Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 27, 2010: Wet Hiking In The Highlands

Day 2 in Scotland, and my first full day here. I woke up at roughly 6:30 this morning, because my body hadn't fully adjusted to the time difference. Regardless, I felt no drowsiness so I got to work completing yesterday's monster blog post and editing all the videos, etc.

At 10:30 I had to leave my room so that the staff could clean it, and since it turns out "free Wi-Fi", as advertised on the website, really means "pay to use Wi-Fi", I set out on a trek to find a cafe in town that supposedly offered wireless Internet. My first goal though was to find a shop that served breakfast.

(I live in one of those white buildings on the left, and my room overlooks the sea, literally a stone's throw away.)

(A different look at the lovely white shops along the sea front. My hostel is two white buildings to the left of the brown buildings.)

(The Caledonian Hotel, not where I stayed, but definitely the best looking building in Ullapool.)

Just down the street from my hostel I found a cafe/restaurant called The Frigate advertising a "Frigate's Cooked Breakfast" option on the menu. For 7.50 GBP (about $11.50, or less than my hamburger at the airport in Calgary cost) I was served on a plate the size of a pizza pan, bacon, eggs, sausage, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, black pudding (cooked pig or cow's blood that has congealed), toast, potato scones, and baked beans. The restaurant also threw in a large pot of tea for free. Then, after finishing everything and feeling full and completely satisfied (if not a little sick), I continued on with my Wi-Fi mission.

After using about as much free Wi-Fi at the Ceilidh cafe as I figured a 1.90 GBP bottle of lemonade earned me (and probably a lot more), I decided to stop in at the rather charming Ullapool museum. Built out of an old church, the museum still has the original pulpit from which the priest would have given his sermons. There weren't many artifacts in the museum, but there was a tremendous amount of information about the Highland Clearings of the 18th Century, and genealogical information about the people who lived in this area at the time. The person working at the museum was also more than helpful, and even gave me some information regarding the person to whom I should speak to find out about my own Scottish ancestry.

(The excellent Ullapool museum, in the old church.)

(The original pulpit.)

Since my hostel closes during the day from noon until 5 PM, I decided to go for a drive north of the town to explore the "Rock Route", an area of land where, in 1888, James Horne and Ben Peach first discovered how mountains are formed. I hiked a complete circuit of Knockan Crag, turned back and ran around it the other direction all in an hour, and then continued on to The Bone Caves to see the area where Horne and Peach found a fossilized lynx and polar bear skull.

(The view looking out from Knockan Crag. The visibility was poor today because of the dark clouds and thick mists.)

(A couple of photographs I took on my way up to The Bone Caves of which I am especially proud.)

The route up to The Bone Caves was much much longer than the Knockan Crag circuit, and by the time I got back to my car it was 7:30 PM, and I was absolutely soaking wet - it had been raining all day - and rather hungry since I hadn't eaten since breakfast. Actually, a lot of my discomfort came as a result of blazing my own trail straight up the wrong mountain to see what were not The Bone Caves, but rather were the home of a peregrine falcon and her offspring. The falcon was none to happy to have me intrude on her nesting area, and she made quite the display of displeasure. I figured I'd best get out the vicinity before I lost my eye balls. It was at this point I realized that the mountain is much steeper going down than it is going up, and so I had to zig-zag back down the mountain, using the local flora for extra traction/safety, which also soaked my shoes and pant legs considerably.

(The famous Bone Caves.)

(Not only did I have to watch out for angry falcons, but the slugs were out in full force because of the rain.)

(A shot of my car for the week at entrance to The Bone Caves trail.)

(Another shot of my Astra 1.8 SRI in front of the dock in Ullapool.)

When I did get back to the town at 8:15 PM I was starving. For dinner I went back to The Frigate and ordered a haggis and mushroom pizza. Haggis, a traditional Scottish food, is made by cooking sheep's heart, liver and lungs inside of the stomach. It tastes surprisingly good on pizza, and while I normally only eat pepperoni pizza back in Canada, I always try to sample some of the local cuisine when I'm in a new country so I figured I couldn't come all the way to Scotland and waste the opportunity to eat some sheep's innards.

Tomorrow I will attempt to find a swinging bridge over a waterfall, but for now I sleep.


  1. How does the taste of haggis compare to sundae?

  2. Funny you should ask, because I had mentioned to someone here that it tastes quite similar, which is to say that I love it.