After having spent the previous weekend at home in Edinburgh (something I haven’t really done before), I could no longer ignore my wanderlust and thus decided to travel again- this time, I left the Scottish capital not only for a day, but for the entire weekend. The destination I had chosen was the Isle of Skye- a beautiful island at the West coast of Scotland. Once again, I chose a trip organised by the company IS Tours, simply because I have good memories of previous tours I did with them. Unfortunately, the friend who usually goes travelling with me got very ill this week, leaving me on my own for this trip. This may not sound too scary on the first sight, but I already knew that the people joining those tours tend to come in small, yet very close groups, unwilling to socialise with other students. Hence, I was a bit worried beforehand, but very quickly got to know some French girls as well as an Italian guy who were absolutely lovely, overall making the weekend a great experience! 🙂
The way from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye is quite far. Therefore, we spent almost the entire Saturday en route, visiting interesting places located along our way. In today’s post, I will present these destinations, just in case you are ever bored on your way to Skye, or simply want to find more places in Scotland that are worthwhile exploring!
Same place, same girl, same weather, but more than 6 weeks inbetween: The first stop of the day was Luss, the beautiful village located at the shore of Loch Lomond, the largest loch (when ranking according to surface) in Scotland.
This time, I even managed to take a picture next to the famous sign, where the countless couples marrying in Luss always take a photo (Don’t ask me why, I am convinced that the village offers a LOT of places that are more picturesque than this…).
Also, this time, the ducks swimming in the loch were accompanied by a strange species: Humans (without diving suit!) were snorkeling in the icy water- I am 100% sure they were Scottish, who else would be tough enough?
The tour guide also told us the origin of the (supposedly) famous song “Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond”: It was two men from Luss who were imprisoned due to their resistance against the crown. One of them was sentenced to death, while the other one was allowed to go home to Luss. The one who was to be killed apparently wrote the song for his friend. Hence, he, who had to die, took the “low road”, while the one who got out of prison alive took the “high road”.
When in Luss, make sure to pay the cute little shop a visit. Not only do they offer delicious coffee (well, my Italian friend disagreed, but I liked it…), but they also sell a lot of tasty Scottish speciality goods!
And if even that isn’t enough reason to stop in the settlement, whose Gaelic name means “dark village”, the lovingly (sometimes too much) decorated cottages are surely worth having a look at!
The second stop was at Loch Tulla, located on the way to Glencoe, which is surrounded by the remnants of the Caledonian Forest that, once covering vast areas of Scotland, was reduced to its small size by cultivation. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in our favour on Saturday, but we still managed to catch a glimpse of the beautiful landscape- and, in foggy Scotland, that is already quite a lot!
Afterwards, we walked (or drove, more accurately) in the foot steps of James Bond! On our way to the “Three Sisters”, a group of mountains that all look alike, we took the same road as 007 took in the movie “Skyefall”. What was undoubtedly an exiting moment for his fans left me enjoying the incredible nature that was flying by my window. The rough mountains, constantly attacked by fierce wind, are home only to cuddly, fluffy sheep eating the brown grass- pretty much the only plant that manages to survive in this area.
I fell in love with this nature, and, if it wasn’t so lonely, I would certainly move there.
The three sisters itself were covered in heavy drizzle upon our arrival. But that did naturally not stop me from exploring the area! I did a little hike down into the valley (and caught a lot of astonished looks from the other students on the tour), and enjoyed the fierce beauty of this abandoned part of the world.
In order to provide you with a bit of history you can take away from reading this, here’s the story of the massacre of Glencoe: In 1691, King William offered all Scottish clans (who were resisting his reign) a pardon provided they took an oath of loyalty before January 1st 1962. The chief of the MCDonald clan however only took the oath on January 6th, thus missing the deadline by 5 days. Even though he was promised that this would have no consequence, the crown decided to make an example and give the Highland clans (who kept being a thorn in the government’s flesh) a lesson they would never forget: On February 12th, a troop of 120 soldiers arrived at Glencoe and killed countless members of the McDonald clan.
After the short hike, off we went to Fort William, a small town whose main attraction is the fact that its located on the way to the Isle of Skye, making it the perfect place for grabbing a quick lunch and doing a little stroll to shake out the stiff legs. Also, it’s pretty close to the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis. Hence, it’s an ideal place for hiking enthusiats, too.
The small town centre was lovely! We enjoyed strolling through the peaceful streets, before eventually entering a delicious restaurant. The food was great, but more importantly for coffee addicts: You can get as many free refills of your favourite brew as you want!
There are also some very old ruins of Fort William, which used to be a prison back in its glory days. I naturally had to find them, but they are really not worth visiting at all: The only thing you will see are a few old rocks and stones covered in grass, just besides a busy street. Overall, not a nice tourist attraction.
After a quick stop-over at the viewpoint of Loch Garry, we reached the final stop of the day (before the island): The famous Eilean Donan Castle, the most photographed castle of Scotland!
Again, the weather wasn’t particularly nice- but when in Soctland, that’s something you just need to get used to 🙂 The castle is located on an island at the point where three great lochs meet. Built in the 13th century, it was almost destroyed during the Jacobite uprising in the 18th century and lay in ruins until a lieutnant retsored it in the beginning of the 20th century. Also, I recognised it from the movie “Made of hounour”.
Let me tell you, it is the most visited place in the Highlands for a reason! Even if you only have limited time, definitely make sure to stop at least at this castle- it is stunning.And even if you are someone who is not particularly interested in old stones and architecture, the incredible scenery around the castle will convince you to get out of your car at this place:
Shortly after this stop, we reached the Isle of Skye! However, the things we did there will be covered in the next post, so make sure to stay tuned for that 🙂
But before ending this text, I want to share my newly gained Gaelic skills with you:
Want to tell someone you love them or care for them? “Tha gaol agam ort” is the way to go!