Our next stop on our big adventure was both an exciting one, and a special one. We were stoked to be heading back down into England, to meet my Mum and Andy. This was the first time we had seen family in four months, and we were pretty keen to be reunited! There were tight hugs and tears as we made it to the boatyard and met up with Mum and Andy. It was pretty cool to be able to share some of our travels with these guys, and our first leg of the journey together was a unique one.
Narrow Boating on the Leeds/Liverpool Canal
We had reserved a narrow boat – one of those long, skinny boats that you see on postcards of the UK. There was a lot of excitement as we loaded our bags onto the boat, and quickly realised that it was quite a lot smaller than we had imagined. It was also amazing to see how six people could live semi-comfortably on a boat this size. It was a bit like a long, skinny caravan, on water.
Our first day on the boat was glorious. We were filled with the high emotions of being reunited with family, the exhilaration of making our home on the water, and enjoying a warm, sunny day as we began our cruise on the Leeds/Liverpool Canal. We loved being able to catch up with Mum and Andy, to hear their stories of their travel in the UK so far, showing off little Kilian and how he’s grown (he was only four months old, tiny, when they last saw him!). Elena had the best time chatting to Granny and showing off all her toys, and helping Andy steer the boat down the canal.
Unfortunately, after that beautiful first day, the good weather did not last, and it actually rained for pretty much the rest of the time we were on the boat. Not ideal when you are in close quarters with a toddler and a baby! It was a good chance for catching up, and lots and lots of playdough. Elena was excited to have a new playdough playmate in Granny, while Kilian pretty much just wanted off that boat. He is a bit of an outdoors guy and can’t stand being stuck inside for too long.
We didn’t spend the whole time on the boat though. We actually probably only went about 10 miles down the canal before we turned around and cruised back up (the max speed of the boat was a brisk walking pace – so it definitely was not a rushed trip). We spent time exploring some of the villages we stopped at along the way, including Skipton (where we got the most amazing and cheapest berries at the market), and Gargrave (a quiet little village with no fish and chip shop, as we discovered to our dismay!).
We became quite proud of ourselves after mastering the locks, clever mechanisms which allow the narrow boats to travel uphill, and many bridges that we had to pass through.
We spent a lovely afternoon exploring the Skipton Castle Woods, which were amazing, and green, and so much fun to run around in. The woods were filled with the scent of wild garlic and Elena loved pretending to be a monster waiting to scare us from behind trees.
We appreciated Mum and Andy looking after the kids while we had a little date – our first in quite a while! We went to the pub to watch a soccer game………… nevertheless, it was really nice to spend some time away from the kids, walk at an adult pace, and spend some uninterrupted time together. Thanks Mum!
On three out of the four nights we spent boating, we moored for the night near villages. But on the last night, we found an absolute gem of a spot in a much quieter location. It was a wonderful way to end our time on the boat and prepare for the next leg of our journey – up to Inverness!
Inverness and searching for Nessie!
We headed back up to Scotland to Inverness. It was an epic 7 hour drive but our kids are actually pretty amazing car travellers – Elena can normally be occupied with her toys, activity books or the ipad, and Kilian tends to either drift off to sleep, or just stare out the window. I guess. I don’t actually know, since we can’t see him. We stopped in the lovely little town of Pitlochry for lunch – such a nice place, a pity we couldn’t stay any longer.
We were staying in Alness, which was about half an hour north of Inverness and a good launching place for our activities in the Highlands. It was also nice to be away from the bustle of the city. Our first day in Inverness we went on a little boat tour of Loch Ness, with Elena searching for Nessie/whinging about food. It was a lovely trip on the immense loch, and getting a good view of Urquhart Castle from the water was a highlight. It was interesting speculating about the mystery of the monster, of which I am a firm believer, and Pete is a sceptic. Elena is also a believer.
That afternoon we spent the afternoon exploring Culloden Battlefield (minus Pete, as he had uni work to do), and revisiting the terrible battle which crushed the 1745 Jacobite rebellion and brought an immense change to life in the Highlands as it was. They had an incredible film playing in the museum, where all four walls around you depicted the battle as it happened. It was an intense way to experience the way the Scottish soldiers fought and fell. Probably not appropriate for small children and babies 😬😬😬
We spent a rainy day exploring Inverness, and Pete and I got another date night! Bliss. This time we went out for dinner. It was lovely. But we get so hungry when we eat at an adult time (never after 5:30!). Ha ha.
On our last day with Mum and Andy, we tried hard to forget that it was the last day. We went to church in the morning, and enjoyed a really nice picnic and walk in a forest, called the Big Burn walk. It was full of lovely waterfalls and rushing streams, big trees to climb and walls to clamber up.
We stopped by this lovely beach on the way home.
We loved seeing Granny and Andy. We miss you guys! Thanks for the fun trip, and for special memories made.
Hey! We’ve recently realised that if you are reading our posts on your smartphone, heaps of the photos don’t load properly. Sorry. I am not techy enough to know how to fix it. If anyone has any suggestions, send them my way. In the meantime, you can get the full experience on your real computer. That’s if anyone actually reads these things anyway.