So… We drove past the Eilean Donan Castle and then crossed a bridge to arrive at… the Isle of Skye. Now islands in Scotland they have plenty, but the Isle of Skye is probably one of the most popular ones because it is quite large, and it is accessible from the mainland by bridge. All our seniors told us that we have to come here for our Scotland road trip.
JULY 7th, 2007 [Saturday]
Our hostel was called the Skye Backpackers and it was located in the township right next to the Skye bridge called Kyleakin. The reason we booked this one was because it was one of the cheapest, and they have a caravan in their backyard that holds 10 people. There were 15 of us, but to save money, we booked the whole caravan for 10 people. It was decided that the main and backup drivers for each car (because they needed the proper rest more), the girls, and one other lucky chap will get to sleep in the caravan, while the 5 remaining poor chaps will sleep in our cars. I was one of those poor chaps. Told you, we were peasant students doing budget traveler things didn’t I?
I couldn’t find any decent photos of the hostel, so I will not share them here. I will however share with you some panoramic shots that my friend took.
Anyway, the plan for the day was to drive around the island and stop for photos as the scenery dictates.
We arrived at Portree, the largest town in the Isle of Skye.
But we did not stop here, for we will be coming back later in the day. We proceeded north in the direction of Stafainn. And then we stopped again not long out of Portree, when we spotted a pretty little waterfall.
It didn’t seem too steep so we made the short hike to the top of the waterfall to take some photos. Lots of photos…
We actually had 3 places in mind that we specifically wanted to hit along this drive. These 3 places were highly recommended by the seniors: Old Man of Storr, Lealt Falls and Mealt Falls. Did you notice that tiny spike from afar? That’s the Old Man of Storr. Once we spotted that, we quickly got back into our cars and got a move on.
And here was where one of our many cock ups happened. You see, the maps that we had, it looked something like this:
According to the map, there was a parking area right next to the Old Man of Storr. So as we were driving along, we were on the lookout for a parking area. It was supposed to be only a couple kilometers down the road, so I expected us to arrive in 5 minutes, maybe 10 minutes max.
This rock formation is supposed to be the most famous natural attraction that the Isle of Skye has to offer, so I was pretty excited to see them get nearer and nearer…
But all of a sudden, the rocks disappeared. I thought maybe they were hidden on the other side, and we just had to keep driving and be on the lookout for the still elusive parking area.
And then we finally did spot a parking area after what seemed like forever. So we stopped. And we got off the car. And then we saw the signboard, and it said: Welcome to Lealt Falls.
WTF?! Lealt Falls? Lealt Falls?? If you look at the map above, you would understand that we cocked up. Well, I was the navigator, so I was the one who cocked up. Damn map freaking lied to me! So guys, a tip for any of you who might be planning to drive in Scotland and the Isle of Skye: there is NO parking area beside the Old Man of Storr.
Oh, I forgot to mention. I don’t know about now, but in 2007, the road that we took was a big one-way loop, starts and ends in Portree. So we could not turn back. And that meant we could not turn back to the Old Man of Storr. We could not turn back to the most famous natural attraction that the Isle of Skye has to offer. So that, is really a major major cock up! Arghhhh…
To make matters worse, I was not impressed with Lealt Falls. It seemed like a lousy waterfall to me, and probably to my mates as well. In fact, I don’t think we even have a picture of Lealt Falls. We basically just sat by the cliff and admired the sea view. My mates reflecting on life, and I reflecting on the mistake I made.
Oh well, what a bummer, but… life goes on. Soon, we continued with our drive and arrived at our final planned destination: Mealt Falls. Now this, is a much better looking waterfall…
We also passed by a lovely little town called Uig.
It was late afternoon by now, and I suppose we were getting pretty tired and bored. I mean, that three “must visits” according to the seniors, they were kind of… disappointing. So to make this drive less disappointing, we started to take matters into our own hands by doing things like taking challenging driving photos…
And stopping by the roadside to take photos with a bunch of cows. At that time, we actually thought they were the famous Highland cows and got excited. But if you look at the picture, I think they are just normal cows.
After that, we drove all the way back to Portree, just in time for dinner. Now, up till this point, our meals have been either self-prepared tuna sandwich or McDonald’s. This dinner in Portree was our one and only time splashing out for a proper meal in a restaurant. And what did we had?
Come on, man. We’re in Scotland, of course we had haggis! For those of you who do not know, haggis is sort of like Scotland’s national dish, much like what the fish and chips are to England. They’re basically minced sheep innards. You can either have them encased like a sausage, or have them in a restaurant on a plate like we did.
You can see our tired face in the pre-dinner photo. But I suppose this haggis meal is a wonderful ending to our time in the Isle of Skye. It was a pretty good meal by the way. I think the chef used wine as part of the marinade for the haggis, so we got a bit “high” after the meal and it sort of loosened up our mood a bit.
Well, if you ask me, I thought the Isle of Skye is a beautiful island. I was not too impressed with those must-see waterfalls though. I thought the loveliest place that we stopped at was that unnamed little waterfall in the beginning, just before we missed the Old Man of Storr (Arghhhhh!!!!)… So this is another instance that made me feel that it is better to drive than to be stuck in a tour bus if you want to tour Scotland.
Anyway, that haggis meal was the last thing we did in the Isle of Skye. Soon we crossed the Skye Bridge again, and it was Bye bye, Isle of Skye…
[to be continued]