500 miles by minibus


in The outdoors, Travel

Google Maps predicts that the drive from Oxford to Shiel Bridge, near the Isle of Skye, will take almost thirteen hours. That seems an excessively long time to traverse less than 550 miles, but they may know things about the character of the roads that I do not. We leave at 8:15am on Thursday.

The weather is predicted to range between highs around 22 degrees Celsius and lows of about 12. Cloudy days are predicted, which is welcome. I much prefer to climb mountains under an overcast sky than under the glare of the sun. I have a spray bottle of 50% DEET to repel midges.

Since the whole trip is only four days, and I don’t need to carry a tent, stove, or sleeping bag, I will just be taking a day pack. Naturally, I will include items necessary if real rain or real cold emerge – Gore-Tex and wool respectively. On the photographic side, I am bringing both my A510 and my EOS Elan 7N (with 28-105mm zoom). On the latter, I will be shooting the roll of Velvia that Tristan sent me. As with so much other gear left behind in Vancouver, I wish I had my 50mm prime lens and my Manfrotto tripod with me for the trip.

While it’s a bit of a shame that we won’t get much chance to see any Scottish cities or towns, it is really the mountains that are drawing me up there. Nice as the countryside around Oxford can be, it has no wildness to it. It’s all marked off and manicured. I expect Scotland to be more vital.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anon July 25, 2006 at 3:20 pm

Is that 550 miles as the crow flies, or as the English road winds?

Claire July 25, 2006 at 5:50 pm

Think sheep herds crossing at regular intervals, steep 45 degree inclines, roads so narrow that you have to back up at every meeting of another vehicle (mercifully, if significantly, rare), encounters with tractors that have nowhere to turn or pull over for the next 10km of road… Need i go on? Yeah- i think 13 or so hours sounds about right. You’ll enjoy it though!

Milan July 25, 2006 at 5:52 pm


Ack! I certainly hope my two tutorial students will have their essays sent to me such that I can print them before I go. I am meeting with them the day after the second of these thirteen hour drives…

Rob July 25, 2006 at 6:06 pm

You’ll be lucky to get there in thirteen hours, I’d guess.

R.K. July 25, 2006 at 3:34 pm

That blue line looks pretty squiggly to me. I am betting that the distance listed is actual roadway distance.

Of course, that makes you wonder why they reckon 40 miles an hour will be the average speed.

minibus-blog May 26, 2007 at 7:24 pm

I have done this journey, not quite from Oxford, but not far away (and in a minibus)……took us 17 hours, not including stops!

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