The Road that Led to Skye

A one-of-a-kind road trip was on the charts that April in 2014. The kinds that throw up views like the one you see above, of the Red Cuillin, streaky cones of lava deposits thrown up by volcanic eruptions roughly 60 millions ago. Easter holidays were around the corner holding the promise of this remote and ancient landscape.

I had just returned home that spring, chuffed by a girly vacation at the time, made up of giggles, gelatos, ‘mamma mias‘ and wine by the sea in Sardinia, to a pouty husband and a trip to the upper reaches of Scotland, the day after. Anticipation is a sweet thing.

In the wee hours of the morning, accompanied by a couple of girl friends, Adi and I started for the Inner Hebridean island of Skye in our rented car. Located off the mainland of Scotland, Skye is shaped like the claws of a lobster. Or an isle with wings. You choose what takes your fancy.

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The distance from Northampton to the cottage that we had rented on the isle measured 570-odd miles. A matter of 11 hours if you travel at a stretch. But that can never be because there are the practical necessities of being human. Halting for loo, coffee and food breaks. So there we were, three exuberant girls and Adi. Incessant jabber and a spot of backseat driving too. You could almost hear the gnashing of my husband’s teeth (good thinking to pack in the tube of Sensodyne).

At Glasgow six hours later, we were delayed by the powers that held sway over us. A malignant anti-lock brake system made it necessary for us to stop at the Glasgow branch of the car rental agency. It was the last big stop because when you make a foray into the Hebridean islands you realise fast that you are alienated from everything except nature.

The veil of tiredness that had smothered the drive was lifted visibly once we entered the Highlands. We were back in that ancient land peppered by crumbling castles; roadside pipers bagpiping plaintive tunes atop hills that roll off into the glens; granny pines framing the roads and snow-capped mountains looming ahead. Such dreams are woven on the roads that take you through the Scottish Highlands.

Then there’s the possibility of encountering kelpies – those shape-shifting water spirits who inhabit the impossibly blue waters of the lochs – and the thrilling prospect of Nessie trundling across your path (yes, yes never give up on that old girl). Or being transported into another world peopled by bonnie princes and fierce clansmen. There is such poetry in the landscape. You see almost immediately why Sir Walter Scott wondered on paper, ‘Where is the coward that would not dare to fight for such a land as Scotland?’

Past the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, hamlets of the likes of Ardlui, the grand Ben Nevis, Fort William and we were finally on the Road to the Isles, the A830, that took us into Dornie to Eilean Donan. The sun had started the process of retiring for the day, in the backdrop of the castle, and with a touch of the alchemist turned the loch into a sheet of rippling gold.

Our brain fluids had meanwhile dribbled out, collecting into little pools at the bottom of our feet, but there it lay in front of us, the Skye Bridge, spanning over Loch Alsh into the Isle of Skye. Something had to be said for travelling in the year 2014 to Skye. A decade ago we would have had to pay a toll fare. There used to be a saying then, according to old-timers who did pay up the fare, per crossing: ‘Skye Bridge – the only place in the world where you get mugged And get a receipt.’

Forty minutes later after the beautiful crossing, driving up and down winding roads, we drew up outside our cottage on the Waternish peninsula to the spellbinding panorama of salmon pink skies tinged with lavender. The relentlessness of the past 14 hours was washed away by that view. Soon my head fell upon the soft pillow and as I slipped into blissful deep slumber to the gurgling sound of a stream gushing by, the sounds magnified by the silence of our surroundings, there was a momentary thrill that we had made it. That we were finally there in the heart of the wilderness.

 

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Ancient woods of pine
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Through the Highlands we pressed on.

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Loch Lomond
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The poetry of the Highlands
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Sunset at Eilean Donan
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Eilean Donan and the Kintail ranges
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The castle in daylight
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The laird pipes away
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Motto above the entrance to the castle in Gaelic. Translated it reads: ‘Whilst there is a MacRae inside, there will never be a Fraser outside.’
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Eilean Donan stands on a tidal island which offered perfect defence against raiding Vikings.
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Inside the castle
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I would suppose he is Saint Donnán of Eigg who brought Christianity to the Picts in medieval times. The castle is named for him because it is said that he had established a church on the island.
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Hearth and home
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The castle kitchen
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Skye Bridge
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Twilight gathers upon the Waternish Peninsula

 

 

 

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110 thoughts on “The Road that Led to Skye

  1. Okay, so all of your posts leave me bright eyed and travel crazy, but this one is even better. In less than a year now, we will be in Scotland and driving to Skye. *Big, giant, exuberant sigh* We will be driving up through the Highlands, taking a ferry to Kirkwall, then back down to Skye. Then Glencoe, Edinburgh, and sadly to an airplane that will surely make us leave. But anyway, loooove this post, as it is giving me a thrill of what is to come 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hahaha the plane back be the bummer. I suggest you sneak you way into one of those crofts and refuse to leave it. Be prepared to be bombarded by Skye? There are a few more posts to follow.

      You are in for such a treat. I hope you drive there because public conveyances are limited on the isle as your research would have revealed. Plus you can take the car almost anywhere you want. Ah, the Highlands, Glencoe and Edinburgh. That city has my heart too. Such dark, weathered architecture.

      Next year cannot come soon enough eh? 🙂

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      1. Seriously, I am ready to make a Scotland countdown calendar, I am so anxious.

        Our plan is to rent a car for the trip so we can take the trip at our own pace. Skye really is maybe what I am most eagerly anticipating, though I know I will love it all. Did you by chance hike Quiraing? It looks like one of the prettiest places I can imagine.

        We’ve already created a loose itinerary and booked all of our lodging (shameful, I know). I may have even google mapped the drives already to get an idea of drive times. I am obsessed!

        I can’t wait to read your coming posts…

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      2. The Quiraing is! My regret is that we did not hike. The weather was so fickle – as is quite a given there. You will find out in sweet time. We want to get back to do those hikes in Skye. And the people are just so sweet and lovely in Scotland. You will love them.

        You will have oodles of fun, I can guarantee. Just tranquil fun. If Cam loves his Single Malt, he has treasures in store for him.

        Thank ye. You are lovely as always, Kristyn. In a year, I will be sighing over your posts. xx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Aww sorry the weather was not good when you were headed to Quiraing. I was reading someone’s post in which they were hiking the Old Man of Storr and it was the worst weather–cloudy, rainy, etc.–but the wife refused to go back because she was determined to get clear pictures. So there they all huddled in the rain until the it stopped and the skies cooperated. And of course she got some amazing pictures. Me?? I don’t think I have that kind of staying power in the rain. I’m more of the wave from the car kind of girl 😛 But if weather cooperates, I am determined to hike through Quiraing and experience the beauty firsthand.

        Sadly Cam is not a whisky guy. He has tried, but just can’t get on board. And I am a weakling with hard alcohol, so I will be at a loss there too. However, not wanting to disrespect the Scots, I am sure we will still give it a try.

        You know, I heard 2018 is a great year for return trips to the Highlands. Maybe we will see you there! 🙂

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      4. The Old Man of Storr was my favourite formation. The weather in Skye can change in a trice. So you pack in rain gear and all when you go hiking. We were also a little lazy those days, K. Plus we had friends and you know how you gotta attune to others when travelling in a group. But really, I shall still say all lame excuses on our part.

        *whispers… When you put down that countdown figure on instagram, I was thinking, would we get back to it too? Adi and I were just talking and mulling about how we miss our life there. So maybe…! xx

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      5. We will be traveling with friends who also may not be eager to hike every single time, so we will have to pick one or two to push for.

        I am currently watching for deals on good rain jackets. Living in Southern California, we have never really had much need, but I know I will regret not having a good one.

        *yelling excitedly… JUNE 2018!! You know you hear the call of the Highlands 😃

        Liked by 1 person

      6. It can get unaccountably cold too so I would a good windcheater should help with the windy British weather. Basically, an all-purpose jacket.

        It is sensible to pick your hike/s, if anything, for the sake of not losing friendships at the altar of hiking 😉

        The call! Here’s my cue to go Misty-Eyed and Crazy.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I am looking at a lot of the North Face jackets that are 3-in-1. I am hoping maybe I can sucker my mom into getting me a nice one for Christmas. Maybe–I will have to be awfully nice for the next 5 months, which is not my forte. 😛

        And yeeeessss, let the call seep in. Let it drive you to the breaking point of buying airfare…

        Liked by 1 person

      8. You’re right, she is sweet. It is time to start laying the groundwork. Extra hugs, lots of compliments, and not at all subtle hints like links to the exact jacket I want.

        I’m glad the call is persistent. Well done, Scotland, well done.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You guys drove all the way there? I get crabby in three hour car rides! All that sitting. Still, it seems like all the views you get along the way are worth it. Especially once you reach the destination 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Can you imagine it? The British look at you twice if they learn of such crazy ventures. I mean they would declare you barmy. But these were the days when we used to drive a lot. This drive broke us in. We would never do something like this again!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow what a beautiful, beautiful place! I think this is the first time I am reading a blog post about Scotland. I haven’t been to the UK yet because I am too lazy to go to the British embassy and get a visa, but Scotland looks too gorgeous! I love the spring mood that your photos show too.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Go get that visa, Pooja 🙂 Let it not stop you from exploring the gorgeousness of the country! Thank you for the lovely comment. I am doing a series on Skye because there is just way too much to tax the reader with in one go. xx

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      1. High school is a grave time. Gives me the shivers to even recall mine. The good part is that it shall all stay in place until they move onto higher studies, so not to fret. There’s a time for everything after all. xx

        Liked by 1 person

  4. hehehe “Skye bridge, the only place you get mugged, and get a receipt for it too.” Feels a bit like Tax Day in the states too.

    And I know I’ve said this before, but I really enjoy your lyrical writing style coupled with the gorgeous photography. You’ve both really created a virtual trip that in many ways is far more immersive than a “real” road trip. I completely related with Adi’s pending need for Sensodyne…

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    1. You are so lovely, Gabe. Have you been called lovely before? Then know that I mean it as an attribute to your person. Those words make my day.

      The photos were a bit off, you know. In those days I used to tinker a lot with effects and I hate the habit now. So I think I have to return to Skye to get them sans ghastly effects. Adi inclines his head at you for acknowledging his trauma.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. being called lovely is so…lovely (and British I think?)

        I’ll admit, I don’t have the photographers eye. I just know when I like beautiful pictures, and yours never disappoint. So, I’ll be looking forward to your return trip and the new photos.
        hehehe I’m beginning to suspect Adi and i would be good friends 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Is this the start to an ominous friendship? Of stale male jokes 😉 I as the poor middlewoman.

        Is lovely a particularly British term? Hmm maybe you have a point there. Observant Gabe! Thank you for the compliment btw about the photos. I cannot wait to get back to that glorious landscape.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. hehehe if I’m involved, I can guarantee plenty of stale male jokes (I always keep a few handfuls in my back pocket ), but I suspect you’ll be front and center, rather than the “poor middleman”

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      1. I’ve done 12-14 hours a few times in Canada. And once when I was a kid my family drove down the entire west coast to southern California. It took three days, but we stopped a lot to eat things and look at the ocean and trees and stuff. I remember it being really fun 🙂 The longest that I have done as the driver and not a passenger is probably 7 hours one way.

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      2. See I was not wrong to declare you a gutsy girl. A few times?! I lost my mind on that one road trip. And as you can well imagine I was but the passenger 😛

        Three days of driving without any stops at night?! I would refuse to get into the car!!!

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      3. We stopped each night. I think if you were to drive straight there, it would take about 24 hours without stopping. But we slept in hotels and ate in restaurants. And we were kids so we had to get out and play a lot. There is some really lovely scenery that we had to enjoy.

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      1. I’m in England with my Mother and I tend not to interact much on here when I am with her (age 85 on Sunday) as I don’t see her as much as would like to. Normal service returns when I get to my new base next week 😉 xx

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      2. That is a big number alright. Please convey my wishes to her. It is great that you spend more time with her than in the virtual world. That is how it should be. Do scoff an extra slice of cake for me. xx

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      3. There will be plentiful cake and I will take any excuse to devour extra. My mother invented the expression ‘bun lag’ for those moments when you flag whilst shopping/composing great works/hoovering or indeed anything at all and need baked goods to revive 😄xx ps … wishes will be conveyed and I thank you for your kindness

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  5. Well this post just melted my heart!!! I love reading visitors thoughts on Scotland it makes me appreciate that little bit more! How amazing are you pictures?? Sunshine in Scotland? you got lucky girl!! xo

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      1. Yes it’s definitely a treat, we’ve had a couple of sunny days this week so it’s been glorious!!
        I’m in Stirling, so not in the Highlands but love to spend time further up North! Xo

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Stirling is so pretty. I loved the castle from outside but inside there were a million kids swanning around! And the town centre is so lovely. I remember a strange conversation on Latin with a barkeep there from another trip to the Highlands. xx

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahahaha thanks Cherylene. Another award! I love you for thinking of me. Truly. I shall do them – there are a few now I think. We are all busy bees in our own ways! 😉

      And thank you for the sweet words about the post too. I shall say thank you and execute a curtesy. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s absolutely wonderful to drive behind you and enjoy your eloquent style and images, Dippy. It’s like seeing all this places again through your lense this time. Smashing post! 🙂

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      1. Can’t wait to see them, Dippy. 📷 And to read you!! 📖 You are the most gorgeous person in writing to follow. Your English is so sophisticated, funny and informative and I learn a lot reading you. 💕

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hiya, we have been around a bit. Edinburgh and the Highlands. What remains on my list are the far-off Hebridean islands and a few hikes in and around the Highlands. What about you? P.S.: It is a dull-as-it-gets rainy day on the other side of the pond too. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Not sure what I loved more, your vivid description prior to the reveal, or the flawless photography. Awesome post, my best friend lives in Scotland, need to visit him eventually. Gravitating towards Asia though so don’t know when it’ll happen haha

    Liked by 1 person

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