After finishing my hunt for the monster affectionally known as Nessie, it was time to move onwards and upwards to the next adventure.
My next destination was the Isle of Skye.
Skye is located up in the north-west highlands of Scotland. The population is quite small and spread out with the majority of houses being holiday homes and accommodation. The main call of Sky however is that it is really seriously proper beautiful. One of those places that if you make time to visit, you’ll never forget it. Even during the bus ride into the Isle, I had my camera out snapping photos of stunning scenery (with lovely window glare unfortunately).
Everything is very spread out on the isle. The main town is called Portree and located sorta near the centre with little villages branching out from there. There are public buses which run maybe three times a day. It is the kind of place where it is better to have a rental car. Otherwise with the lack of regular buses, and simply walking everywhere out of the question (it would take a whole day to walk from one side of the isle to the other, and you still wouldn’t see everything), the other option is hitchhiking which I hear is quite safe and common in the isle according to the Portree information centre.
I was lucky enough to find a fantastic day tour which was essentially a local man and his van that took me round all the main sights of the Isle for £30. If you visit Skye without a car then I highly recommend this tour as the guide is lovely and knows all the best places to visit with the best photographic views.
Clockwise from top left: Black Cuillin mountain, View over Portree harbour, Me and a gorgeous isle view, Kilt Rock, an interesting tree at the Fairy Glen.
Just simply amazing. Until the rain started and the resulting fog obscured the rest of the sights for the last part of the tour.
And the rain continued the next day ruining my plans to go check out one last sight – the fairy pools. Ah well maybe next time. Or as someone else suggested, look on google images and then you can pretend that you went there.
Image courtesy of travelpatch.co.uk, pretty sad I didn’t get to see it for real though!
It was the kind of rain that drenches you within a few minutes of being outside. It was a chance to relax and unwind for the day while the rain poured. As any Scottish person will tell you, rain and horrible weather is pretty normal in Scotland. I think it rains more than the sun shines. When planning your trip, be sure to pack wet-weather gear as chances are very high that it will get used!
Next stop on the adventure was another town called Fort William further south in the highlands. Fort William is surrounded by beautiful stunning mountains making it another unforgettable location to drive through.
However the main reason that most people visit Fort William is because one of the mountains right next to the town happens to be the highest in the United Kingdom – Ben Nevis. At 1344m it’s not hugely high compared to some of the mountains in New Zealand. But I still thought that hiking to the top of the highest UK peak would be a pretty neat thing to say I’d done. The mountain is meant to be relatively good for beginners with not being too steep and taking only four hours to reach the peak.
But Mother Nature didn’t agree with my plans. The dreaded rain from Skye followed me south and kept on pouring, showering and drizzling. When hiking Ben Nevis, it is recommended to have all of the proper gear including waterproof jacket and pants, hiking boots, gloves, beanie, thermals as the temperature and weather conditions are much colder, wetter and sometimes very dangerous up the mountain. I only had about half the recommended gear so decided not to risk it to my disappointment.
Instead I spent my time exploring the many marvels of the town (hint: there aren’t many), and catching a train for a day trip to Mallaig on a railway track that is considered one of the most scenic in the world. It also has the famous bridge from Harry Potter that the Hogwarts Express goes over in the movies. Handy hint with booking your Mallaig train ticket is that you can go with the Jacobite company on a cool steam train, or for a third of the price you can go on an ordinary train that goes on the same track.
Going clockwise from top left: Ben Nevis, Harry Potter Bridge, Village of Mallaig, and me doing my moves with a view of an isle behind me at Mallaig
Mallaig is a small fishing village. I only spent a couple of hours there before catching a return train back to Fort William. I ate some award winning haggis from the tea shop and it was DELICIOUS. The Mallaig fish’n’chips are also award winning too if haggis isn’t your style.
Image from hotwhiskey.com, this is what freshly cooked haggis looks like (minced sheep heart, liver and lungs boiled inside the stomach) before the restaurant staff make it look all pretty on a plate
And then it was onto Glasgow. I’d heard from a lot of people not to expect too much as it’s a bit rough there. I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that although Glasgow is quite an industrial city, it is still a charming place to visit with a friendly atmosphere. My favourite part of Glasgow was that the majority of the attractions are all FREE. Suited my frugal nature very well. It’s also a very walkable city. You can choose to bus or metro around but you don’t need to.
In fact the only attraction I did pay for was a musical called Dreamboats and Petticoats at the Kings theatre. It’s a great show and very sixties.
And some of the attractions I went to shown in photos:
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, worth a visit for sure
Clockwise from top left: a squirrel (so cute!), the cathedral, an exhibit from the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, and the Necropolis
Clockwise from top left: Glasgow University in the distance, impressive street art, possible tardis sighting, standing guard outside the Gallery of Modern Art
Glasgow was just a short visit, and my final Scotland destination bringing an end to my Scottish adventures. It was a wonderful and wet fortnight but I loved Scotland. My family have Scottish roots so it was great to see the land where we came from. I even found this Fleming clan book proving that Fleming is indeed a Scottish surname!
My family is really actually Scottish!
Next destination – Barcelona in Spain.