Written Jan. 21
I’ve reached the Isle of Skye – and it’s nothing short of spectacular.
I’m squeezing in a last-minute day tour tomorrow upon realising that it’s a tad tough to see all the sites without renting a car (much like NZ and how I was too scared to drive a campervan). It’ll happen eventually, but since it’s also winter and the days are shorter, I figured it’s easier to have a local show me around in such limited time.
As per usual, allowing for transportation time cuts into a lot of my itinerary – and there aren’t overnight trains or buses like SE Asia. The earliest bus out of Fort William got me to Portree in 3 hrs (which flew by) at a quarter past 1, so I only had a few hours of daylight to enjoy this hub. It’s a beautiful village, quite similar to Mallaig.
However, the coach ride was absolutely amazing – once again, too beautiful for words. We passed by towering mountains (a few of which had remnants of snow), glittering lakes, plenty of forestry, sheep, rivers, and a few small waterfalls – basically, beautiful nature around every turn. The motorway is a straight shot to Portree, so we passed Eileen Donan Castle (closed until February, sigh) and drove across the Kyle of Lochalsh bridge (connecting Skye to Eilean Bàn). We’ve had amazing weather in Scotland so far – the warmest temperatures since I’ve been in the UK (even if it says 4 Celsius, it feels like I could walk around without a coat).
The only downside about the sun was that our coach was steaming hot from the radiator, plus the sunlight coming in from the windows made it even warmer. I definitely nodded off in the last half hour of the journey to Portree, which was unfortunate because there were likely more amazing views out the window.
Portree’s mountainscapes and beautiful trails reminded me of Queenstown – not quite as grand, but still magnificent nonetheless. I love it here.
And did I mention how FRIENDLY Scots are?! Every time I get off a bus, either the driver or someone nearby will ask if I need directions – and even when I insist that Google Maps is just fine, they’re already pointing me in the right direction. They’re absolutely the sweetest people ever, so it’s very much the same as New Zealand. I love Scots and Kiwis. I’m pretty sure I’m going to marry one or the other (I just haven’t made an effort to find one)…
I did the Scorrybreac Circuit per advisal of the info centre (again, the most helpful visitors centres ever), an easy loop around Portree Harbour and the coastline.
The views were dazzling. I was still racing against time to get through it (even with my hundreds of photos I snap along the way), because the sun sets around 16:30, but it ended up getting dark a lot later today. Every corner I turned ended up yielding even better views than the last, and I literally didn’t know what to even take pictures of anymore. As said before, it’s impossible to capture the beauty in photos and words alone. You really have to experience it for yourself in person to get the full effect and feelings of “Oh my goodness, this is stunning.”
(Lack of photos are due to limited WiFi in the Highlands and it takes ages to upload stuff)
It was probably one of my favourite trails I’ve ever done, despite how simple it was. There’s just something so majestic about the Scottish Highlands (Jono explains it all here). Very similar to New Zealand (both North and South Island), but also different in its own special way.
I loved the narrow rocky trail that led completely uphill (killer, but worth it) – right alongside a massive green hill of farmland which a herd of sheep were grazing on. It just made me feel so happy – to think that I was getting this freedom, hiking and walking everywhere and anywhere, finally experiencing Scotland.
It’s been so long that I’ve had a day off and quality solitude. I’m able to finally go anywhere, without needing a car and without worrying about a pager constantly going off to rush back to work. It’s just pure bliss. I’m going to miss this so much when I have to come back to reality in March.
The only downside to villages like Portree is that everything shuts at 5 (similar to Wanaka in NZ). I love staying out until midnight since nighttime is my favourite – but after circling around and around in the dark, there’s only so much to see. I did manage to walk through some of the uphill neighborhoods, which was lovely. There’s a particular type of inner peace that walks bring me – and because it’s off-peak season with very few travellers, it’s quiet almost everywhere I go. I love it. It’s also a nice balance to the chaos I experienced in London (although I definitely miss it, since I never ran out of things to do there).
I wish I planned for more time in Scotland… but alas, I still need to explore Wales and Ireland. Stoked beyond belief for tomorrow’s tour… although I’m betting our guide won’t be someone from the Harry Potter films this time. ? xx