Published: February 8th 2011October 11th 2010
The scenic route
We found one of many beautiful waterfalls on the way to the island
On October 10 we realized that we both had the next 2 days off. So, it was time to do something about it; get out of Inverness and explore Scotland. After all, that's what we're here for. Ashley had been to the Isle of Skye on her previous visit and decided it was a must-see for Dan. The next day we rented a car and headed for Skye. After a couple hours it occurred to us that we were pretty hungry and needed lunch, pronto. We pulled off the road into a restaurant parking lot only to find the restaurant was closed indefinitely. There were signs pointing to other small towns off the main road where we thought there may be a local watering hole with some grub. Unfortunately for us we missed the turnoff for the towns and ended up on the scenic route to the ferry to Skye, not where we'd planned on going at all. It was a beautiful drive up the hill, although it was windy and slow for our poor little rental. In hungry desperation we decided to turn back and go into one of these tiny towns. And we still lacked food once we got
to the little towns since all they consisted of were a few houses. We drove all the way down this side road and ended up opposite Eilean Donan Castle, where Highlander (the movie) had a scene filmed. It was a great view that a lot of tourists just don't get; silly them with their 'directions' and 'planning'. Seeing as how we hit the end of the road we turned back to get onto the main road. A couple kilometres down the main road we found the Kintail Lodge and Bar where we had lunch (if only we had know originally we could have eaten an hour and a half earlier). Then it was off to see the first castle, Eilean Donan (up close and personal this time).
Now, neither of us has never actually seen the Highlander movie but that's its claim to fame. We both really enjoyed this castle. It's beautiful outside and the inside has been recreated to resemble when the castle would have been in-use; spy holes into the main hall and all. Everyone coming to Scotland should definitely try to see it. Luckily, the castle isn't too far from Skye so we just continued on
From the lesser known side of the loch
our way down the main road to Skye Bridge which took us straight onto the island. One waterfall and nap later, we drove all the way to Portree where we settled in a hostel for the night. We figured it would be good to go for a bit of a hike that evening so we found a route after grocery shopping and dinner. Dan's a pro at navigating maps so he found the trail head just before dark and we walked along the coastline to begin with. It got dark as we began to walk inland making us both a little edgy. After leaving the coast we wound up in a lightly wooded area heading up hill. A couple switchbacks up the forested hill we heard a rustle in the trees. Moving along the path a dog happened upon us and barked; it seemed a lot scarier in the dark than it would've in daylight so Ashley was really freaked out. Finally the dog ran past us in the widest birth possible (but still following the trail) and we could continue our walk. A little farther inland we started to see farmland and houses in the distance with their lights
on. It was reassuring to know that if we were in trouble people weren't too far away. Luckily for us we didn't have any problems and we got to the end of the trail a little while later. When we got back to the hostel we hung out in the kitchen where we met some very interesting characters. There was a group of girls from China who were working and going to school in Aberdeen and an Indian man who had a visa to work in the UK. He was currently cycling around Scotland, on vacation from working as a rickshaw driver and living in London as a squatter. Apparently squatting is legal as long as you change the locks and post a certain law in the window; although still frowned on by the abandoned property's owner. Since these places are the squatters homes, most make some effort to fix the place up and respect the building. He was regaling us with tales of all the people he met in his line of work, the squatting lifestyle, and sometimes having to pack up and move to another squat in only a couple hours. Dan thought it was fascinating (and can't
help but wonder what it's like, first hand).
We woke up bright and early the next day to begin our drive around the north loop of the island. Our first stop was a random waterfall near the side of the road. It was beautiful and attracted a lot of people. When we first got there, there were professional looking photographers taking in the scene. It was mildly annoying because it was hard to get a good picture of the waterfall without them in it. We also came across a lake that was so still it had a perfect reflection of the mountains in it. So beautiful. The next stop was The Old Man of Storr, which is a neat rock formation on the island. We hiked right up to the base of the rock which was tiring for Ashley since she hasn't done a ton of hiking in the past. But it was worth it, especially since the clouds rolled in as soon as we turned back. As we headed further north we found another waterfall. However, once we got to the viewpoint there was a tour group whose leader told us about a walk down to another waterfall.
Hamina, hamina, hamina
It took some prodding but Ashley opened a random cupboard and found this skull...probably to scare the children who open random doors.
We said "What the heck?" and headed down the steep, winding path with them. Apparently, people go swimming in the pool at the bottom of this waterfall in the summer. I don't know about that; it would still be pretty cold. Next stop was a ruin of a castle on the very north tip of the island. It was a beautiful view onto the sea. This part of the island seems like typical Scotland: rolling green hills, sheep on the road and a ruin to top it off. Ashley insisted on getting lost looking for Skye Silver (a jewellery shop favourite of anyone daring to call themselves part of this Cowan family) where she admired all the pretty silver. She got so excited she even bought 2 necklaces. We also stopped on the way back in Broadford for a wee dram (of Drambuie, it's boasts being the birthplace of Drambuie).
We took the scenic route (by plan this time) back to Inverness that night via Loch Carron; not the fastest, most direct route but it was different. Many a loch view and single lane roads yet again. We rolled back into Inverness after that whirlwind, impromptu trip wondering what
was happening at the hostel. Spending so much time there, you tend to feel that you've missed something if you leave for longer than a few hours.
There are more photos below