Guest post by Harry Haddock
Aaaah. A week away in the Outer Hebrides shooting and fishing. No database servers that have become possessed by the devil. No clients to chase for money that should have been in the bank 30 days ago. No financial directors ringing you up screaming, telling you that the printer your company has installed doesn't work, and that you are all incompetent bastards, only to find he has unplugged the device to allow him to charge his mobile phone.
We're nearly there. Setting off at stupid 'o' clock in the morning, we fly up the M6, missing an accident that closes the motorway just in time for rush hour, by about half an hour. Nip past Manchester, and are munching some rather tasty ham sandwiches at Carlisle by 8 in the morning. Superb. It's also pretty fine weather for this far up north at this time of year ~ only a few dark clouds interrupting the sun.
As we get further north, the weather only gets better. We skirt around loch Lomond, which is so calm it looks like glass. No, really ~ actual glass. Not a single ripple disturbs the reflections of the mountains. A car load of chubby American tourists stop, seemingly in the middle of the road, to get out and take pictures. Everyone is in such a great mood, we don't mind. 'Don't blame you', I think as I manoeuvre around their RV.
Even the 'surf's up dude' chaps in their Toyota Hilux, with an overloaded trailer that has a wheel that is about to fall off, don't alarm us; I wonder if they made it through the highlands without loosing it. It's approaching half past four. The sat nav says it's only 60 miles to Mallaig. Why is it insisting that we will be a further 2 hours?
'At the next junction, turn left'
That doesn't look right, but I turn left anyway. Onto a jetty that extends out into a loch. Now, I'm fairly used to all of the features on Dave's car after four hours driving, but unless I'm mistaken, there isn't a James Bond style 'turn this car into a submarine' option. There does appear to be a ferry, however, on the other side of the loch. Zooming out on the sat nav, we see what the plan is. Get the ferry, and cut about 40 miles off your journey. Super. But why the two hours to travel less than 60 miles?
The ferry trundles towards us, and after paying our fare,we take the short hop across the loch.
'Turn left' the sat nav chirps. But everyone else is turning right. Never mind, Mrs Sat Nav knows best. Oh no she doesn't.
We wind our way around what seems like every loch and bay on the west coast of Scotland. On a single track road. At about 20 mph, with mad post men and builders keen to get back to their wives after a weeks hard work hurtling towards us at break neck speeds. Dave appears to be turning slightly red in the face. 'Um, I might have programmed in the shortest, instead of the quickest, route', he explains. Really? The road gets smaller and smaller, the surface more and more pot holed. I start to wish we had come in my Land Rover.
Exactly two hours later, we arrive in Mallaig, set up camp, lock the guns away, and set off to the nearest pub. After several pints of Stella, it doesn't seem that bad at all. After all, we got to see all the best bits of Scotland, despite the best efforts of the mad postman.
A week of fantastic weather, sunburn, plenty of rabbits and fantastic scenery followed, although the fish remained elusive and couldn't be tempted from the sea with our bait. Perhaps we should have asked the Sat Nav where they were as well?