Saturday, 17 August 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my own reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be:

Q1. Loch Harport

Q2. Soay

(N.B. for question one, there are several inlets on Skye, which match the description given but there don't seem to be lighthouses shown near them on the OS map, so the Eastender is taking a punt on the answer being the one with the Ardtreck lighthouse, which was built c 2000, on a headland at Loch Harport)

The initial clues place us most likely on the shore of Loch Harport, on the Isle of Skye, in Scotland. Loch Harport is around five miles long. There are other inlets of similar length on the island, Loch Dunvegan and Loch Snizort Beag, for example but these do not seem to have lighthouses on a headland near them. The Northern Lighthouse Board's website however, claims that the Ardtreck lighthouse, which lies on a headland, which can likely be seen from the northern shore of Loch Harport, was built c 2000. It is unclear whether the author is on the northern shore of Loch Harport, looking south across the water to the Ardtreck light, or whether he is on the southern shore looking across the northern tip of headland where the light is situated.

From the description given, the puzzle writer has most likely travelled to Glen Brittle, which is bounded to the east by the Cuillin mountain range. The highest peak in the Cuillins, is said by some sources, to be Sgurr Alasdair, at 992 metres or 3255 feet, which makes it a Munro. The mountain is said to be named after a Gaelic scholar and sheriff, called Alexander Nicolson. There is a reference to one of Nicolson's poems ('The Isle of Skye'), in 'The Clarion of Skye' newspaper, Issue 46, November 1954, page 12.

Travelling back up Glen Brittle and heading east, would bring us to the vicinity of Loch Sligachan and a twin peaked mountain called 'Glamaig'. The peaks which are referred to in the text at 2543 feet or 775 metres and 2208 feet or 673 metres respectively, are most likely Sgurr Mhairi and An Coileach and they lie south of the road on the southern shore of Loch Sligachan. Going east to the end of the road would bring you into sight of the Eyre Point lighthouse, which the NLB says was constructed by Charles Alexander Stevenson (born c 1855), c 1938.

Around nine miles south east of Loch Sligachan, lies Broadford bay and from here, you can likely see the island of Pabay, which according to several sources, does seem to issue its own stamps. Driving southwest from Broadford bay on the 8083,would bring you to a dorp called Elgol but it doesn't look anything like a twenty mile trip as the crow flies. From the village you can likely see the island of Soay, which according to some references, was purchased c 1944 by an eccentric author called Gavin Maxwell (born c 1914). Maxwell was a real character, he kept a pet otter, went exploring with Wilfred Thessiger  and was in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the war. He would probably be in jail today though, for destroying the basking shark population around Skye, which is what his book on the time he spent on Soay, is about ('Harpoon at a Venture' , published c 1952). Maxwell owned another island called Eilean Ban but this is in the wrong position to match the directions given and now has a bridge going over it. 2560 acres, equates to around 1035/1036 hectares and several references claim these dimensions for Soay, as well as it being home to the first solar powered telephone exchange.

Nine miles south from Broadford bay would bring us to the vicinity of one of clan Donald's strongholds, ie the fifteenth century Knock Castle (they also had castles at Dunscaith and Armadale but Knock seems to be a good fit for the clues given).

After finding the name ZEUS (father of the gods) in the Thunderball data a few weeks back, the Eastender's Javascripts have also uncovered some lesser deities concealed within the data, namely ISIS (Egyptian goddess), NIKE(Greek Goddess of victory) and LOKI (Norse trickster god and father of the Fenris wolf). 


Sat 10 Aug 13    10 R J [I] E 12
Fri 09 Aug 13 02 05 Y R [K] 07
Wed 07 Aug 13 04 V U [O] I 05
Sat 03 Aug 13 Q N [L] E B 10


Sat 10 Aug 13    10 R J I [E] 12
Fri 09 Aug 13 02 05 Y R [K] 07
Wed 07 Aug 13 04 V U O [I] 05
Sat 03 Aug 13 Q [N] L E B 10

Original data, substituted as shown below:

39 = A, 38 = B, 37 = C, 36 = D, 35 = E, 34 = F, 33 = G, 32 = H, 31 = I, 30 = J, 29 = K, 28 = L, 27 = M, 26 = N, 25 = O, 24 = P, 23 = Q, 22 = R, 21 = S, 20 = T, 19 = U, 18 = V, 17 = W, 16 = X, 15 = Y, 14 = Z

Sat 10 Aug 13    10 22 30 31 35 12
Fri 09 Aug 13 02 05 15 22 29 07
Wed 07 Aug 13 04 18 19 25 31 05
Sat 03 Aug 13 23 26 28 35 38 10



Fri 19 Apr 13 G [I] J M 29 E
Wed 17 Apr 13 B L [S] Y 29 B
Sat 13 Apr 13 C [I] K O S  L
Fri 12 Apr 13 F H [S] 36 37 K

Original data, substituted as follows, shown below:


Fri 19 Apr 13 07 09 10 13 29 05
Wed 17 Apr 13 02 12 19 25 29 02
Sat 13 Apr 13 03 09 11 15 19 12
Fri 12 Apr 13 06 08 19 36 37 11

Read more about the words generated by Lotto machines, here:

Lotto Coderwords in the Thunderball game

Link to the competition:

Where Was I?


  1. There is a lighthouse at Watermish Point, the very northern tip of Loch Dunvegan, but this appears to have been built in 1924.

    The first possible place from which the author may have "gazed across the northern tip of a five-mile inlet towards a headland" is on the southern shore of Loch Harport, specifically, the Portnalong Pier at the end of the B8009. However, I would suggest that the intervening topography would not afford a view of the Ardtreck Point Lighthouse, (est 2000), from there. The second and more likely location, is Boust Hill, (north of Gesto Bay) on the northern shore from where there is an uninterrupted view.

    Driving south east from Sconser Lodge on Loch Sligachan for 9 miles would bring you to a point on the A87 which would provide a view of Pabay. From there the distance by road to Elgol would be 18-19 miles approx. But this location is not "on the shores of a broad, sparkling bay." Broadford Bay is some 4 miles nearer to Elgol.

    Dunscaith Castle dates possibly from the 13th century built on a former fortified site whereas Armadale Castle appears to have been a former mansion house constructed circa 1790 and then extended in 1815.

  2. Good detailed analysis there Flonska, I initially thought that he was on the north shore of Loch Harport but the somewhat sketchy directions given after leaving there, suggest he could also have been on the southern shore, though I think you are correct in that there is a land mass between an observer on the Portnalong pier and the Ardtreck light, which prevents it being seen from there. I checked the build dates on all of the lighthouses I could find references to on Skye and only found one c2000, which was Ardtreck.