Scotland – The Battle For Free Hot Water and The Nearly Car Crash

We wake up and check the surrounds.

Scott, the Scot in Scotland has headed off for work and the “bit of a dick farmer” either hasn’t seen us yet, or doesn’t care.

Judging by what Scott told us, I’m gonna say he hasn’t seen us yet.

We tuck into some bacon and eggs, and pack our gear up for the day ahead.

We chose our sleeping place last night, based on the fact that the first place we wanted to check out is just over the fence. Judging by google maps, it is on the “bit of a dick farmer”’s property. So, we head back the way we came yesterday. All the signs point toward having to do a little bit of trespassing to reach this ‘Devil’s Pulpit’ place. There was only one photo on google, and the directions were a bit vague, but it looked awesome, and has an even better name.

We pull over into a little park on the side of the road.

“You wanna come?”, I ask Bec.

“I think I will stay here”

“No worries”

I grab my camera, run across the road and hop right over the fence in pursuit of my first photo opportunity of the day.

I have got a rough idea, so I head down toward the river’s edge. There is a little flock of sheep, who obviously have no more wild instincts left. I can tell this because I get with in a good 10m of them before any of them even notice that I am there, and even then, its only one of them who has actually noticed, so it just stares at me more awkwardly than the first time you met your mate’s two year old.

They eventually leg it out of there, and seem to have gone from obliviously not caring about who is there, to running like I’ve got leprosy.

Wtf.

I head down stream but nothing is really ticking the boxes, not I figure that I have to head upstream. I follow the river and stick my foot ankle deep in the best kind of mud you can land in. Not even an hour into my day, and my socks are already wet. Not a big deal if you are in Australia, but when the temperature doesn’t tip more than 10 degrees, its not ideal.

I begin to choose my footings with a lot more precision.

Stepping on tufts of grass that protrude in the right spots and gaining enough momentum before the big leaps to more or less just levitate across the really nasty spots. I reach one particular spot where there seems to be a really oddly selected fence erected, which leads me to think that there is a reason this fence has been put up.

This means I am on the right track.

I traverse the wooden fence, surrounded in mud, and as I turn around, I see it. Its almost like the mouth of a cave, and has this steady stream of water pouring through this crevasse of mossy rock and foliage. It’s utterly brilliant. I wish Bec was here too. Being that I had to work for it (a little bit), it made it that much better.

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The Devil’s Pulpit

As with most landscapes, I trial different angles and means of exposing the shot until I get the image that I am after. Happy with my takings, I head back to the car.

Bec is sitting in the warmth, and no doubt, she has already noticed that my shoes are muddy. She has the eyes of a hawk.

We get on the road. We have got a lot to see today. We have learnt very fast that we really like what Scotland has to offer, and that we have 100% not allowed ourselves enough time to be able to see everything we wanted to see, so we have to make the most of the time we have got.

That being said, it seems as though everywhere you go, there is another brilliant sight to behold. You really don’t need to work hard to be able to be impressed by Scotland. We head along this behemoth of a lake, stopping occasionally to take photos where it seems fit. We both need to hit the loo, so we pull into a servo-kinda tourist carp park thing.

We head to the toilet, and they want 20p to use the toilet.

You’re taking the piss.

^ get it?

Luckily, the chick is a legend and just does a dodgie so we can use the toilet. Bec keeps her company while I sort my life out, and then notifies me that she could hardly understand what she was saying.

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We go and grab our coffee cups and go see if we can nick some hot water from the cafe.

We should have known, being a tourist place and all, but they wanted 10p per cup of hot water.

You.

Have.

Got.

To.

Be.

Taking.

The.

Piss.

We pay the 20p and I tell ya, that was the best hot water I ever tasted. One thing we have learnt is that there is always a free version, or at least a cheaper way to go about it.

We head down to the shore of the lake, and what must be some sort of kayaking enthusiast’s club is starting to paddle out on the water in the rain. I look at Bec, crooked mouth, eyebrow raised, eyes wide.

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I don’t need to say anything.

She just nods her head.

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She pulls off her titanic pose, and we get on the road. As is pretty standard on our journey so far, we drive for another couple minutes, and pull into another car park for another shot. I saw this little house nestled among the forest across the lake, which I thought would make for a good shot, so I shoot down to the water’s edge, and just as I get my focus properly set and exposure perfect. Just as I am about to hit the shutter, I notice that it is looking a touch hazy. I look to the right, and the rain is starting to set in.

Pain in the ass.

I head back to the car to get a more weather proof jacket while I wait out the rain.

As I am over by the car again, I spot this nice little walk through the forest, which is met almost instantly with the ground covered in mossy ripples among the tree’s roots.

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Literally everywhere you look, it is just stunning.

I return to the lake’s edge and wait for the rain to clear. I am refer my original shot to check that it is getting better. Finally, the rain stops long enough for me to get the shot I want, but you’ll have to wait later to see that one 😉

We pack up our stuff and get on the road.

The next spot we are headed is a place called Fairy pools.

We stop time and time again along the way there to enjoy the view around us, or to snap more photos. We pulled into this petrol station, and wanted to nick some hot water for another few cups of coffee and fill up. Bec runs in, and asks the old bloke if we could have a cup of hot water. Naturally, we are dealing in hot water here. It’s not exactly a commodity. He’s more than happy to oblige, so Bec collects both our coffee cups and comes in to fill them up.

“Oh. You only asked for one cup of water. Next time make sure say what you mean”. Bec isn’t exactly the one to pipe up, so she is all like “ahhhh..”, and apologises for the miscommunication.

Like, what the hell is with the Scots treating hot water like it serves as it’s own currency.

I call him a dick behind his back, and we leave.

This is how I resolve my conflicts in life.

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By the time we arrive at the Fairy pools, it is pretty much mid afternoon. We have to zig zag along roads through farm lands and riding the edge of forests. As the light gets softer and softer, the landscape gets more picturesque. The shadows soften as the texture in the landscape becomes more prominent.

hello-highlands-10We park up the car, and begin to venture down toward the river.

The closer we get, the more we realise that we have to get closer to really see it properly. The whole thing is covered in green. The rocks, the trees, the ground. Literally everywhere you look is layered in this thick moss. It’s utterly gorgeous.

I keep taking my steps as intentionally as is possible.

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Again, I am right next to a waterfall, on a muddy river bank, holding my camera in hand. Not the best of options, but if you want the right shot, you have to do what you have to do sometimes. We spend the next hour and a half just exploring this tiny little area. No more than about 50 lineal metres of the river bank kept us occupied pretty much all afternoon.

This is one of those times that I am really glad I got that little tripod.

It can’t really hold too much weight, but in times like this, it is a lifesaver.

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We head back to the car, and both Bec and I notice that we are right in the middle of the afternoon golden light. This is the perfect time to be taking photos, and we are just getting back to the car now. Unfortunately, we pretty much missed it. As much as we tried to get back to a spot where we could get a good shot of the farm lands lit beautifully, we missed the most of the golden light.

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We decide to continue to the next place, which is a place called ‘Stoker Castle’. It’s this little castle out in the middle of the water. Would have been perfect as a creepy honeymoon retreat back in the day.

The light is getting lower and lower as we get closer to Stoker.

We driving along the A828 highway, when this car comes around the next corner. At first, nothing seems to be out of the ordinary, but then as we watch, we begin to see that he lost control momentarily. He had begun to over-correct the car, which once it gained traction, sent him straight into the ditch not he edge of the road on our left.

As the car is coming to a halt, the rear right tyre pops right off and comes flying our way. Both Bec and I hear this thud against the car. The car bounces, skids and slides along the ground until it finally rests less somewhere between 3-5m in front of our car. Both the car behind them and us pull over to the side to make sure that he is ok. He gets out, and is visibly shaken up.

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I first ask him if he is alright.

Naturally, he is a strapping young 18 year old lad.

He’s gonna be fine, even if he isn’t.

He just holds his hands over his head, and repeats countless times “I just can’t believe it”. I ask whether it is his first crash.

“Yeah. First time. Just didn’t think it would happen to me”

Turns out that his girlfriend’s place is where we are headed, so we give him a lift. The light is perfect for this shot of the castle, so I kinda boost it to get to the point that I can do him off, and turn back to the castle.

We talk with him and he genuinely confused. Whether he was going too fast or not, it didn’t seem like it. It looked like there was police tape from another recent crash, so my thoughts are that it must be a bit of a black spot.

We drop him off and turn around to get the shot of the castle.

We pull into this carpark with a path, which leads down to the water front. I don’t know where the real path was, but I am doing my whole “I shouldn’t be doing this, while holding my camera” thing again, as I scale down this muddy, rocky slope, to then find myself at the edge of this bloke’s farm, to then find myself on the edge of a semi-decent river, to then find myself having missed the really nice light.

I mean, the best chance we had was if we told O’l mate to wait while I ran down to the water’s edge. The light would have been ideal about 10 minutes ago.

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You win some you loose some.

We head back to the car, and Bec is standing in the rain because I forgot to give her the keys before I headed down. By this time, my shoes are utterly drenched. We head to find a cop shop, and the closest one is a fair hike away, so we just figure that we will wait till the morning, and just report it then. The last thing we want is to lose our $2500 bond.

That would be balls.

The spot that we pull up in, is literally right at the edge of the highlands. We tuck into some dinner, play some dice, and I keep popping in and out of the car to see whether the clouds are clearing up, for a decent night time shot of the mountains. I can see the break, so I set up the camera on the roof of the car and stitch it into a pano.

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It’s perfect.

We are playing Perudo, and betting our chocolate, when out of nowhere, I get this really odd feeling that we should move. I have no idea why, but it honestly just felt like I was being hunted. It is the only feeling that I could liken it to, and it was so intense that I couldn’t recall the last few rounds of Perudo that we played.

I say to Bec, “I think we should move”.

She looks at me funny, and says “Whys that?”, with a smile on her face still.

I look back at her, and just say, “I really don’t know”.

She realises something is up, so just goes along with it.

We found a nice little car park closer to the town which we pulled up in for the night. I stayed awake for a couple hours. I’ve literally never had anything like that before. Bec even told me that I had opened the door to check if anything was outside, which I can’t remember doing.

Just a tad odd, if you ask me.

Anyways. I would rather have moved than hung around to see if anything peculiar was to happen.

We slept well, and all in all, was a good day.

Come back tomorrow,

Billy

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