The Capital of the Highlands and Over the Sea to Skye

I think we found our spot. Everywhere we walked we felt at home and as if we could be there always. Scotland was beautiful. So much greener and like Seattle than I expected, but very different and a thing unto it’s self at the same time. As we road through the highlands to Portree, on the Ilse of Skye, I was reminded of the drives through Colorado to Silverton. Just beautiful.

We arrived in Inverness from York. Checked into a cute little spot just out side of town and wandered.

The first day of our adventure we explored Inverness and found amazing places:

Leakeys Bookshop; a converted church that might be the neatest book store I have seen!

The Old High Church which served as an English Government prison during the second Jacobite rising. You can still see bullet holes in some of the grave stones where quite a few Jacobites were executed for treason.

We got coffee at a little pub called Glenalbyn, right on the River Ness then began exploring again.

We saw Inverness Cathedral and then went on to The Ness Islands. They are a series of small little islands right in the middle of the river that have been made into one large park connected by little bridges. It is a great walk. IMG_5397

Next we found a late lunchIMG_5405 at another pub, The Gellions, then more wandering. Inverness is one of the happiest places to live in Scotland, according to a poll, and you could really feel it. So quiet and sweet.

We ended up at our hotel for dinner and I discovered Strongbow Cider 😀

 

Day 2: We retraced our steps and took more pictures and savored the serenity. Our lunch on the river with a view of the castle was gorgeous and delicious.

That evening it was off to Portree on the Isle of Skye. It was a 3.5 hour bus ride on a tiny 2 lane road winding through mountains and valleys. It rained a little on the drive and that just added to the beauty.

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We arrived safe and sound and checked into our next hotel. It was right on the Portree Harbor.

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This was the view from the front of the hotel

On Day 3 we awoke early and after breakfast headed to the visitors center to grab a bus to The Storr. It was the reason we picked Portree, we really wanted to climb The Storr and see The Old Man of Storr, three giant rocks that are an icon of the inner Hebrides.

The trek was well worth the visit. It was breathtaking. Being up so high and being able to see to the tip of the Isle of Skye, across to main land Scotland, and out farther to the Outer Hebrides was amazing.IMG_5506

After our hike back down we waited for the bus back to Portree. While waiting I fashioned a wild flower crown fitting a highland princess 🙂

The roads between Portree and The Storr were very interesting. They were mostly one lane each direction, but then occasionally (mostly over little bridges) the road would slim down to a little over one lane and the cars had to take turns going across… Anywhere else this would have been a major cause of traffic, but there were maybe 3 cars on the road so it was just interesting. I would have gotten a picture, but the bus drivers were a little to comfortable on those small roads and I got terribly motion sick. haha

Back in Protree we got dessert from the Granary and then Fat Panda Takeaway. It was a wonderful day.

Day 4! Exploring Portree and its surrounding parks and harbor. Very laid back. A whole bunch of food and lots of lovely pictures.

In the picture below, you can just make out The Old Man of Storr in the distance.

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Portree from a tower in a park. 

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Day 5 was just the bus ride back to Inverness.

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Eilean Donan Castle from the road

For our second stay in Inverness , we stayed just outside in Smithton. It was adorable and the hotel was incredibly comfy and had really really good food!

Once we checked in, we struck out toward Culloden Battlefield. We got about half way and the rain started pouring, so we returned to our cozy hotel for food and Scottish TV. 😀 We will just have to go back to Inverness and see the battlefield another time.

Day 6 🙂 Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

We had booked a 7 hour Loch Ness tour with Jacobite Cruises on Day 2. So we set off and had an amazing day!

Our tour guide, Alan, was great. The tour was just perfectly timed and in all ways excellent.

From Inverness Bus Station we drove through the town and out by Loch Ness. Our first stop was the Corrimony Cairns a little west of Loch Ness. This Pictish cairn was never used but it was sealed so everything is very preserved. There are 11 standing stones around the cairn and it is in the middle of nowhere.

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IMG_5582Next we headed to the Loch Ness Center to learn about the loch and Nessie 🙂

We were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse…

From there we got back on the bus and went to Urquhart Castle which is perched on the loch. It was the Castle of the Grant Clan and it was blown up in the first Jacobite rising by Clan Grant so that it wouldn’t be captured. It has been in ruins ever since.

Down in Urquhart bay we caught the Jacobite Queen and spent almost 2 hours on Loch Ness and traveling up the Caledonian Canal back to Inverness.

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IMG_5628_2It was a wonderful, wonderful tour day.

Day 7: It was all travel back to York. It was a very pretty, uneventful trip and we were home by dinner 🙂

This trip merely whetted our appetite for The Highlands. Scotland is just the prettiest part of the world.

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