I've managed to put off this post for quite a while, because I knew it would take such a long time to put together. However, no more. The four days that we took off from our time WorkAway-ing in Scotland to drive to the Isle of Skye via the Highlands were probably my favorite four days we spent in Scotland, if not my favorite four days we spent abroad over the past 7.5 months, and well-deserving of a post. So, procrastination be gone!
The drive from the farm where we were living to the Isle of Skye should only take between five and six hours, depending on which route you take. However, due to how many stops we made, it took us about 14 hours...we left at 7am and arrived at our Airbnb around 9:30pm. We pulled over for fields of daffodils, for ruined buildings, for pretty views, for picturesque bridges, for Highland cows, and anything else that caught our eye. It was verging on out of control. A few of the (230) photos we took on our way up to Skye...
D - Though it sounds kind of miserable, it was actually really nice to stretch out our drive and really feel like we could take our time and enjoy it. There was truly just so much to see! We especially loved getting up close and personal with the super adorable Highland cows!
We stopped for lunch at a Tesco parking lot in Inverness, where we drank soup from a thermos Caroline had packed for us that morning, and ate sandwiches in our seats. The farther north we got, the further the temperatures dropped and the more the wind picked up, it seemed. After lunch we decided to go into Inverness and walk along the River Ness for a bit, as well as along the High Street. We read some of Rick Steves' commentary in his Great Britain guide as we walked through the small but picturesque town, and then continued on our way.
Our next stop was the only place Danny said he wanted to go when we first decided to spend time in Scotland: Loch Ness. Only about 23 miles away from Inverness, the lake was absolutely not what we were expecting. I think in my mind I was picturing an average Colorado lake: pretty and big, too big to swim across (for the average person), but not so big that you couldn't see it all in one look. Well, turns out that Loch Ness is massive. It's surface area is 22 square miles, and it's deepest point is 755 feet! Our favorite fact: it has more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined. And, now that I've done a bit of research, I've seen that someone has indeed swum across it - in 1966 it took Brenda Sherratt 31 hours and 27 minutes to swim across the lake! Impressive.
D - It's true. When Shannon asked me what I wanted to see in Scotland they only thing I could really think of was Loch Ness. Thankfully for me (Shannon sometimes thinks my stuff is really lame/touristy/kitschy) the loch is grander than either of us had ever imagined. By far!
As we drove along Loch Ness, it felt like it would never end. It is so large! We finally came upon the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, which Danny was especially interested in visiting. It was well put together and consisted mostly of short videos in a series of themed rooms exploring the lake, its history, and the possibility of a Loch Ness monster. It debunked many of the past sightings and photographs, and I think we both walked away nonbelievers (although I really wanted to believe!). It's a little on the pricey side, and doesn't take more than an hour to go through, but if you're interested in Nessy, it's worth a visit, I think.
D - I think, to be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the exhibition. I would probably recommend someone instead just watches a Discovery Channel video on YouTube about Loch Ness before coming.
We left Loch Ness and continued our trek to the Isle of Skye, by abandoned phone booths and churches, glens and lochs, feral goats and castles. Picturesque driving at its finest, I tell you.
D - Around this point Shannon was becoming a bit annoyed because of how I kept saying "wow!" I couldn't help it though. It's probably easily on the top ten most amazing drives on the planet. I dare you to come try it without making some sort of verbal exclamation!
We made it to Eilean Donan Castle after they closed, which ended up being more than okay with us. We didn't really want to pay to go in, and the gates were open, so we were free to wander around, and for most of our visit, we were the only ones. A structure has been on the island since the 13th century, although the castle in its current state was rebuilt in 1932. Since then, it has been featured in a number of movies including "James Bond - This World is Not Enough" and "Made of Honor." It's a pretty fantastic location and we were lucky to experience it with so few people around - and with no rain, too (something to never take for granted in Scotland)!
From Eilean Donan, it was only about 15 minutes to the Skye Bridge, and then, we were on Skye! At last! We still had about 45 minutes to get to Portree, which we decided to stop in so I could try to call my brother for his birthday (no luck), so we kept going another 20ish minutes to our Airbnb (check it out if you want an amazing, homecooked breakfast every morning!). We got in later than anticipated and spent a while chatting with our hosts over tea, that by the time we finalized our plans for the next day, it was the morning. Oops. We can be so bad about staying up late.
Now that just this portion of the post has ended up being pretty substantial, I'm deciding to break it up and do the drive up in one post and our two full days on Skye in another post.