ABC Annual Trip
2011 – FORTWILIAM
It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was writing last years account of our lovely trip to Orkney and here I am again giving an update on our trip for 2011 to the metropolis of Fort William!
We met up at the Breasclete Centre at the unearthly hour of 5.00am and were re-united with our driver from last year, Iain, who promptly set about packing the suitcases into the “hold” of the bus. Off we went to collect the remaining members of the party from Achmore before heading south to Tarbet for the 7.15am ferry.
The crossing was good (as was the breakfast) and we were soon driving through Skye and onto the mainland. Needless to say, a few took the opportunity to catch up on interrupted sleep, others admired the views and after a few comfort stops for refreshments etc. we arrived at the Ben Nevis Hotel, where we quickly made ourselves at home.
A good night’s sleep , followed by an excellent breakfast and we were ready to set off on our first adventure – a visit to Cruachan, the Hollow mountain, which is a hidden power station. We were escorted by a very interesting guide, who valiantly attempted to give us all the facts and figures regarding the station’s construction and “current” output, in spite of the witty asides from one member of the group who will remain anonymous! Once again, it was reported that the A.B.C. Club is more trouble than any school party! However, we were allowed to leave without being black-listed.
Continued on to Inverary, where we had an enjoyable lunch in a very old pub, built in 1700’s and then , for those of a strong constitution, a visit to the Jail. Thank goodness we live in more enlightened times!
Back on the coach a careful check was made to ensure that no one had been left behind, be hind bars!
After a very scenic drive back to Fort William, we had a little time to relax, or utilise the leisure facilities before dinner.
The after dinner entertainment centred round a squeeze box player who encouraged all manner of frivolity, like demonstrating to the other guests just how Strip-the-willow” should NOT be danced.
Wednesday provided one of the real highlights of the trip – a ride on the “The Jacobite” stream train.
We went down to Mallaig in the coach, stopping off in Glen Finnan for a peep at the monument and after lunch, made our way to the railway station. There was some confusion over the seating but eventually we found our places in the first coach behind the engine, and with a puff of smoke we were off! For most of the trip we were able to enjoy the spectacular views of the coast as the train chugged along, bringing back happy childhood memories.
Thursday saw us off on a retail therapy trip to “Treasures of the Earth” where we improved our geological knowledge of gem stones, dinosaurs and other ancient artefacts. Needless to say we had to buy some “souvenirs”!
On then to the chair lift, where, in spite of protestations of nervousness, everyone valiantly got on board and sailed up to the restaurant at the top. Just time for lunch and then the return trip back to terrafirma.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at leisure, with some activity in the leisure complex, particularly the Jacuzzi!
A final evening spent chatting and playing scrabble before retiring to do the packing.
Finally, a pleasant trip down to Uig, stopping on the way in Skye for coffee and delicious home baking. The crossing was kind to us and we arrived back in Breasclete just after five o’clock, having had another successful holiday, in spite of the weather!
Many thanks to all who organised the trip, shepherded us safely through all the places of interest, and made sure we were well supplied with sweeties and other creature comforts.
2010 – ABC CLUB INVADE ORKNEY
At 7.00am on the morning of Monday 17th May, the ABC Club set sail for their adventure to Orkney, and, after a very good journey, through lovely scenery, with plenty of “pit stops” we eventually arrived at Castletown for a well deserved sleep.
In beautiful bright sunshine, we headed off early the next morning to the ferry at Gill’s Bay, which departed at 9.00am for St. Margaret’s Hope in Orkney. It was an excellent crossing, just under an hour, and although it was a little breezy, the weather was so good that we were able to stay on deck the whole way.
We were met by Domhnall Beag Hilligan, an exile from Breasclete, who had agreed to act as our tour guide for the stay on Orkney. He entertained us with the history of Scapa Flow, the building of the Churchill Barriers, until we stopped at the famous Italian Chapel on the tiny island of Lamb Holm. Here we were able to sample our first Orkney ice cream, which was much enjoyed by all! Domhnall Beag then took us all to his hostelry, the Quoyburray Inn and treated us all to a delicious lunch. Suitably refreshed, we continued our journey on to Kirkwall, the ancient capital of Orkney, and we explored the historic and very impressive St. Magnus Cathedral, before proceeding on to the Stromness Hotel, our base for the next two nights.
Next morning, Domhnall was waiting with the coach to escort us to one of the most famous Orkney sites – Skara Brae, the five thousand years old stone age village and it’s nearby manor house, only a couple of hundred years old! A fascinating step back in time, followed swiftly by another as we next visited the Corrigall Farm Museum and experienced the living conditions of an Orkney crofting family. Another excellent lunch was followed by a tour of the famous Highland Park Distillery in Kirkwall and, needless to say, a few drams were sampled! The evening was spent back at the Quoyburry Inn for a ceilidh and a good time was had by all, with plenty of good music and good crack.
Sadly, the next morning we had to think of our return journey, but after the return ferry trip we still had the delights of John O’Groats and the Castle of Mey before travelling down the east coast to our final stop in Inverness. Time for a little retail therapy in town and at a local garden centre before our journey to Ullapool for the 5.15pm ferry. Home again, safe and sound with many happy memories of our trip “abroad”. Where to next year?