Eilean Donan and the Isle of Skye

September 25, 2012 - 10:44 pm No Comments

Despite some snoring from two of the guys (and apparently me), I got a decent night’s sleep. After a quick porridge breakfast in the hostel, we hit the road with Andy. It was a dark, rainy, blustery day, and the bus bounced around pretty good.

Our first stop was an overlook at Loch Garry, a body of water that, according to legend, was carved out so that it looked like Scotland from above.

Loch Garry

Andy also pointed out piles of rocks signifying the place where HAGGiS Adventures founder Alastair Campbell once took a shit. The area has since become a holy site for local religious weirdos.

Shrine to Alastair Campbell

Then through the green landscapes of Glen Shiel.

On Old Shiel Bridge

Me on Old Shiel Bridge

Old Shiel Bridge

We stopped Eilean Donan, a restored and picturesque castle overlooking a confluence of lochs. We spent a few minutes touring the castle and then a few more minutes walking around and taking photos. These lochs are connected to the ocean, and low tide meant that the air was filled with the stench of rotting seaweed.

Eilean Donan

Gate to Eilean Donan

Eilean Donan

Clan Macrae Roll of Honour

Eilean Donan

Eilean Donan

Eilean Donan

Our trip to Skye took us through a series of bridges and waterfalls and ruins. The best story of the day was about Castle Moil. Legend has it that a Viking princess named Saucy Mary, daughter of King Haakon, charged toll to all those who crossed the narrow body of water in front of the castle. As a reward, those who paid would get to see her boobs.

The Viking history and influence is interesting to me. It never occurred to me that this part of Scotland would have been invaded and colonized by the Vikings, but given it’s proximity to Norway and Iceland, I guess it makes sense.

Over a short bridge, and we were on the Isle of Skye.

Skye Bridge

Andy said the mountains surrounding us were called Cuillins, but he did a confusing job describing the difference between the red and black ones.

Road Through the Cuillins

It didn’t take long for the mountains to get bigger, the grass to get greener, the waterfalls to become more majestic, and the viewpoints to become more magnificent. Thick mats of peat blanket giant mountains of chunky volcanic rock. The landscapes here are immense and truly majestic.

Storr Falls

Doug Sips from Storr Falls

McLeod's Table Mountain

Lealt Falls

Loch Hourn

A-Team at Lealt Falls



A highlight was walking up to the edge of the sea-cliff at Kilt Rock, where violent winds blew the water from the Mealt waterfall back up and over us. Andy’s said he’s never seen it do that before. Sticking your face into the hurricane-force spray was a fun little adrenalin rush.

We stopped in the quaint town of Portree for a delicious bakery lunch. Doug tried black pudding. He’s a courageous man.

It was in Portree that I used a cash machine, studied the nice-looking notes that came out, realized they were different from the ones I had been using in London, learned that several banks in the UK print money (Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank in Scotland), and that the money from each bank looks a bit different. Andy promised that my Scottish money would be good down in London, but it all seems a bit confusing to me.

I’m getting a lot of the Scottish lingo down:

  • aye = yes
  • loch = lake
  • eilean = island
  • glen = valley
  • mac (or mc) = son of

I also enjoy the Scottish accent. They speak quickly, and the way they bastardize the vowels gives strange inflections to English words. They also have a unique take on the “r” sound. If you’re not familiar with it, you really have to concentrate to understand.

  • stoddum = storm
  • faddum = farm
  • wodduld = world
  • cdap = crap
  • tdoo = true

Despite the enjoyment I get from his accent, Andy’s enthusiasm is becoming a bit tiresome. The speakers in the bus are loud, and he’s not always funny. He’s good with bad jokes and reciting scripted material, but he’s not so good at casual conversation or entertaining jokes from others. I kind of wish he’d stop talking sometimes.

Jeff Sleeps on the Bus

After the Isle of Skye, we headed back to our hostel in Fort Augustus. We got really lucky with the weather today. We got sprinkled on, but we just missed much more severe storms to the south.

I’m taking it easy tonight. At the moment, I’m sitting in the hostel lobby working on a personal web project, divvyitup.com, a site I made to keep track of group finances while traveling. Foreign currency functionality is long overdue. As I sit here working, the Aussie lady from the bus who does nothing but eat candy and smoke and laugh like Muttley is wheezing in the next room.

Tomorrow’s the last day of our Scotland tour. We’ll start the day by looking for Nessie and then meander our way back to Edinburgh.

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