Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Road to Skye: Part 1

I am writing this having survived the first half of our journey.

That's the most important part.

We picked up a car from Budget (which had some attendant confusion over how much they'd wanted to charge when we booked the car, versus how much they wanted to charge now that we were picking the car up) and were presented with a Mercedes-Benz A180 with the steering wheel on the right-hand side and very little instruction beyond that.

In the city, it actually wasn't too bad. It's a bit disorienting, but we were able to make it through more or less by driving infuriatingly slowly, following the cars in front of us and praising the miracles of the divided highway, which allowed me to pretend I was still on the side of the road that I've driven my entire life.

We managed to get to Stirling Castle, continuing our Castle Tour of Scotland and if I'm being honest, I think we had a better time there than in Edinburgh. The weather was much better, and the crowd was significantly smaller which helped. A short lunch at the castle-adjacent cafe and we were off into the Highlands.

Here's the thing about what we attempted. It's disorienting to drive on the left, with the car set up differently. It's disorienting to drive through the mountains. And it's disorienting to drive through hail.

So, yeah.

We took a small detour to Loch Lomond, but the weather had turned against us and we were unable to actually get out and appreciate it. Oh well, onward and upward.

It went reasonably ok for the most part, though I was driving roughly half the speed limit, infuriating well meaning Scottish drivers who just wanted to get on their way. Happily, they were able to pass and drive off like madmen. That's fine. It was all going well until a long stretch through the Ben Nevis range where we briefly skidded in what was now snow. No big deal, no damage, just a bit of a scare. By a bit of a scare, I mean we all sort of panicked for a while and I didn't know if I was going to be able to get us either to Skye or back to Glasgow. Maybe we'd just set up camp in the rental car and live on the mountain.

Once we got up the courage to keep going, we decided to take the hit on the B&B that we'd booked, and stopped in the next town we came to, which was Fort William.

Happily, there was room at the Travelodge and a nifty little seafood restaurant called the Crannog on the water, and a place to park the car where I didn't have to drive it anymore for the night.

Urgh. Onward to Skye in the morning, though I'm nervous about how we'll get back in time.

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