In times of the pandemic, the Scottish Highlands have been in the limelight for… well, locals testing positive. And a while ago, there were news reports about an increasingly large number of people opting to live closer to Edinburgh rather than commute daily from far-flung corners of the Highlands. A rather obvious decision, isn’t it? And back in the day (circa 2017), there had been discussions about real estate prices in the Isle of Skye skyrocketing, hotels/homestays claiming six-month long waiting periods and even some mumblings about a tourist tax. Whatever the case may be, nothing and no one can deny the charm of the ruggedly handsome Scottish Highland. As is always the case, there are pros and cons to this situation.
These articles and discussions continue to me very happy about that decision taken in 2017 – to travel towards the end of summer which means the end of holiday season and with a tour company that handled every detail. All I had to do was enjoy myself. And that brings me back to the other interesting places one must see when in the Isle of Skye.
Updated in July 2020; this post was first published on the blog in
Fairy Glenn, Uig
Most globetrotters who visit Skye head towards the Fairy Pools to see the colourful waterfalls. But rather than visiting the awfully crowded pools, Sean took us to the lesser known, hence less crowded, Fairy Glen – an otherworldly place near Uig. With little hills and a wild array of colourful flowers growing amid the lush green slopes, I wondered when Tinkerbell would fly out from behind a tree. I even walked in the footsteps of a giant man and wondered over the stone formations at the foot of the slopes. Perhaps the magical people meet there each night for some hot chocolate and scary stories? Sit atop one of the hills and let the magical peace embrace you. But do be careful of the slippery paths and the sheep poop. I returned to the bus with scraped palms, a painful butt, and bruised dignity after sliding off some rocks.
Three Sisters of Glen Coe
You might miss the Three Sisters of Glen Coe unless they are shown to you but you cannot miss Bidean nam Bian, the massive mountain. The Three Sisters are among the most prominent ridges of the mountain. I lost a bit of my heart to these sisters, their wild splendour impressing me as the waters of Loch Lubnaig gently touched the pebbled banks. This is where you will realise that there is beauty in the silence of nature.
Cuith Raing and midges
To be honest, I remember the Cuith Raing (Quiraing) more for my first encounter with the Highland midges rather than the stunning visuals. Imagine marvelling at the sweeping sights before you, oohing and aahing while posing for photographs before a swarm of tiny flying objects descends, sending you scampering for cover. Jumanji insect level anyone? Luckily, I did manage to sneak in some photos and a good Ayurvedic insect repellent worked wonders. I proudly returned free of midge bites.
Loch Ness / Fort Augustus
We also made a mandatory stop at Loch Ness and joined several others in the hunt for Nessie but rather than finding the sea monster, I almost left behind my brand new jacket at one of the restaurants there! This is what happens when you are too busy enjoying the view from the corner table. The thought of having to survive the rest of my trip without the jacket is still horrifying! Brrrrr… Though considering news reports perhaps if I’d stuck around Nessie just might have played peek-a-boo with me!
Avid moviegoers will definitely recognise the castle that appeared in a James Bond film. And for Hindi movie buffs, watch the title track of Rani Mukerji’s second movie and you will recognise this as the backdrop. Ridiculously gorgeous, this is one place where you will not mind spending some precious bucks to enter. And enter you must. How else will you see the restored grandeur? The best – and creepiest – part is the kitchen that has lifelike figures and almost real fake food (this made me really hungry), recreating what would have been a pre-dinner bustling kitchen. Photography inside the castle is prohibited.
Rolling hills and clouds like powder puffs touching the peaks of mountains, massive water bodies and the play of light, this is the view as you drive up to the Isle of Skye. Lambs skipping onto paths, wild deer looking at you wide-eyed and bunches of heather flowers growing on roadsides will keep you marvelling at nature even as bundles of peat left in the vast farms will have you sit up to ask questions. One could almost imagine a scene out of an English classic as described by our driver, who seems to have experience of sitting around peat fires for some storytelling. “It (peat) makes a lovely fire. It’s so nice and cozy and gives out a soft glow, creating a perfect warm environment. It does not crackle or sparkle and is the best kind of storytelling fire,” he shared. How I wish I could return yet again to the land of the Scots to experience this too.
Oops… did I say Sean Connery? I meant Sean Gordon.
- Skye reaching the limit for tourists? http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-40874488
- Tourist tax suggested for Isle of Skye http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-40774850
- Nessie sightings on rise: American tourist ninth person this YEAR to spot ‘Loch Ness Monster’ poking out water https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/loch-ness-monster-spotted-poking-11556572