Tuesday, June 12, 2012


4 days, more than 1500 miles drive, blue sea, huge lakes and mountains, rafting in ice cold water and cliff jumping - these are the highlights of my Scotland trip. We started early in the morning that is around 7am. It was a long drive to reach Scotland almost 10hours and more than 500miles to drive. After a long drive with multiple breaks we reached Forres, Scotland at around 8pm in the night. After dinner we went to bed since we were tired after the long drive.

We reached the place at around 10am in the morning for rafting in river Findhorn. Even though I have done white water rafting in Ganga with rough rapids and Dandeli earlier this was a different experience with ice cold water. The good thing was Ace adventure the organisation which offered rafting for us provided us with wet suits which kept us warm in the cold waters. Cliff jumping from almost 22feet height into the ice cold water and also toppling of the raft throwing out everyone into the water was an amazing experience. We finished rafting at around 4 and then spent rest of the time driving around the place which had beautiful landscape to experience. We had dinner at a Bangladeshi restaurant and went back to local village Bar which was having a Scottish music festival with different instruments being played by locals from the small village.

We started early the next day and headed towards Isle of Skye. This was one of the best day of the trip as we drove along Lock Ness Lake and many other beautiful places across Scotland. Lock Ness lake is one of the biggest lakes and a huge tourist destination in Scotland, however i felt the best of Scotland is in the northern part of Scotland. We also covered 2 castles and a fort enroute to Isle of Skye - Fort of George, Urquhart Castle, Eilean Donan Castle. Fort of George was good however the 2 castles were only good for viewing from outside as I had already gone inside Windsor Castle in England, other castles wouldn't have interested me much.

We checked into the room at Kyle of Lochalsh and after freshening up we started driving further north. This drive reminded me of my trip to Ladakh in India. The landscape was pretty much similar but then the entire drive one side we had mountains and lakes and on the other side blue sea. This is one of the best landscape I have ever visited. Felt like I should have spent lot of time around this place as it had so much to explore. We covered Old Man's Storr rock formation and Kilt rock waterfalls. It was a beautiful waterfalls falling from the height directly to the Sea however it was very difficult to photo shoot this waterfalls.

From here we drove along the mountains of Quiraing, this was the spectacular drive with very narrow roads and beautiful landscape. From Quiraing we headed towards Uig bay. On the way the best thing which attracted my attention was a couple camping on top the peak in Quiraing mountains. Had only seen such things in movies.

Scotland has been one of the best places I have ever visited. I should give a visit again to this place with the idea to trek some mountains, hope I can do that.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Beachy Head - 7 Sisters - United Kingdom

Probably we picked a bad day to visit this beautiful place called Beachy Head - 7 Sisters which is around an hour and half away from Chertsy where I stayed. We checked in BBC weather report which showed bright sunny day but had warned of Gale storms in the south coast. This is what we ignored and experienced a very rough weather. After breakfast we started around 12 in the noon and got stuck with a major slow moving traffic and we took around 1.30hrs to just cover 10miles. Totally we took around 3-4hours to reach the destination.

We reached our destination around 3 or probably 4pm. By this time the weather had already started getting worse, believe it or not we even struggled to open the car door so strong was the wind. We went near the cliff edge but it was pretty scary especially with the warnings all around saying the cliff may give up to erosion. At times I felt like the wind may throw me away and I had to sit down on the ground.

I had seen the picture of this light house on the internet which is where I actually wanted to go. However every one were very hungry and then we decided to go to the nearest town and have some food. Probably this was the mistake we made as we were just minutes away from the place I actually wanted to go. By the time we returned to this location after having food the light had gone bad and also it was very cloudy with weather only getting worse.

After having some food we returned back to find the location of the light house. Finally I was able to find the light house just below the cliff I was standing but then I realized how dangerously close I was on the cliff to its edge and later also realized that was the exact spot where in many people had committed suicide. Girls didn't get out of the car as it was really rough. Myself and Vinka went ahead a long way after around 30min girls got scared and they came out in search of us. Much to their horror they couldn't find us anywhere, they even shouted our names but no use. We were not even picking up our phones. Finally we gave them a call and told them we are safe. 

While returning back I realized that my 70-300mm lens which I had kept in the pocket of my jacket was missing. Cloudy and rough weather time was around 8 with dim light, I was really lucky to go back and find my lens hiding in the grasslands.

Finally after spending some time taking photos of the beautiful location we headed back to Chertsy.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Wales - United Kingdom

We landed on Thursday afternoon in London and went home with Swathi who picked us from airport. We had planned a trip to Wales on early Friday morning. The driving burden had to be taken by only Vinayaka and Swathi for the entire trip as i was not allowed to drive the rented car with my Indian license. We started from Chertsy around 9:30 and started driving towards Wales which is around 4hours away. Our destination was Bala in Wales where we had booked a B&B (Bed and Breakfast).

At around 2 in the afternoon we saw a sign board Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfalls. We took a turn from our actual route and after around 15miles drive we reached a beautiful water falls. The water was pretty cold and the weather was perfect and pleasant. After playing in water for some time we decided to hike to the top of the falls. It was a small hike of around 30min to reach the peak. The best possible view would have been to cross the waterfalls on the top and view from the other side. After some hesitation all of us crossed the water flow to reach the other side from where the view of the entire falls and the valley was spectacular.

We reached Bala B&B at around 7 overlooking the big Bala lake in front of our room. The place we stayed was a spectacular eg of British style architecture of a house. We went around the small town Bala for an evening dinner after which we heard the road ahead was completely blocked due to a major accident. Myself and Vinka went on foot to see what has happened but the police didn't allow to go any further and we had to head back to our room.

Next day we had plans to go to Snowdonia national park. After breakfast we started driving towards Snowdonia, there were 3 things which attracted my attention one was the cyclists enjoying the valley cycling in groups, 2nd was hikers and 3rd was rock climbers climbing huge cliffs. Off the 3 I missed the rock climbing the most as I have never tried it. Huge mountain cliffs and I could see many people hanging at different places. It was a spectacular view to see the spirit and adventurist nature of these people. Probably that was the reason why the British managed to explore so many places across the world.

At Snowdonia national park we took the mountain train, since we had around 2hours time to board the next train we hiked to a waterfalls around 30min from the station. After spending some good time around the waterfalls we took the train to the peak. Since we had rough weather the train couldn't take us to the peak and we had to return back just before reaching the peak. But the view of the entire valley was spectacular. I missed the opportunity to trek these places due to limited time I had. But enjoyed looking at many other trekkers who were enjoying. One thing I observed was the treks in India are more interesting due to the wilderness it offers. Most of the treks over here are well marked and people can only land in trouble due to their stupidity, however back in India each trek is totally wild and rough. Risk and challenge is offered on every step we walk and the worse is limited help which can be provided if one lands in trouble, we are left on our own.

Back from the train we headed towards the Llechwedd Slate Caverns mine. I had never gone inside a mine before. After watching the movie Sanctum I had a wish to go to a mine to get a feel. It was an amazing never before experienced feeling. It was very cold down under and pitch dark if lights are turned off. The best was to watch a small beautiful lake deep inside the mine. I wonder how difficult it is to work in mine with such harsh weather conditions and roughness. I missed doing photography as they used to turnoff the lights the moment they finished explaining each place inside the mine. But it was an amazing experience which I never had earlier.

From Slate mines we drove to Llandudno Beach the drive along the sea side on the mountain was spectacular. The light was perfect for some good photo shoots. After enjoying our time with a walk along the mountain and the beach we headed towards and Indian rather Bangladeshi restaurant after which we drove back to Bala.

We had some plans to explore some places around Bala but then we were tired and then we decided to rest along the Bala Lake where in lots of people had camped. However after lying lazily for some time we decided to try canoeing for the first time. I did Canoeing for the first time and it was a great experience reason being we had to do it ourselves with no helping hand. The tough part was to control the direction of the boat. But after almost one hour we were pretty good as we managed to control the direction as well we as we got a feel of how to do it. After this we headed back to London.