Shetland and the Cairngorm Mountains – Day 2

 Scotland, Travel  Comments Off on Shetland and the Cairngorm Mountains – Day 2
May 042018

Day 2 – Inverness Airport; going nowhere!

I had a reasonably early flight from Inverness to Shetland and based on a past experience when I’m been late for a flight, I was keen to get to the airport in good time. So I was down to breakfast as soon as they opened at 6.30am and after some cereal flowed by bacon, eggs sausage, mushrooms and tomato, I had checked out of the hotel by 7.15am and on my way to the airport just around 10 miles away.

Traffic was light through Inverness itself and I made good time. I had to fill up with fuel (if returned with less than a full tank, there is a hefty refuelling charge) and I knew that there was a garage at Tesco around 3 miles from the airport. I have to say that I was tempted not to refuel the car as the gauge still showed full (I’d only done around 41 miles at this point) but my integrity would not allow me to do that.

I was not able to hand the car over in person and I’m always mindful of huge charges bing applied for “damage” to the a vehicle but Avis is a reputable company so I did not have too many concerns. In any case, around an hour later, I had an email invoice from them showing there was no unexpected charges.

I was early at the airport as the check-in was not open but within a few minutes, someone turned up and sprung into action. I always had checked in online several days earlier so had my “boarding card” on my phone but I was given a physical card in any case. Unlike BA at Heathrow, I did have to show photo ID (I’m still puzzled why this was not required at Heathrow).

I was still too early for Security so had a cup of coffee landslide. Shortly after, we are called through Security and this was all trouble free.

Our aircraft arrived and its passengers disembarked. Then a man in van arrived followed by two fire engines and he opened up the covers on the port engine. Apparently thee was no sign of a fire so the engines were stood down. Then the inevitable announcement came apologising for the delay and saying that a further announcement would be made at 30 minutes.

That announcement again apologised for the delay and saying that the delay was due to “technical issues” and saying at a further announcement would be made at an hour alter at 11am.

At 11am, there was some hope; the airline announced an estimated departure time of 11.30am and provided free refreshment vouchers for “light refreshments”. The voucher was for £3.50 ; unfortunately, a cup of coffee and a packet of two shortbread fingers came to £4.65!

At 11.30am, another announcement; “..due to ongoing technical issues, there is a further delay to the flight.. the next announcement will be at 12.30pm”.

Suddenly, just after 12.30pm, the flight was called! Once on board we learnt that this plane had been on the Dundee – Stansted route and the crew had got teh call when at Stansted than once they had flown back ti Dundee there were to head off to Inverness and fly us to Sumburgh. Refreshments were served on the leg to Orkney – tea and a Stoats flapjack for me.

A brief touchdown at Kirkwall on Orkney to drop off two passengers and pick up three new ones and we were off again for the twenty five minute flight to Sumburgh.

I thought we were still in the air when were touched down as I could see nothing out of the window; it was very misty and quite different to the weather even on Orkney.

 Posted by at 11:49 pm

Shetland and the Cairngorm mountains – Day 1

 holiday, Scotland, Travel  Comments Off on Shetland and the Cairngorm mountains – Day 1
May 032018

Day 1 – To Inverness

The trip up to the airport was relatively stress-free once beyond Winchester. We avoided the lower part of the motorway as there was a fair amount of congestion; Big Bro does not do stationary traffic too well.

Once past the A34, though, the journey was fine and I was dropped off at Terminal 5 just after 8am. Everything is DIY at the airport these days; I had checked in online during the previous day and had my boarding pass on my phone. Placing the QR code from the boarding pass on the scanner identifies you and prompts you to place your bag/s on the scales; it then prints the bag tag which you apply to your bag yourself. Once you have confirmed that the tag is attached, the bag starts its journey towards the bowels of the earth. You then get emailed the bag receipt.

Then on to the self-serve area to start the journey through Security. Again placing the boarding pass on the scanner starts the process; you smile nicely into a camera and if all is OK, the gates open and then off you go. However, nothing happened and i was then told by an assistant to take my specs off. This time, the process was successful and then on to the area for hand luggage search and body scan. A warning: try to avoid people struggling with pushchairs and children as they take at least ten times as long to go through as a singleton especially when at least one child refuses to go through the body scan.

AlasI had forgotten to remove my watch so I had to be frisked; my stupid error and I was very apologetic. My camera bag was taken to one side for a hand search and a rescan; each item was checked for Lord knows what and my iPad was re-scanned; naturally all was in order.

I then enjoyed a proper breakfast in Huxely’s; not cheap but that’s because of the captive audience.

It was then time to head to the gate. Before long, my turn came to board and I was directed towards a self-board gate; again scan the boarding card and smile into a camera. A message “Seek assistance” came up. I was told that apparently had not gone through Security (really? How would have got to the gate – sneaked through a ceiling void or something?). It seemed that I was close to being bumped off as a no show.

The flight itself was uneventful albeit rather cramped. Fond memories of my business class flight to the States last September came to mind!

Arrival at inverness was on time but it did seem to take a heck of time after that to unload the baggage. Once that was collected, I went across to the Avis desk to pick up the keys for my hire car; it was a little Suzuki Swift. Having six gears on my gear, finding that the Suzuki had its reverse gear where my sixth gear is made for a few interesting noises. I did find out it is possible to very briefly enable to rear camera at 50mph!

I’d previously found a walk through which was about ten miles away from the airport to headed down there.

The town itself had seen better days but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was free parking in the centre. Signs in shop windows, though, gave the impression that there were plans to introduce parking charges. This would only add to the further decline the town’s fortunes, I would think.

I had a walk following a very good footpath alongside the Nairn river and thought about following it all the way to Cawdor castle. there was no obvious option for returning by a different route, though, and the as there was only two buses a day from Cawdor, I did not want to risk missing the bus and having then to walk back. Instead, a crossed the river at Firstall bridge and firstly headed back down the opposite bank before taking a route into another part fo Nairn to see if the were other parts of the town I had missed.; they weren’t! It did have a rather nice railway station, though, even if most of it was now unused.

I decided it was time for essential refreshments and stopped off at Cafe One One Two; a wine shop-cum cafe-cum coffee shop for a latte and a of gingerbread cake, both delicious.

Then it was on with the walk, this time back along the river heading towards its mouth to the small dock, passing nesting swans. Crossing another bridge, I passed through some extensive sand dunes and onto a pristine beach. A few walkers on the beach but no-one else.

The walk:

Time was getting on and so I headed back to the car and decided to visit the grounds of Cawdor castle before heading to my hotel in Inverness as I can recall seeing some magnificent Highland cattle in the grounds on my last visit.

No cattle this time but instead some rather splendid black sheep and their lambs and a a few sheep with some rather splendid horns. Difficult ti get a decent photo, though, as the sheep were off to the other side of the field as soon as they saw me. The horned sheep kept their heads down feeding.

It was coming on to rain lightly so I decided to head off to the hotel , arriving there around 5pm. I’ve stayed here on at least three previous occasions so there were no surprises; a typical Premier Inn room. Dinner was at the adjoining Loch Nevis House Beefeater; I had their Meal Deal which saved me a few pounds against the coast of the individual items.

After that, it was time for bed.. goodnight.