Thursday, July 09, 2015

The United Kingdom: The Isle of Skye

We woke up to blissfully cloudy skies and a delicious breakfast at our B&B!! The lady had little menus that we fill out the evening before and we specified the time we would be ready to eat, and low and behold we came downstairs to a full breakfast! Of course we ordered blood pudding/black pudding, because we were determined to try all the strange local cuisine... and like haggis, it actually isn't that bad if you don't think too hard about what it is.

That view!

Scottish breakfast!
The tour bus picked us up and it was off to explore the beautiful island!

Our first stop of the morning was to a old clan castle that is one of the few castles to be lived in by existing clan members. But while it is a gorgeous castle in beautiful surroundings, it is known mainly for the sea lions that live in the waters near by.


I wanted to just sit amidst this tall grass and wild flowers all day. This spot set the bar pretty high for the day.

We then continued on to Neist Point and the western most tip of the Isle of Skye. It was such a lovely day to see it. Apparently some tours can't make it out here because it is foggy and the visibility isn't that great. We definitely lucked out being able to see it.

Neist Point

Looking back at the pictures we took, I am not exactly sure why we have so many kissing ones. Probably was a pretty romantic place, or more likely it was before no one else was around. Most of the group took the long walk down the lighthouse, which was a pretty nice walk down, but a steep walk back up. I was so sad, but I just knew I wouldn't be able to have the stamina to make it back up the mountain. 

Caterpillar friend along the walking path

We finished up at Neist Point and then it was time to head to a nearby village for lunch. Confession, I spent most of the van rides in between sights sleeping. It was actually quite lovely because on some stretches there would be rain tapping against the window and the driver would be telling scottish history stories or playing popular scottish bands. Then we would stop, Alan would tell us where we were and its significance, and then I would hop out of the van with my camera and be ready to take as many pictures as I could. I never thought I was one for guided tours, but I must say, it was pretty awesome!

couldn't resist a sweet treat after lunch!! Marshmallows, chocolate, peanuts, caramel... need I say more. Also, this is a look of excitement, not pain.

These towers are called follies and they are all over Scotland. They also serve no purpose.
After lunch we headed to Fairy Glenn. It is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. There is a section of the Isle of Skye that people once believed to be cultivated and inhabited by fairies. Aaron and I loved it and wanted to build a summer home there. The trees seems smaller and all the rocks and stone formations looked like fairy castles. People even have come and created fairy rings spotted along the way.

fairy rings

fairy castle

from the top of fairy castle!

our white tour bus in the distance

On the other side of fairy castle there are more and more rolling hills to explore. Along the way we met a few sheep and Aaron quickly made best friends with them.

Aaron's favorite picture of vacation

they wanted nothing to do with me
 We decided this was the spot where we someday wanted to retire and live forever!

"I'm going on an adventure!!!" - Bilbo Baggins
I swear there were other people on our tour! There were also other tour buses stopped in this spot along with us, I don't really know how we got so many pictures of us without many people in the background and mostly pictures with no one at all except us!
In fact one of the more entertaining bits of the van rides had to do with the other people in our group. There was a rather large family (probably 8+) people made up of uncles and aunts and a couple sets of kids. It took me the better part of a day and a half with them to finally figure out where they were from (I guess I could have just asked, but that would be no fun). Their accent was so hard to distinguish and at times it sounded French and other times sounded Spanish. Turns our they were speaking Portuguese and were visiting from Brazil. Also in our van was a husband and wife and all the wife could talk about was the novel series and TV show Outlander, which has just aired its first season. Everything we saw or story we heard would relate back to the show for her. Luckily I had seen the show and read a couple of the books, so I knew what she was referring to, but her level of fandom was entertaining.

After the Fairy Glenn, we stopped at the Quiraing to take in the rock formations. We got a bit delayed here as there was a movie being filmed along the road and we had to wait a bit for them to finish their shots before moving on. It just meant extra time exploring and sitting just taking in the views.

I could have stayed in this spot for years and never grown tired of this view

more sheep!

Brook jumping 
A super cool thing about the Highlands is that you'll be walking along and start to hear running water near you. There won't be a stream in site, but as you walk along all of a sudden there will be a hole in the ground and a stream will have been running below the surface right under your feet! So crazy!
secret stream

The Quiraing
 Finally we were able to/had to move on from the Quiraing and on to our last couple stops and sites of the day.

One of the famous site we saw, but didn't stop very long at was the Old Man of Storr, which is basically just a random tall rock that sticks out the side of a mountain. The story goes that the Old Man of Store rock formation is actually the thumb of a Giant that died and was buried on earth. His thumb was left sticking out.

Our very last stop of the day was at Kilt Rock and the magnificent waterfall! If you look closely at the pictures, you might be able to make out an almost plaid or tartan pattern on the rocks of the cliff face, which is how Kilt Rock got it's name.

Scottish Thistles
After all of our Isle of Skye exploring for the day had come to an end, we arrived back in Portree ready for our last dinner of the tour!

more Scotch of course

delicious dessert!
Another epically picturesque day!

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