After coming back from Orkney I pitch a newly purchased 10£ Tesco tent in Thurso, which has a very nice campsite right on top of the cliff with an awesome ocean view. The town has a beach framed by amazing cliffs and I sit there for hours with a bottle of Whiskey and enjoy the loneliness of the place and the never ending sunset. Continue reading
From St Andrews I hitch up north to visit a friend in Inverness. There is not so much to do in Inverness itself, other than explore the nearby loch, which is famous for allegedly housing a monster. Naturally I want to have a look myself, so I go on a day-trip to Drumnadrochi, where the legend is made into big tourist dollar. Drumnadrochi is about 14 miles out of Inverness so I hitch a ride with a young couple and it is the first time ever that I am scared for my life whilst hitching. It becomes very clear, that not only can this guy not drive, also they both are high on something. Their eyes are just slits and they slur and mumble whilst asking me questions that they’ve already asked. The narrow, winding road follows the lake and there isn’t much margin for error. My driver is to far on the right or the left respectively, so that we either hit the bushes or get honked at by approaching cars. I wish very hard that I could have some of the drugs they had to get through this experience. When they drop me off I politely decline their offer to pick me up on their way back.
Drumnadrochi is not quite what I expected. There is no real access to the lake, but there is a couple of nice walks with a view. Also there is Urquhart Castle, which has a long history and sits somewhat picturesque on a cliff overlooking the whole lake. It does cost 8£ to get in so I didn’t go. Apart from the statue in front of the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre I did not see any monsters, even though the guy in the local pub told me that he had seen Charlie Sheen the other day. To sum up hitching a roller-coaster ride around Loch Ness was the most exciting thing that happened to me during my stay in Inverness.
I decide to make my way further up north to a town called Thurso, which is where the Ferry to Orkney Island leaves. I hitch a ride with an old guy, who introduces himself as Jimmy the Highlander. I keep wanting to call him Jimmy the Pirate, because he speaks a bit like a Pirate and he tells me about working on boats and on Oil Rigs out at sea. Also he is missing a finger on his right hand. Jimmy can not remember my name, so he keeps calling me Hermann the German, which initially is quite disturbing. After a short ride he says “Arrr!…So Hermann, can you roll joints?” I answer truthfully that it is one of the few things that I can do better than others and Jimmy says “Aye! Its in the glove box. Keep them coming.” So we get stoned all the way to Thurso and Jimmy takes little detours to show me a particularly awesome view and the castle that Madonna got married in. He buys me Fish and Chips for lunch, which he insists will be the best Fish and Chips I will ever eat. It might be the munchies talking, but it was exceptionally good. So if you ever pass through Helmsdale it is worth stopping.
Jimmy talks a lot about the Freemasons and how they run everything up here. He says they are all paedophiles. “All the important people in the Church and our Government, they are all paedophiles”, he says. I do find it disturbing that in the centre of every godforsaken town we pass there is a Freemason Lodge, and most of them seem to have paddling pools in the front yard. Maybe Jimmy is on to something here?
When I ask him about the beautiful mountains we pass by he just says that they are full of atomic waste. Thatcher has put it there. When I read up on the Referendum I learned that the Scottish are actually dumping their nuclear waste in Sellafield, which is in Britain, but Jimmy is having none of it. I love to hear him rant about the government so I leave him to it, and enjoy my inebriation whilst being driven through this beautiful landscape. Jimmy gets me to Thurso safe and sound and I thank him for a beautiful day.
The next day I take the Ferry over to Orkney Island, where I am staying with a lovely
couchsurfer. I go for a long walk to Inganess Bay, just south of the Islands main dwelling Kirkwall. Its main feature is the wreck of a ship that has been lying here since the 1920s. From here I follow the wetlands to the west and walk through an abundance of wild flowers until I reach Scapa Beach, which is just stunning. It is so serene with dazzling white sand and turquoise resplendent waters. I sit there for hours and soak in the feeling of being at the end of the world.
My amazing host drives me around the Island on his motorbike, during one of those never ending sunsets, that happen up north in the world. We go see the Ring of Brodgar, a 4500 year old stone circle, that is situated most beautifully between two lakes. It feels like a place of great significance, unfortunately no one really knows much about it, thus its purpose will have to remain mysterious. We also go to see the Brough of Birsay, a little tidal Island that was home to the first settlement on Orkney Island. There is some puffins amongst the hundreds of birds that nest along the steep cliffs. They have come to shore to have one little puffling. I learned that Puffins spend half the year out at sea without ever seeing land no one really knows what they are doing at that time because thay are very hard to find in the vastness of the ocean. They mate for life, however whilst they are out at sea, they lead a solitary existence. We sit on the cliff for a long time and observe the Puffins. Whilst we enjoy the rough sea breeze and the feeling of being on the edge and I find myself looking out for Pirates and other wild things.
My first impression of Scotland is Edinburgh, a lovely city that somehow seems to have sprung out of an uncanny Fairytale. The castle is sitting on a crag towering over the whole city. The small, intertwined alleys of the old town feel like a real live MC Escher drawing. In between it all its a mayhem of bagpipes, kilts, Shortbread, ugly Monuments and one day Highland tour offerings. I see People spitting on a heart shaped mosaic and when I walk by the Statue of David Hume I can’t help myself but touch his foot. The sculptor alluringly stuck Hume’s foot out over the pedestal and by now it is shiny and golden, whilst the rest of the statue is disturbing and blueish. Later I find out, that the Heart of Midlothian marks the position were people used to be publicly tortured and executed and the spitting used to be a sign of despisal. Now people do it for good luck, I guess. Continue reading
Leaving Liverpool I hitch my way over to Durham to meet some old friends. Durham is a nice city by the river with an old Cathedral, which I think describes thousands of British cities, so there is not much to tell about my stay. We did a day trip to Newcastle, which is yet another lovely city by the river with an old Cathedral… I rest my case.
When I am in Brighton I have to admit to myself that I have no clue what I am doing here in the UK. I have no travel guide and apart from a few pretty areas I have seen on Grand Designs I don’t really know where to go. Somehow I do decide to travel to Wales, maybe because of my slight obsession with Mr Tom Jones. I do realize quickly that getting around the UK is not as cheap as getting to the UK (see my 25 € bus trip from Frankfurt to London). Thus I decide the only option is to hitch-hike. Continue reading
After the hustle and bustle of London I am determined to see the ocean (which I have not done in over a year) and make my way to charming Brighton. I found a nice couchsurfer, who lives in Peacehaven, a few kilometres east of Brighton and the short bus journey along the coast makes my heart sing. I don’t care that the weather is miserable, there is the ocean, wind, massive waves, cliffs and seagulls and I am so happy to be here.