Our arrival to Scotland was bright and sunny. Our first night and second day were rainy as all get-out with 50 mph winds to boot. We took turns showering in the itty-bitty space that functions as a sink, toilet, and shower. The daily space of time Kaisa had to be without her mom was a sore trial for her, as evidenced below. We had crumpets with peanut butter and nutella for breakfast (I have a real love for crumpets–you can’t get them in the States without paying an arm and a leg).
We stopped at Morrison’s in Fort William to grab some overlooked items we hadn’t acquired at Lidl in Edinburgh (including the duvet and pillows for Emily) and got a kick out of the self-checkout kiosk that rebuked us for a “Surprising item in bagging area.” We then headed on our way toward Kyle of Lochalsh and Eilean Donan Castle–the last bits of mainland Scotland before we made our way onto the Isle of Skye.
To arrive at Eilean Donan, you have to drive around the northeastern half of Loch Duich. The entire ride around the loch, I was on the lookout for Eilean Donan. It doesn’t come into view until just before you arrive, but once you see it, it’s stunning!
Next, it was over onto Skye! The Isle of Skye is incredible! Such a beautiful and rugged place. You may know it from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem that begins, “Sing me a song of a lad that is gone, Say, could that lad be I? Merry of soul he sailed on a day Over the sea to Skye.” Skye is famous because it was where Prince Charles escaped in 1746–it’s a symbol of the Jacobite rising of the mid-18th century.
We made an unplanned stop, as there was a sign for a point of interest. It was a short, boggy hike to a monument on the edge of a loch. I’ve decided that my unplanned stops were about 70/30 for success. This one probably wasn’t worth it. It was so windy and rainy! But we got to see some nice, rugged forest, and the little yellow budded shrubs that line the roads of Scotland. I love the moss-covered trees and ground! It’s something we don’t get in Utah.
Our next stop was a little detour onto a single-track road to find the ruined church Cill Chriosd. I have a love-hate relationship with single-track roads. It’s actually less stressful than driving on roads that allow just enough room for two cars to pass each other, since any required passings give me time to prepare rather than just squeezing the steering wheel and hoping that the two cars passing eachother at 40-60mph come out alright.
When we got to Cill Chriosd, it was still windy and rainy, and the gates were shut. Rather than all getting out of the motorhome only to turn back, we had Emily go check if the gate was closed or actually locked.
Thankfully, it was just closed, so we all braved the elements to explore the ruins of this 16th century church. Its history dates back to the 7th century, and its ties are primarily with Clan MacKinnon. I love ruins, and I love old cemeteries (I’m strange), so this was a fun outing, even if somewhat daunting in the rain and wind.
We drove back to the main road and carried on another hour or so before it got dark, ultimately finding a spot to camp overnight on the side of some lovely sheep-covered hills with seaside cliffs close to our first stop of the next day: the Old Man of Storr. The lay-by seemed like it could potentially have been private property, so Emily and I went to ask the nearest house occupants if it was okay for us to park there. No one answered our knocks. We figured we had made a good-faith attempt to make sure we weren’t inconveniencing anyone, and we planned to be off fairly early the next morning, so we called it good and got set up for the night.
It was classic Scottish weather for our first full day, but after that intense day of wind and rain, we couldn’t have been luckier with the weather we had! Having a sunny day right before one of high winds and hard rains only highlighted what the Scottish say about their weather–NO ONE can accurately predict Scottish weather, and you can experience sun, wind, snow, and rain all in one day.