"The best road trip you've ever taken"

Oh that’s easy! It was in June 2009 and was a two-and-a-half week clockwise circuit of the far north of Scotland.

A road trip in Scotland is always a thoroughly enjoyable experience, though the presence of white camper vans and caravans on single track roads in the far north of the country can get a bit tedious after a while. But, hey, we’re all on holiday so let’s try and chill out!

We set off from Southampton, up the west side of England taking in Cumbria and the Scottish Borders, and then up the west coast via Glasgow, Fort William, Applecross, Ullapool, Lochinver and Kylesku all the way to the very top (Durness), then across to Thurso. A leap across the Pentland Firth to Orkney where we spent a thoroughly enjoyable day with the Stromness Dragon, and thence to Shetland, the land of the midnight sun.

A view of Muckle Flugga and its lighthouse (see picture), the most northerly island of the United Kingdom, was our turning point starting with the overnight ferry south from Lerwick to Aberdeen.

Muckle Flugga and its lighthouse

We then drove down the east coast of England from Northumberland through the Yorkshire Dales, Derbyshire (with a stop at Hardwick Hall) and Nottinghamshire to London, and finally home to Southampton.

You can read all about it at https://x333xxx.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/if-its-tuesday-it-must-be-thurso/

PS: I wanted to better it this year with a drive to Nordkapp up through Sweden to the far north of Norway. But that was vetoed by the management. I’ll be trying again next year ….

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Name a book with a strong setting

During World War II, the “Shetland Bus” would go across the North Sea to occupied Norway, to take supplies and saboteurs into the fjords under the noses of the Germans, and to take refugees to safety on the return journey. This is the story of those secret wartime missions.

Buses can’t ride on water. But the Shetland Bus did. David Howarth paints a vivid picture of the heroism and bravery of Norwegian folk during the Second World War.

The Shetland Bus fishing boats ran the gauntlet of German occupying forces in Norway to keep the resistance supplied with arms, equipment and the all-important communications radios that kept the Germans on their toes throughout the occupation, forever wondering where the resistance were getting their supplies from!

We may not have been on those little fishing boats crossing the violent North Sea between Norway and Shetland in midwinter storms, but the author paints a dramatic picture of the bravery of those souls that wanted to keep hopes of freedom alive for ordinary Norwegians.

Through fantastic tale-telling we can build an image in our minds of the Norwegian fjords surrounded by majestic deep-frozen mountains, little villages clinging to the fjord edge, and the amazed faces of village folk when they realise that the famous Shetland Bus has been near where they live.

You may not be into wartime tales (I’m certainly not), but this is one I think most people would find both moving and inspirational – and if that inspiration took you to visit Shetland or Norway, then what’s the harm in that? We can celebrate the liberty that the Shetland Bus eventually brought to Norway!

And if you do visit Shetland, look out for the Shetland Bus memorial in Scalloway town centre.

US readers: http://www.amazon.com/Shetland-Bus-Escape-Survival-Adventure/dp/1599213214/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

UK readers: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shetland-Bus-Kjell-Colding/dp/1898852421

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See also: The Shetland Bus: on my soapbox