Wednesday, September 16, 2009

scot the lot

And finally a few random Scotland-related loose ends, in no particular order.
  • The Caledonian Sleeper is a very civilised way to travel - meet up in London, go out for some food and a few drinks, then get on the train, dump your bags in your cosy berth, adjourn to the lounge car (which has proper comfy chairs) for a few more drinks, take some stupid self-timer photos (see right) and then retire to bed ready to wake up as the train pulls into Glasgow Central at about 7:30am the following morning. As always The Man in Seat 61 gives you the skinny.
  • We stayed at Portnellan, which is a couple of miles east of Crianlarich on the A85. A variety of very nice accommodation - we had one of the old farm buildings, but there are some log cabin affairs available up in the woods, and also some McWinnebago motorhomes for hire if you want to move around a bit more.
  • Crianlarich is a major road and rail interchange for north and west Scotland, and has a few handy pubs and restaurants, including the Ben More Lodge where we had some quite decent grub on our last night. My chicken stuffed with haggis was very good anyway.
  • However, if you want shops that will be open at an hour when you might plausibly be wending your drenched and knackered way back after a hard day's Munro-bagging, then Tyndrum is probably a better place to stop. While the Londis in Crianlarich appears to close at 6pm, the fantastic Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum is open until 9pm or later all year round. This Times article reckons it's one of the five best service stations in Britain. Incidentally it's Tyne-drum, not Tin-drum; just so you know.
  • The Clachan Inn in Drymen, a short drive away from the Glengoyne distillery, is claimed to be the oldest pub in Scotland, and is also claimed to have once been run by Rob Roy's sister. Confusingly, it appears to be Drim-men, not Drye-men. Make your minds up!
  • The strange monument that dominates the skyline over Oban and resembles the Colosseum is called McCaig's Tower or McCaig's Folly.
  • Oban is also the setting for the Scottish sections of Alan Warner's powerfully strange novel Morvern Callar (later filmed with Samantha Morton in the title role); it's very obvious from the descriptions (of the folly, for instance) where it's meant to be, though I don't think it's ever explicitly named during the novel. It's been a long time since I read it, though.

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