After waking up in our comfortably great bed and breakfast, we had breakfast made by Sue, the wife and co-owner of Spean Lodge. I had Scottish Porridge (oatmeal that’s perfect for the wet Scottish days) and fruit. They offered many more options where my mom had scrambled eggs with salmon and my stepdad tried their haggis. Everything was superb and after Glen provided some helpful tips and maps, we were on our way.
Driving during the day is much easier and we were blessed to have some good weather. Yes it was still cloudy, but the sun would peek through occasionally. My stepdad, Rabbie, is an architect/photographer and so we were stopping many times to take pictures of the amazing scenery.
One of the places we stopped at had all these stacked stones. I’m unsure why they were there, but it was really cool with this surreal landscape in the background.
One of the roads we were on was blocked off by some goats passing!
Our first official stop of the day was Eilean Donan Castle. It was found in ruins, but eventually restored. It’s a really awesome castle too because it’s on its own island with a bridge going across to it. The inside is furnished and a museum now so you do have to pay I believe 8.50 pounds to go in and you can’t take photos. The inside is great, but the real purpose of the stop is to see this castle’s setting.
This castle is still owned by the McCrae family and even has some of their modern family pictures on display. While it was raining pretty hard when we arrived, it had cleared up when we were inside and as we were leaving there was some great light.
We stopped at some random place for lunch afterwards, but it wasn’t great and not worth mentioning beyond this.
Finally we were on the bridge heading to the Isle of Skye!
Scotland has many outlying islands, but Isle of Skye is one of the more accessible ones. Nevertheless, it’s still very naturey and isolated. It was supposed to have a beautiful landscape and be a true escape so we were ready for an adventure.
April-September is supposed to be their busiest season so us going in February meant it was very off-season. Thus, a lot of cafes, restaurants, and hotels were closed during our time. I ended up primarily grateful for going at this time though.
Since our hotel’s check-in wasn’t until 3 pm, we were driving out to Neist Point first. It’s about an hour away from Portree, Isle of Skye’s largest town with a population of 2,491. Neist Point is the most western point of Skye and has a beautiful coastline and lighthouse, making it a popular attraction.
Our drive there was a gorgeous and dramatic one through the countryside:
There were a few things that we were not really informed enough about before arriving here, so I’ll be the one to tell you guys I guess.
- Buy rain pants – If you don’t want soaked pants, get a pair of rain pants. They can be super cheap on amazon and you’ll be so thankful for them. In my next post I’ll tell you about the time I was most grateful.
- There are single lane roads a lot – This is where you need to be careful. If you’re not a great driver, this will be difficult. There are passing lanes occasionally but Isle of Skye has a lot of mountains and the roads are super curvy where you can’t always see what’s coming at you from around the corner. The locals will be driving fast too so my mom and I were clutching our seats nervously for the entire drive. This was one of the reasons why I was glad we went during off-season. If we were there during the summer with much more road traffic, it would’ve been much more stressful.
- Rain hats are great – Same idea as the rain pants. Get one with a string that goes around your neck and that can tighten up because the wind can be brutal here.
- The tourist sites and viewpoints don’t have bathrooms – Every place you stop, whether it be your lunch destination or getting gas, go to the bathroom there. We made it all the way to Neist Point assuming there’d be a bathroom there only to discover there wasn’t. There also wasn’t much foliage meaning if you were desperate enough you won’t have much cover.
- Gas stations are more rare too – Our rental car was diesel so it had great gas-mileage, but if we didn’t it could’ve been an issue if we’d forgotten to fill up or something. There are a few towns scattered around, but you really don’t want to be that person.
The drive up to Neist Point was beautiful, but when we got there a squall of rain was just arriving and the wind was picking up. The rain stopped after 5-10 minutes, but my mom was not dressed well enough and decided to wait in the car as my stepdad and I walked down the steps and did the short hike.
We didn’t hike all the way down to the lighthouse, which you can do, since we wanted to get to Portree before sunset, but this place was insane. The way that the cliff was like a wall from the ocean was so cool. It’s hard to describe the feeling of the power of nature that you get from this.
As we were walking uphill and off path to get a distance picture of the lighthouse, another squall of rain began hitting. My stepdad and I were sprinting up a hill getting soaked, but we still got our photo.
It was definitely worth it and the rain stopped as we were on our way back up. It’s a steep climb on the way up by the way! I was getting a little out of breath, especially after our hike up a hill.
After the intimidating Neist Point, we were heading to our hotel, Cuillin Hills Hotel, in Portree. There are limited options during the off-season, but our hotel gave us a great view of the town and the harbor. It was everything we needed (except the wifi was pretty sketchy) with a hot shower and warm bed to return to after the day.
We had an okay dinner at one of the few places open and then headed to bed quite early to prepare for a full day the next day.