Really early start – we were all in the bus and on our way by 8am. Our tour bus had 28 people in it – so bigger than our Ireland one and a greater variety of nationalities and ages. Our guide ‘Neil’ was very funny – wore a kilt and was a great storyteller. It was a long day of driving – the Isle of Skye which was where we were heading was right at the other side of Scotland and a lot higher than Edinburgh – but we had plenty of stops at interesting places. I was surprised at Scotland but in a good way. It was very different to what I was expecting but when I try to think what exactly I was expecting I can’t think of what it was – all I know is that it wasn’t what I was expecting!! But Scotland was beautiful – really open, rugged and rough and just so wild. Looking out the window was never boring as the weather was constantly changing so one minute it would be fine, the next snowing, the next raining the next a white wash out!! The mountain ranges were just so pretty and mostly snow capped. Apart from the odd fenced fields with cattle or sheep, or when we passed through a tiny village with scattered white stone houses it was very open and empty. We drove north through the highlands and stopped at Culloden Battlefield (Apparently the Gallipoli equivalent in Scotland) which was a big open field with blue and red flags to denote England and Scotland and their battle movements. There were also stone monuments with different clan names to show where they were buried. We stopped at a bridge where some crazy people dipped their faces in the water in response to a story Neil told about gaining eternal beauty but I was frozen enough already just standing outside so didn’t. We of course stopped at the Loch Ness – it was so much bigger than what I was expecting and really misty when we were there so it looked really cool. Unfortunately we didn’t spy Nessie but I’m sure she’s out there!!
We crossed the bridge from the mainland of Scotland to Skye and drove to our tiny village called Kyleakin where we spent the next two nights. The hostel was a house transformed into a hostel so it had a lovely lounge room with a big fireplace. K, C, C and I walked up to the Indian restaurant and had dinner – it was either that or the pub (everything else was closed , in fact everywhere we went today was closed and it was difficult to find public toilets or places to buy lunch due to the public holiday) It was a delicious meal and we had a nice chat about mission – overseas, short term and long term etc and it was cool to be able to talk about our opinions and discuss our ideas on them. We walked back and had an early night – it was strange although I napped on and off on the bus I was still exhausted.
The next morning we spent driving around Skye stopping at various places. We left early and it was still dark (in fact the whole time we were in Skye we didn’t get to see Kyleakin in the light – we always left and arrived when it was dark which was unfortunate as it was on the coast and a fishing village and I think would have been really pretty) We didn’t get much sun all day – lots of rain and cloud but it was still lovely. We had great timing – it would only be lightly raining when we would have to get out and then pour when we got back in the bus (mostly!!) We drove up the east coast to the northern peninsular and went t Dunbeag Broch which was stone fortress. We had to walk through wet snow and mud and unfortunately one of my wellies had a small hole so it got filled with water pretty quickly while the other stayed dry!! We had lunch in Portree, the main town of Skye and had soup and then continued on to another photo stop of a waterfall with snow in the background. We looked at Tobhta Uachrach which were some pretty impressive cliffs. Next stop was Kilt Rock where our guide Neil showed how a real Kilt was worn – it was more like a dress and used like a sheet worth of tarten material. Then we got back on the bus but stopped pretty soon after as there was a field of Highland cows – everyone was so excited to see and take photos of these cows – they were so cool, all shaggy with big horns! We then went to Duntul Castle which was stone ruins and then our last stop was the ‘Faerie Glen’ which was really pretty – this mountain area with small cone shaped hills all over which looked like they could be fairy homes and pretty rock formations. Got back to our hostel and had dinner at the pub – then played Pictionary til late.
Our trip back was nice, a bit quieter in the bus (6 people had caught a throwing up bug – luckily not me – but meant that people slept alot on the bus or were at the front of the bus in case they were sick again) We drove back over the bridge to the main land and drove to a tiny town where we had a quick stop, there was a small museum will collections about soldiers and the different wars they have been involved with, there were some stories of how certain men earnt their Victoria Cross Medals which were really interesting. It was planned for us to have a picnic at Ben Nevis – the most impressive mountain in Skye but it was raining and really wet so instead we drove past the spot where we would have stopped (it was so beautiful, had a brilliant veiw of Ben Nevis and a loch) and then stopped in a cafe called ‘Green Wellies’ which was busy but hot food was nice! We drove into Stirling where we stopped at the Wallace Monument which is a really big tower to celebrate the man William Wallace (I really need to watch the movie Braveheart now) It was a walk to get to the tower and we had half an hour to explore inside whiuch had 3 levels and different displays including WW’s sword (which was over 6 ft long!!) It was really windy so we weren’t allowed to go to the top outside platform but even at the bottom of the monument there was a great veiw of the city as it was on a hill anyway. We drove through Glencoe and stopped at the three sisters for one last amaying photo opportunity and then arrived back at Edinburgh pretty tired but made dinner and played pictionary again.
So go visit Skye … its beautiful and I would love to go back again in the summer or spring where, although there wouldn’t be any snow there would be more opportunities to explore the mountains!