Scotland: Day 3
Our fire lighting experiences from the previous evening took a toll in the morning. Unable to light the fire and take off the chill, I trudged to the “Hub” to take a shower and get ready for the day. The Hub is the facilities area of the campground. There’s a few bathrooms, showers and a sink to do your dishes. Getting there involves a walk up a very steep hill, and so one only goes to the Hub when one must.
Afterwards, we headed to our boat cruise on the Loch Ness. We gave ourselves an hour to do a 40 minutes drive. Not even two miles in, we were held up by a giant cement truck that was parked on a road that only one car can use at a time (despite it being two way). The truck eventually moved, but it took about 15 minutes. Now nervous about getting to our boat cruise on time, we called to give them a heads up. The UK oozes politeness and the company actually held the boat for us! We weren’t late, but we were about two minutes before the boat was scheduled to leave. Thank you Jacobite cruises!
The cruise we booked took us out onto Loch Ness, and then dropped us off at Urquhart Castle. The castle is currently in ruins, but there is a nice tour that highlights what rooms they were likely to be, and shares the history of the castle and it’s inhabitants. The castle was built in the 1200s (though parts may have occurred even earlier) and was a point of battle and angst throughout it’s 500 year history. Eventually the castle was blown to smithereens as the English thought that the clans living there were Jacobites.
Highly recommend checking it out if you have a chance – and getting there via boat is definitely the way to do it!
Following, we headed over to Cawdor Castle. We were feeling a bit of castle fatigue, but decided to forge ahead anyway. I’m glad we did. Cawdor Castle is cool – but so are the other castles. What makes it stand apart was the sassy sign writer who described each of the rooms with amusing quips and detail. We found ourselves giggling throughout. To all the people who breezed through, I am sorry, you should have read the descriptions!!
We headed to Inverness afterwards to check out the city. It looks a lot like Dublin, or Copenhagen, or Cologne or any other European city with roots in the medieval times. We headed to Velocity Café and Bike Repair shop which is one of the top rated cafes in the city, and also had a wide range of gluten free treats. The almond lemon cake was AMAZING.
We weaved in and out of a few stores and then headed back to the yurts (with a quick pit stop at the Cooperative grocery store, where we have gone every day since arriving). Back at the yurts we made dinner, enjoyed some more cheese, showered and packed up, as tomorrow we move on to Isle of Skye.
Scotland: Day 4
Au revoir yurt! We spent our final two hours in the yurt lighting a fire successfully with fire starter (provided by the hosts who finally recognized that we suck at making fires from newspaper and wood), making breakfast, cleaning up and packing up.
We hit the road by 9 am and headed toward Isle of Skye. At first we were intending to stop along the way to do things, but the scenery quickly took over and we discovered that an hour would go by without even noticing. We did however, stop along the way to take breathtaking photographs. A pit stop was necessary to buy some cheese from a local dairy shop as well (with a friendly dog, and a part of the Scottish cheese trail to boot). We enjoyed the cheese for lunch along with some leftover salt and pepper crackers.
We stopped at Eileann Donan Castle on our way to Isle of Skye (okay, we had to back track a few miles, but it was 100% worth it). This castle and backdrop is breathtaking. But rather than tour the castle, we were good to go after some photo opps and a bathroom break. Definitely recommend stopping by if you’re ever en route.
Isle of Skye is magical. It’s incredibly beautiful and every turn brings something new. At first, we were hoping to hike the Quiraing, but unfortunately, rain came about that could potentially have made for a dangerous and uncomfortable hike. So we headed to the Castle of Dunvegan instead. This castle surprisingly surpassed our expectations. While the commentary in each room wasn’t as pithy as Cawford, we found the descriptions to be thoughtful and interesting. But the best part of this castle is the seal tour by the boat house. Seals line the property where the castle sits, and bask for hours at a time in the sun, digesting their latest meal (according to our very un-chatty captain who we had to pry information from). We spent 25 minutes driving around the waters to look at gluttonous seal do their thing. It was amazing.
Following the castle we headed to the Bed & Breakfast we’re staying in. The owners weren’t home but left us with a little welcome package, and so after checking ourselves in, we headed to downtown Portree to explore. The town shuts down at about 5 pm (wah!) but a few stores remained open. The best part though was discovering “the lump” which is a pristine little park that overlooks the harbor. A watch tower built in the 1800s is climbable as well.
For dinner, we had reservations at Rosedale Hotel. Reviews had raved about the restaurant, but James and I started to get nervous after walking around the hotel to try and find it (hotel did not look or smell so nice). The restaurant however, is amazing. It overlooks Portree harbor and the food is spectacular. We both had the scallops and the venison. The chef served a celeriac soup prior to the meal, with fantastic whipped butter for bread (mine gluten free) and flakey sea salt. After eating the last three meals in a yurt, cooked on a camp stove, this was a much welcomed treat.
We walked back to our bed and breakfast, full, and ready to have a bathroom available to us at any point during the middle of the night.