Sunday, November 13

Back on the road again

Maragowan campsite, Killin.

10th of September. With the van back on the road we went off to Braemar for the weekend. Wet weekend walk with a couple more later on in the month, bagging a Munro and a Corbett.
Mid October break and we went off to Killin, Stirling and it rained, it rain almost none stop for 3 days. It was just nice to be away in the van with somewhere new to look out the window at. 
Killin is at one end of Loch Tay and there is a great big trail of geocaches along its southern shore, one of the reasons we chose to go there, one was even at the site where they shot the famous Killer Rabbit scene in Monty Pythons Holy Grail, but we did one in the rain and gave up, just wasn't fun. 
As it rained at ground level it turned to snow about 1000 feet above us, not the first snow of this autumn/winter, there had been a fall a week or so earlier in the Cairngorms, I witnessed the remains it when I tried for Cairn Gorm itself, never quite made it but I am planning a get away to there in the Christmas holidays. That was a good chilled out couple of days.
Moved south on the way to visiting the kids on Teesside, stopped off for a couple of night in Troutbeck, Lake district, one and only reason, to climb Helvellyn. 

Red Tarn from Swirral edge.

Really enjoyed my walk up onto Helvellyn, again started of badly, not paying attention to the micro navigation in order to get a good start, think I have now learned my lesson but not been in a situation to test that yet.
Took a longer approach than I really wanted however think it was for the better in the end. A nice smooth approach to Red Tarn then onto the top via Swirral edge, a bit of a scramble but then all of a sudden there I was at the top, took me a bit by surprise.
I had a very nice chat with a couple of guys at the top before returning across striding edge, set off a little later so the decent was in the twilight, got to the van and it was dark. The wife was there, coat, hat and gloves on and armed with torch, notebook and phone, "I was just coming to look for you".
Went off to see the kids for the weekend, they were just breaking up for the holls, we had to go back too work on the monday.

Planning for the Christmas break and a few adventures between now and then.

Thursday, October 27

Motorhome troubles

A couple of weeks before I was due to break up for the summer the Fiat Ducato overheated and blew the cylinder head. It had been showing signs for a while, I had recently put in a new radiator hoping that would help but no, on a little trip saw the needle go up quite suddenly and she blew. Got it back to the storage and rung around to try to find a garage to take on the job, you would think in a city like Aberdeen, teeming with engineering firms that wouldn't be a problem. I rang a few garages I knew but either they couldn't help or just weren't interested. Finally a firm in Ellon promised me they could do it.
The Ellon garage were rubbish, once they had the van they messed me about something rotten, in the end all they could offer was to import a new engine from Italy, £10,000!. In the end I found a reconditioned engine and a firm to put it in, Essex. They were great and very helpful, but this is it no matter what you want by way of any service in Aberdeen is always so poor and over priced.
On the journey bringing the van home I had a wheel bearing go, to recover the van and replace the bearing, £100. A well known company in Aberdeen charged me £600 for replacing 3 wheel bearings a couple of years ago.
Services tend to be so poor or over priced we have a list but now we have to revisiting the list using firms that were not as bad as the other firms. Anyway that a long (8 weeks) story short.

Tuesday, September 6

Summer without the Motorhome

The Old man of Storr.

Just as the summer started the van went and blew its cylinder head, the problem I had getting anything done was unbelievable. I am not going to bore anyone with the details but apparently they believe this had happened twice to this engine before our ownership. Long and short of this is its now 600 mile away getting a reconditioned engine put in and once thats done I will be down to pick it up and drive it back, looking forward to being able to use it again.
The start of my 6 weeks of Summer hols and I decided to bag a couple of Munros, Mayar and Driesh could be done together. I had a walk from the car park at Glen Doll, up through the Corrie Fee Nature reserve and onto Mayar. Whilst I was up there I was lucky enough to spot a couple of White tailed Eagles, playing with a stick, one had it and the other was trying to get it. I watched them play and followed them for a while, got a little turned around and started to descend into the wrong glen, having realised this I managed to get back on course, i lost a good bit of time so decided to give Driesh a miss, I will go back before winter.
So without the camper I went out and got me a tent, a little low laying 2 man'er  a blowup sleeping mat and a gas stove, I retrieved the electric hookup from the van and got a socket converter, glamping of a sort.
I was hoping to go to Kinlochewe but this Caravan club site wont have tents so I went to Poolewe instead, I'v stayed there often. I had couple of days of longer walks the most memorable one being on the Bienn Eighe National Nature Reserve and a day of driving round doing easy caches.

Bienn Eighe

I really like it over at Wester Ross, the weather was great and the Poolewe Hotel has good ale if not good food, pub grub and chips with everything.
Back to Aberdeen for a few days before retuning to the west coast, Kintail then Isle of Skye. Stopped at Morvich CC site, a great place to stay and I will visit whenever possible, I wanted to do a bit of Munro bagging so had a go at Bienn Fhada, I had previously gained permission to place a geocache in the Kintail area so put it on top of this mountain. Had a great walk but again took a lot of time out taking photographs and fail in bagging a second hill close by. Next day off to Skye, stopped off at Kyle of Lochalsh, had fish and chips in the sun, lovely.
Skye, camping at the C&CC site I usually stay at, alternative days, long hill walks, with driving around exploring the Isle as before, for its size Skye is so diverse and interesting especially in it geology.
Highlights of this trip was getting up The Storr and find the sweet spot for capturing The Old Man. A boat trip to Loch Coruisk, the world famous loch painted by Turner and
written about by Sir Walter Scott, “Rarely human eye has known A scene so stern as that dread lake, With its dark ledge of barren stone...”, that was something special.
And I finally got to the top of one of the Cullin hills, always looking at them and wondering, how on earth do you get up those thing? With difficulty its almost shale.

View of the Black Cullins from the sea.

Also climbed The Storr itself, again would have loved to gone further and taken in another hill but time flew as I explored different views of The Old Man, the weather throughout was great. I enjoyed myself so much, so much so I was met at the campsite gate by one of the site managers "do you know you were supposed to leave today?", Hells bells I'd better ring the wife!

Sunday, June 5

Spring has sprung.

Cairnbulg point.

May 8th to June 5th
Our favorite campsite has gone over to the dark side, Cullen holiday park no longer takes tourers, just interested in statics, so we are looking for a new favorite place on the Moray coast. We tried Findochy which wasnt bad, fine for a weekend but limited facilities, We did spot another whilst out geocaching nr Inverboyndie so will give that a try at some point, need a nice weekend get away, a couple of hours from Aberdeen and overlooking the sea.
Did a high grade geocache D3.5/T5 called The Smugglers, I have a list of the 25 toughest caches in the area so thats one more ticked off and a bit of adventure, walking in forrest, moor and rocky scree.
As Carlotta now gets every second weekend off we can really get about, Braemar and Loch Callater, a very chilly weekend followed by low impact chilled out time at Forfar.
Now planning for the summer break, Springwatch  has started a sign the end is in sight, we have a weekend at Findhorn to come and I am taking a sea kayaking course, which could be the start of something. Also need to put a new radiator on the van, try a bit of DIY.

Sunday, May 8

4 years of Geocaching

Creag a' Choire Dhirich

We celebrated 4 years of geocaching on the 24th of April.
Whilst the rest of the country watched the Royal wedding I went for a 8 mile walk, taking in 3 Munro hills and 7 caches. I say the rest of the country were watching the tele, there were certainly plenty of people on the hills. You couldn't ignore it completely out here because Lochnagar was mostly in view and I drove past Balmoral twice.
We spent a couple of weekends up on the Moray coast, lots of new geocaches up there but a little disappointing as they were mostly micros. One weekend just running around in the Micra, the second in the Motorhome. We used to go to a site at Cullen (see previous blogs) but they have done away with everything but statics. We tried Findochty, nice enough site, we had a bit of a poor spot, I had booked at the last minute and it was full with us.
Just over 8 weeks to go till the big break, plenty to do in the meantime, at least 3 weekends away in the van, just local, dont know where yet except the next will be to Braemar.
Finished this blog with a total of 1,111 geocaches on 8th of May.

Wednesday, April 20

Third year with the motorhome.


Well we have had the camper for 3 years now and still enjoying it. Friends of Carlotta get a silver medal from
Easter and we took off to see the kids, stopping off a Kielder in Northumberland for a week, the site at Leaplish was quite nice, quiet to start with until the schools in England finished, then folks started to arrive. Highlights of the visit was a walk along Hadrians Wall and Skyscape, all made better with the good weather.
We arrived in pouring rain and that stayed with us for a few days, we did some  drive by caches and the weather started to clear a little allowing a bit of walking. Needed to get some supplies in, so went into Bellingham, seeing  the weather was looking better off into the distance we kept driving till we hit the sun around Hadrians wall, went for a good walk finding a number of caches.
The campsite was not too bad it had a restaurant and bar, beers were a bit limited and the food was nothing out the ordinary, good pub grub. Lots of bike trails in the area I think there is now a completed  one right around the reservoir, the largest manmade lake in northern Europe, the good weather stayed around.
Kielder has an Arts & Architecture initiative in the area, we visited a few pieces one of the most impressive was Skyscape, I had lots of fun photographing it.

Then off to see the kids for a couple of days. We took then on a geotrail around the village of Bishop Middleham, in the Land of the Prince Bishops, County Durham. One of the best geocaching day we have had due to the innovative nature of some of them, kids were a bit none plussed as they werent all big boxes of booty.

Then off back up to Aberdeen calling off at Edingburgh. Visited the exhibition of photographs by August Sander, before walking into town taking in a few DNF's from our last visit. Stayed at Silverknowles site within easy reach of South Queensferry a quaint little village then onto the sometimes an island of Cramond, made a video of our geocaching adventure, next day off home. Left April 3rd returned on the 16th and somewhere along the way I had a birthday.

Monday, January 17

The elusive 1000

Geocaching in Tilery woods.

No Motorhome this winter, lots of snow made that impossible yet again, not only putting payed to that but also the geocaching, we don't much like grubbing around in the snow for them, no matter how keen on the sport we are.
So it took us quite a while to reach that elusive 1000, started getting excited in November but got a lot of DNF's which slowed us up some what, hoped to have got there by new year but it was after when we hit it.

So its a new year, plans to be made, feel its about time we went further afield, meaning the continent, driving on the wrong side of the road.
Just before we were to take possession of the camper I was cycling along Aberdeen beach boulevard, I heard a guy, as he was leaning on his motor home, say, "Yes, as I was driving through Southern Spain". Well I want to do that guy, but a little bit at a time, France first.
Got the cat to think about, he needs his jabs and pet passport all sorting out, maybe in the summer as it take about 6 months.
Have a prosperous NewYear.