Day 1 – Fri 21st May
Great weather, almost too hot, I flew to Carlisle to collect Steve with the window open most of the time 🙂
We flew up Windermere at low level and the local boat tour got a few interesting snaps. Made a short detour to fly over Bedlands Gate and I did a flyby of a random house in Shap 😉 arriving in Carlisle about 11:00.
Had a quick butty ( thanks wynn) and then got on our way.
We headed to Perth for a refuel then meandered up the a9 past dalwhinnie and aviemore, then heading north directly overhead Inverness and out over the moray firth.
Then we flew out over the water and followed the east coast round till dunbeath then went back over the land and headed for loch watten and across the peninsular and headed due north, west abeam wick.
We coasted out about 17:00 bound for Kirkwall over stroma and south ronaldsay.
As we were just touching down an emergency heli landed and paramedics rushed to remove the injured occupant.
Once on the apron we Refuelled ready for the next flight then tethered the aircraft.
Made our way into the town and to the first hotel with 3 twin rooms 😉
Day 2 – Sat 22nd May
An early morning visit to the harbour masters office showed the thick fog wasn’t going to move all day, so it was a day on the Orkney mainland.
We lazily munched through a fat boy breakfast and following a quick stop to relieve the pressure we made our way into town.
We ended up joining a bus tour who were over from mainland Scotland, around the island taking in most of the historic monuments, which I must say sounded like the tour from hell, however it turned out to be quite interesting. The coach driver, along with his corny jokes, made the tour!
We arrived at the bar with all anticipation of flying on Sunday, however that was quickly dashed when we got Internet access and looked at the weather. Bugger we’re here for another day then 🙁
And in honour of Mr Cockerill, mike forced down a key lime pie and none of that American crap!
Knowing we weren’t flying on Sunday opened the door for a mammoth drinking session that finished with us zig zagging up the stairs at about 5 am (second pic was from bedroom window as we went to bed) having polished off about 5 or 6 pints a bottle of wine each and three or four large ports!
PS Freddies going slightly mad!….. Hair on the palms and everything 🙂
Day 3 – Sun 23rd May
Well as expected the weather was awful. No surprise there then!
So, what to do then. After forcing down a greasy breakfast…well the edible bits anyway, we decided to head to the planes to make sure they were still there and to swap our soiled undies for fresh ones, we also had to check when the airport opened as Monday looks like a good day for flying, woo hoo!
We went back to town and grabbed a spot of lunch and I think rob polished off the islands supply of langoustine – see pic. Following that we went for a wander round the cathedral and the great hall before walking round the harbour to check the shipping forecast and watching the fishermen bringing the crab pots back in.
We went out for some typical local cuisine at the Chinese 🙂 and A few beers. Although most of us were still suffering from the night before!
In the end we called it a night and went to prepare ourselves for the next days flying!
Day 4 – Mon 24th May
It was with great anticipation we all looked out of the window at about 5:30 and were greeted with no fog, no rain and only some scattered cloud at about 1800′.
Today’s the day then! We finally manage to get out of Kirkwall. Not that it was that bad, just that we didn’t expect to be there for 3 days.
Breakfast was at 6:15 sharp as the bus to the airport leaves at 6:45.
Having supp’ed some tea as my old gran used to say we made our way to the departures lounge and this was not a euphemism!
Bags packed and Maps under arms we trundled onto the apron at 7:30 ready to head north.
We set off in the direction of the Shetland’s doing touch and go’s at the following places, sanday, north ronaldsay and another I’ll have to look at the map to remember before heading over the water to fair isle for another interesting touch and go as the cliff edge finished just before the numbers. Once we’d done a quick mag check we went for the last water hop to the shetland’s.
Following in formation we headed straight for unst and then onto the lighthouse at Muckle Flugga to the north. Once we’d orbitted the lighthouse and had a wave from the keeper we went a bit further just to get off the top of the map 🙂
Most northerly point done we turned and started heading south and changing a head wind for a tail wind gave us about 35 kts extra ground speed. In no time we were overhead Fetlar and dropped in as after nearly 2 hours of flying we all needed to purge the bilge tanks!
We stopped for fuel Tingwall, Which at 2.49/ltr is some of the most expensive Avgas I’ve ever seen!
As we headed back toward the orkneys we pushed west to touch some more of the islands and with a 90 degree cross wind we were flying sideways with about a 40 degree deviation.we ended up t&g ing Papa westray and westray before heading back to the mainland.
Once we’d coasted back in on the mainland we headed to wick for a free tea and chunky kit kat!
We picked up the weather detail and started heading back down the east coast towards Inverness.
Once there we had a look at knockbain but didn’t fancy the surface, we then wanted to cruise low level down loch ness but the wind was quite choppy so we ended up at 2500′ to get it a bit calmer.
Once over fort William we started getting ready to get in to glenforsa, with a bracing cross wind at nearly 20 knots it was quite lively, a long wide grass runway made it easy enough with a right wing down and rudder onto heading we rundled up to our parking spot about 17:30
What a fantastic place, glenforsa is a nice hotel 50 yards from the runway with a veritable plethora of aviation history. We pitched tents under the wings and went to the bar for a few jars, we stayed for a very nice meal, the venison steak was lovely.
Not content with the 4 bottles of wine and numerous pints we went back to the tents for some sloe gin homebrew, mmmm.
And not content with an already phallus reducing Arctic 20 knot wind, Freddie decided he wanted to go for a midnight swim in the freezing Atlantic water…. Muppet! 🙂
Day 5 – Tue 25th May
So here we are then, the western isles! Wey hey
It was a breezy cold night but we all managed to snuggle up warm, the next morning the wind was still blowing and we all had eyes like piss holes in the snow.
We decided to take a spin round the inner hebrides.
North up the sound of mull and then with muck and eigg off the port wingtip we made our way north up the sound of sleat. Up over the cables and through the Kyle of lochnash then a starboard turn up loch carron to run in for a touch and go at plockton, we then made a 180 turn to head back to broadford for another t&g.
We then headed south west back over Skye to beat up rum, eigg and muck.
Then we started to make our way back round mull from the western coast north of ulva over Salen and back to the glenforsa.
We grabbed a cold beer deliberately to rubber stamp the end of the flying for the day.
The old fella dave managing the airfield drove us into town to get some supplies and we had an alfresco lunch on the airfield looking out over the loch with a few cold beers.
Then it was To the bar for more liquid refreshments an we settled in for the night.
Day 6 – Tue 26th May
We’d been hoping for some beach landing action but it’s obviously tidal so we had to hit it at the correct time. Having checked the tide times the previous day the airfield at barra was due to close at 12:15 so we needed to be there by 11:30 at the latest to make sure we could get back out again!
An 8:45 breakfast put us on target for a 10:00 take off and we headed back up the sound of mull and out toward the north eastern tip of Coll. We then tracked directly to barra 40 miles straight out to sea.
The weather was a bit grotty but when we were half way between we could see the familiar dark shape of a land mass, hopefully it was the correct island and we weren’t on our way to eastern Canada.
It was all fine and we joined overhead for runway 33. As we circled down onto downwind we were all trying to determine what was actually the runway in the huge bay of Sand and water pockets. It all turned out fine, you just need to land after the markers which are obvious once you’re a bit closer, so we have now officially done the outer and inner hebrides! Woo hoo
Up to the tower for landing fees and a few photos including the flybe twin otter that was just getting ready to depart and we were back up before the official closing time of 12:15!
We coasted back toward Coll where we did a touch n go and then did some exploring around the treshnish isles and took a look around the fantastic fingles caves on the uninhabited isle of Staffa which looks quite similar to the giants causeway.
Then we went for a spin round ulva and back over the isle of mull to the glenforsa.
What a great days flying!
It was with great jubilance that we all piled into the bar to celebrate our victory, after a few more scoops we went for the three s’s and walked into the local town to sample the Italian restaurant, which by the way, is also owned by the Glenforsa. Following yet another great meal the ever generous tag team of Brendan and Allison walsh came to collect is and bring us back to the hotel, where we spent the night sampling various local tipples.
Day 7 – Wed 27th May
So the journey back doon!
As we sat at the breakfast table the low mist was rolling down the hillsides and looking very likely to stop all flying! So we went and took a good look through the forecasts and it looked like it would clear later on so we started to pack up so that when it did we were ready to hit it.
As predicted the front went through and left a clear sky behind.We flew 20 mins and dropped into Oban to pick up fuel to get us down to bedlands gate.
From Oban we headed south west down the firth of lorn, then cut south east inside scarba and jura just down on to the sound of Jura before cutting in at crinan and following the canal into loch fyne. We followed the coast of bute and dropped in for a sneaky touch n go before cutting inland between the Glasgow and prestwick zones.We passed overhead Irvine harbour and as we pu he’d inland I managed to get some piccies of dundonald castle which is next to the inlaws house.
As we passed vrp Cumnock the weather started looking rainy and as we approached the high ground we caught up with the front that had kept us on the ground at mull. Luckily there was a large gap in the middle and we managed to pass through without incident and followed the railway line down to Dumfries. From there we pretty much headed straight for kirkbride to take a look in case we go there in future.
After passing overhead at kirkbride we drifted across the the m6 at penrith and headed for a deserted house at shap 😉 .
We turned through 180 degrees and headed the couple of miles back to bedlands gate, where I proceeded to make a complete arse of the approach and had to go around several times 🙁 but we finally got down.
We were greeted by some local pilots and wynnie waiting with the transport. Once we’d tethered the planes and booked in we went to the local for a deserved brew.
Once we’d toasted our trip and the final leg with the full compliment we went back to the best hotel of the tour l’abode du cliff 🙂 , where we were welcomed with a fantastic feast and we recounted the stages of the trip.