Treasures of the Earth

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Those who have been to Highlands in the Scotland knows very well that how they get captivated by the natural beauty around them, how those eyes can never have enough of it. But at the same time, if it is a rainy highland visit, that is the only time you get to discover the hidden indoor attractions that are truly worth a visit not only on rainy occasions but any time of the year.

So during this visit, we headed out to walk along the Glenfinnan woodlands, when it starts to pour down heavily. We needed a shade on top of the head, and while doing a google search I located a small museum/attraction called ‘Treasures of the Earth’ which displays a collection of crystals, gem stones, and fossils. It is located in the village of Corpach.

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The building has been simulated to give you a feeling of cave, mining environment with it’s dim lights and UV lights. But you will know why they did that when you start seeing the displays around you. Here you can find a display area showing off a impressive collection of minerals, as gold, silver, various forms of salts. There are displays on the concept of geological time, and on the formation of fossils, with some dramatic fossils to illustrate the process.

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There is also a section which displays a collection of minerals in natural light and UV lights which will make you wonder that these stones have such magnificent color to them.

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There is also a gift shop which sells all these stones, lucky gems, chain/ear rings etc. My mum-in-law got some pearls for herself 🙂

Feel free to take your camera along, people are very welcoming.

 

 

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Lochshiel, Glenfinnan

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Once again back to my one of favorite place – Scotland. It was a week long trip with Ash and my in laws, great fun, we explored few museums, local sights etc. A lot of strenous walking was not in the trip list this time 🙂 Over the weeks you will be seeing a lot of small posts from the recent trip. Here goes the first extract 🙂

We visited Lochshiel in Glenfinnan, a 393ft deep fresh water loch in the Lochaber, Highlands. It is surrounded by the mountains, giving it a bit of Fjords look. This river ultimately drains out to the Sea.

It is a pleasant walk around the loch, a very much woodland area. While at loch Shiel always keep an eye on it’s surrounding as you might be able to spot an elusive Golden & White-Tailed Eagles, Red Deer, Black-Throated Divers, Hen Harriers , Osprey and many other species of Rare Wildlife that frequent the area. Go with a picnic basket if it is sunny out there, unfortunately weather was not that good for us that day 😦 and only thing we could spot was rain drops 🙂 There are several cruises company that organizes tour on Loch Shiel.

Get on top of Glenfinnan Monument for a mesmerizing view of the loch and to gauge it’s beauty.

Closer to the area there is a Glenfinann station museum as well as a famous attraction of the area. It tells the story of the West Highland Railway, it construction and development from 1889 till today. It also hosts the famous Jacobite Steam train 🙂

There is a Glenfinnan viaduct bridge you could see from the station museum car park area, And I am really not sure if it is the very famous Harry Potter movie bridge. But while we were there, I saw a lot and lot of people clicking pictures of the bridge and I assumed it is what people thinks. I am yet to validate that 🙂

For the harry Potter Fans- Loch Shiel is the location of the fictional Black Lake near Hogwarts in the film versions of the Harry Potter series.

Few pictures I clicked on my phone, it was raining in between so pictures might not have come great.

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Back to Scotland!!!

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I guess sometimes the greatest memories are made in the most unlikely of places, further proof that spontaneity is more rewarding than a meticulously planned life

It is going to be a long post as opposed to my normal way of writing small ones, So bear with me my people 🙂

It was the Christmas eve, we had a yummy, rich and heavy lunch of roasted lamb, gravy, baked parsnips & carrots, potatoes, veggie balls, prawn cocktail, champagne and Christmas pudding!!! I am already salivated with the thought of that drooly food 🙂 After this heavy meal, we cleaned up and sat to listen and groove.

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Well the post is not about what I ate for Christmas celebration, instead the story starts now.

My Husband (Ash) says all of a sudden – Let’s have breakfast in Scotland tomorrow, to be specific Edinburgh, at 11.30PM. And taking it as a joke we said Yes in uniformity and wore the jacket, put the shoe and headed out to our car. We sat, Ash started driving and what was racing in our mind- Aaah It’s the brandy in pudding speaking and after 30 mins we will be back home. But that did not happen and Ash kept on driving , it is then we realised Man we are going to Scotland, a 800 miles drive without any hotel booking, no extra clothing, no tooth brushes. Literally what we had- what we wore, a couple of us had their wallet (thank god)

I got super excited, a spontaneous & unplanned trip. I wanted to see how we will be managing all this in the season of bitterly winters and when we are on a real tight budget. The excitement gave everyone a high and we were already on this amazing trip.

Toddy & Hot Chocolate were a must for Minus Temp :)

Toddy & Hot Chocolate were a must for Minus Temp 🙂

Around 4AM, all of us started feeling sleepy (after effects of heavy meal and champagne), with no accomodation booked and everything pricey due to Christmas season, we stopped over York to stay in a YHA dorm room for £13 pp/night. Can you believe it? God Bless the guy at reception who entertained us at 4.30am in the morning and allotted us a room. We went In and slept like a log for next 4 hours. Got up early morning, with no brushes or facewash, we had to skip those rituals and replace it with a rinse. We had to have breakfast at Edinburgh as per the plan so had a coffee and went on driving to Edinburgh.

Coffee at YHA, York

Coffee at YHA, York

After driving for next 5 hours, Yey we reached Edinburgh- not for breakfast but for Brunch, Well who cares!! As long as it is a good meal in a beautiful historical city, all is well 🙂 Then we booked another hostel for the night and started to venture out pubs of Old Town Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a such a gorgeous city, with its untouched poised Victorian and Georgian architecture, those Gothic churches and beautiful town hall- it looks splendiferous. We went for a pub hopping, some visit pubs of the Ediburgh are :

The Last Drop (A haunted pub as per the stories)- http://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/thelastdropgrassmarketedinburgh/

The Three Sisters- http://www.thethreesistersbar.co.uk/

Guilford Arms- http://www.guildfordarms.com/

The World’s End- http://www.worldsend-edinburgh.co.uk/

Also visited Edinburgh Winter wonderland, It was a blissful experience.

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We called it an early night, as while drinking another plan took birth and that was for me. I wanted to drive to Scottish Highlands, see the snow and get my eyes all glorified with the beauty around. Next morning 5am we left for Fort Williams, one of the most beautiful drives of my life. Once you entered Highlands, what you see is Snow capped mountains kissing the sky, frozen lakes, bridges covered by Snow. It was a beautiful sight, a sight that could bring tears of happiness in your eyes. We just had a random destination post code of Fort Williams that was picked by our Sat Nav, we were not destined for a particular arrival.

 

We turned the car where we felt the road ahead will be beautiful, we stopped the car where we felt I want to get down and capture this sight in my eye. It was a spontaneous trip with spontaneously created memories. While taking one of the turn on the road we saw a sign board for Nevis Range Gondola Trip, and who could stop us. We took a ride to 300ft up to 2150ft on the north face of Aonach Mor, the eighth highest mountain in Britain. Played in the snow, took pictures and had an amazing Mountain Hot Chocolate at the Cafe on the mountain.

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Now I am back into my world after having to drive 1200 miles for a breakfast and breath-taking view, and everything was worth it.

Budget Travel: Fort Williams & Isle of Skye

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Last month me & my hubby went for a 9 days trip to Highlands & Isle of Skye. It was one of those most awaited trips of the year, and being the summer season a hot favourite destination for many tourists and travellers like us. Being Scotland and famous for it’s weather, everyone wants to enjoy the sunny days and as the forecast changes people plan their holiday to this majestic land. Lodging becomes expensive, infact in many cases you will not be able to book one as the cheaper ones will be booked out a long time ago.

Travelling does not have to be expensive if you are flexible and plan well in advance. I will say planning Well in Advance adds more fun to your most awaiting trip. Of course we can always have unexpected expenses in our travel.

We had an awesome trip in Skye and fort williams with an expense of £250 per person that included our food, lodging in camps, travelling and sight seeing for 9 days. Hereby I am sharing with fellow readers my budget details for the trip.

PS: Our trip included more of hiking, walking and enjoying the serenity around. Our aim was to soak the beauty around and live in the nature. We camped in the beautiful valleys of Scotland.

How to get Around: There is public transport available, but it is not so frequent as population around Fort Williams and Isle of Skye is not very dense. It is a good idea to rent a car to get around these islands. I am not sure the cost of renting a car because we had our own so we had expenses only for fuel. We visited Fort Williams in Highlands and Glenbrittle, Aird of Sleat, Elgol, Dunvegan, Portree in Isle of Skye. Travelling from one place to another is not time consuming while on Isle. It is a small island, and it will not take more than 45 mins to go from one town to another.

Accommodation: One of the best part of camping in Scotland is that you can camp for free in various places. And Yes believe me you can camp in some of the most beautiful foothills, into the woodlands, near to a lake or may be in a field next to a quiet road. We wild camped in Isle of Skye for two days near the foothills of Black Cuillins. It was the most beautiful place I have stayed in during any trip. We stayed at two beautiful campsites:

Glen Nevis Holidays – You can not imagine a site better than this in fort williams, right at the foothills of Ben Nevis (Britains Highest Mountain). Ideal location for hikers or walkers. Clean toilets, washing area, bathrooms and a food cart shop in the site. Link- http://www.glen-nevis.co.uk/ – £10/night pp.

Glenbrittle Campsite – Another most beautiful site, I have never stayed in a campsite beautiful than this one. For those who are not willing for wild camping yet, this is an ideal site to get the taste of it. Link – http://www.dunvegancastle.com/content/?page=s20 – £8/night pp.

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Food- After lodging the next big money saver is Food. For a camping trip or self catering trip, try to pack as much as you can back from home. You can always buy milk, bread or fruits from a local store. But most of the food you can pick up from your home itself instead of buying new packets for the trip. Believe me packing up spices, sugar, tea/coffee, jams, biscuits, energy bars, cereals, ready to eat food packets, snacks to nibble on, cling film or air tight packed for sandviches so that you can carry your lunch along with you as well. Read to eat packets will save you some money on stove fuel as well. So pack food according to your needs and carry it along.

Sight Seeings: We walked around to see places. For rainy days we kept some distillery and brewery, castles on the list as well. Well these are the places worth spending money on instead of an expensive hotel or a restaurant. I have already written my posts on various places I visited while in Scotland, please go through the Scotland page from drop down menu. Walk, Cycle or Drive – You have lots of place to explore and discover. I am going back to Highlands and Skye next summer.

Elgol Lake Shore

Elgol Lake Shore

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PLAN IN ADVANCE, summer is popular, lots of people want to go there, and everyone is planning same things, you would not want to miss anything from your list.

Hike to Ben Nevis- Britain’s Highest Mountain

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It was two months ago when me and hubby were watching this series on Mountains by Griff Rhys Jones. It was about mountains in england, Wales, Scotland the highest peaks, challenge associated and the surrounding mystical landscape. Till that moment I had no idea about the Ben Nevis or being it a highest mountain. But without a blink it was a mutual decision that Yes!! We are going to hike Ben Nevis Summit this summer!

At Ben Nevis Summit

At Ben Nevis Summit

Sometimes you don’t have to go through your bucket list to check what is next. You just add spontaneously something in to your list and that’s how on 28th June 14, we were on the summit of Ben Nevis.

It is a beautiful hike of 17Kms with some magnificent views around, that pushes you to walk further up. But once you complete the Summit, that rigorous walk of 8 hours gets replaced by sweet pain of accomplishment. You have a mixed feeling of happiness, proud and not to forget soreness :):)

Few pictures from our Hike.

Breath Taking View

Breath Taking View

I was not even Half way through till this point.

Not yet Half way through till this point.

As we climbed Up, View Was Getting More Awesome

As we climbed Up, View Was Getting More Awesome

Temp dropped down to -5 Degrees

Temp dropped down to -5 Degrees

It is true that one can rarely get a clear view from the Summit and it happened with us as well. As we were reaching towards Summit, there was snow and the whole thing was covered by thick clouds.

So once you reach at top of Britain, you will not be able to view anything down 🙂

Near to Summit, Everything is covered with Clouds

Near to Summit, Everything is covered with Clouds

Few details if anyone is planning to hike Ben Nevis:

1.Accommodation: Fort William is the perfect base. If you love camping as much as us, I will suggest you to stay at Glen Nevis Holidays Park. The location is awesome and it is cheap, you will be put up right at the foothill of Ben Nevis, over looking Ben Nevis Peak. Hike to Ben Nevis starts from visitor centre that is just 0.5 miles away from this site.

2. On hike: Waterproofs ( never forget them, it can rain or snow, never trust mountains weather), map, compass, water bottle, small snack box, fleece, thermal socks, walking poles, whistle, torch, mini first aid kit and most importantly a good walking boots.

3. Insect Repellent : Summer is great in highlands, but beware it’s Midges time. This tiny insect will suck the blood out of you, make sure you apply this creams or use a net.

4. A good level of fitness is required as it is not an easy mountain. You will be steeply climbing up till Summit and while returning, it’s a steep descend all the way till down. So tone up those muscles around knees, calves,feet.

5.Take a map along with and make sure, you are on a correct path that takes you up via Five Finger Gully and not via North Face. To climb Ben Nevis via North Face is a serious mountaineering experience.

6. Once completed the Summit, there is a nice Ben Nevis Pub right near to visitor centre. A pint will be a good way to celebrate.

Please free to get in touch with me if you need any specific information regarding hike or Fort Williams.