All Over The Map

A Week in The Scottish Highlands With no WiFi.

August 17, 2018

Now for most people when they think of Scotland, they think of the basics like weather, shite football, golf, deep fried mars bars and sometimes heroin, which I'm sure is just as bad for you as a deep fried mars bar. Though most people don't think of Scotland as a holiday destination, now I know it's probably hard to believe but this picture was taken on a beach in Arisaig in the Scottish Highlands and it was 26 degrees.

I've visited Scotland a few times for holidays, performing comedy at the Edinburgh festival and most recently, a family wedding. I'm half Scottish (which probably explains my lack of football ability) thanks to my Dad who was born in the city of Stirling in the late 1950's. Scotland is probably up there with one of the best places, if not the best place I've ever visited. In July 2017 instead of going abroad on holiday for multiple reasons (mainly because I was skint due to the upcoming Edinburgh festival in August), me and Poppy decided to do a seven-day road trip around the Scottish Highlands in Poppy's little Fiat 500 -  which was totally loaded up with all our camping essentials. I don't know what was more of a shock to the residents of the rural Highlands: the fact this was probably the first time they'd seen a Fiat 500 or that in England it's acceptable for a man to drive a Fiat 500. Regardless, I don't think the pink deckchairs helped either, watch the video below and you'll see what I mean. 

We did a lot of exploring across the seven days; stopping at Loch Lomond, Fort William, Arisaig, Mallaig and then finally ended up on the Isle of Skye. The first place we stayed at - by Loch Lomond - was a campsite right on the soars of the Loch. This was also the water supply for the toilets, which I only realised after flushing, up till that point it seemed someone on the campsite had a real nasty urine infection. This picture I took of Poppy on the first morning of our trip on the soars of Loch Lomond.

On the next step of the trip, we headed to Fort William as we'd planned to climb Ben Nevis while we were here. We're both very outdoorsy people and I 100% fear that by the time I reach my mid-40s I'll be the guy wearing waterproof trousers, going to the cinema alone in my microfibre fleece. 

The first camping trip me and Poppy ever took was to Wales for a weekend to climb Snowdon. This trip to Scotland was an entirely different experience. When we'd arrived in Wales the weather might as well have said: "get back in your car and piss off". We were greeted with sideways rain, thick fog where you couldn't see more than five feet in front of you and howling winds - I think I even heard it say it. The first night, Poppy woke me up in the middle of the night as there was a hole in the tent (I will sleep through anything). Between us at 2am, we cut a Sainsbury's carrier bag in half with no scissors and I went outside to patch the hole in the roof. At least in the morning, it wasn't too embarrassing amongst the other campers, it could have been a Farmfoods bag. The weather was that poor across the weekend we went on a tour of a copper mine mainly for shelter. The tour lasted 45 minutes we spent 3 hours underground. We did eventually end up climbing Snowdon on the last day and drove home in glorious sunshine (cheers, Wales). 

 

Once we'd smashed Ben Nevis (I shall smash, as we were up and down in 6 and half hours), we drove to Arisaig and camped right on the beach and watched the sunset over the North Atlantic with a couple of beers. We stayed around the area for a couple of days messing about on the beach and enjoying the sunshine. It was 26 degrees. In Scotland!... 26! That's usually the life expectancy when a country is known for deep frying anything they can get there hands on. 

Arisaig - Beach

 

The one thing I noticed about the Scottish Highlands was that there aren't many people that visit. It's just the right amount of 'busy' and you don't get any knobheads that you'd find abroad who're surprised to find a full English breakfast in the Italian countryside "Look, love, they've got, egg, bacon, beans, sausage, mushrooms, black pudding, they've got it all". It was mainly middle-aged Germans and one point I was seeing that many I thought they'd finally invaded. 

 

Now I say this fearing I'm gonna come off a total knobhead but the way of life up in the Highlands especially when we arrived on the Isle of Skye is vastly different compared to anywhere else I've been. They still have gas, electric and running water (they're not animals) but the lack of distractions such as free WiFi, shopping, nightclubs, retail parks, phones and just volume of people, provided a lot of headspace and chance to disconnect from all the shit we get caught up in when at home. It's not like I 'found myself' when I was up there but just speaking to locals and seeing their carefree reaction when you say 'wait a minute you don't have WiFi' is very calming, now that seems the wrong word to use but it's true. They just don't think about it as much of a priority as most people do. They're more focused on people, local events and the land under the feet. Though in most places WiFi is up there with running water and guaranteed in the first 2 minutes of conversation when you arrive at someone house. 

 

There are so many great photo's from the trip but here are few personal favourites.

Isle of Skye - Old Man of Storr 

Isle Of Skye - Glenbrittle Beach

Arisaig - Beach

Isle of Skye - Fairy Pools - 40mph winds. The wind changed and this is now Poppy's new face.

 

I'm not against people using their phones, watching Netflix, worrying about Instagram followers but the amount of time invested in these and the level of stress it causes people can just be insane. I would recommend to anyone that not having immediate access to WiFi for a week is great for turning off. In the famous words of Ferris Bueller 'Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it'.  Honestly, if you get the chance to get up there 100% go it breaks the predictability of 2 weeks in the sun in Greece or Spain. If anything it will at least provide you with some stunning photo's you can share on Instagram once you've got WiFi.

 

While away with Poppy I did take my Nikon and GoPro so that we could put together a vidoe of the trip. Check it out here! The soundtrack is top! 

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Manchester. UK.