October 1, 2023

Scottish Highlands and Isle Skye Tour

Mitzi ventures out into the Highlands.

Scottish Highlands and Isle Skye Tour

I've always wanted to see the Highlands of Scotland and Isle of Skye.  I booked a 4 day tour and kissed Damon goodbye for a few days.  

But first a delicious breakfast :).

DJ walked me up to my bus and took my picture as I climbed on.  I took his picture behind my dark bus window.

Day 1 : There are 15 passengers on this Mercedes bus and 1 tour guide driver.  The plan is to travel and explore about 10 hours per day.

Stop 1 : Forth Bridge.  Three bridges, side by side,  spanning the Firth of Forth.  An 1890's trussed railway bridge, A 1964 Long Span Suspension Bridge, and A 2017 a 3 Tower Cabled Stay Bridge.   Humans are so amazing with engineering!

Stop 2:  Gateway to the Highlands: Pitlochry.  Flowery and Green darling little railway town.

Public bathrooms are rare in Europe.  Most are disgusting and you pay to use them.  I decided to buy a piece of Raspberry Cheesecake in a bakery and use their bathroom before climbing back on the bus.  It was a good choice!

Stop 3:  Loch Ness.  The canal and lock system that connects the 4 large Lochs across the tectonic fault line in Scotland is amazing!   This particular lock connected Loch Ness and Loch Oich.  There were 4 locks that rose 30 meters. Amazing!  

It rains off and on...... constantly :). The clouds move quickly across the sky.  We spend and hour or two driving between stops and its just gorgeous!

Stop 4:  Eilean Donan a 13th Century Castle.  I paid 11 pounds to cross the bridge and tour the inside.  Pictures were not permitted inside, but it was beautifully restored to a modern castle where people actually live sometimes :)  

After the Castle we drove over the bridge to the Isle of Skye and checked into a small bed and breakfast called Cliff House for the evening. It was right on the Sea! Warm and Dry :). I had no desire to walk in the dark cold rain to the local pub for food...... so I dined on some Scottish biscuits and an apple I had in my backpack :). (this would become the usual)

Day 2

Stop 1: A Supermarket..... where we all stocked up on backpack food :)

Stop 2:  The Bridge between the Vikings and the Clans

Most stops have some folk lore story behind them.   This bridge was to be the meeting point and wedding spot between two rivaling groups in Scotland.  As the Bride approached the bridge she fell from her horse and damaged her face.  She felt terrible about her accident and knew it would most likely result in the wedding cancelation.  Then a fairy appeared and told her to dip her face in the river for 7 seconds.  When she lifted her face out, she was healed.  The wedding proceeded and peace was in the land.  

Several people in our group tried it!  I was not prepared for such adventures and worried about loosing a contact lens....... so I just watched.  But it looked fun!  :)  

More beautiful landscape as we drove.

Stop 3:  Dun Beag.  The remains of an ancient Pict dwelling.  The hike up to this dwelling was through a large mountain pasture.  Sheep poop everywhere! There was no avoiding it.

It was windy and cold on top.

Ancient Stairs.  Too Cool!

Stop 4:  Portee.  The capital of Isle of Skye.  I found a cool painting, purse, and sticker that said, "I Love Skye."  I bought them for Macall and posted them to her.  I did not take a picture???  They were cool :)

I also had a warm bowl of potato onion soup with bread here.  And another bathroom break inside the restaurant :)

Stop 5: Creag An Fheilidh.  A Beautiful waterfall fall cascading over the kilted coast.  

And then a drive up to the most northern point on Skye.  

Stop 6:  Arid A Bhasair.  An Old MacDonald Castle.  It's right on the edge of the sea.  So rugged and beautiful.

And some of the craziest blasts of wind!  Taking a selfie up there was comical!

Beautiful Desolate Valleys.

And this big gal out for a stroll.  Literally coming right down the middle of the road.  We eventually just stopped and she finally went around us :)

Stop 7:  I can't remember..... but we stopped for a quick gas station break and this darling cow carved of wood was outside the door :)

Stop 8:  Cuith Raing.  One of the most beautiful look out spots I've ever seen. You feel like you're standing on the  edge of a fantasy film.

I should also say the road to get to all of these places were one lane golf cart paths at best.  Filled with pot holes and agriculture.  The bus driver did and amazing job!

And yes, those white dots in the last photo are sheep.  Northern Scotland has something like 11,000 sheep.  I think I saw most of them :)

By evening it was raining heavily.  Another backpack dinner and warm shower back at the Cliff House.  The next morning the storm was breaking and a rainibow was visible.  

Day 3

Stop 1:  Fairy Pools.  Beautiful Geological formations and the most beautiful rock flower bouquets.

Stop 2:  Talisker Distillery.  Beautiful Store and the best bathrooms in the entire UK!

Beautiful long drive to the next stop.  The third picture shows a pine tree with the top chopped off.  A British fighter jet was flying a little too low....... and took off the top of the tree.  The pilot ejected and the plane went into the lake!  Yikes!

Stop 3:  Escape point for Bonnie Prince Charlie.  The spot where the boat picked him up so he could escape back to France after a failed Scottish Revolution.  It was a beautiful dramatic spot.  And I brushed into a patch of Poison Ivy!  

Stop 4: Maileg.....  To ride the Jacobite Steam Engine Train to Fort William.  I have been so excited for this activity...... and it was a total bust!  The train is so old and disgusting.  The windows are covered with filth and you can't even see out!  The Tik Toks I had seen, were clearly not this :)  Oh Well.

We ended the evening in Fort William.  Accommodations were in a modern hotel on a mountain biking slope.  Warm Shower and backpack dinner :)

Day 4

Stop 1:  Glencoe.  A valley of wild beauty.  There was and Infamous massacre that took place here in 1692.  38 members of the resident MacDonald clan perished as they were ambushed in their sleep by clan Campbell, who were acting on behalf of the government.  A tragic moment in the history of the Jacobites.

A sod hut has been recreated in the brilliantly beautiful valley.

This lone modern home belongs to a MacDonald family member.  Word is, they will never sell, to ensure a MacDonald remains in the valley.

The last picture shows the scars the last ice age produced as the glaciers receded.

Stop 2:  A stop by a pasture with a few Scottish "Hairy Coo's". They are massive animals that looks so charming to me!  I love the grey spot on the old black bull.  

Stop 3:  Callander.  A lovely little town with a charming church and street full of shops.  And a place to have a warm little lunch and a decent bathroom break.

Oh Wow!   I had to go in here! Darling selection of nice cottons and linens.  I buy a collection to make new baby boy a quilt.

Stop 4:  The Kelpies!  A most magnificent welded pair of horses rising out of a pond.

Back to Edinburgh!  I loved the extra little excursion!  And it was wonderful to be back with Damon again.  And to eat a real dinner again ;)