Ed was up early Monday morning to find a rental car for our Highland adventures. He ran into all sorts of difficulties due to the Scottish and British Opens but finally sourced a little blue Chevrolet from Enterprise.
Ed did a great job interpreting local road rules on our way to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and we only got ‘off track’ (aka lost) a couple of times (I’m navigating). We stopped in at Luss and sat on the ‘bonnie banks’ of the loch for lunch and some fresh air before hitting the road once more.
We drove through beautiful countryside and craigs to Appin which houses Castle Stalker, also known as Castle Aargh of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
We turned on the windscreen wipers as rain began to fall and blue skies turned grey and misty. Our final stop for the day was just outside Fort William at perfect Tigh-a-Ghlinne. We were greeted by our hosts and treated to a hot pot of tea and a huge selection of sweet biscuits.
We had a little picnic in the communal living area and played Yahtzee and Pass the Pigs as the rain came down outside. Despite ‘making bacon’ a few times, I took out the title for the night and enjoyed a couple of beers on the house before retiring to bed.
On Tuesday morning I tried black pudding for the first time. It tasted a bit like a rich sausage but I didn’t want to dwell on it for too long …
After breakfast we drove through stunning countryside to Skye, the largest of the Inner Hebrides. Along the way we noticed piles of stones by the side of the road. These stacks are called cairns and in Scotland it is traditional to carry a stone up from the bottom of a hill to place on a cairn at its top. An old Scottish Gaelic blessing is ‘Cuiridh mi clach air do charn’, ‘I’ll put a stone on your cairn’.
The Isle of Skye takes its name from the old Norse ‘sky-a’, meaning ‘cloud island’, a Viking reference to the often mist-enshrouded Cuillin Hills to the south. We made our way to chic Hillstone Lodge via tiny single-lane roads, dodging other cars at passing points and tooting free roaming sheep and cattle.
After checking in we made our way out to Neist Point, the most westerly spur of Skye, to stretch our legs. Ed was in his element running around the hills and taking in the fresh air and so was I.
The mist and light rain closed in overnight and we woke up on Wednesday to limited views of the loch. Due to the weather, we had a slow start to the day before driving to Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.
We then drove to Portree for lunch at Granary Bakery and spent a little while exploring the town. The visibility on the road was so poor that we decided to head home and spend the rest of the day indoors – playing games and watching a movie.