I’d been to the Scottish Highlands about 20 years ago, as well as a brief trip to Dundee in 2001, but had long wanted to go to the Hebrides. So I was quite pleased when Mrs B suggested the Isle of Skye as a destination for a slightly-longer-than-a-weekend-break there.
Due to a combination of lack of organisation and an attraction to the romance of train travel, we ended up getting the overnight sleeper. This cannot be recommended highly enough – rock up to Euston Station before half nine and get into your little berth. From then you can sleep, stare out the window, or go to the buffet car (open all night) to watch the world go by.
We had a fairly early night, and an early morning where we sat with coffee and a not too outrageously priced (given that they have a captive market) breakfast. The train ‘lands’ in Inverness at 8.30 (other destinations are available) and the last few hours are glorious – a gently chug through the Scottish countryside. You then have a full extra day for less than the price of a flight plus hotel.
Isle of Skye
We hired a car and drove to the Isle of Skye. It is easy to forget just how big Scotland is. The drive took 2½ hours and yet we only passed through two Westminster constituencies (my new standard unit of travel) – Ross, Skye and Lochaber and the even more extravagently named Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey. Despite the use of seven locations, these do only have two MPs, honest.
Despite the fact that every other house in Skye seems to be a B&B it was pretty hard to get accommodation. Luckily Mrs B is more organised than me, or else we would have been camping. As it was, she had found Off the Hill B&B– it’s on the south side of the island and a lovely and welcoming place (sadly I’m not on a commission.
There is a lot to do in Skye, And it is pretty vast – you can spend almost a day just driving around the island, and that’s before taking in any of the sites.
In no particular order, the highlights were – the Fairy Pools, the Old Man of Storr, Leitir Fura (an abandoned village), Flora MacDonalds monument, and dinosaur footprints on Staffin Beach.
Loch Ness and Inverness
All good things must come to an end, and so after little more than 48 hours, we had to go back to school. This involved an equally long drive back to Inverness, this time on a different route going past Eilean Castle (which was less charming when you found out that it was rebuilt entirely in the 1920s) and Loch Ness (where we stopped for a boat cruise), which is gorgeous, if a bit too ‘Nessie’ centred.
We stayed in Inverness overnight before flying home, having a gentle evening stroll through the city before a meal in a top class restaurant. On the way back we were treated to the sight of Scottish optimism – despite the temperature being in single digits, and there being gale force winds whipping up the horizontal rain, the tables were set by a few restaurants for an al fresco dining experience.