Friday, July 5, 2013

Scotland: Falkirk/Edinburgh - Inverness - Thurso

After a nice ride through the Scottish countryside (mostly B6355) and with moody weather we arrived to Falkirk on 22nd of June. We tried to find a budget accommodation in Edinburgh beforehand, however without success. The closest which fitted our limits was the Metro Inns in Falkirk. It was an old Formule 1 motel which is a familiar chain to us from Paris. Very basic with shared facilities, but works fine for us and the doggies :)

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Girls were totally tired!

Our view from the motel room towards our neighbour, who had a very interesting storage place for their stuff. Obviously the socks were extremely stinky because they were the only thing staying out all the time! :D

Next day we had a normal tourist day in Edinburgh visiting some of the usual sights. The rather cool looking Edinburgh castle is to our opinion ruined by these horrible stands. Why is it not possible to honour the architecture of the building and either have stands in a matching style or have the (Tattoo) events somewhere else...?

The Chocolate Tree cafe: THE highlight of the day! We enjoyed this delicious variety of vegan delicacies: the best chocolate ice cream ever!!! and some berry sherbets, chocolate coffee tart, soya latte (for our caffein addict Wolfi) and huge artisan hot chocolates. We can highly recommend the cafe for everyone! Just remember to book a table beforehand since the seating space is very limited. Most likely we'll go there once again before leaving Scotland...

Edinburgh was a bit disappointing in the architecture... not so much old buildings what we thought, but at least some sweet colourful surprises here and there :)

The rhododendrons grow as huge trees here in Scotland (in Finland usually just bushes) and even wild almost everywhere! These sights of course made Ilta "the flower power girl" very happy! :)

At the last day of our Falkirk stay Wolfi went to see the famous Falkirk wheel. A true engineering masterpiece. This is what Wikipedia says: "The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in Scotland. It connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. Named after the nearby town of Falkirk in central Scotland, the lift opened in 2002. The two canals it serves were previously connected by a series of 11 locks, but by the 1930s these had fallen into disuse... On 24 May 2002, Queen Elizabeth II opened the Falkirk Wheel as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations" and she said it will last 120 years.
What Wolfi found fascinating is that: "Despite its enormous mass, it rotates through 180° in five-and-a-half minutes using very little power. It takes just 22.5 kilowatts (30.2 hp) to power the electric motors, which consume just 1.5 kilowatt-hours (5.4 MJ) of energy in four minutes, roughly the same as boiling eight kettles of water."

After Falkirk we headed north towards Inverness via Devil's Elbow and Cock Bridge in Cairngorms National Park. Somewhere along the way we found a nice spot for a break where girls could run free and play. Lyra is clearly our "table doggie".

Hertta was guarding the place (as usual) while "the kids" were playing :)

Lyra found the place perfect to stay and didn't want to leave at all anymore! Eventually had to carry her to the sidecar! btw. it was a chilly and cloudy day (again!) that's why girls needed their pullies on.

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We had big hopes of finding a nice place for wild camping, but it was (and is) almost impossible here! Basically every place is fenced, full of sheep (and shit!) and there are not many accessible tracks which would lead a few metres away from the main road. In Loch Garten we still had small hopes to camp wild, but the road was blocked from bikes and anyway it was way too full of tourists! And then there was this sign... How ridiculous is this demand to pick your dogs poo in the middle of the forest where all the wild animals are also leaving poo everywhere! Just makes no sense for a Finn!

So finally we went to a camping place in Auchnahillin for two nights, where we had plenty of rain and Lyra wasn't too happy about it...

In the few short moments without rain girls got to enjoy the almost empty camping place with some ball and frisbee games. We're really happy that Lyra likes her new ball (with the throwing stick), because so far she has preferred balls only indoors and outdoors she has always needed to have a stick! It's not so easy to find a new stick every time she's in the playing mood...

Our search to find a shop in Inverness which would have vegan dog food was not successful. The city itself did not offer anything to our interest and we continued towards Urquhart Castle. Dogs are not allowed inside the castle site so we took what we could and this was the best (free) view from the distance.

Going towards north... Lucky us - in the same moment we found a good spot for a break the sun came out in all its mighty! It got so hot that we took all biking gear off and let the skin sniff the sunlight for a moment :) Lyra and Ulpu - the ballerinas - are having their usual panic when we stop and of course expecting to get some goodies. Amazing how well behaving they can be if they want to be :D

In the background you can see how brutally the forest is cut, presumably to get more fields to grow sheep and/or cattle. In many cases those cut-down areas stretch for many hundreds of meters! These scenes made Ilta really sad, not sustainable forestry at all! :(

When we have a break Lyra is always the first who wants to drink some water.

We hit the scenic road coast (A836) towards Thurso and in the middle of nowhere was this telephone box... ok, why not?

At the evening of Thursday the 27th of June we reached Thurso where we decided to go another time for camping. There was only a little wind and the air felt fresh and mild, how lovely for a change! The camping site is directly at the beach/cliff promenade and offers a cool view towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Basically just behind the tent (with only a tiny stone wall and the promenade in between) there was a steep cliff and one could see the rocks on the bottom in low tide. BTW - we were able to capture a UFO which seemed to be heading towards Orkney ;)

Evening atmosphere at the camping place with the light tower of Dunnet Head in the background. That was the evening before the storm. The night brought stormy winds and heavy rain and this continued until mid of next day. No way to find any sleep! All the time the flapdiflapdiflap of the tent. On a positive note there are no midges either when the weather is like this :D

Finally in the afternoon the sun was coming out a little and we could crawl outside the tent. We did a small walk along the beach and found this cute stone bench. Lyra conquered it right away!

Wolfi needed a rest as well :) As you can see it was rather chilly even though the sun was shining. 

Lyra invented a new kind of ball dance. Click here to watch it.

Next day we headed towards the "North Cape of Scotland"...

Ilta & Wolfi


  1. Dogs are not wild animals, you idiot! Nor are they native to the natural pine forests of Scotland. When I go for a walk on a nature reserve or natural habitat I do not want to see or stand on dog poo! It smells bad too because of their diet. You took the poo there in the dog so you should take it home. How selfish of you to complain about this.

    And you didn't think the buildings of Edinburgh were old? Some of them date back to the 12th century. How old do you want them to be? And how ignorant are you?

  2. And funny that you complain about sheep shit but you want to leave your dog shit on the ground. You truly are a selfish, ignorant person.

  3. Thank you for calling us idiots, very nice indeed! Well actually these comments just made us laugh :)

    First of all we've never said that we don't clean after our dogs!!! In fact I quite often clean even after other dogs and humans! The thing is that we are just amazed how worried people are about dog poo, but not about the human littering which almost never molder! We've seen horrible amounts of plastic trash everywhere everyday!!! For example in Australia and in New Zealand we saw many universal signs such as "No Littering!" and there really was much less human trash! So we just hope that UK could educate their people much more and put more effort on getting these horrible plastic trash away from nature!!!

    Sheep don't belong to British nature either, they are originally brought to here (this fact even many history signs tell in Scotland). There is also way too big amounts of them now and natural forests are being cut down to feed them. We've seen plenty of fields right besides rivers that are almost totally covered with sheep poo and the poor animals are forced to walk in their own shit! (pitty we haven't taken any picture of those) Way too big herds!!! And I can easily assume that plenty of that riverside shit goes eventually to the rivers, how nice is that then?!

    Yes we know there are old buildings in Edinburgh, we were just amazed to see how many modern stuff there is also! We definitely are not ignorant nor selfish! I think totally the opposite if you really think about what all good we are trying to do in this world and get also other people think about their actions....

    Vegan is the total opposite of ignorant/selfish! :)