It was already one year and six month since I‘ve moved out from my parents’ and travelled to live in Scotland. First months were kind of hectic, I can’t even remember what I was doing back then. Plenty of work, the need to adapt to a new country etc. As the months flew by I started to be more interested in my surroundings and the country I came to. Not just the city I was living in. I have discovered something that just took my breath away. This was the Isle of Skye.
Those of you who recognize the name of Danny Macaskill might tap their forehead. Born on the Isle of Skye, successfull biker who has released many videos from the Edinburgh surroundings or the Isle of Skye itself, have millions of views online.
To live in Scotland and not to be aware of how beautiful this country is? Yes, it happened to me.
As soon as this place has pierced my heart I linked it with my biggest dream of going to see New Zealand (people often compare these two locations and if New Zealand will be better than the Isle of Skye, I won’t be here for long, haha) and I started to plan the whole thing. I have downloaded a picture of Old Man of Storr and set it as wallpaper on my computer in November.
The very first thing I needed was to find somebody who would like to go with me to explore the largest area possible on the Island. First problems occurred when I realized that none of my friends wanted to join me. That’s why I decided to write an “awkward“ post on facebook to the group of Czechoslovak community living in Scotland. And the fortune smiled on me that day.
One girl sent me an invite to an event which was organized quite regularly every year. It was a three day trip through the entire Island with a busy Schedule. I immediately marked myself as interested. This was a few months before everything was settled. To the last day I didn’t know if we will have a driver and if all of the brand new equipment I purchased (new tent, bag, hiking shoes etc) won’t go to waste. Luckily it didn’t. On May 27th I was all ready waiting at the station since six o clock in the morning.
I agreed to meet two guys that I have never seen before. Yes, pretty crazy, irresponsible etc. But it was still better than sitting at home and scrolling down the pictures on Google. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. In my case it was exactly like that. The guys turned out to be pretty cool people and we clicked right away. One of them has travelled the length and breadth of Scotland and had plenty of stories to tell about each place we visited. This was like having a Professional guide for free. On or way to the Isle of Skye (which took us approximately 8 hours due to some small breaks) we stopped at various places for example:
Little town of Pitlochry, namely the Pitlochry fish ladder where one of my new friends strolled on a dam which was a few metres above the ground like it was nothing. Just thinking about me doing the same made me feel a little bit unwell. At least I have seen real salmon there for the first time in my life and I must tell you, I had no idea how huge they are.
Unfortunately, once we reached Fort Georg (a military fortress which looks like a war missile from above) there were some troubles with the piping so we weren‘t allowed to go inside. Instead we decided to walk around the entire building and I have found the biggest seashell I have ever seen there. You can even see it in my Isle of Skye video.
Inverness (Loch Ness) Urquhart Castle – I have skipped this stop since I have already been there before. If you’re there I would definitely recommend sailing through the Loch Ness lake on a boat. It’s an awesome experience!
Eilean Donan Castle – this castle is situated in a magical place and if the weather is nice (as it was in our case) it’s really a splendid view. It’s one of the Scotland’s most popular castles and it was originally built in 13th century as a defence against the Vikings. Its name comes from a name of a Saint who was tortured to death in 617. We were pretty lucky when we got there since during our visit there was a wedding ceremony taking place. This i show I found out that such a ceremony at this castle costs approximately the same amount of money as a three-room apartment in Slovakia. Coming from humble origins, this amused me quite a lot.
After a few hours we met with our group at previously agreed spot – Glenbrittle Camping. This is where an interesting situation occurred. I was just starting to set up my tent with a friend and the guys from the camping staff started to throw us out. They were worried about the amount of people in our group. The lady who was managing the camp concluded that since there were a lot of us, we would be making some kind of trouble there. Perhaps it should have been like that. The evening was upon us and about 35 people had nowhere to sleep. There were only mountains, marshes and water all around us.
On our way to the camp we spotted some bikers who were burning a large tree on a fishy parking lot. After a while we agreed that we had no other chance than asking them if we could join them. We headed right towards them then. Harley-Davidson bikes, bottles of whiskey in their hands and a burning tree on the ground, why not? Haha. They turned out to be really nice and friendly people and they allowed us to stay with them without trouble. This is what our first night on the isle was like. People started to get to know each other and as I found out later on, some of them already knew one another before. We drank some stuff, played some stuff on a guitar, sang and burned and in the morning another day was ahead of us.
The next morning, first thing we did was that we went to the Neist Point Lighthouse as was previously agreed. What can I say? It was totally marvellous. We just couldn’t have asked for better weather. No wind, only sunshine. Given the fact that this kind of weather is pretty rare in Scotland, we were really blessed during the entire trip.We zig zagged the entire place, the lighthouse’s surroundings all the way to the front where the waves are crashing into the rocks. There were some dolphins swimming in the wilderness so we were looking at them for a while. This was an unbelievable experience because I am not a supporter of dolphins being caged in pools for entertainment. I would really recommend everyone seeing the documentary The Cove on this matter. At this very unexpected and beautiful moment I remembered my mom who loves dolphins but has never seen one. I would recommend seeing the view and the entire place to everyone. There is nothing better than having you legs floating tens of meters high from a cliff in the air while snow white seagulls are flying below them. Try to add some fresh sea air, the sun and you feel like you’re in paradise.
Going to the following stop (Quiraing) was like taking a shorter hiking walk and even the wind started to blow a little. I will be repeating myself again, but it was just beautiful. The contrast between the fresh greenery and volcanic walls was so striking. Amazing, I have nothing else to say here, here are just a few pictures and you can see more in my video. On our way to Man of Storr we didn‘t skip Kilt Rock which is a massive waterfall with a stunning view.
Man of Storr finally! The place I have been looking forward to see so much. The picture I had as a wallpaper on my computer became reality and I was enjoying the view live. Although the sun has started to set already, it didn‘t ruin the beauty and the magic of the moment at all. I took a deep breath and while I was exhaling I promised myself that I will come back to this place. It just got me somehow and I have it in myself right between the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my entire life.
We have finished the day in a colourful town of Portree, where we planned to grab some Fish and Chips to a popular restaurant, however since we arrived pretty late (around 10pm) the place was already closed. Disappointed, we went to the supermarket and bought some sandwiches, sat on the benches at the port, watched the boats and ate. Then we jumped into our car and headed for the place we were sleeping. We drank a little, talked a little and then after a nicely spent day full of amazing experiences that I didn‘t even know how to absorb, I quickly fell into a sleep.
This one started quite rashly. Once the dawn began to break we left to Fairy pools. Practically we were sleeping around 20-30 minutes away from these which was absolutely for free and it felt luxurious. Most of the people in our group changed to swimsuits and some bold men even threw themselves into the freezing water. Some of them even jumped 4 metres into the crystal clear water and had fun like small children. I simply couldn‘t dare to do the same since I am by nature a little sensitive to cold (I was born in the middle of summer). Perhaps I will be more courageous sometimes in the future. Unfortunately, after the morning bath we had to leave the Island Isle of Skye and all the way back I have been thinking about how deeply I was move by everything I saw and I was quietly saying goodbye to the place with a feeling that I definitely want to come back.
On our way from the Isle of Skye we have stopped at Glenfinnan to see the world-wide known railway bridge which everybody knows from the movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (the scene where Harry sits with Ron in a flying car, then hear the hooting of a train following them and Harry almost falls out of the car). This whole scene happens at Gleninnan Viaduct. We approached the bridge as close as we could and the view we had in front of us was magical.
That was supposed to be our last stop of the entire trip. But six of us decided to extend the journey with one more day. We continued to Glencoe where I fell in love with Glencoe Three Sisters and was happy to see them for a second time. Then we ate at a small pub at Glen Etive where we wanted to finish the tour. We ate some haggis which is a typical Scottish dish. By the way a few miles away from the place we were eating we came across a wild deer which posed for us a while. This was really an invaluable sight.
We progressed to Glen Etive where we arrived shortly after sunset and there is only one word that comes to my mind when I remember that night. Midges. These teeny tiny annoying flies were giving us some hard time like never. There were millions of them and I swear to it. We were all covered up from head to toe and even had small nets over our faces while we were trying to set up our tents. We knew that when we arrive to some water to sleep through the night there will be some, but we have never expected them to be so many. I took out my hand from the pocket for a few seconds and it was all black within thirty seconds. We agreed that we needed to built a fire so we went to find some branches. We met there one guy who was sitting and chilling not so far away from us close to a small fire. We have asked him if he had any spray or cream to drive away the midges. He gave us a bit of something that we put on our faces and our hands. When we asked him whether so many midges don’t annoy him and he said that they come and go. His answer amused us because apparently he was one of those potheads which are ok with everything even if the stars would be falling, he wouldn‘t even notice. In the end we built our big bonfire and stayed up until early morning hours (we might have slept about three hours only). We were watching the fire, the stars and talked and talked and talked.
When we arrived at night I didn‘t even have a chance to look around because all of the midges since we were in such a hurry to set up our camp and build a fire. But the morning was shockingly beautiful. I have never camped in a more beautiful place and it all looked like from a cover of National Geographic. Surely you will see more in my vide Isle of Skye. There were altogether only 15 people sleeping all around. Perhaps even less. It was just a paradise in between the mountains. We had a gorgeous crystal clear lake and the peaks of the mountains all around, no clouds in the sky as a bonus. And we almost left the spot because all of the crazy midges. Now I can say with satisfaction that those nerves really paid off.
Few hours later we were heading home and three of us decided to have a good sleep, a shower and to start all over with a new three-day adventure through the east coast of Scotland. This time backpacking and on foot. But this will be featured in a different post Fife Coastal Path – East Coast of Scotland. By the way, the whole trip to the Isle of Skye cost less than 50 pounds.
Isle of Skye video down↓↓↓