Today marked my last day in Skye and the Highlands all together as I would be heading to Edinburgh the following morning to drop off my car and bid Scotland farewell. I had two planned hikes for the day followed by a long drive to my accommodation afterwards so I needed to start quite early that morning. While checking out at the hostel I had the pleasure of meeting Gordon, one of the hostel’s personnel. Such a nice guy Gordon was, he went through the day’s plan with me offering advice and guidance. He gave me directions to where I was going next on a paper map of Skye in case the navigation went crazy on me which it sometimes did!! The best assistance he offered me was regarding the night’s accommodation, it was crucial for me to stay somewhere as close as possible to Edinburgh to spare myself a long and tiring drive the following morning.
I was planning on spending that night in Glencoe but it was actually fully booked and I couldn’t find any room to spend the night. Gordon suggested staying somewhere else closer to the Loch Lomond National Park, the place was only a 1 hour and 40 minutes drive away from Edinburgh and that was just perfect. He was of such a great help while I was making the arrangements for the accommodation, I almost had no signal on my phone and it was impossible to make calls. I needed to get them through using the hostel’s landline which was willingly made available for my usage. The network is quite bad in Skye specially the more you go up north so be prepared for that. May I also say that his recommendation for breakfast was excellent! Thank you so much Gordon for such a great start of my day 🙂
And so I took off after having a nice breakfast while sitting on a bench in the downtown area enjoying the crisp morning breeze. I had a final look at the harbor with the sun reflecting on the still waters as I walked myself to the car to start on my drive up north to The Old Man of Storr.
It was cold and got kind of gray when the road opened up towards Storr, it turned rainy on me later but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the day. The Old Man of Storr is nearly a two hours hike, was a little tough on my poor knee at some parts but it was totally worth it. The views from up there were incredible, a 360 degrees feast for the eyes.
There were hardly any signs to guide the ascent and I had to improvise following the dirt road scrambling myself up to the Old Man. I couldn’t reach the very base of it though as it was steep and quite difficult to climb with a bit of a drizzle as well. Unfortunately, I came to know later that there was an easier way to climb to the Old Man itself other than the scrambling I did on the wrong side of the pinnacle! Urg!
I had a very wet and muddy descend and by the time I made it to the car my hiking pants were soaking wet and I was freezing. I needed to stay in the car for nearly half an hour with the heating on to warm myself up and allow my pants to dry out before I go further up the road to the Quirang.
The landscape surrounding the Quirang was unrealistic, those vast and grandiose hills at different elevations with ponds scattered around just blew my mind. I couldn’t resist not turning my head in all possible directions as I was ascending to take in the view that was enveloping me.
That time, I decided to hike light leaving my backpack and DSLR in the car, taking only the GoPro and mobile with me along with a bottle of water. I kicked off the path following the track as it went up and shortly after I have started I met Narges and David.
We started on a casual conversation and ended up hiking the trail together encouraging one another actually to go on the longer 3 hours route. I was actually glad having met them because when the hike ended I felt that it wouldn’t have been as nice if I had done it alone!
It was drizzling already when we started and the path was very muddy and hard to follow, it would have been difficult to figure out which way to go if I was on my own. David had one of those walking the Highlands books that described the walk and even with the help of that book we got confused at some points, especially when the book advised us to follow the “clear” track, a track that wasn’t that clear at all!
We were the only ones doing that part of the trail so we had to rely on our sense of direction and the quite misleading info provided by the book. By that time it was raining already and that made the uphill climb to the summit quite difficult, it wasn’t easy to ascend on puddles and boggy heathers but we ended up making it to the flat summit and we kind of improvised our descent to the parking, a declivity that got slippery over those wet heathers. It was such an enjoyable hike nonetheless, we parted ways at the parking as they were heading to Uig and I needed to drive myself out of Skye to north Loch Lomond for the night’s accommodation. That was a little more than 5 hours of nonstop driving, a drive that took me throw Glencoe and Fort Williams.
The sceneries on my way back to the mainland and off Skye were as grand as they were coming in. Massive hills covered in green and tall trees with waterfalls gushing from everywhere, I was driving that wending line that found its way through their rugged presence and was greeted every now and then by a still mass of water. That drive was the perfect ending to my Highlands visit; I drove by a calm sunset and was welcomed afterwards by a big bright moon. Of course the photographer in me so wanted to stop and catch a photo or two but I compelled myself to better have that scene saved in my memory. We are not supposed to tangibly capture everything our eyes see I believe; sometimes it’s best to keep sights safely locked up in one’s recollection.
And so I kept on driving to reach my destination; that was the longest and toughest drive in the whole trip. I was tired, yearning for a hot shower and a comfy bed and those one lane single carriageways drove me nuts. I had to utilize my Egyptian driving skills overtaking few cars at a time because I wasn’t able to keep my eyes opened any longer, I just needed that drive to come to an end and it did safely thank goodness!
The campsite I was staying at was just perfect; thank you Gordon! I had a camping hut all for myself, and when I checked the location in the morning I was in love. The site is located almost on the outer north premises of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs national park and has a few walks around the area where you can just go on foot leaving your car behind. I wished I had my tent to camp there and stay for longer but maybe next time. Highlands, this is not the end, I will be back-Terminator-style 😀
That night in the camp I had the best hot shower I ever had throughout the trip, I was clean and hungry because of course I forgot to have a proper dinner but I was ready to have a good night sleep since in the morning I had to say goodbye to the Highlands and Scotland altogether with kind of a broken but yet happy heart!