How exciting – finally we get to hike “up north”! Extending the May Bank Holiday Weekend, we enjoy 5 days of adventure 🙂
We are not big planners and that usually turns out just fine as we have the flexibility to follow any of the many interesting twists and turns our journeys take us. Similar this time, though I do recommend some form of better planning – whether this is simply deciding to rent a car in a notoriously rainy destination or familiarizing yourself with the scarce public transport and hiking trail options given the arduous weather conditions. Why? Because we kinda lost time (and left quite some money on the cash desks) and could have potentially made even more of our trip had we planned better.
Or maybe not even. What does it mean to make more of something – say a destination? Is it simply to see more of it (quantity) or is it also about connections, experiences, being in the moment (quality)? We did get so much out of it and it surprises me again and again how the universe conspires to help achieve the best. So, here our story goes.
After purchasing some much-needed provisions (camping gas, water, wet wipes, food) and a savoury Scottish Breakfast, we take the bus along beautiful Loch Ness into Fort William. It’s the UK’s Outdoor Capital and we make some fun discoveries in the local museum (check out below hidden picture in a painting!).
Then a tete-a-tete with Scottish Whisky and Irn Bru, supposedly the national softdrink (think Austrian Almdudler or Brazilian Guaranå). Then, the magnificent train journey out to Mallaig, through some gorgeous, untouched landscapes and over viaducts (yes, the one from the Harry Potter movie;).
Arriving in Mallaig, we’ve got just enough time to stop by the local grocery store, walk over to the ferry terminal to get our tickets and off we go, Isle of Skye here we come. The weather: rainy-ish (somewhat like a bunch of people spitting you in the face while talking and add some wind – that feeling), what else would you expect?
Armadale is where we arrive and the lovely ferry staff is offering us a ride to a cosy pub (the lad had worked there in the past and wholeheartedly recommended us the place – well, with nothing else around for the next few miles we don’t have much choice anyways and accept gladly 😉 with great food where we also make friends with the famous “Hot Toddy” (whisky, hot water, tea, honey, lemon). What a wonderful surprise – totally random, without any planning!
Having moved to the lounge after dinner, it’s hard to leave the comfy couch facing the open fireplace and with gorgeous views over the water.
Just 5mins walk from there we find a wind-protected abandoned house out of sight where we pitch our tent for the night. Today’s walked km: 7
Up to Broadford we walk across the Black Moor – wide boggy landscapes as far as the eye can see.
As we get into the little town light rain starts and we take a snap decision to ride the bus – arriving that very moment – to Elgol, is what the lovely driver Gordon recommends. Elgol is located on the southern end of a small peninsular. The local coffee shop is still open and luckily the chatty waitress doesn’t delay in sharing her observations (about weather and hiking conditions) and recommendations (staying in the nearby bothy and continue walking the next day) with us 🙂
What a beautiful hike up to Camasunary beach and just in time before rain hits again, we arrive at the little refuge called bothy. It’s simply a sitting room and place for using one’s camping stove and another room with plank beds to sleep. What a wonderful surprise – totally random, without any planning! Today’s walked km: 16
The hike up Glen Sligachan valley is gorgeous – as the paths are quite wet and water to cross about 1m deep, we decide to take the direct route up to Sligachan instead of the detour via Loch Coruisk and the infamous “Bad Step”. Today’s walked km: 14
We had to stay at Sligachan campground last night – after being surprised by the rain, there was nowhere else to go. The situation was quite desperate with strong winds almost not permitting us to pitch the tent. The tent poles are totally out of shape since then… Luckily the campground has a drying machine and that saved our trip (as backpackers we don’t carry extra clothes). Must have looked hilarious to watch us take down the tent in long john style tights and a borrowed pair of boots just so we don’t need to go it barefoot 😉
Portree is considered the capital of the Isle of Skye and we’re planning to pay for a B&B for our last night, wanting to avoid getting soaked again. As we walk along a cute little path the sun comes out again and spontaneously we continue the walk up northwards to a campground (~45mins walk). What a wonderful surprise – totally random, without any planning!
Alternatively, take the bus – there’s a stop right in front of it. One thing to note is that mostly there’s a little bus stop hut only on one side of the street but the bus will stop on both sides of the road wherever you can see one hut, no matter what side of the road.
Today’s walked km: 9
Today we visit “The Old Man of Storr” – it’s a beautiful black rock formation one can hike up to in about an hour. Surrounded by groups of interesting rocks where one can wander around, this place offers marvellous views (in fine weather that is) over the island and across the sea to Raasay Island. We are extremely lucky with the weather, fog and mist open up for time we’re there and even some sunny spells shine across.
As we’re pressed for time now (having spent too much time drying our stuff and getting my wits together after the crazy rain) we simply take the bus 57A/C to tour the Trotternish Pensinsula via public bus. The bus driver suggested that to us in the morning, offering a day-rider pass for less than £10 GBP.
What a wonderful surprise – totally random, without any planning! Today’s walked km: 9
As we travel back to Inverness on the bus, the sun comes out to stay and we enjoy a wonderful last evening in Scotland, watching nature and listening to live pipe music 🙂 “Fechar as ferias com a chave de ouro” as we like to say in Portuguese: close the holidays with the golden key!
Thank you for a wonderful adventure🐲