We started our second day at Skye retracing some of the previous days sites we had passed and then on to another loop road, visiting the Fairy Glen, a series of enchanting and strange grass covered rock formations and ruins giving it the appearance of well...a fairy glen or Hobbiton. We visited some old MacDonald castle ruins along the ocean, which is haunted by a noble who was tortured to death by being deprived water and fed only salted beef, and a nanny who was executed after she dropped a baby off one of the high walls. The only company we had was of a herd of sheep here, unfortunately no ghosts.
We went to Neist Point lighthouse, quite literally the most beautiful setting for a lighthouse I have ever seen and straight from a postcard.
We decided to try to hike out to the Fairy Pools, thinking it would be nice to take a dip being as the temperature had risen to record highs in the mid 70’s. Upon arrival we found hundreds of cars and a long steep hike to the pools which would surely be spoilt if more than a dozen people were present. Of course
the road here was a treacherous single track with sheer drops off each side and loads of traffic. During one of the turns I dropped off the asphalt into a ditch, which I had done numerous times before but this time it punctured the sidewall of the tire, causing a blowout. I was able to safely pull to the side, thinking I would just change the tire and be on our way in no time but to my surprise there was no spare tire in the vehicle. Turns out most rentals don’t carry spares because they want to save money but claim don’t want you changing their tires for safety reasons. I called the rental agency, Europcar, and they transferred me to the R.A.C., equivalent to AAA, and was told 60-90 mins, no sweat I thought. Well it took 5 1/2 hrs and we were given a myriad of excuses for the delay from they couldn’t find us to there was a wreck on the road so the driver was delayed. Either way the nearest significant town was 10 miles away but they sent a tire from a 3 hr drive away, completely absurd. So the tire eventually came at
about 7:30 pm after we exhausted all our water, tea, smoked oysters, oatcakes, salmon pate, and cheese (suffering I know). So the takeaways from this for anyone reading is to please check for a spare tire or a canister of air or fixaflat, definitely take out the emergency roadside assistance if driving in Scotland, and for sure buy a local SIM card. Dennis and I recently started buying SIM’s on our trips and they have turned out to be extremely helpful allowing you phone and internet usage outside of any wifi area, which invariably you will be if you have an emergency. I picked up one for the network EE for about $20 for more data then I could possibly use during the trip.
Luckily the evenings are long and it was a full moon so I didn’t have to drive much in the dark for the remainder of our 3 hour drive to Glencoe, arriving after 11pm. I felt bad for our host who stayed awake for our arrival, but again having a cellphone was invaluable as I could update her as to our arrival. We were greeted with a swarm of midges (the Scottish version of awful
little flying biting insects) and the hosts and their beautiful golden retriever Jamie.
In the morning we woke up finally able to appreciate the beautiful site of the property we were on, nestled in a glen on the riverbank. There was a small herd of red deer grazing in the field outside our window. As we drove out of the Glencoe area we could see the scenery we had missed the previous night. This area is known as the Great Glen and it is a famous valley nestled amongst the tallest peaks in the U.K., many with patches of snow still on their peaks. We have said several times during this trip that parts of Scotland look like the Swiss Alps, which has been a running joke between us, but this area seriously did. One day I need to return with Dennis and do some hiking in this area along the Great Glen way, a famous 80 mile walking path.
We finished our last day driving along the Bonnie Bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, stopping at the “prettiest village in Scotland” of Luss, the William Wallace Memorial in Stirling, and Castle Doune. Castle Doune is made famous for
being Winterfell in Game of Thrones, Castle Leoch in Outlander and in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a little something for every fan. The last stop, which proved to be the most difficult to find was the Antonine Wall, in Falkirk. These ancient Roman ruins are barely marked and nestled deep in the woods about a mile down a foot path. The Antonine wall was the northernmost wall of the Roman Empire spanning 39 miles across the narrowest part of Scotland created to keep the “wildling” Britons and Picts separate from the Romans and have a defensIve fortification. These ruins are less visible and famous as Hadrians Wall to the south in the borderlands largely because this wall was made mostly of wood and turf so it has weathered away more than it’s stone sister.
We flew out of Glasgow early the following morning to Belfast, a short 45 minute flight on Flybe. We were both saddened by having to leave Scotland after what felt like such a short time, having only scratched the surface of this incredible country.
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