It’s amazing how you see or experience a country each time you go back. I had been to Scotland on two previous occasions and I hadn’t even thought about visiting the Isle of Skye. Back then, things were a bit different; I was more interested in late night parties on continental Europe so by the time I arrived to Scotland, it was relegated to a rest and recovery stop and to spend time with family. This time around though, my goals for this European trip couldn’t be any further from previous occasions and seeing the landscapes and capturing them through photography. As a result, my research led me to the Isle of Skye.
The Isle of Skye is an island off the northwestern end of Scotland. The Gaelic word for it means ‘Cloud Island’, referenced by the Vikings from the cloud that usually occupies the Cuillun Hills, a 50 mile range of jagged cliff tops, white sandy beaches and a sparkling lochs. The scenery, hiking, camping and the castles are the main attractions in the area and the images that I found during my research were what caught my attention. The photographs of each location varied from moody and dramatic overcast conditions to clear blue skies, so it would be the luck of the draw on what conditions I’d get for the weekend. However, I was just in luck and the weather would turn out to be perfect as some would say.
I had originally planned on spending only three days including drive time, but the list of places to go and the distances involved getting to those locations kept growing so in the end an extra day would prove to be the smart thing to do. My course for my first day would take me from Edinburgh, in a westerly direction to Loch Lomond with a stop at the sleepy town of Luss and then northbound through scenic Glencoe, past Castle Eilean Donan and then across the Skye Bridge onto the Isle of Skye and finally straight for the north western coastal town of Dunvegan. From my research and chatting to Michael my brother in law, the best bet would be base myself here and do separate day trips to the North West, North East and Central regions over the remaining three days.
At first I was a bit nervous about driving seeing it had been about six months since I last sat in the drivers seat and that I’d be going solo. However, after a few minutes I was wondering why I was worrying so much. It really was like riding a bike, and coupled with the GPS running off my phone and the cheap unlimited 3G mobile data plans in the UK, I was driving like a pro in no time.
The first stop was the town of Luss, along the shores of Loch Lomond, one of the famous lochs in the country. By now it was fairly overcast and I was in need of a serious coffee break. Even at the $5 it would cost me, it would keep me going for the next few hours. The town is fairly small with a couple of streets lined with homes that look nearly perfectly identical, made of stone and with plenty of colourful flowers. At the end of the street was a pier that offered trips to the smaller islands in the loch where a few brave campers were waiting for the next boat ride to take them to their awaiting adventure.
After Luss, it was a 200 mile trip to Dunvegan along mostly narrow and winding roads. An example of how narrow the roads were, at one section the traffic came to a standstill as two trucks had to narrowly edge their way alongside each other with the embankment to one side of the road and the lake on the other.
From here onwards, the scenery turned into all sorts of epicness. I had images of Scotland being a baron space, covered in long brown wispy grass but the road between Luss and Glencoe was a mish mash of beautiful lochs, deep valleys and vast areas of pine forests. Between Luss and Dunvegan, what should have taken four and half hours ended up requiring closer to seven hours from the constant stopping to take photos. I’ll now let the photos do the rest of the talking for day one.
Stay tuned for day two of the Isle of Skye series.
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