Updated: a day ago
Thistles and Coos are committed to bringing you travel information that is relevant and relatable. We use our own personal experiences to create applicable advice and stories. With our many trips, we have documented what we like to call “Life Lessons.”
“Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.” – Jerry Seinfeld
We encourage you to learn from our many mistakes, observations and stories.
Here is our Life Lesson #11….When trying to find Croggan, keep driving. It is over the gravel road that looks like you shouldn't drive on. Follow the road and don’t be like us; we turned around and didn’t finish the trip. #regret
I am a meticulous planner. Always have been. When I know that a task is at hand, I hardly sleep, move, eat, or anything else until I am completely finished. When I travel, I will spend minutes, hours, days comparing prices, notes, routes, or even the best restaurants to try while passing by.
Before Connie and I took a trip to Scotland, I made sure that everything was mapped out in my travel journal. I had my coloring pencils at one point and drew (not-to-scale) a walking map. Every turn was pointed out. What to look for. Up and down steps. Around the lake. The picture I drew was quite impressive, if I say so myself, and I am not an artist. Not even close.
Our trip for Scotland was approaching and we were headed to the Isle of Mull. I drew a map of the island. Pinpointed highlights and drives that we could take.
In the list of about 10, one stands out in my mind. There’s nothing fancy about the place but since it was listed on a website, it surely had to be something out of the guidebooks. I would be awe-struck, I am sure of it.
It’s name: (the mysterious) Croggan.
Fast forward to our Sunday drive around the Isle of Mull. 330-ish square miles of twisty-turny roads, single track lanes, and sights that will take your breath away.
We were in no rush for the day when we set out. The sun is shining, which can last a moment in Scotland. She can get a little moody in September.
I sit in the driver’s seat, and Connie waits patiently for me as I tear into my bag. Pull out the GPS, pull out the maps (hand drawn by yours truly), and start plugging everything in.
One thing that is great about the UK is that all postcodes that are entered in the GPS take you straight to the location, no matter how remote the place is, it can be located. You don’t enter any street names or cities. Just the code. Never lost! … except that one time….
Now, that I am settled, the little Fiat comes to life and we are off!
“Stay to the left… look to the right.” It never fails while driving. The chant that keeps me alive.
The day is perfect, we go the standing stones, while maneuvering over and around lots of cow poop in someone’s farm, we hiked a bit to some castle ruins, and we try some cheese on a working dairy farm. The day is starting out “swimmingly”.
Once back in the car, I look at my award-winning map and see a word: Croggan. It’s literally the next stop on our route. Let’s go to Croggan.
I put the code in the GPS and we are on our way. Back country roads, for a minute, I feel like a kid again. Windows down. Air streaming through the car. Perfect.
My GPS says that we are approaching our left turn. I look up and can promise you that there was a sign pointing to the left. The GPS, all but yells: Turn Left here.
Connie turns on the music and the Outlander's theme song rings through the car. We are whisked to a different era as we drive to Croggan. This is what Scotland does to me!
Luckily no one is approaching us on the single track road. Grass and rock on one side, and a lake on the other. The road could’ve used some TLC. It was bumpy and cracked. Grass growing through and the constant jostling of the car was making me a little nauseous.
“I think we must be going the long way. But there is only one way. We are on the right road,” I said squinting in the sun. The GPS said it was about 2 miles and we had already been driving for twenty minutes.
More rocks, more water, more sheep…. Where is Croggan?
Another 20 minutes of driving. No oncoming traffic. Wait… do I hear dueling banjos in the background. More music. More looking. Craning necks trying to strain to see where it could be. Did we pass it? Nope. It’s at the end of the road.
Where’s the freaking end?!?! I need to stretch my legs. We had been driving for about an hour by this time. No End... No Croggan... No Gammie!
We came up on the most impressive waterfall that surprised me on the approach. This is a great spot to pull over. #picturetime
My hair stood on the back of my neck and had an eerie zing in the air. I look around, nope, I don’t see any ancient Scottish ghosts lurking around a tree. It’s all good.
Connie and I have to sign anything we say because the waterfall gushed through the rocks and we practically had to scream at each other.
“WHERE IS CROGGAN?”
“I DON’T KNOW! LET’S KEEP DRIVING! IT’S DOWN THE ROAD SOME MORE!”
Back in the car. Keep driving. See nothing but land, water and rocks. After about fifteen minutes, I give up. Our dilapidated road has now turned into a gravel drive. Looks spooky.
We should drive on it.. Nah.. let’s turn around. Maybe Croggan is on the gravel road. It can’t be. My internal dialogue matches the one I’m having with Connie. She says “Drive on the gravel road”... I say, “No”.
The GPS is still showing we are almost there. But that has been displayed for the past 45 minutes.
Time to turn back. I’m done and not a little too annoyed with this long drive.
We wave to the sheep lazily watching us while eating their grassy delicious meal. They must know something we don’t, like, “keep driving on the gravel road”.
The car turns back in the direction we just came from and we drive for the next hour and a half out of there. #damnyoucroggan
Lesson learned and the moral to my story: Be meticulous when planning and listen to your friend when she says, “keep driving”. You might just find that elusive Croggan.
A few little side notes:
Stop for waterfalls. The power of them! Wow!
We saw Scotland have her fun with us. A little rain and a little shine. That created the 3 best rainbows. Apology accepted.
2 miles = about 1 hour of driving. Honestly, we drove about 20 mph. They don’t call me grandma for nothing.
When we got back home, I had to find Croggan. I got out Google Maps. Typed in the elusive Croggan. Sure enough, it was at the end of the gravel drive just over the hill and past the trees.
When in doubt, just keep driving. When we head back to the Isle of Mull, we will find Croggan and tip our hats to her … Just keep driving!
Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and follow the road less traveled. You might find something amazing or the end of a gravel road. Either way, you did the work and tried.
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that made all the difference.” ~Robert Frost
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