Page 3 of KitKats Travel Blog Posts

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Orkney Islands » Stromness June 4th 2013

Some would say it's a little late in the game; others might think that it's about time. Whatever. This is us. Use the information however you wish but at your own peril. We four have been friends for quite a while. Four days ago Kit and Kathy celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary - a wedding that Karen and I attended. We babysat Yellow Island for them for two weeks back in the early days when they were the caretakers of that special place. Our two properties at Three Meadows are just a short walk away from each other. And two years ago we traveled to China together. So, you can see we have some history of friendship and could expect that we would get along well for our trip to England and Scotland. But, could we ... read more
Pathfinder and sweep
Greeters at the Crask Inn
The good looking (and stylish) members of our group

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Orkney Islands » Stromness May 30th 2013

The northern coast apperars as we leave the idyllic Strath Naver valley. As we approach the end of the ride, Scotland continues to throw its weather at us. Wind is the dominating force everywhere and may be our strongest memory of Scotland. Wind turning huge wind generators lined on hills. Wind churning the waves to froth on the shore. Wind blowing handfuls of wool from sheep as they graze undisturbed in their pastures. Wind in our faces as we push the pedals to make it down a hill. Huge gusts of side wind that turn a down hill run into a test of skill. Wind driving sleet and rain into our faces. Wind that sucks the breath from our bodies and throws it back in our faces. And sometimes even wind at our backs sending us ... read more
Contemplating the coastal route ahead
"Old Man of Hoy" from the evening ferry to Stromness, Orkney Islands
River entering the sea to the north

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Sutherland May 28th 2013

Beyond Lairg we can't avoid the main road north any longer because that's the only road there is. But that's ok because here the main road becomes a single track with passing places, and it basically has the character of the back roads anyway. The few cars and lorries drive faster here, so we have to use all our skills to decide when to stop in the passing places, when to expect the cars to stop and wait for us, and when we can slip by each other in the limited available space. The scene is one of wide vistas across brown moors to distant mountain ranges topped with fresh snow. It is somewhat reminiscent of the American west, and even more like the south part of the Yukon territory that Kathy and I passed through ... read more
The Bettyhill Museum
Anglers in the Strathnaver
Mike Geldard and the three English birders at breakfast

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland May 27th 2013

"How 'bout them Seahawks?" We could tell as soon as we were greeted by Norman McDonald that he was a character. He was a Lewis lad - the Isle of Lewis being the northern most of the Outer Hebrides. He was a font of valuable information. We had already been told that the black pudding from Stornoway was the best, but only Norman could tell us why. Ox blood instead of pig's blood. That's the secret. He also knew exactly where to send us for dinner and where to go afterwards to meet the local, or possibly national, expert on Scotch whiskey. Not only was his friend Mike probably the most knowledgable man in the world about Scotch - he was also a former kicking coach for the Seattle Seahawks. This was an opportunity not to ... read more
Mike's single malt whisky supply
Ian's bike repair, ski rental, and hostel
Agnes and Karen

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Inverness-shire » Kingussie May 23rd 2013

We are spending our rest day in the small town of Kingussie, waiting out a May snowstorm in the last mountains we have to cross before Inverness and the final push to John O'Groats. We have now planned the entire rest of the trip to the Orkneys -- pretty exciting. Just have to wait for the temperatures to get back above 40 tomorrow and we are back on our way. There are some good stories to write from this section as well, and they may eventually show up here. But, just this short report for now and some photos for your enjoyment. -- Kit... read more
"Dolly" on display at the Scottish National museum, Edinburgh
Dinner in Edinburgh with Mikko and Douglas
Heading north across the Firth of Forth

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Midlothian » Edinburgh May 21st 2013

I've heard vicious rumors to the effect some of you dear readers are under the impression that we've had horrible weather and suffered incredible trials and that our trip has been one obstacle after another. Not true. We are having a great time. We are feeling stronger every day and we do smile and we do laugh often. Really. Of course, we know that nobody really wants to hear about the good times - how boring! What we (meaning you and I) really hunger for are those miserable times, those times when surly reigns supreme, when mother nature laughs at our expense and we doubt our capabilities and wonder why the heck we decided to do this adventure anyway. So, in order to satisfy your lust for those kind of adventures I present an account of ... read more
Is it all good, or is she hitchhiking?
A short rest on the way up
Looking for Dalkeith on the way down

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Midlothian » Edinburgh May 19th 2013

These miles of dry stone walls That hold in ploughed fields and kingly halls The dead of centuries in hills of sand The stones that bind them Are proud of what lies behind them And varied as the counties in this curious land. Pedaling into the wind and driving ran over the top of the Morfoot Hills towards Edinburgh yesterday, I finally understood that the "dry" in this lyric does not refer to the usual weather in the British Isles or to the usual condition of the walls. Although old, sturdy walls constructed without mortar are prevalent throughout Britain, this Gordon Bok song has always evoked Scotland for me. I had not expected to experience the iconic barren heather covered hills, miles of walls and sheep, and the feeling of ancient loneliness until we were several ... read more
Scottish Borders scenery along the Tweed
Enjoying Scott's View

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Northumberland » Bamburgh May 16th 2013

As we crossed the North York Moors we spied a glimpse of the North Sea and coast far below us. A day later we could touch the sea in the town of Whitby where Captain James Cook apprenticed and began sailing. Having visited the beach in Hawaii where Cook's career ended, we were fascinated by the museum in the house where he studied by candlelight at night in his attic room. Whitby is also the location in Bram Stoker's book where the ship carrying Dracula's coffin crashed and the bat flew ashore. We managed to pass up the Dracula museum on the boardwalk but we didn't skip the pub advertised to have the best fish and chips in England. We followed the coast north along a bike route called Coasts and Castles, seeing restored castles and ... read more
Part of Sustrans Route 1 along the beach
Karen and Charles Baker Creswell in front of Bamburgh Hall
At Bamburgh Castle on our rainout day

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Tyne & Wear » Whitley Bay May 13th 2013

I know, and my fellow travelers know, too, that this is something very much on the mind of all of you back home. And so, in order to enlighten and entertain, I now offer this essay. Earlier I wrote how we conspired to secret the bacon from our breakfast table into a plastic baggy so that we could picnic later that day. We felt we had to sneak and we were certain our hosts and hostesses were not aware of our efforts. Not since the Boston Tea Party was there such chicanery - right? So, you could have been aware that bacon was a regular part of the breakfast. Now you will learn more, much more. First of all, everyone here uses and understands the term "Full English Breakfast." Part of the routine at the check-in ... read more
The Full English: Part 1
The Full English: Part 2
One version (with black pudding)

Europe » United Kingdom » England » North Yorkshire » Whitby May 12th 2013

We had some trepidation about leaving York to cross the North York Moors to get to the North Sea coast. For one thing we knew that we would be leaving the relaively flat terrain starting about 20 miles to the north. There was the steep climb over the Howardian Hills before Pickering and then the long climb upto the moors and the ravines that cut through it. For another, it had become windy and rainy while we were in York, and more of the same was promised for the next few days. On the positive side we were well rested and well fed and, thanks to Karen and Kathy's mapping and good advice from the folks at York's Cycle Heaven, we had a good traffic-free route to Pickering and from there a back road route on ... read more
A rest stop, showing the Bike Fridays, and Kathy, decked out for rain
Fording a river
Crossing the River Esk outside of Grosmont

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