A Week in Scotland
Updated, September 2019
Road trip from Edinburgh to Isle of Sky through The Scottish Highlands
One could say the focus of our journey through the UK has been re-connecting with people with whom we have shared time with in the past and fuelled by a desire to touch base again. First Lars, then Simon and now Jo. We have talked about visiting Jo many times since she spent a summer with us in 1997. Jo came from England to work a ski season at Putnam Station Inn at Silver Star Mountain and stayed on for the summer. She moved into our basement on Nakiska Drive and we developed a close bond. Jo was very helpful with our kids who were 2 and 7 at the time and we all got along famously. Mik and I visited Jo’s parents in Southern England in 2001 but we had not seen Jo since ’97.
The scenic route along the coast led us to Scotland and Edinburgh. We were surprised by the wide streets, green areas and the architecture of the city. As expected, the absolute highlight was seeing Jo again and meeting her husband, Andy, and their two wonderful girls, Eve and Naomi, aged 10 and 6. The girls were absolutely adorable in so many ways and we really enjoyed our chats around the dinner table with the whole family.
Jo and Naomi had the next day off and led us on a guided hike to the top of Arthur's Seat. This huge green area has a fantastic view of the city and the seas. Naomi was a champ and climbed the hill no problem - oh to have the energy and stamina of a 6-year-old. It was extremely windy at the peak so we didn't stay for long. We built up an appetite on the hike and headed straight for the Royal Mile to find a spot for lunch. A peace march was in progress and I took a few documentary photos. After lunch, we explored the Royal Mile further and as in most major cities, the pride of the country was on display. In Edinburgh; cashmere sweaters and scarfs, kilts and highland clothing, whiskey and sterling silver. Walking back to Jo and Andy's apartment through The Meadows Park we agreed we liked this city, the cafes and the sense of it.
The Wallace Monument
We left Edinburgh after breakfast headed for the Highlands, as recommended by Joshua. With several route options available we drew guidance from our trusted family and friends and settled on the route via Stirling with a stop at the Wallace Monument as suggested by April. Admittedly, we only knew of William Wallace from the Braveheart movie featuring Mel Gibson. The monumental tower was visible for miles and was duly impressive. The historical account of the battle of Stirling where the Scottish defeated the English in this strategical spot in 1297 was equal in impact. It was humbling to stand in the tower and look down upon the battlefield near the river. When an experience or interaction causes additional self reflection you grow as a person and in my opinion, are very privileged. I find I have been mulling over a William Wallace quote the last few days.
“Every man dies but not every man really lives”
What a fantastic motto to live by. After lunch and my first and only taste of steak and haggis pie, we head north of Loch Lomond for the Highlands. As each mile passes, the landscape changes. From lush fall colours in the lake areas to vast rolling hills. Some resembling what we know from the Okanagan Valley in Canada but much larger and more impressive.
We decided to stop for the night in Fort William on the shores of Loch Eil. A Scottish folk singer entertained after dinner. Some of the songs were familiar and others new. A rather large and elderly walking group staying at the hotel provided additional entertainment. They were united in the singing and good-natured badgering between the Scottish and English. Everyone knew the words and it was rather enjoyable to observe and sing along when we could. A perfect introduction to the Scottish Highlands.
Isle of Skye Road Trip
When 5050 Travelog was in the planning stages in the fall of 2015, we threw ideas about and bookmarked sites we thought we would like to explore. Not necessarily a definite list of this is where we are going but more, wouldn't it be cool if we could see this or do that. The very first site we bookmarked was the Isle of Skye.
Isle of Skye Accommodation
Travelling and booking last minute as we do is sometimes a juggling act between cost, convenience and location. We booked two nights at The Skeabost House Hotel near Portree and we lucked out. It ranks right up there with the most memorable places we have stayed during our travels. With only 14 rooms the atmosphere was intimate, welcoming and cozy. The food was phenomenal. Scottish country style at its best. As we arrived a wedding party arrived in traditional kilts and the atmosphere was magnificent.
I will fall back on a cliché and say the photos in this post will not do the Isle of Skye justice. We tried very hard to just be in the moment, take it all in and appreciate the beautiful surroundings. More than once I said to Di; How do you photograph this place, where do you start? Surprisingly, I was quite content to not have the camera out for every twist and turn. The ever changing terrain was fascinating, the single-lane roads an adventure. At times it felt like we were the only tourists in all of Scotland. On day one we went north and made stops at Old Man Storr, Kilt Rock, and Quiraing. Day two took us west to Dunvegan and Neist Point where we climbed to the top and enjoyed a perfect view of the Atlantic and the shoreline. Although I had to hold tight to Di as she conquered her fear of heights. Luckily she was on her way back down and did not witness my stumble in the rocks. The weather was never really perfect which in a sense was perfect, as we witnessed Isle of Skye in all its rugged and natural splendour.
Photo Gallery with Travel Photography from Isle of Skye, Scotland
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