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2CV Alaska Challenge

March 13-15th 1999 - "Dress Rehearsal"
Trip to the Outer Hebrides

Loch Ness Dispatch

Fort Augustus, Loch Ness, Tuesday 16th March 1999.

Dear Mom:

We made it... on a mere five litres of petrol we made it across the Harris Mountains yesterday, Monday morning, but only just... we left Tarbert, Isle of Harris, at 5am, and drove straight into the teeth of a howling gale. The rain was being hurled horizontally straight off the ocean; the wind was throwing right and left hooks; visibility was practically zero as we fought to keep the car on the narrow mountain road. Yeah Gods, it got so bad that I almost started writing poetry.

Battered, bruised, but still in one piece, the 2CV staggered into Stornoway just before 6am, where we discovered that the 6.15 ferry was being delayed because of the bad weather. A cafe was found, where we huddled over hot mugs of tea and watched the angry storm through steamed-up windows. The MV Isle of Lewis finally sailed at 10am. It seems we were lucky: sometimes, when the weather gets really bad, the ferry can be delayed for 3 days.

After an uneventful crossing we arrived in Ullapool at 1pm; back on the Scottish mainland, where the rain still cascaded from the heavens. During the 80 mile drive south to Loch Ness, sheep became a part of our lives again, but these sheep were much saner than their Hebridean counterparts, which you can identify by their wild staring eyes.

The driving rain had started leaking into the 2CV, through the front ventilation flap, so we used coffee mugs to collect the streams of water. The suspension on a 2CV gives it a peculiar rolling motion, which combined with the heavy rain and streams of water coming into the car made us feel as though we were in a lifeboat; and talking of lifeboats, Loch Ness is the only loch in Scotland which has its own dedicated lifeboat service. There was no sign of the monster, though, and we reckoned that Nessie must have taken a cheap package tour to Benidorm to escape the weather. By now the rain was starting to leak through the roof, and the coffee mugs were overflowing. Jose and I looked at each other: it was time to go home.

Postscript: during the Outer Hebrides trip our fully-loaded 2CV did nearly 2000 miles, over some of the roughest roads and through some of the most extreme weather conditions that can be found in northern Europe. The fuel tank shield was smashed during the drive across the Harris Mountains, and the car began to leak water towards the end of the trip, but apart from these things the car performed perfectly. Citroen 2CV’s never cease to surprise us. They really are quite amazing cars!

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These Bulletins originally appeared on The 2CV Alaska Challenge web site and remain the copyright of Rob Godfrey.