Road-Tripping Scotland v.5: The Scottish Highlands

isle of skye sunrise in scotland

All Around the Isle of Skye 

Oh, so many ferries this trip. Not so many once we get into the Scottish Highlands, though. First ferry of the day required no booking. We arrived five minutes before the next one was set to take off and they had room for another car, so we made it on. From Fishnish to Lochaline. Our morning drive to the next ferry was pretty amazing. I think it’s the Ben Nevis forest area near Fort William. Lots of hills, lots of green, lots of water. Just pleasant. Not a lot of people on the road.

Driving Through Ben Nevis

We pulled over the take some photos and found some painted rocks on a picnic table. The rocks told you to hide them someplace else and directed you to a Facebook group. I took some photos of the rocks in the landscape and requested an add to the group.

Later learned some children enjoyed painting rocks and leaving them for people to find (positive, happy messages to brighten people’s days), so this mom started a “thing” of it. I’ll be posting the photos in the group later. I left the rocks where they were for someone else to find for now. (I know, I know. …Maybe I should’ve at least taken them to Skye or the Scottish Highlands with me? I’m a horrible person. Hindsight…)

found rocks in ben nevis

On the same drive, found a spring lamb catching some Z’s right in the middle of the roadway with her mum. This was probably the best up-close-and-personal sheep photo op I was going to get so, once again, tried to get the perfect sheep shot with no luck. Can you believe it? They got up and moved. Off the road, thankfully. The quest for the perfect sheep shot continues.

Welcome to Skye

Next ferry—Mallaig to Armadale. We weren’t booked until much later in the day, but got on standby and made the very next ferry which… left in five minutes again. Such good ferry luck. With this, we’ve finally arrived on the Isle of Skye. A couple hours earlier than we were scheduled to!

As were Islay and Mull, Skye was amazing. What’s interesting about the three islands is that, while they’re geographically one on top of the other, they all have completely different landscapes. Islay is very beachy with some green in the middle, Mull is foresty, and Skye is actually a bit like the Faroes or Iceland with dramatic yellow-grass hills.

The coastal areas are greener and rocky, but a lot of the center is super interesting rock formations where, even on a good weather day (like the one we were having), the clouds build up and create a menacing sky. We drove up to the north of the island and visited The Storr and Kilt Rock (rock formations), drove back down and visited Fairy Glen (waterfalls).

Note: Apologies, folks. The second photo below of The Storr isn’t mine; it was too cloudy to get any decent shots of it. Much thanks to Unsplash.com for having excellent free photography!

kilt rock on the isle of skye scotland
the storr on isle of skye in scotland

We kept seeing these biking couples struggling up these insane hills. Jeff would mock them, “Let’s go for a bike, she said. It’ll be fun, she said.” I love that he uses the term “she” in this example because, in this particular scenario, I definitely see the male in the relationship being the one to suggest riding a bike up a gigantic mountain before hiking an additional few miles to reach Destination X.

Our Gorgeous Hotel

Checked into our hotel, which was a completely gorgeous setting right on the water. It had a restaurant and a bar and a gallery. It did not have, as it turned out, a TV in the room or WiFi strong enough to reach the carriage house we were staying in.

When I closed the bathroom door, the back corner of the door was lined with mold from the ceiling to the floor. Very comforting. All I could think was that someone will real respiratory issues wouldn’t be able to stay there.

This aside, the room itself was beautiful, the grounds were beautiful. It was just disappointing that everything else couldn’t seem to fall into place. Almost the exact opposite of the night before.

islay hotel in scotland

Langoustine & Scotch Tastings

We had dinner at the bar and I ordered this delicious langoustine. The only strange thing was the very first tail I uncurled was female! Being from the US, I’ve never encountered a female lobster before and wasn’t even sure what I should do with it. Should I eat it? Is it legal here? Was this a mistake? Is keeping the females legal in Scotland? No idea.

So, I just… scraped the roe off and ate it. Then I sort of hid the roe under some greens I wasn’t planning on eating so no one would see that I ate a female. Seriously, though, it was already cooked. Not my fault. I guess the woman right next to me was served a female the night before and assumed it was legal here. She said she gave hers to her husband to eat, though, because she felt guilty.

Apparently, this woman grew up a town over from where we live now. Her husband was from the south of France by Switzerland and let Jeff and I taste a bagillion of his whisky and scotch purchases. An honest mistake on my part, but I’d started to feel under the weather the night before and started getting a cold. I completely forgot about this while drinking some random Frenchman’s scotch at a random bar on the Isle of Skye. …He’ll figure it out sooner or later, I suppose.

Tomorrow, we’ll be heading to the Highlands, but I’m so glad we got to see several of the major islands. And there are a ton of off-the-beaten-path islands in Scotland, too!


Onward to the Scottish Highlands

I woke up early enough to catch the sunrise, which was beyond incredible. Peaceful, colorful, and the perfect start to my Isle of Skye morning. Was able to get a few #nofilter pics for the blog and the feed. Moi importante! This serenity was very unfortunately followed by a cold shower, as it seemed there was no hot water in the water tank, which was just sooooo typical of my stay at this hotel. Fastest shower ever and mostly spent standing next to the water instead of under it.

isle of skye sunrise in scotland

Scottish Highlands Knee Surgery?

Jeff went to load our bags in the car for the Scottish Highlands while I collected the last of my things and did the final room check before we headed out. When I came outside, I found him sitting on one of the stone walls with grass stains all over his jeans. Apparently, he went to take a pano and, when he turned to walk back, he fell down the hill that was there and twisted his knee and toe at all kinds of weird angles.

Anyone who knows my husband knows that, after multiple knee surgeries, he’s super sensitive about the possibility of injuring his knees. Needless to say, he was a little shaken up. I thought I was going to have to take him to “Top Shop Surgery,” the surgery center we saw (and laughed at) in the middle of nowhere in Mull. God only know what they actually do there. He’s fine now, but his toe is a little sore.

Loch Ness & Inverness

Today’s drive officially marks our entry into the Scottish Highlands and involved a bridge to the mainland, as opposed to a ferry. (Thank god.) Impressive views for most of the day. You could pull over just about anywhere and find some random ruins in the distance.

We went through rocky islands, grassy mountains, and healthy forests. Our first major destination was Loch Ness, which was actually a total snooze fest. We drove the length of it and it was pretty much like every other loch we’d passed (and there were a hundred!), only marketed better.

Stopped in Inverness for lunch. Just long enough to get a parking ticket. We’ll take care of that later…

Clava Cairns & Highland Cows

Continued our drive to the Clava Cairns, some old Bronze Age burial grounds in the Scottish Highlands. This was kind of Stone Henge-y with large upright stones everywhere, but there were huge piles of stones in the middle of the upright stones that you could walk into. Almost like little houses. Three sets of them.

The creepy part was that you drove between a couple of the upright stones. Jeff laughed at me when I vocalized this. “As opposed to walking all over them like we just did?” I argued that driving on burial grounds seemed like an outright violation, whereas walking was much less intrusive, no?

There was a sign to walk to some old chapel ruins 600 meters on that neither Jeff nor I were particularly interested in. When I saw the Highland cattle sign, though… All. In. Drove a few farms over just to get some glamour shots of these beauties.

They’re hilarious. I love them. For the record, you could see the chapel ruins from the farm; looked super lame. Literally a square outline of rocks on the ground… as most ruins are. Highland cows= much better time investment.

highland cow portrait
highland cow portrait
highland cow portrait

Spring Lamb Rescue Mission

We moved through the Scottish Highlands to visit Cawdor Castle, where we decided we were too cheap to pay the entry fee. Fortunately, there were plenty of animals and gardens to admire outside the paid area. Dawdled around there before heading to our bed and breakfast for the evening.

tigh na sgiath bed and breakfast

The B&B was beautiful. Very traditional Scottish decor and a lovely garden to sit in while having drinks and appetizers. We were relaxing outside and taking the scenery in when we noticed a spring lamb wandering the road, just outside of its fenced area.

Cars periodically passed by and I was getting a little worried for it, being out in the street and all. Earlier, we’d seen a man just pick up a random lamb and put it back in its pen, so… I went to go do the same thing. Someone should save the baby animal, right?

scottish spring lamb

I ran to the front of the garden, where there was a rock wall with a bit of a drop down to the road. The drop turned out to be much further than anticipated and I strained all parts of my body jumping it. I’m trying to recover and a car drives by, scaring the daylights out of the lamb, who suddenly tries to jump through the fence to get back into its pen.

Well, he didn’t make it all the way. And was stuck in the fence, wriggling and baa-ing all to hell. I finally get over there and shove this sheep the rest of the way through the fence. We finally get everything situated and I crawl back up the garden to find Jeff laughing hysterically at the whole debacle. He was taking pictures of the whole thing. (No, I will not post them. Sorry.)

Scottish Highlands Finale

After all of the excitement, the evening ended with a pleasant, ritzy dinner in the B&B dining room. (Jeff discovered he likes duck!) Tonight more or less marks the end of our Scotland and Faroe Island adventures. Tomorrow, we head back to Edinburgh with a quick stop at Saint Andrews golf course. And I got to see Greenland again on the plane ride home! Until next time, friends…

st andrews golf course
greenland view from flight
Cheers signature

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