Chapter Nine – Skye’s The Limit…Our Drive From Callander To Portree

MaiTaiTom Gets The Royal Treatment…Two Weeks Exploring London and Scotland

Chapter Nine – Skye’s The Limit…Our Drive From Callander To Portree

DAY TEN – Mhor Bread Please, Seeing Red, Which Mountain is Which, Are We On The Moon, Scenic Drive, Bonnie Prince Charlie & Harry Potter, White Sands, Ferry Ride, The Skye’s The Limit, We’ll Check It Out On The Way Back, Colorful Town, Our Restaurant Makes A Great Comeback, A Short Walk Becomes Longer and I’ll Buy This One

Up early, I strolled around the grounds at Roman Camp, and the flowers were just as beautiful in the morning as they were the prior evening.

                                                                   

When the slackers (and I mean that in a nice way) finally awoke, the four of us then walked down Main Street in Callander in search of coffee and food. After passing St. Kessog’s Kirk on Ancaster Square…

…we made our way to Mhor Bread, an appropriate name because I always need more bread (OK, no more of this), and by 9:30 we were on the road for our longest drive of the trip.  First we bade goodbye to Roman Camp…

                             

….and our friendly peacock, who screeched goodbye from his perch (I was missing him already).

Traveling on the A82, we passed Bridge of Orchy and stopped at the viewpoint at Loch Tulla, one of the first places we exited the car for photos. It would become a habit.

In the distance (on our right as we headed west) we spotted a white speck, which turned out to be the King’s House Hotel, which really is not a hotel…at the moment. That’s because, as we found out, this 17th century inn is in the middle of a renovation.  As we drove in, a family was feeding the red deer just off the driveway.

We kept heading toward a little restaurant/bar, coincidentally (or not) called The Way Inn.

It was here where we drank even more coffee, and then reveled in the magical scenery (which is really most of Scotland).

                    

Red Deer were munching grass, frolicking about…

                           

…and darting through the River Etive.

                  

At every turn, we just wanted moor…

…and moor.

We checked out Buachaille Etive Mòr and Buachaille Etive Beag (I think that’s them anyway…it’s hard to get your Buachaille’s straight). Buachaille Etive Mòr is known in Gaelic as “The Great Herdsman of Etive” and forms a ridge combined with four other peaks that stretches for almost five miles. The River Etive flows around its perimeter.  Thankfully there was no avalanche like the one in 2009 that killed three people. I asked the guy at the bar which one was which, and like a true local he answered, “Hmm. I don’t know.”

                  

After bidding a fond farewell to the red deer…

                   

…it was back in the car…but not for long. Viewpoints kept luring us out to check out more scenery…

….and walk up and down hills without tumbling over…

                                            

…as we kept shooting photos.  Had this been 20 years ago, the film alone on this trip would have cost hundreds of dollars.

By now Tracy had commandeered my iPhone and started shooting photos out the car window as we drove through this incredibly scenic terrain.

                        

We contemplated visiting Glencoe Village, but we realized we had spent so much time admiring the scenery, we needed to keep driving to make up a few minutes. We did not want to miss our 4 p.m. ferry to Isle of Skye.  As we reached Fort William, our voracious appetites took over.  We felt confident at this point about our timing, so after Tracy took this Kirkyard photo…

we parked…

                …and walked into Fort William, where we would dine before heading on the Road To The Isles.  Some people give Fort William short shrift, but I found it to be pleasant town, and we enjoyed the views out onto Loch Linnhe, one of Scotland’s longest sea lochs.

               

The good lunch (love those chips) at Ben Nevis Bar and Restaurant gave us (well, our driver Kim) the energy to drive us to Mallaig.

                                         

After lunch we netted a few more photos before walking through town to stretch our legs some more, and then it was back in the car.

                                                       

We thought about diverting to Neptune’s Staircase and Corpach, a 19th century flight of eight locks along the Caledonian Canal…the longest in the UK, but decided against it because we planned to visit some other locks in a few days, plus we saw no place to pick up bagels (Locks, Lochs, Lox…it was getting confusing).

Our next stop turned out to be Glenfinnan, known not only for its Scotch whisky, but also for a famed monument and view of yet another Harry Potter sight (can’t get rid of this guy). Tracy and I hiked down  a trail…

…from the parking area at the visitor center to see the Glenfinnan Monument at the head of Loch Shiel.

                    

Glenfinnan is where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard at the start of the Jacobite Rising in 1745.  We feel we raise the standard of any area we visit.  In 1815, the nearly 50-foot high monument was built here with the “lone, kilted highlander at the top providing a poignant reminder of the clansmen who gave their lives to the Jacobite cause.”

                                   

The views out onto the loch from here were beautiful.

                   

Meanwhile, Kim and Mary had hiked up a  trail where at the top you can catch a glimpse of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, featured in Harry Potter.

Fortunately, Kim took photos because by the time we reached the windy summit, we forgot to take pictures of the viaduct that has a 1,000-foot span and is 100 feet above the ground.  The Jacobite steam train (aka The Hogwart’s Express) runs from here, and many people attempt to time their visit to see the train.

The hours the train passes by are posted in the visitor’s office.

The Glenfinnan Monument also makes for a great photo op from the summit, too.  At least we remembered to take photos in this direction.

Back in our rental-mobile, we passed Loch Eilt and Loch Ailort before crossing the Ardnish Peninsula to reach Loch Nan Uamh.

When we hit the White Sands of Morar we knew that Mallaig wasn’t far away.

Arriving about 15 minutes before we could board the ferry, we drove around Mallaig for a bit, came back, and it was off to the Isle of Skye.

The ferry journey across The Sound of Sleat (which I believe was the original working title of an old Simon and Garfunkel song) from Mallaig to Armadale on the Isle of Skye takes less than an hour.

                 

We had planned to stop at a famous bridge during our drive to our next destination, but realized we’d be driving through here in two days, so in about an hour after disembarking the ferry we drove into the small, colorful town of Portree.

It took a few wrong turns, but we finally found our home for the next two nights, the Cuillin Hills Hotel. Wow! The views back across Portree Bay and over to Portree were remarkable (I can only say “magical” so many times).

          

Their literature had said it had a “stunning location,” and it was spot on.

             

After checking in at this beautiful hotel, we had just enough time to take a power nap (15 minutes, whether we need it or not), a quick shower, and, although the walk into the town wasn’t that far, we decided to share a taxi to the restaurant and walk back after dinner.  We had 7:45 reservations at Scorrybreac, which had been recommended to us, and I had made reservations online before we left the U.S.

It seemed like a long time since our lunch at Fort William, so we were starving.  Unfortunately our table was not ready, so they sent us next door to the Merchant Bar and said they would call when our table became available.

Since there had been no call by a little after 8, I wandered back over to make sure they hadn’t forgotten about us. The hostess came out to the little waiting room next to the restaurant and said our table was still not ready.  Since I am “Euro Tom” on vacation, I was not angered, but we were slightly annoyed.  Finally, at 8:20 we entered and realized why the wait had been so long.

Our server apologized profusely and explained that the people who had been sitting at our table just wouldn’t leave. Since the restaurant is small, there just wasn’t another table. We ordered wine, and when she returned, our server said, “The bottle is on the house.” That was just the beginning of the good stuff this excellent restaurant had to offer.

The amuse bouche of whipped mushrooms, truffles and soy mousse was a great way to start.

My starter, Tartare of Beef, Truffle Vinaigrette and Mull Cheddar (Tracy had that, too), was delicious, but the Venison entrée garnered a “Wow!” Kim and Mary also ordered it.

                            

Kim and Mary started with Mussels (some day I’ll try that).  Tracy’s main dish was an interesting choice of cauliflower and burnt lettuce. I guess someone has to eat healthy.

                                                           

After that slow start, Scorrybreac made a great comeback, and the quality of the dishes was excellent. I would certainly recommend a visit there (and don’t stress if they’re a little late…that’s why they invented bars).

The walk back to our hotel was nothing less than gorgeous (there are only so many superlatives you can say about Scotland).

                                       

Between the flowers…

              

…and the bay…

..and the two houses that we wanted to purchase…

            

…our ten minute walk took more than 30 minutes for photo taking…

(our goofiness might have added a few minutes, too).

And the view back from the hotel over Portree Bay was the perfect way to end a long day.

Before nodding off to sleep, I tried to recall the entire day.  The varied and fascinating landscapes were fresh in my mind.  Once again I could see why people who love Scotland keep coming back time and time again.  I was already trying to figure out when we would return.

 

Speaking of incredible scenery, tomorrow we’d pile back in the car to see (well, maybe) an old guy in a mountain, spectacular waterfalls, beyond cute animal scenes, thatched cottages, dead Flora, a Fairyland glen, a splendid lunch on a loch and a castle with some of the most magnificent gardens you could ever want to stroll around. Our day culminated with a delicious dinner featuring a spectacular view and…drum roll…STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING!  Life is damn good!

Next: DAY ELEVEN – In A Fog, The Old Man And The Can’t See, The Falls Guys, I’ll Never Find Another Ewe, Looks Like We Missed That Turn, Flora Graveyard, Cottage Industry, Fairyland, Escape Route, Lochside Lunch, Garden Paradise, “Kim You’re On The Wrong Side Of The Road!”, Room With A View, United Nations Of Servers, May I Order One Of These With Breakfast & Do I Need A Tetanus Shot With This Drink?

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