After a wild journey to Skye and jam-packed Tuesday, it was already time to leave the isle. (So, with that said, this post is primarily about some incredible places on the mainland.)
When we woke up on Wednesday morning, I was not ready to say good-bye to Wallace, the Airbnb host’s dog. He and I played for a bit until it was time to go. On the way out, I snapped some pictures of wee lambs.
Even though we were leaving Skye, there were plenty of stops to make on the way home. Firstly, Anya had arranged to visit some of her relatives who lived not too far from where we were staying.
Before meeting them, we stopped at a quiet cemetery near Broadford which overlooked the water and distant Cuillin Mountains. It was a peaceful place; it seemed right for loved ones to be buried there.
We then found a nearby spot to take some pictures on the coast and then popped into Deli Gasta where I got eggs and smoked salmon on toast. (Needless to say, it was egg-cellent!)
The visit with Anya’s relatives was pleasant. I was the odd man out, but it was comforting to see family together again. After some chatting, tea and biscuits, we got back on the road, bound for the village of Plockton.
Tucked on the shores of Loch Carron, Plockton is a quaint place with only a few hundred residents. The tide was low when we arrived (Loch Carron is a sealoch), so we were able to walk out to a wee island just off the promenade.
It was a classically moody Scottish day with rain ready to fall. When the drops finally started, Anya and I ducked into Meghan’s, an ice cream parlour and gift shop in the harbour. There were locally-made soaps, prints of Highland cows and plenty of Harris tweed. When checking out, we met Meghan herself, a young woman who had just taken over the shop. She couldn’t have been older than 27, and we were impressed by her entrepreneurship. (Yay for women-owned businesses!) Follow Meghan’s on Instagram to see her daily doughnut flavours! (They look fantastic!)
Eilean Donan Castle
With a Harris tweed cap on my head, we left Plockton and soon arrived at a place I’d been dying to visit for years: Eilean Donan Castle. Eilean Donan is considered one of the most romantic castles in all of Scotland (according to Anya). I must agree. It stands on an island where three lochs meet, surrounded by impressive Highlands. Its history dates back to the 7th century, and it was even used as a stronghold against Vikings (woah!).
After a refueling in Fort William, we continued to one of the most breathtaking spots in Scotland: Glencoe. Here, we got out of the car a few times to awe at Buachaille Etive Mor, the Three Sisters and other Munros towering beside the road. (Of course, there are many hillwalks in the area.)
Glencoe has been featured in Harry Potter, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Outlaw King, The 39 Steps, Braveheart, Rob Roy and Skyfall. Moreover, the very first scenes of the first episode of Outlander were filmed here.
But Glencoe also has a tragic history. In the 17th and 18th centuries, many Highland clans sought to restore the senior line of the House of Stuart to the British throne, notably James II & VII (that’s actually one person). They were known as Jacobites and launched an unsuccessful revolt in 1689. After the rising, King William III wanted to the clans to pledge their allegiance to him and be pardoned or be punished as traitors. They were given a deadline of the 1st of January 1692.
The Glencoe MacDonalds had supported the Stuarts and were reluctant to pledge their allegiance to William. The MacDonalds only learnt of James’ consent on the 28th of December. Their leader rushed to Inverary and, despite being late, was allowed to take the oath. But the fate of the MacDonalds had already been sealed; an example would be made of them. On the 13th of February 1692, thirty men, women and children of the MacDonalds were killed including the man who had pledged his allegiance to William. According to the National Trust for Scotland, ‘a Scottish Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry determined that the killings were “murder under trust”’. The Glencoe MacDonalds were told that no harm would come to them and then were slaughtered.
Anya and I didn’t have time for a hillwalk, but we’ll definitely go back to explore more of this historic and scenic area.
As we drove out of Glen Coe, the landscape flattened. Before us lay vast moorlands, encircled by majestic Munros. The conditions were changing moment to moment, making us want to stop every two minutes.
We finally stopped at Lochan na h-Achlaise. Soft light was spilling into the nearby valleys and reflecting off the tall snowy peaks. It was angelic. Moments later, clouds obscured the sun, shadowing Rannoch Moor. No picture could capture the pure beauty and drama of this place. Earlier in our trip, Anya had pointed out how Scotland never looks the same but always looks beautiful because of the light. I could go back to Rannoch Moor a dozen times, and it’d be a new place each time. In fact, I could barely recognise it despite having been there a couple years prior.
Falls of Falloch
With daylight fading, we didn’t make any more stops until we were about an hour from Glasgow. Then, we ended our trip with a brief but worthwhile visit to the Falls of Falloch.
We followed a short path through the woods to find the falls. The water cascaded into a deep, round turquoise pool. No one else was around, and the moody weather was perfect for photographing. I took dozens of pictures, both on my phone and camera before tearing myself away.
When we got home, we were knackered and went to sleep dreaming about the dream we had just lived. We had an unforgettable time, and I’m so lucky to be able to do things like this with amazing people!
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This week, I must, without a doubt, thank Anya for being an incredible flatmate and even better friend. It’s crazy to think that we met on an app in the middle of a pandemic, and now we go on crazy adventures through Scotland together. Even though she’s never watched Friends (“I know!” in voice of Monica), she’s got a lot of redeeming qualities. She’s kind, patient, goofy and inspiring. She’s one of the people who have made these past nine months some of the best in my life. I love you, An! Thank you!