Chasin' the Haggis Tour.                                              16th to 19th May 2003 
           Loch Lomond to Loch Broom.            By Margaret Austin.

     We are about to travel up to Scotland to join the Scottish Sub-Centre on their 5th Chasin’ the Haggis Tour. Loch Lomond to Loch Broom.
     They would have us believe that there are two different kinds of haggis living amongst the heather and bracken on the east and west side of Scotland.  They are both different colours with 2 legs shorter on one side for chasing around the mountains, if you believe that you will believe anything, but maybe after a few wee drams anything is possible.
     Thursday morning saw us making our way up to bonny Scotland to Loch Lomand, we were to start on Friday at 9.00 at Luss.  We had a good journey up in brilliant sunshine and were keeping our fingers crossed for this weather to continue.  After a relaxing drink & evening meal we met up with other Healey members.  Julian had driven up from Nottingham and Ann was flying in to Glasgow Airport to meet him, he couldn’t believe it. Ann had phoned him to say she was still at West Midland Airport, as she wasn’t allowed on the plane because she had not got her passport and would not be able to get a flight until next morning to fly from England to Scotland!
     During the night it had rained quite heavily, but this morning it was drizzling, weather forecast did not look promising but this doesn’t stop Healey fans.  Donald and Joyce welcomed us all to this years rally,  & promised plenty of spectacular scenery.  After a short talk about safety he produced a small haggis whistle for any drivers who had difficulty finding one.  After Bacon Butties and coffee we were all raring to get the maps to see in which direction we were heading.
     Today would be a long drive as our Hotel for the night was Dundonnell Hotel at Little Loch Broom near to Ullapool a distance of 189 miles.  The drive along Loch Lomand to Fort William on the A82 took us through Glen Coe with its rugged scenery and spectacular waterfalls. Lunch had been prepared for us at the Fiddlers Restaurant with hot soup & sandwiches.  By lunchtime the sun had appeared so the tops came down for the rest of the afternoon drive.  The higher up you go the more the scenery alters each time you pass through another valley or round another bend.
     By 5.00 we had reached our hotel located by the side of Little Loch Broom.  We all booked in to our rooms then headed for the bar and a chance to renew old friendships and catch up with the latest gossip.  Joan had issued everyone with a quiz sheet on Rally Drivers.  We had to name the team cars they drove for, this was not an easy task and these had to be handed in before dinner that night.
     Again it had rained overnight and on looking out of the window on Saturday morning quite a few of the men were washleathering the cars down, but at least the sun was trying to break through, so down came the hoods.
     Muriel had noticed that the map that day took us along the coast past InverEwe Gardens only 20miles from this Hotel. Chris Beardsley the Flying Gardener on BBC2 had visited these.  Quite a few of the ladies wanted to visit this Garden. We allowed ourselves 1hr to look around, we could have spent all day there, if you like Gardens this is a must, on the edge of the Loch and with the warm Gulf Stream its amazing what plants are growing there.
     Continuing along the A832 the road took us along the coast with breathtaking views, quaint fishing villages and at times single- track roads with passing places.  We followed the road to Applecross, but unfortunately I was gazing at the scenery & missed the right hand turn.  We passed the School, Firestation & came to a telephone mast. “ I said I could not remember passing these last time we did the mountain road to Applecross”, at this point I asked Denis what mileage he was on, he said 93miles, and whoops we should have turned right at mistake.  Luckily we had not travelled too much out of our way.  The decent down the mountain takes your breath away, the view is spectacular, very steep single- track road with passing places and very twisty.
     Lunch was at Carron Restaurant with Soup & Sandwiches waiting for us.  The sun and wind had caught my face and it was glowing.  After lunch I had to find some suncream to calm it down.
     The trip after lunch took us back on the A87 to Invergarry and the A82 to Fort William.  As we passed Ben Nevis it was still covered with snow, and with a very blue sky behind, it look just like you see on picture postcards. Only another 10 miles now to our Hotel for the next 2 nights at Onich.
     After an excellent evening meal, Joan again had us organised into teams for another quiz, this time on James Bond cars, not as easy as you would think, but a lot of fun.
     Today again the weather forecast was rain, but Donald again seemed to send us away from any bad weather this morning.  The road today took us past Ben Nevis and Aviemore and before we got to Grantown on Spey we turned left for Nairn A939.  This road took us across the moors and this is where we really did some chasing.  The road had been recently tarmaced and even though’ it was very twisty you could see quite far ahead.   Denis was for overtaking Harley, but no way was Harley going to let us get past, the chase was on, Julian was behind us & was determined he was keeping up with us all.  For 14miles we seemed to fly across the moorland reaching speeds more than the legal limit, these are the kind of roads every Healey driver dreams of where you can let the car go.  We never caught a Haggis but we didn’t catch Harley either.  We drove into the Cawdor Tavern Car Park exhilarated after the chase.  Donald sure picks some spectacular roads to drive on.
     The afternoon drive was more leisurely going on single track roads with passing places to Daviot and on to Fort Augustus with the road running alongside the Loch’s.  By 3.30 it started to rain, so a quick stop to put up the hood and continued on our way back to Fort William and the Onich Hotel.  By this time it was raining quite hard.  Some brave people had not bothered to stop & were soaking wet by the time they reached the Hotel. 
     After a very enjoyable meal it was time for the serious stuff of prize giving and speeches. 
     To get everyone in the right mood, Ronnie gave a brilliant performance of “An Ode to the Haggis”
     We didn’t understand a word he said, but that’s because a few of us are not Scots, but we got the general gist of it. He then made a presentation to Donald for all the hard work of sorting out the route maps and Catriona for helping him and Joyce for the administration side. This was followed by Derek’s observations of the last few days, which is always hilarious; you have to watch what you tell him as it could be in his speech.
     Denis had a serious award to present to Mike Kean; it was the Revcounter Shield, for the best article in last year’s magazine.  This had been presented to Denis at the Annual General Meeting at National in January, as Mike spends quite a lot of his time now living in Cyprus.  Mike has to read all of Revcounter each month now so he can decide who this award will go to next year
     No one wanted the weekend to finish; we have such a good time and look forward each year to meeting up with all the many friends who like us look forward to Chasin the Haggis again.  Donald & Joyce your hard work brings a lot of pleasure to us all, we just turn up and enjoy every minute of it, keep up the good work.


Click on pics below to enlarge.

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And now a few photos from the camera of Alisdair Reid.

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Some of navigators (still smiling at this point)

Arthur Levy.

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Ian and Joan Walker.

Stuart Mackintosh.

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Dave and Joyce Sinclair.

Don Gordon (Haggis organiser) keeping out of the rain under the bonnet of his Frog.

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