Skye was by far the highlight of the road trip, the part I longed for the most. I had an early start that day in hopes of reaching Portree right away but the nearly 2 hours something drive took me longer than I anticipated. I was there an hour or so before sunset time not because of a dreary drive like the one I had to Inverness, but simply because it was so scenic that I couldn’t help but stop every now and then in awe of the surrounding landscape. And every time I stopped I would tell myself this is the last time, just continue straight to Portree afterwards but then comes another viewpoint/walk sign and I would stop again and again.
Loch Cluanie was one of the halts I made along the way, it was so beautiful that I ended up making 3 different stops along its shore. A little more driving down the road and I came across Eilean Donan castle, it looked like a castle out of a fairytale and so I stopped for a quick visit. Less than half an hour of driving later, I passed the sign of the Lochalsh Woodland Walk and without second thoughts I took the turn that led to the parking. I just couldn’t control myself especially that by that time the sun was finally able to find its way through from among the clouds and the weather was becoming perfect. That short walk between the long woodland trees with the sun beams creeping in was a dream, and the views of Lochalsh were wondrous, it was totally worth the time.
After all the stops, I eventually drove myself over the Skye Bridge to the final destination of the day, where I will be spending the night, Portree. This small town was packed by the time I arrived, it was hard to find a parking spot and a place to have dinner!! I had to wait for more than an hour just to order a pizza for dinner; with people waiting outside bars and restaurants to get a table, pizza was the quickest option available at the time!
It was kind of problematic to find accommodation in Portree or the nearby area I noticed, I kept on running into people making calls to check for availability. I heard Skye had few rainy days that forced campers to switch to indoor accommodation, so unexpectedly all places got fully booked. That got me worried to be honest, I feared that I won’t be able to find a place to spend the night and that I will end up driving somewhere far for accommodation. The network in town was really bad as well, it was almost impossible to use the internet to look for accommodation and unfortunately the place I chose to have dinner in had no wi fi, what a bummer! Luckily, I had a hostels guide that a friend gave me before my trip and with the aid of that guide I was able to secure a bunk bed in a female dorm in one of the town’s hostels, it probably was the last available bed too!
The hostel was very central, close to the downtown square and only a few steps away from the Visit Scotland Information office. I shared the room that night with students from China and Japan whom I happened to accidentally talk to while walking around the downtown area, and a French girl, Isabelle, who plays the bagpipe. Did I mention that there was a bagpipe band playing live music in town that evening? There was one yes and I was able to hear them while in my room. I just love bagpipe music and being able to hear it almost everywhere I went to was very delightful.
Anyway, Isabelle was something; she was touring the Highlands as well, solo, and doing it via public transportation since she is not old enough to rent a car. She was fun to talk to and of such a great help as well. I was hesitant about which walks to do the following day, which was actually my last day in Skye, and while I was talking with her about it she brought out this Highlands walks book and we started going through it to decide which walks I should go for. She even helped me in figuring out my way on a paper map she had since the network was too bad to use Google maps and the car navigation I had only dealt with post codes and town names and used to go nuts on me when given something else.
She was so impressive for her age, she knew how to navigate road maps and use coordinates to find specific locations. I’m not sure if I’m that good in handling coordinates and road maps to be honest, I can find my way around a city map but never used a road map to travel around before considering that this is my first road trip ever! I’m glad I was able to have that small talk with her that night, such a remarkable young lady.
So, pizza for dinner, a live bagpipe show in downtown, and very exciting conversations with such cool people. That was me calling it a night, I needed to have a good night sleep as I was going to have some serious hiking and driving the following day.