sunday!

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Compass Jellyfish.
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European Otter!
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Red deer on the way to Cheese Bay.
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Curious Seal.

P1090593 Female Wheatear.
Wildlife On North Uist. The landscape of North Uist is more like a waterscape. There are over 800 freshwater lochans on the island. The watery habitat is perfect for wading birds and for one of Britain’s more elusive species of mammal, the European Otter. European Otters will swim in seawater but also need to bathe in fresh water to protect their coats. We were lucky enough to be able to watch two otters playing in the sea nearby the cottage. A magical experience indeed. 🙂 Other wildlife we spotted on North Uist included several birds of prey, red deer, grey and common seals, many beautiful wildflowers and….. jellyfish galore.

All this wonderful wildlife was on our doorstep, literally. Gaggles of greylag geese flew over every day, a merlin regularly hunted for small birds and field mice in the meadow next to the garden, seals watched us watching them as they bobbed in the bay and scores of compass and lion’s mane jellyfish washed up in one of the several little coves nearby. Corn buntings and countless other small birds make their home on North Uist and it’s neighboring islands. They are basically a nature lovers paradise.

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A typical traffic sign. 🙂
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Balranald Rspb Nature Reserve, North Uist.
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Seal watching on Berneray.
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Snoozy seal and pal, Berneray.
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Our Lady of the Isles, South Uist.

Island Hopping. Very handily North Uist is one of several Outer Hebridean islands connected by causeway roads, making it very easy to visit it’s equally picturesque neighbors. Collectively they are known as The Uists. In the north is beautiful Berneray , which in my opinion boasts the most stunning beaches. All white sand and turquoise ocean. To the south is Benbecula and South Uist, both worth exploring too. And further South is pretty Eriskay , where Bonnie Prince Charlie first landed on Scottish soil. Eriskay is also the real-life location of the shipwreck and lost cargo that inspired the film ‘Whisky Galore’. We didn’t manage to visit the islands of Barra and Vatersay which are accessed by boat. Maybe another time!

Never ending sands, Sollas, North Uist.
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Eriskay. Beach in front of the Am Politician Bar.
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One of Berneray’s stunning stretches of white sand.
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South Uist. Beach near Howmore.

Life’s A Beach. How I long to stroll again on those never ending white sandy shores. The beaches in the Outer Hebrides can match any in the Caribbean I bet. Though we occasionally had to wrap up to walk on them..even in August! There are so many stunning stretches of sand that it’s hard to pick a favourite. 🌞

As you can imagine Hugo had a riot chasing sticks and balls along countless beautiful beaches. Our far from chunky labrador ended up almost whippet thin after a week in the Uists.

Berneray Shop & Bistro.
Lobster at Namara Seafood Café.

Food & Drink. I must admit we cooked most of our evening meals at the cottage, stocking up at the co op 5 miles away in Sollas. Having Hugo with us meant that we had to find pet-friendly places to eat and there are only a few on North Uist. We found both the Lochmaddy Hotel and Langass Lodge near Locheport to be excellent when it came to eating out. Both welcome dogs and have good locally sourced menus.

Wil was really happy when oneday by chance we discovered Namara Seafood Cafe. This place feels a bit like a hushed up secret ,as it is located in a remote working harbor at Kallin on Grimsay ( another small causeway island), miles off the beaten track. The cafe is part of a chandlery ( boat supplies shop) and is by no means posh. It does serve the best fresh lobsters and crab though, straight from the ocean. Wil was one happy man as he tucked into delicious lobster & chips for £13, sat on a bench outside.

Are there any pubs on the islands? Well, not many! And none within walking distance of Monty’s Cottage. In fact the only pub on North Uist is The Westford Inn which we never got round to visiting. It looks like a good one though, serves meals and is dog friendly.

Reflections ~This road ends sculpture is a sweeping ceramic tiled seat at Claddach Baleshore, North Uist.
Sanctuary is a road ends sculpture at Locheport, North Uist.
Mosaic Mackerel on the shoreline near the arts centre in Lochmaddy.

Public Art & Landmarks. The Uists are home to many artists and creative talents, so it was fun to search out the various sculptures and art instillations on the islands. Even in a week we did not find them all. Interesting historic landmarks include the Neolithic chambered cairn Barpa Langais at the top of Beinn Langais , resplendent in heather by August. Also look out for the Hut Of Shadows at Sponnish, which hides a camera obscura within.

Dotted round the islands are several working craft studios. I noticed beautiful pottery at Shoreline Stoneware in Locheport and bought a lovely print of the machair ( coastal wildflower meadows) at Puffin Studio Crafts on Benbecula.

Heather,Grimsay.
Hugo, Berneray.
Rocky coastline, Lochmaddy.
Clachan Sands, North Uist.
Monty’s Cottage.
Berneray. It’s western beach once stood in for Thailand in a tourist brochure!

Are the Uists for you?

If you don’t mind not seeing a soul when you walk on the beach, don’t mind a short drive to the nearest shop and don’t expect a phone signal or WiFi, you will love holidaying on these Hebridean Islands.

Walking, wildlife, stunning beaches, turquoise sea, friendly folk( when you bump into any 😉), fresh seafood, creative art and spectacular scenery. What’s not to love!

The Uists are definitely for us..X

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Postcard From The Lakes.

Well, we couldn’t have picked a better time for our first camping trip of the year! This very un-British like weather is having its advantages. 🙂

Last week we spent four nights at Scotgate Holiday Park in Braithwaite, near Keswick.

Hugo chilling at ScotGate.

The campsite ( although a little overlooked) is

more or less perfect. Surrounded by a mountinous back drop and boasting a well stocked shop, cafe and shower block with underfloor heating ( No Less!) , Scotgate has a village location and good bus links to nearby Keswick and Cockermouth. Braithwaite itself is a lovely village with 2 pubs, a tea room ( opening soon) and a friendly village shop.

Here are a few photos of what we got up to on our break away.

Buttermere.

A lake we have always wanted to visit ‘Buttermere’ is a six mile drive from Braithwaite. A scenic route passes through the Newlands Valley and once in Buttermere village , there is parking near The Fish Hotel.

The Fish Hotel ~ once home to famed beauty Mary Robinson, known as the ‘Maid of Buttermere.’
There is a four and a half mile low-level walk around the lake.
Beautiful views everywhere you look.
Herdwick sheep and new borns.
My favourite view of Buttermere.

We loved our meander round Buttermere and I can’t wait to visit nearby Crummock Water and Loweswater.

Braithwaite is surrounded by mountain fells, so one morning we decided to bag another Wainwright ( mine and Hugo’s second! ) and walked up ‘ Barrow’ , one of the more diminutive Wainwright fells. At 1,494 feet , it still felt enormas to me!

A very rewarding view from the top! Both Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite can be seen from the summit.
Hugo enjoying a mountain breeze. 🙂
Wil and Hugo.

We started our walk from the top of the village ( near the Coledale Inn) and the ascent is a gradual one , there is a clearly defined path up through the bracken. Once at the top, the views all around are stunning! The descent is quite steep. We soon realised we had actually done this walk before!! About 10 years ago, before I even really knew about bagging Wainwrights. So what was to be my second,is actually my first, done twice. Doh! Still, the hike up Barrow is definitely worth a repeat performance. 😁

Keswick Launch , Derwentwater.

The nearest town to Braithwaite is Keswick, on the shores of Derwentwater. Known as Queen of the Lakes, Derwentwater has a scenic ten mile waymarked path around it, which we walked on our last visit in January. This time however, we thought we would take advantage of the Keswick Launch , whose pleasure boats have transported tourists around the lake since 1935. Its a hop on/hop off service , so fantastic for taking to a certain point then walking back…or vice versa.

We walked from Friars Crag to Ashness Gate , passing The National Trust Centenary Stone at Calfclose Bay. I have wanted to visit the most photographed packhorse bridge in The Lake District, Ashness Bridge since seeing its iconic image on a postcard. A short hike from Ashness Gate, and there it is!! A little further and another wonderful photographic opportunity is Surprise View, where we had a vast uninterrupted vista of Derwentwater.

Doggy Paddle. 😉
The Centenary Stone.
Ashness Bridge.( Wil’s photo).
Bugles.
Surprise View.

It was beautiful up there and so tranquil. Imagine clumps of pretty Wild flowers, curling ferns and the sounds of cuckoos calling. :). A cooling boat trip back and a delicious tea at The Square Orange in Keswick. Bliss…

Pigging out at The Square Orange.

Our last full day of our holiday was also the Royal Wedding day. During the day we visited Dodd Wood where there are two Osprey viewing points , trained over Bassenthwaite Lake. Unfortunately the Osprey were in hiding, but these magnificent raptors nest nearby every year and are often seen flying over the water. Opposite the Dodd Wood car park is the entrance for Mirehouse & Gardens , a beautiful historic mansion and grounds , open to the public. Dogs are allowed in the gardens and grounds, so I persuaded Wil, that we should take a look. 🙂

Mirehouse & Gardens
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In the Walled Garden.
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The Wall Garden provides shelter for Bees.
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A surprise find ~ A Snuff Garden. Atchhoooo!
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Pretty pink. 🙂
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Fancy sitting on this throne?
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Lots of colour in the grounds.
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Bluebells.

Mirehouse’s gardens are a riot of colour and there is lots to explore including a Heather Maze, Fernery, Herb Garden, Bee Garden, Poets Walk and nature trails. The grounds reach as far as the lakeside and there are woodland walks with surprises at every corner.

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The Coledale Inn.

We were definitely late to the Wedding celebrations, but in the evening I did indulge in a Meghan Markle Mac N Cheese at the Coledale Inn , back in Braithwaite. : b

Thanks for reading. X

A Night Away At The Ibis Styles Hotel ~ Manchester.

Sometimes its good to get away to the big city, especially to see a show or a favourite band. As we were off to the 02 Apollo in Manchester on Sunday night, we thought, ‘you know what, lets stay over’. We found a terrific ( and fun! ) budget option in The Ibis Styles Hotel on Portland street, which is centrally located opposite Piccadilly Gardens.

I booked a Queen room , which was bright and spacious …. and like the entire hotel, had a wacky weather theme. 😊 The room was furnished with Queen bed, a sofa , writing desk, television, free wifi, kettle and ensuite bathroom. All the usual amenities for a comfortable city centre stay.

It was ‘ Raining Cats & Dogs ‘ in the elevator, the carpets were covered in Autumn leaves and a production of ‘Singing In The Rain’, wouldn’t have looked out of place in the lobby. 🌞🌧☂️ You really couldn’t help but smile at the decor. 😁

A tasty continental Breakfast is served in the Jamboree Foodfest Restaurant & Bar , which is also a great place for evening cocktails and has a Happy Hour. Of course I headed straight for the pain au chocolat. 😁

For a budget B & B stay in Manchester , the Ibis Styles is a great choice. We were a 20 minute walk from the 02 Apollo concert venue and the eclectic bars & shops of the Northern Quarter are a 5 minute stroll away.

Street Art in the Northern Quarter.

Have you ever stopped in an Ibis Styles hotel?

A Winter Warming  Links & Likes. 

 Hello my festive followers!  I thought I would post my last post before Christmas today and spread some Yuletide Blog Love.  ♡ Here is a Christmas Combo of some of my favourite posts through December , so do grab a Mince Pie with your brew and enjoy browsing through these winter warmers. 😁

 

Those Greedy Sisters make a boozy Mince Pie Martini. Sounds scrummy.

On Too Lazy To Weed some surprising Evergreens are found in the garden. 🌲

Meanwhile in New Zealand kristah’s Garden is bursting with Summer blooms and a recipe for Strawberry Shortcake. 🙂

 festive Tiffin on Mathilde Heart Manech.

From Sunshine to  Snow on Paula’s blog where her gorgeous part of the world has been transformed into a Winter-Wonderland.

Stunning pictures on Hike Minded when Santa visits the residents  of  a Berlin Wildlife Park. 🙂

Get an informative low-down on Winter Seasonal Veg over at Roots And Toots.

And heres a Simple Tasty Potato Stew on the Alfresco Family blog. 

Still looking for Christmas Gift Ideas ?  Lots and lots at the  Forkward Thinking Foodinista.

Very hygge pictures on Simple Natural Handmade.

 Simple Natural Handmade is a lovely blog to follow if you love pictures of cute dogs and crochet. 🙂 

 A Winter Walk isn’t quite the same without making one of Lisa’s yummy Walk And Eat recipes. Decembers treat is Festive Tiffin. 

And if you are out walking in the cold make sure you Layer up well !  The Helpful Hiker shows you how. 

 Fancy a winter break in Edinburgh? The Dickins Blog can show you how to spend a cosy day in this charming city. 🙂 

Stunning wildlife shots on Hike Minded.

The Glasgow Gallivanter shares her summer memories of a trip to a Scottish Island, I personally had never heard of.

 And last but not least , Christine shares her wonderful  Wildlife Moments of 2017.  🦋🦎

 Merry Christmas and thanks for reading. X

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Sevens 15th October.

Heres a quick burst of photos  for Sunday Sevens. 7 pictures from the last 7 days.

We collected the wallpaper we ordered for our front room from Live Like The Boy in Colne. Brimmed full of retro, vintage and contemporary interiors, this eclectic store might just be our new go to for any finishing touches. Plus a very cute dachshund called Stanley lords over the stock. 🐕

Whilst in Colne it was recommended we go for coffee at About Coffee , which is just a few doors down from Stanley’s shop. I overloaded on sugar when I ordered an Austrian White Hot Chocolate and Raspberry & Pistachio cake!

A night out with friend in Clitheroe took us for gin cocktails in The Parlour. I always get drawn to the teacup cocktails! Wil looks like he is wearing mascara in this photo, but actually he woke up with a mysterious black eye. Not sure which is worse!

On the last day of our holiday 2 weeks ago , Hugo hurt his paw. 😦 So its been rest and on lead walks for our labrador lad. Luckily he is now on the mend and no longer limping. This was my atempt at getting him to pose amongst the Autumn leaves. I suspect he wanted to pounce on them instead!

Meanwhile Slinky Malinki is spending most of her time in her cosy new bed. ……. and looking put out when I disturb the madam for a photo. 🐺🐾

On Friday afternoon I dropped into a friends Tile and Kitchen Showroom…..and drank far to much wine on their Open day.  😉 We did choose some new flooring for our living room though, so its obviously a good idea to keep the wine flowing. 🙂 Here’s their website. 

I am so glad I joinedPostcrossing  !  Its a fun way of sending and recieving postcards from all over the world. I always get so excited when I get some happy post……and what is happier than a pretty postcard. 🙂 Here are some I have been sent recently. 🌏

Thanks for dropping by and thanks to Natalie  for orgaizing Sunday Sevens. 

 

Summer Links & Likes.

Hey , I totally missed putting up a Links & Likes for June, so without further ado, here’s  my Summer Edition. It will most probably come in two parts,  as we have some way to go yet,  thank goodness!  There’s definitely a bit of a travel theme going on here. So hopefully a bunch of holiday inspiration. 🙂 . Enjoy!

Know where to find the best Ice Cream Parlours in the North East?  Chloe has put in some serious research!

Paul is galavanting round Iceland , ticking off Game Of Thrones filming locations. 🙂

Polly attends a family wedding in beautiful Portmerion , and gets to wear a gorgeous vintage dress. 

The Greedy Sisters do great City Travel Guides!  Look out for their latest adventures in Athens and Avignon. 

Church yards make perfect haunts for summer wildlife, as Amanda finds out,  in Yorkshire.

Yarn bombed Seahorses and Mermaids! Where else but Saltburn by the Sea , with Jo of course!

And more seaside fun. 🙂  The Retro Poodles are in sunny Seaham….and look at the treasures they have found. 🙂

Christine is Wild Swimming amidst stunning Lake District Scenery.

Piia  has wrote an informative guide  Ten Free Things To Do In Helsinki. Makes me want to get up and go!

How lovely to holiday on the beautiful Island of Islay , as seen here on A Mischief Managed – and other Adventures.


And Bev celebrated her blog’s Birthday….by drinking Champagne in Champagne!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the blog posts. 🙂

 

 


 

 

 

Hawthorn’s June Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Hurrah I found a Photo Scavenger Hunt recently, courtesy of Hawthorn at I Live, I love, I Craft, I am Me.  So I thought I would join in for June!  I must admit, I have borrowed a couple from the archives, on this , my first attempt. But mostly my photos were taken in the past four weeks. 🙂


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The Setting Sun. Crystal Cove near Tofino on Vancouver Island. Wow 11 years ago!  Oh to go again and look for bears, whales and giant woodpeckers. 🙂  You can see some of my memories of Canada  here.

Local Wild Place. I guess if I am not walking the dog down the fields, my nearest local wild place is Clitheroe Castle and it’s park. I’m lucky enough to live a stones throw away, and its a great place for watching birds , squirrels and butterflies.


Mug of your favourite drink in the garden.  There is actually a drink in my mug. Honest! I wouldn’t say coffee is my favourite drink, but I certainly consume more of it than I ever used to. In fact before I met my other half ( many moons ago) , I didn’t drink coffee at all. Now I am on the hard stuff. Strong and Black! 😉

My kind of beautiful. My beautiful nephew and niece.

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Look to the skies. A holiday snap from our stay in Norfolk. Taken from the pier at Cromer. I love the slightly moody sky in this picture.

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Rain. A Yellow Flag Iris covered in raindrops. This was in Norfolk too, on the Sandringham estate. A very rainy walk !

 

 

Mini Beasts. Spot the shiny green beetle. Out with Hugo on a miserable rainy afternoon, a glistening green jewel caught my eye.

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Something Summery. Beautiful Beach huts at Old Hunstanton in Norfolk. I love Beach Huts!  There are not many in lovely Lancashire , though St Annes has some. The Norfolk coast has it’s fair share though. 🙂

Urban Wildness.  Swans and cygnets on the canal in Skipton. 🙂

My Own Choice. My family! Minus the crazy cat. Its me, Wil and Hugo outside The Golden Lion in Hunstanton, Norfolk.

If you wish to join in too in July , check out the blog link above . Catch you soon!