A Highlander Returns Home. 200 Years Later.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Humunn, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Thursday June 28.

    I have all day to explore the island. All the time in the world and no place I have to be. Love days like that. Freedom.

    Kevin gave me a couple ideas. There is a house on the other side of the island that was lived in in recent history by a family member. Kevin speculates that this would be the area where my family most likely occupied back in the day. He also suggests I visit the cemetery. But first I'm off to the historic priory (monastery) on the adjacent island of Oronsay. It is accessible by a tidal flat at low tide.

    Normally I ride ATGATT but the weather is so nice I opt for shorts and a t shirt. And a helmet. Freedom.

    It's only a few miles to the tidal flat. To get to the priory I need to walk to the other side just to the right of my helmet.
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    Lots of coos walking around but I didn't see any of the scary horn-ed persuasion. I had delusions of keeping my feet clean and dry (since I only have one pair of shoes) but gave up on that quickly. While in Rome...
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    Here's a map shot while en route.
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    Parking is at the southern end of the B8085 road and my location is about half way to the priory on the Oronsay road. I would say generally to budget an hour walk time each way. It took me over an hour to get there as I wasn't exactly sure where I was going (and I hadn't yet acceoted the reality that there was no way to stay dry) and 40 minutes to get back as I ran sections. One abstract thought that came to mind: while tromping through the water and clam flats I flashbacked to the days as a young boy in the early 70s doing the exact same thing on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound and, for a brief moment, felt the exact same way. Freedom.

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    #61
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  2. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Arriving at the priory my first thought is, wow, this is quite a structure and a long way from anywhere. The effort and commitment to build a structure that has lasted this long is amazing to me. Maybe it is because we live in a culture of instant gratification and everything now and it is difficult to understand how one could spend a lifetime in the pursuit of one single objective...and maybe not ever complete it. I don't know how long it took to build this place in this location (surely a challenge in the 13th and 14th centuries) but I've had this recurring thought when looking at other massive and very old buildings. The first time I remember thinking about this was when visiting the Crazy Horse monument in South Dakota. The construction spans generations and continues today.

    Here are a few pics of the priory. More info on the history here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oronsay_Priory

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    #62
  3. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Back at the parking lot a beautiful black Defender rolls up. Wow, what a beast of a machine! I ask the driver if she is going to drive it to the priory (I'd seen far less formidable vehicles do it). Absolutely not, she says and then tells me that one drive in the salt will ruin a vehicle, and that she's had it for 12 years and that she has it washed regularly. I was impressed that she takes such good care of it. I no more than turn around to return to the bike and I hear a crash. The poor woman backed her pride and joy over the hood of a nice Mercedes sedan. The collision broke off the rear step of the beast mobile but didn't damage it. I'll have the boys put that back on for me, she says. The Mercedes didn't fare so well, however. The cowling around the hood was bent and there was a dent in the bumper but she simply licked her fingers and rubbed the hood. That ought to buff out, she says.

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  4. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Next stop is the house but I'm not sure which one itiis so i continue to the cemetary which can be seen from the house. The night before I had looked up the names on the gravestones and did not find mine. Still worth a look.
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    Excitedly I walk through the entire yard but without success. But half of the headstones look like this so it impossible to know for sure whether any family is buried here or not.
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    I double back a half mile or so to the house. All I know is that a Munn is believed to have lived there into the 1900s and that he was listed as a weaver. Expecting to get a quick picture and move on I knock on the door to ask permission. Before I know it I've been invited inside by the lovely family staying there (it is now a vacation rental) for a glass of water and eventually lunch! You just never know where these things go but they are always an adventure.
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    Julian, Paula and Hamish welcomed me in like we were old friends. Sitting around the lunch table we talked non stop for over an hour about all sorts of subjects including what they knew about the house and Colonsay. They live in the Edinburgh area but are regular visitors to the island. Turns out I wasn't able to get any concrete info on my family history but I had a splendid visit with their family. These are the kind of by chance events that really make a vacation in my opinion.
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    I would run into the family again later in the day at a cafe. It's a small world...and a small island.
    #64
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  5. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    I still had several hours of freedom so I headed north to see Kiloran beach. I was surprised by the color of the sand...not sure why but I expected it to be much darker. And the water had a blue clearness to it near the shore that I would expect in more tropical areas. What a beautiful and secluded spot!
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    And a Moto photo.
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  6. NickW1

    NickW1 Been here awhile

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    Oransay is a special place indeed, glad you got to see the priory, my Wife's uncle farmed Oransay for 30 years after the war. Did you see The sanctuary cross? It lays in the middle of The Strand and is visible at low tide, if your enemy's were chasing you from Colonsay and you managed to reach the cross you were safe and could hide out at the Priory. Didn't work for the the Macfie Chief though the MacNeill's butchered him like a pig.

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    #66
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  7. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    No I did not see that. Bummer, but thanks for posting the pic and info!

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  8. Little Bike

    Little Bike Air/Clutz Sue Supporter

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    So great seeing and reading your report, I rode Scotland a few years ago and had a fabulous time. I remember the wonderful seafood and the “tropical” beaches! I hope you have good weather on Bealach na Bah, I couldn’t see more than 20 feet ahead. :lol3
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  9. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Heading back to the ferry area. The pic below was the only real close call I had. The car had cut the corner and almost made a squeeze play out of me.
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    And then there are the sheep and they are everywhere. I'm terrified of wildlife while riding so I had a mild cardiac event the first time I passed one on the side of the road. I've found that they don't appear to startle easy and don't dart out in front of you like deer or calves. But I still don't trust them
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    Back waiting for the ferry I run into Julian, Paula and Hamish. We visit and end up on the topic of Scottish history. Hamish, who is 22, went on to explain events with dates that shaped the country in detail. I was impressed both that someone his age was interested in history and also his ability to recall information quickly. And, like many his age, if he didn't know the answer he'd have it in a few seconds on his phone. Smart young man.

    Back on the ferry I arrive to a beautiful sunset in Oban.
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    And I opt to spend the night at a youth hostile. More on my thoughts about that later.
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    #69
  10. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Hell yeah @Humunn, great updates and story :D

    Looking forward to more!
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  11. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    On staying in hostels...

    My son has traveled the world and regularly stays in hostels. But he is 22. Six months ago a group of us were on a dirt bike trip in Arizona and I opted for us to stay in a hostel one night. Turns out it was also transitional housing. Not a great vibe but I knew I'd be arriving late in Oban and only needed a shower and a bed so I thought I'd try it again. After all, the Oban hostel was highly rated and looked fantastic from pictures.

    I was the last one to get a bed in my room of eight (four bunkbeds). "Oh boy" I'm thinking, no real room for my moto gear and I'll be sleeping in close quarters with a bunch of 22 year olds who won't come in until 2 in the morning. What am I doing?!

    One of my "roommates" shows up and he is about my age. Then another who is older than me. The next morning at breakfast I notice that most travelers were in my age bracket. There were even elderly people. In conversation with one of my more mature roommates he tells me yes, this is more common and that he does it all the time.

    So, I've changed my opinion on hostels to the point where later in the trip I opt to stay at another hostel, but this time with my own room. It is nice to have space to organize my stuff and at roughly $40-45 USD I get a bed, shower and sometimes breakfast. Pretty good option for a solo traveler.
    #71
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  12. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing that perspective, have never stayed in one before and always wondered about ‘em. Really cool that the folks there covered a broad spectrum of ages, imagine that makes for a great experience. My guess is these are likely more diverse and ‘normal’ in Europe vs the US?

    Keep the updates coming!
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  13. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Friday June 29.

    At this point in the trip I have no further reservations or places I have to be until Monday night back in Edinburgh. That's three full days to figure it out as I go. Freedom. Sometime this morning I realize I actually have four full days...I had prepared an itinerary but somehow left Saturday off. More freedom!

    But first, here are a couple pics of the hostel. Nice clean breakfast area that would soon be full of old people.
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    And for breakfast I continued to have the traditional Scottish breakfast. After all, while in Rome...
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    But that ended this morning when my roomie told me what was in the Black Pudding. Insert hurl emoticon here.
    #73
  14. allan16

    allan16 Damn Kids;Git Off My Lawn

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    :clap:clap


    Humann....

    Most Excellent Holiday RR !!! The jealousy from this side of the pond is overwhelming !!!!

    couple of random notes:

    The structure identified as an old Roman road, was quite likely a Roman (or Roman designed) aqueduct

    Your meet up with Kevin and his 30 minute, non-stop, monologue.....the gift of gab does not stop at Ireland's shore..Celts talk...constantly

    Genealogy and DNA....welcome to the rabbit hole that is genealogy.....prepare to journey into the deep past...it's all very cool (for us old farts)
    DNA...also please consider Geno 2.0....it's a National Geographic run DNA site...they do your DNA and that can then be uploaded to FTDNA and other DNA sites...quite useful for genealogy

    Finally .....have you noticed all of us middle aged northern islanders all look exactly the same ?

    Have fun...Post more pics !!!!
    #74
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  15. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    My original thought for the day was to make it to the Ullapool area. This would break up the remaining days into roughly thirds. But now with a bonus fourth day I told myself "whatever" let's just go with the wind and end up where I end up.

    The folks I met on the Oban to Colonsay ferry ride suggested a route alternative for me to take which included a ferry ride out of Mallaig to the island of Skye and then cross back over to the mainland on the Skye bridge at Kyleakin. This seemed like a better idea than continuing north up the A82 and hanging a left at Invergarry. After all, I love ferry boat rides and I had an extra day!

    I make a quick pit stop to pick up sundries in downtown Oban. Beautiful little seaport town.
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    My ride plan from two days ago on the way to Oban was to ride Glencoe to Loch Leven, take a left and ride the A828 down to Oban but I was running out of time and had to skip that part. The most direct route this morning would be to head straight north, doubling back on the A828, but I kept hearing advice in my head from fellow riders, "the Glencoe is a must do."

    Here's a pic somewhere in the Glencoe valley. It isn't a very good pic as it doesn't really reflect the beauty and awesomeness of the Glencoe. I was relying on my GoPro "quantity" to extract at least one quality picture but found I had the camera pointed a tad too high.
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    From Glencoe I drop into Mallaig to catch the ferry. Without reservations I'm stuck waiting about an hour and a half. But no problem. I walk into the cute little village and find this.
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    And, while in Rome I'm compelled to have one of these.
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    #75
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  16. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    That's a good question. I haven't stayed in enough of them to really know. What I do know (now) is that I won't be opposed to the idea but only if I can get my own room...or maybe a large room with only one other person.
    #76
  17. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Ha ha ha. Thanks for the tips. Love it!
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  18. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Great job documenting everything, but the images aren't showing up for me? Might be the goofy proxy here at work, but something to check as I know the pictures will look fantastic based on the descriptions!
    #78
  19. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    At what point do you notice the pictures aren't coming up?
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  20. xr-nut

    xr-nut Out Ridin' Around

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    I cannot see them either, starting in post 73. Keep up to the writing, looks like a great trip and memories!
    #80