Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Goodbye to the Outer Hebrides

I had my Peter Pan moment on the ferry as it pulled away from the Isle of Lewis headed to the mainland. 


I told myself I'd never forget my week on the island with Graham but already the days are getting muddled in my head and I forget placenames.  That's why I've been posting in such detail about my visit.  I know I'm going to revisit these posts a lot in the future. 

Image result for goodbye quotes

Our first mission on the mainland was to visit the tourist information office and find beds for the night.  Graham had already searched with no success but was confident the info office people would find us somewhere.  We sat outside the office for ages waiting for the lady to return from lunch.  We weren't alone, the number of people waiting was growing by the minute.  Poor lady, when she arrived, she was so embarrassed to see so many waiting.  Her colleague who had been locked out with us took care of all the others who had been waiting.  Luckily, their demands weren't great.  Unlike ours which was a real challenge.  Her persistence paid off and we could carry on knowing we had a bed waiting in Inverness at the end of the day.

We headed north from Ullapool, east to Lairg, then south to Bonar Bridge and on to our destination.

Lairg is famous for hosting the largest single-day sheep sale in Europe.  I loved how they pay homage to the sheep at the tourist centre. With so many sheep in New Zealand, I don't know why we don't have some of these.

Inside the tourist centre I found another claim to fame.  The bits in the middle of the plaque are scented wood carvings.  I didn't take a photo of the facilities, they weren't anything special. 

We were riding on more single track roads which are only wide enough for one vehicle and have special passing places into which you can pull off the road to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass.  Or, if the passing place is on the other side of the road and another vehicle is approaching you wait on the road opposite the passing place for the other driver to pull off the road.   It's all very civilised.  

And guess what I discovered this morning? Their Highway Code, section 133 states:  In Scotland it’s usual to give a friendly wave as ‘thank you’ if another road user has reversed or waited for you to pass. It makes all the difference! 

I'd started noticing in Ireland that when drivers acknowledged another's courtesy they wave differently from how we wave here.  Here in NZ most rural folk give a wave to anyone they pass on the roads outside the towns.  In Ireland and Scotland a lot of drivers lift the whole hand, palm open facing the oncoming driver, the thumb sticking out at right angles.  A full, open handed wave, often accompanied by a dipping of the head.  I wish now I'd been paying more attention.  I suspect those who practised this wave weren't on familiar roads and really appreciated the courtesy they received.  A few were even more enthusiastic lifting hands and extending the arm up and in front, like a solitary high five.  The head would bounce more than dip.

Others are a little more casual, keeping the thumb wrapped around the steering wheel and lifting the four fingers in greeting before slowly returning them to the wheel.  I can't make up my mind whether they are less confident and reluctant to release control over the wheel or more casual.  

I did see a few of the single-digit salutes that we do when we hoist a lazy finger (or two maybe) from the steering wheel.  I've noticed that I also give a bit of a nod of the head and even if I haven't had time to lift a finger, I do the nod.   I guess it's the locals who do this wave there, too. 

We stopped for a stretch and stroll in Bonar Bridge, a smallish town with a long main street opposite the river. 

The next three shots are between Bonar Bridge and Inverness.

Our accommodation had been booked at the North Kessock Hotel on the outskirts of Inverness,where the River Ness enters the Moray Firth. 


  1. What a lovely place! These islands on the telly look so great and I can see why you wouldn't want to forget details about your adventure.

  2. Sometimes touring can get a little hairy when you can't find a place to stay. You visited a very beautiful land.

  3. You were very close to Never Never land. North of Lairg is Loch Never.

  4. Such beauty! And i love that people wave and are friendly, acknowledging each other's courtesy. How i wish driving here were more like that!

  5. I think that much the same kind of waving to say "thanks" to someone for stopping or reversing or letting you overtake is (or at least used to be) common on narrow countryside roads here in Sweden too. If people still do I'm not sure... I'm not out on the roads enough nowadays to be able to say. (Haven't driven myself in 15 years.)

  6. You will have lovely memories.

  7. Well well. We've arrived at the same place on our blogs at the same time. I wonder how our respective takes on the next day will pan out.


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