Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Great British Road Trip: Isle of Skye

On Saturday morning, we set out for the Isle of Skye. This is where Rob was most looking forward to on our whole trip, and we spent his birthday driving there!  (Not the best way to spend your birthday, but Isle of Skye made up for it.)

We drove up through Scotland and past Loch Lomond. Have you ever heard the song about Loch Lomond?  I sang it to Rob and he said he had never heard it before.  The chorus goes,

 "Oh, ye'll take the high road, and I'll take the low road, 
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye; 
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond."

It supposedly has to do with when the soldiers' bodies were sent home to Scotland by wagon after being executed in England in the 1700s, and their loved ones would walk home by the low, or commoners, road.

We also drove through Glencoe.
This is a really cool part of the highlands where a lot of outdoor scenes were filmed for the Harry Potter movies.  It was a looong drive to Isle of Skye. we almost hit a huge 8-10 point buck that ran across the road in front of our van, and we didn't get to our house until about 7 pm. Whew!

The next morning we headed out early to hike to the Old Man of Storr.  This rock is about 200 feet tall and landed on it's end during a rockslide at some point in history, and has just stood there ever since. This is a view from about half way up the hike.  The fog was just starting to roll in. 

Again, we got there before the parking lot filled up and the trail got crowded, and that was a very good thing. I can't imagine how busy these places get in the Summer!

The kids and I stopped at this point, which was a little over a mile up the trail.  It really was very steadily uphill the whole way and the kids were done.  From this point on, the nice trail all but disappeared and the rest of the way was scrambling up rocks. We hung out on a big rock here and had some peanuts and water bottles while Rob finished the ascent.
He took this photo near the top.

And this one from the Old Man, for proof.  

It was a happy birthday treat for him to get to do a little solo hiking, so I am so glad he went on! We could just see a red speck against the rock when he was there.  I wouldn't have seen him at all if Toby hadn't pointed him out to me.  Rob sped back down to us.  We had already begun to move back down the trail, because the clouds were getting thicker fast, and I didn't want to be stuck in the open in a downpour with four kids.

We next quickly drove over to the lookout point for Kilt Rock.  It was a beautiful view with the waterfall in the foreground.  We were here for about 30 seconds when the rain began to pour down.  I was really, really glad we did Old Man of Storr in the morning!

We then drove the long way around the Trotternish peninsula in the rain, just enjoying the views and letting the littlest ones catch a nap.  Until we came to the main town on Skye- Portree.  We took a Rick Steves recommendation and ate a late lunch at the Caledonian Cafe and it was awesome! Seriously.  I had a Highland bacon cheeseburger, with red onion chutney that was amazing.  Since it was still raining, we stayed on and had a dish of ice cream for dessert.  Rob and Charlotte tried the grapefruit, Toby had vanilla, and the rest of us had chocolate.

We decided to enjoy the beautiful house we were staying in for the rest of the rainy day and played board games, chess, and watched some cartoons.

This was the nicest place we stayed on our trip, and we were all ready for a little downtime on this crazy long road trip.

Just down the road from our house was Lealt Falls.  When the rain stopped, I took a little solo walk over to enjoy the views.  

It isn't huge, so we had to zoom in to get a good shot of it, but the area is gorgeous.

The white house in the center is where we were staying.  Old Man of Storr is in the background.

The sun did come back out!

I got back to the house just in time to catch the rainbow appearing out the back door of the house.  What a fantastic day!

The next morning we set out to find the Fairy Pools.
Rick Steves doesn't mention them, or include this spot on his map, but friends of ours recently went to Isle of Skye and their pictures convinced me we needed to find this spot.  Easier said than done!  I assumed (incorrectly) that there would be signs from Portree for tourists.  There weren't, but I knew it was in the Cuillin Hills so we headed that way. The thing is, no roads go into the Cuillin Hills, so we had to kinda drive around until we finally found a dead end road pointing the way.  We parked and set out on foot.

The path was generally easy, but did require stone hopping a lot of little tributaries. 
The pools themselves are formed by the river coming down a series of small to medium waterfalls.

Rob and three of his favorite people in the world, with three of his favorite things in the world- rocks, rivers, and waterfalls.

In the Summer, people come out here to swim, and even though it was in the 40s, we saw a few people trekking out in wet-suits who were apparently planning to do just that. 
For the record, I like climbing on rocks too... we just didn't want to manage Amelie out in some of these spots.
So pretty!
After the Fairy Pools, we drove back into Portree for a late lunch and some souvenir shopping.  Rob tried a haggis and cheese sandwich because he is brave.  But it was yucky. Then back to the house to finish up laundry, give the kids baths, and pack up to head out again in the morning.

We really enjoyed our time on the Isle of Skye!

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