Journey to Base Camp..
19th Feb 2019
We left Newcastle at 5am. The van was packed to capacity with clothing, bedding and photographic equipment, and in addition to Nicola and myself we were accompanied by our two reluctant cats, Gabriel and Angelo, protesting at the not inconsiderable inconvenience that we had caused them by loading them into a travel cage. A supply of Valium (obtained from the vet and most definitely only intended for the feline brothers) was procured to ensure a stress-free journey and it worked (eventually). On departure, the weather in Newcastle was clear and cool, and by the time we had driven through Northumberland and the Borders, the sky was red and the weather seemed fair. As we travelled further North, the more the weather deteriorated (red sky in the morning etc..) and by the time we crossed the bridge onto Skye the van was being buffeted by gale force winds and what seemed like a year’s rainfall had descended on us. A brief stop at a local Spar for some oatcakes resulted in a vicious soaking and we drove on to Portree and then Uig – only sometimes being able to see the road ahead.
The ferry crossing from Uig to Lochmaddy was best described as ‘lively’ and as a less than rugged sailor I mostly confined myself to sitting in the observation lounge staring bleakly at the horizon hoping not to externalise. Nicola meanwhile, disdainful of my incapacity, and herself totally impervious to motion sickness, spent the journey drinking tea, eating biscuits, exploring the ship in detail and thoroughly enjoying the crossing. The arrival at Lochmaddy on North Uist came as a considerable relief and we made our way to Mairie’s house in Lochmaddy, a substantial and well-appointed house where we will be staying for the next month. We were met by Fiona who kindly explained the workings of the house to us before returning to her house, a short way along the road in the Village. After locating and operating the heating, we unloaded the van in a squally westerly force 9, released the cats into the house, where their drug taking had resulted in a severe case of the munchies causing them to fall upon their food as if starved, and Nicola and I settled in with a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfidious felines aside, this was a good ending to the start of the beginning of our trip.