When I last left you, we were headed west, beyond Fort Cameron to the coast where a multitude of little islands and inlets create Scotland’s western shoreline.
From the Port of Mallaig, we hopped a quick ferry across the Sound of Sleat. It was a chilly crossing on the upper deck but the mountainous shorelines were too pretty to view from inside.
Arriving in Armadale, we wove our way up the coast, stopping at roadside stands and enjoying the views of the idyllic countryside, sheep and all. We made our way about an hour north to Portree, another port town. On my brother’s advice, we chose to make Portree our home base on the Isle of Skye as it’s the most populated and there’s actually something to do there past 6pm.
The next morning, on the advice of our innkeeper, we set off to complete the northern loop of the island, the forefinger on the map below, if you will. Her one warning to us – you must have nerve to drive the loop. We deemed ourselves up to the challenge.
The loop turned out to be a 3+ hour adventure drive, with many single lanes (remember – driving on the left!) and incredible ocean vistas. We opted to stop numerous times along the way, enjoying the ragged cliffs and enjoying a picnic lunch. Excitingly, scientists have recently discovered dinosaur tracks along this stretch of land. Though we saw no evidence, it is possible to imagine jurassic beasts roaming this epic landscape.
As we only had one full day on Skye, we next opted to drive about 45 minutes southwest of Portree to view the Glen Brittle Fairy Pools. One thing to note on Skye – you cannot rely solely on GPS as you quickly become rural and signal disappears.
The Fairy Pools proved the perfect chance to stretch our legs and hike the fairly easy 1.5km path into the falls themselves.
Rust colored markings on the rock face accented the falls against the rich chocolate-brown earth.
With the olive-toasted grass not yet in bloom, the purple heather mountains looked as soft as velvet against the moody April sky.
After another self-made pub crawl, this time through Portree, we awoke the next morning to warm temperatures and beautiful sunshine. We opted to head south to Armadale Harbor and get in line for the ferry. With shops and restaurants harborside, there was plenty to do despite a departure delay for our ferry.
From Mallaig, we drove back to Fort Cameron, this time opting to stay the night and explore what the area had to offer. We toured the Ben Nevis Whiskey Brewery, guided by a local Cameron (my dad’s family’s heritage). We learned about the use of the fresh mountain waters found above town and sampled a 30-year-old vintage.
Fort Cameron seemed pretty built up and a bit touristy but the loch across from our hotel was lovely at sunset.
Our final day provided the only steady rain of the trip for which we felt lucky as April in Scotland is not known for beautiful weather. We drove out of the Highlands through the Glencoe region, which I’d love to return to someday. More beautiful roadside vistas enhanced by epic cloud cover made the drive worth it.
Stopping at Stirling Castle, the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots, we thoroughly enjoyed our digital tour of the newly renovated halls. I was delighted to find that Stirling was the original home of the famed Unicorn tapestries, a focus of study in my college Art History courses.
Back in Edinburgh, we were joined by a good friend of mine from Medfield. She hopped a train up from Newcastle and we throughly enjoyed our final, foggy night in Edinburgh.
Though I was sad to say goodbye to Scotland, I look forward to returning and continuing to explore. It’s a truly gorgeous place with many hidden gems left to discover.