Day 127: Isle of Skye via Loch NessJune 22, 2017 in the United Kingdom
Time to leave Inverness and the northern reaches of Scotland, and start heading south again. Our destination for the day was the Isle of Skye, a large island just (barely) off the western coast of Scotland, part of the Inner Hebrides and one of the most beautiful parts of the highlands.
First stop though was Loch Ness, right near Inverness. We were aiming to do an 11am cruise on Loch Ness, but after arriving about 30 minutes in advance and discovering the car park jam packed with tour buses, we were told the 11am cruise was sold out. Bloody geriatrics. After being told that the 12pm cruise was fairly empty, we decided to wait out the next hour having morning tea in the nearby cafe.
12pm rolled around and thankfully the boat wasn't packed to the gunwales with blue rinses and iPad photographers. Plenty of space, though it was freezing cold up top. The cruise went for about an hour, though a moderate chunk of that was docking, loading and unloading at the far stop - a ruined castle which we declined to pay extra for.
Nice scenery of forest-covered mountains diving straight into the lake. Very black, dark water, partly because of the high peat content in the soil, but also because the lake is incredibly deep: over 220 metres in some places! Not quite the best colours on display though as there was quite heavy cloud cover - no threat of rain, just typical English clouds.
The commentary was interesting and informative, but I got a bit annoyed when it kept banging on about Nessie aka the Loch Ness Monster. It was revealed years ago that that famous photo of the monster was a complete hoax (even the photographer admitted it was a toy submarine and some wood putty). But still they talk about it! Amazing how the only people who've seen it are local hotel owners and other people in the tourism business.
We did get a surprise though when a Eurofighter Typhoon jet buzzed our boat at a height of only a few hundred metres! Lots of noise and excitement, though I was a bit slow on the draw with the camera. That's now two out of two boat cruises where we've been strafed by a fighter jet, after the same thing happened a week or so earlier at Lake Windemere!
Back to the car around 1pm where we started driving south and west towards the Isle of Skye. Beautiful highland scenes here, lots of craggy mountains covered in thickets of heather, bracken and pine, water cascading down in rivulets from great heights, constant lochs to drive around and so on. Very nice.
After a couple of hours we arrived at Kyle of Lochalsh where one of Scotland's most picturesque castles stands: Eileen Donean castle. It was used as an MI-6 headquarters in a James Bond film, and it sits out in a lake on a rocky outcrop with a beautiful arched stone bridge leading over. We opted against paying 10 pounds each for entry, but took some photos at the gates which will hopefully turn out! It was about 100 metres away and in dull light, so probably beyond the limits of phone cameras to really capture well.
Across the bridge onto Skye, where we drove over to the western coast to the Fairy Pools. This is a large series of small waterfalls and rapids coming down from a trio of mountains towering overhead. It's a decent 20 minute walk from the carpark, down a hill and then back up, but definitely worth it. Lots of flowing water since it's constantly raining up there, cascading down over rivets, falls, rapids and streams. Just beautiful, and what it lacks in height it definitely makes up for in intensity and visual appeal.
Back to the car where by the time we'd driven the 30 minutes back to our accommodation near Broadford, it was dinner time! A heavy rain shower was overhead so we grabbed some takeaway fish & chips and sat in the car looking at the beach - only a few metres away, but barely visible in the rain.
All finished, we drove the last five minutes to our rooms. It's a hostel-style B&B, where we have our own room and sink, but shared bathroom, kitchen and living facilities with 5 other rooms. Everyone seems fairly friendly, though since we'd eaten we just headed for our room. The rain had really set in - howling wind and driving rain rattling the windows. Not a good omen, since we want to do some hiking tomorrow!Read more