Scotland Recap – Part three

Part one is here, and part deux is there. You know what to do.

Driving to the Caslte

Around 5:15am we made our way down the stairs and were met outside by our host Gibson. He got up at the crack of dawn just to say goodbye to us. We had to get up really early to be on the 6:00 am ferry, because even though our place was booked on the ferry, the bad weather of the previous days possibly meant that there was going to be a lot of people hoping to get on the ferry. We got there with plenty of time to spare, and settled in for the two hour tour.

asleep

Still feeling the aftermath of last night’s party.

On the way to the Castle, we stopped at Kilmartin Glen to visit the Kilmartin Stones, the Cairns and the standing stones.

slates750 year-old stones.

cairn

Inside a Cairn. This stone has a map of the other Cairns engraved on it.

Visiting Kilmartin was a great way to finally cement that the notion of safety in Scotland is completely different than the North American one. We already were exposed to “potential danger” while near Tarbert when we stopped for dinner one night – the parking lot was right on the edge of the river, and I mean right on the edge as in no railings, not cement curb, nothing. You move one more foot and you’re in the river after a 10′ drop. The staircases in the Castles we visited would never be considered “tourist-friendly” in America. Kilmartin was just the icing on the cake, because the Cairns and the standing stones are located in a field with live animals.

cowCow in the field. I am not zooming.

You only get one small sign at the first gate that says: “This is a field with live animals. Leave all gates as you found them”. We didn’t go to Starbucks in Scotland, but I have a suspicion that they’re not writing “Caution: Content may be hot” on their cups. They probably write: “If you burn yourself, you’re an idiot”.

After that, we drove to Oban, where we were completely underwhelmed by the distillery visit. We bought chocolates and made our way to our B&B for the night – an actual castle.

Staying at the Castle

BarcaldineBarcaldine Castle

When we got the the Castle – under pouring rain – we were surprised by the size of the door. Barcaldine Castle is a defensive residence, and there’s only one door, it’s small and located just at the bottom of the spiraling staircase.

great_hallUsing Facetime in the Great Hall. Castle + WiFi = Win.

After a slight issue with our booking, we spent the evening relaxing in the Great Hall with a nice dram in front of a warm fire. It’s good to be the King!

secretThere’s a secret door in this picture. Also, the ghost of the “Blue Lady” sometimes appears in that chair.

Driving to Skye

The drive from Barcaldine Castle to Portree, Skye was beautiful.

mountain

Look at those mountains!

As we were approaching Skye, the landscape started to change and the mountains were getting bigger and bigger.

tourist

Me, silently laughing at another tourist. We’re really just stretching our legs, there’s nothing to capture here – I think Martin is taking a picture of the car.

One fun thing that happened quite a lot is that we would attract other tourists where ever we went. For example, we would stop fairly often to stretch, walk a little, pee in the bushes or take some pictures. Every time we would pull over, it would take less than a minute for another car to park behind ours and we’d then have another tourist taking pictures of whatever we were taking pictures of. 🙂

eilean_doranThere can be only one!

Of course we had to stop at Eilean Donan Castle. If you don’t get the caption below the picture, Eilean Donan is the castle seen at the beginning of the movie Higlander (the first movie). Well, it’s seen in pretty much every movie that needs a Scottish Castle scene. 🙂

After a pit-stop at Talisker Distillery, we arrived in Portree for a two nights stay.

Staying on Skye, day one

First of all, and forgive me but there is no delicate way of saying this, our hotel in Portree was a dump. On top of that, they messed-up our booking and had to put us in two different hotels. This was quite a shock after spending a night in a Castle. Our friends room was dirty, ours was above a discotheque, right across the bus terminal. These were by far the worst accommodations of the trip. I should point out that this is the only time we didn’t follow Secret-Scotland‘s recommendation, and we paid dearly for this.

We had average food in an average restaurant, and quickly turned in and tried to sleep. I think our spirits were crushed.

Skye, day two

On the morning of day two, thanks to the weather cooperating, everyone was in a better mood despite the ridiculously small amount of sleep we had. We left the hotels really early and hunted for breakfast. We discovered that Scots are not a nation of breakfast eater – at least not in the sense where they woulds go out and have breakfast in a restaurant. After a while, we managed to find a hotel where they would serve us breakfast.

After that, we visited Dunvegan Castle, home of the MacLeod Chiefs for the past 800 years. The castle visit was fairly interesting but the gardens were fantastic. I took an insane amount of close-ups there.

yellowpinkgreen

These will end-up in one of our bathrooms.

Neist Point, the windswept lighthouse

The highlight of the trip for LovelyWife is most probably the visit to the Neist Point windswept lighthouse. And when they say “Windswept”, they are not kidding. We’re talking 60mph winds here.

windswept1Trust me, the pictures don’t do justice to the landscape.
braveMy brave LovelyWife in front of the punk sheep.

windswept2

That’s a 150′ drop. Luckily, the wind comes from the sea. 😉

We ended the day with a brilliant meal at Marmelade, before sleeping one last time at our rubbish hotels.

And thus concludes part three of the massive Scotland recap. Stay tuned for parts four (and possibly five – I’m turning into Robert Jordan here!  of this magnificent adventure.

You can read all the recaps by following these links:

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14 comments

    1. Yes it is! It’s not really concealed well anymore, but I was told that it would’ve been really invisible way back when it was first built. 🙂

  1. As I continue to read through your recaps, I’m a little depressed that I’ve not been to these amazing places in my trips to Scotland. I usually arrive in Edinburgh, get enchanted by the city all over again, then never leave! I’ve been to the highlands twice, but only as day trips. Now, more than ever, I want to explore the countryside.

    1. Secret door was used to get to a different floor in case of a breach during an attack. Yes, we could use the staircase to get to the lower level (the one to the top level was blocked, as they built a bathroom at the other end. 😉

  2. So you got a duff hotel in Portree… well that’s what happens when you deviate from the Secret Scotland guide. Were all our recommendations fully booked or did you just decide that you wanted to be in Portree?

    1. A little bit of both. The guide recommended places that were either fully booked or not willing to have us for just one night. Our friends also insisted that we’d stay in Portree, the “biggest town” on Skye, so that limited our options.

      1. I thought the plan was for 2 nights on Skye? It is one of those places that is always a problem if you are only doing a 1 nighter. There’s just so many tourists on the island that the B&B owners can afford to be picky. A pity that you didn’t give us a call, we could have warned you about this and given you some better steers for where to stay in Portree.

      2. Well, couple that with the fact that we were there at the same time that the “Accordion and Fiddle Festival”, and everything was booked solid. We made the best of it, and it became an adventure in itself, so it’s all good. 😉

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