I thought the trip to the Isle of Skye was going to be the longest part of our Scotland road trip, but the Highlands easily took that accolade.
From the Glencoe area, it was just under two hours to Portree, a drive peppered with plenty of impromptu pull-overs for photos. In fact, one of the most photographed monuments in all of Scotland, Eilean Donan Castle, is located just before the bridge to the island. I heard the inside wasn’t nearly as impressive as out, so we did all of our castle-viewing and Gangnam-dancing from the parking lot.
It was one of the more crowded places we saw on the island, so I’d say our instincts were right. However, should you wish to actually go in and visit, admission is just £6, and the castle is open daily from 10am to 6pm.
Despite having spent a stint in Edinburgh and coming back to visit a half a dozen times, I’d never before been to Skye—partly because it’s rather difficult to reach by public transit, and partly because the last time I was back in Scotland I was just shy of 23 and not of legal car-renting age(!). This time, from the moment we booked our trip, I knew Skye would be a priority.
And it didn’t disappoint, not one bit. Every last scene around the windy mountainous roads was postcard-worthy, and the drive itself was a relatively easy one. To reach the isle from the mainland, you can take a ferry from Glenelg during the summer months or drive over a very short bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh. We chose the latter (though I hear the ferry ride is mighty pretty).
My mom is terrified of bridges—I can’t blame her; she lived in San Francisco during some pretty shaky earthquakes and was driving in Minneapolis a few years ago the day before the bridge collapsed—and she breathed a huge sigh of relief when she realized this particular bridge ended nearly as quickly as it began.
We were lucky during our time on Skye and greeted by (relatively) clear skies (well, lacking rain is more accurate). Every picture I’ve ever seen captured from the island is littered with gray and ominous clouds (and many ruined by rain drops on the lens!). Skye is also littered with sheep, a fact my sister couldn’t get over—if there is a word in the dictionary for “one who is obsessed with sheep,” I think Kari could be called just that.
We spent much time wondering what the different color markers were for: Blue for those who were just sheared (or “shucked,” as we liked to say) and red for those who were about to be…well, you know?
(How many times we sang “Baa Baa Black Sheep” is not a fact I wish to disclose.)
Portree, where we would be staying for the next two nights, was another half hour from the entry to the island. While planning this trip earlier in the summer, I spent a lot of time trying to decide exactly where on the island we should make our base—Edinbane? Uig? Dunvegan?—and in the end settled for Portree due to its central locale and bevy of services (i.e. tons of B&Bs and quite a few restaurants). Not once during our 48 hours exploring the isle did we regret that decision.