Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Monday, 27 July 2020

11 to 17 June 1971 - Summer in Scotland

I'm currently dismembering a giant photo album containing an assortment of pictures from the 1970's. A batch of those photos formed the basis of my 1970 summer holiday posting, at the end of which holiday I'd discovered that I'd failed my exams. After that I spent the rest of the year and the following winter as the forklift truck driver for Blackett Hutton Steel Foundry in Guisborough. It was the year when BST continued throughout the winter. We started work at 7:30 and it didn't get light until 9 ish, and the fact that the truck had no lights didn't discourage the lorries from turning up and expecting a quick turnaround.
After that, I re-memorised some metabolic pathways and by 11 June 1971 I'd re-sat the exams. After that I needed a break, hence this trip. I kept no diary (so far as I can recall - it's always possible that one may come to light), so this posting is based entirely on my memory, supported by an entry in my Munro's Tables book. These are photos numbered 223 to 256 in the massive album containing pictures developed and printed either in our downstairs toilet in Guisborough, or in the bathroom of the long demolished rented house I moved to at 35 Prince's Avenue, Old Trafford. The pictures are now re-filed in a convenient box.
My plan was to visit the Isle of Mull, for I think the first time.
My first memory of the trip is of sticking my thumb out in Heversham, near Milnthorpe. I've no recollection as to how I got there - probably by way of a lift, or public transport. A business gentleman in a smart Triumph 2000 (I was impressed, and would have been surprised to know that in a few years' time I would have a similar vehicle) soon stopped and we enjoyed a very chatty journey to Glasgow. I think my presence probably kept him awake.
My next memory is of sticking my thumb out later that day on the road from Crianlarich to Tyndrum. I probably got there by train from Glasgow. This time a Ford Cortina stopped. Tom and a French lad, let's call him Pierre, could give me a lift to Oban, so I took it.
It soon became clear that the route to Oban would be far from direct. I don't know where we stopped that night, but it was late when they picked me up.
My first picture of the trip (above) was taken in Torridon, where we may have stayed.
(Later: I found this picture which may be our 11 June camp. Or it could be 1972!)
Anyway, the following day we headed north and soon reached the north coast. We stopped at Tongue and went for a walk, during which the next few pictures were taken. Here's 'Pierre', who couldn't master the plural of 'sheep'. He was fascinated by the large numbers of 'sheeps' in the countryside!
If you look carefully at this next picture, you'll realise how I know my other companion was called Tom: I had no recollection of his name until I processed this picture taken on the beach near Tongue.

There were fine views to Ben Loyal, an impressive hill that I have yet to climb.
We walked up to Caisteal Bharraich (thanks go to Google images for enabling me to identify this).
Per Wikipedia: The ancient seat of the chief of the Clan Mackay was at Castle Varrich, thought to be over one thousand years old; there are believed to be caves under the castle which were once inhabited by the Mackays. It is believed that the Mackays may have built their castle on the site in the 14th century, on top of an existing old Norse fort.
The castle had two floors plus an attic. The ground floor may have been used as stables; it was entered through an existing door on the north wall. There were no stairs between the two floors, suggesting that the ground floor was for horses or cattle. The upper floor entrance was on the south side and would most likely have been accessed by a ladder or removable stair. There was a window in the east wall and a fireplace in the west, but both have now collapsed past recognition. Later the clan chief's seat moved to Tongue House.
From Tongue, we drove to John o'Groats, where I was smuggled in to the Hotel. Sharing a room with Tom and Pierre was an interesting experience, during which I discovered that Tom was gay.
No harm done. They smuggled some breakfast to the room for me, before we headed off again, arriving eventually at my desired destination, Oban, where I think the next two pictures were probably taken.
Released from the confines of Tom's Ford, I caught the ferry to Mull and then the bus from Craignure to Tobermory, where I stayed in the Youth Hostel. Tobermory is a lovely spot, and has attracted me back on several occasions. There follow the photos from this first visit.
The following day, 14 June, I decided to take advantage of the fine weather and climb Ben More. I nearly got a lift with a group of Canadians, but there wasn't room for me in their hire car. They returned a few minutes after setting off, having forgotten to drive on the left. The head on crash had seriously damaged the car, but there were no injuries to the occupants of the cars.
I managed to hitch a lift to Salen and thence to the foot of the mountain by Loch na Keal. I recall a brilliant day on the hill, with nobody else about, but an easy lift back to Tobermory at the end.
The following day I took a day trip to Coll and Tiree.
I have fond memories of this trip, from which I can only find two pictures. I think the next one may be of the landing stage at Coll.
And this may be Tiree.
A lovely part of the world, and when a week's holiday was sprung on me a few weeks later after I'd started work as an Articled Clerk, I managed a trip to Rum (Rhum, as it was then known). I took slide film on that trip - I must start the massive task of scanning my slides!
Back in Tobermory, I took just one photo before I left.
I must have had time to go for a walk in Oban, before catching a bus to Glasgow on which I encountered an interesting American schoolgirl on a 'gap' trip.
We made our way to a Youth Hostel in Glasgow. The following day I visited various museums and other points of interest, and had a 'near miss' as I spotted Tom, but managed to disappear before he spotted me - it's a small world!* Then I caught a bus to the outskirts, from where I hitched a lift that deposited me at what is now junction 7 of the M74 motorway. It still has an exit, but no entry to the motorway. I soon gave up on getting a lift on the A72 and walked into Wishaw, from where I got public transport into Glasgow and blew my remaining cash (just about all I had in the world - do you remember those days!) on the train fare back to Darlington and thence to Guisborough.
Here's a map, from which (if you click on it for a better version) you can just about work out my rather odd route from Crianlarich to Oban.
* I bumped into him yet again on a later visit to Scotland!

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