ISLE of SKYE
Skye is breathtaking beauty. All of mountains there were treeless, which added a kind of surreal, otherworldliness to it. I learned that this is due to “excessive deforestation [during the Empire’s expansionist process that started in the 17th century], and the new saplings are preferentially eaten by the deer and other wildlife over the Heather that grows there.” Some mountains did have some trees, but they were all planted in patches that if you look closely you would see are fenced in to keep Heather eaters out. Warning, be sure to bring lots of bug spray if you plan on hiking in Skye because there are tons of annoying midges. Eek.
The Isle of Skye is also famous the Fairy Pools at the foot of the Cullins. Bloomberg News puts it this way “This series of crystal-clear waterfalls and pools bewitch plenty of summer visitors into taking a dip, often regretted immediately—the icy water is beyond bracing.” Cold yes, but extremely rewarding after all the hiking.Sugar nan Gillean Mountains
The HIGHLANDS and MORAY
Another highlight of this trip was a whole day of white water rafting in the River Findhorn, way up in northern coast of Moray. We went with Ace Adventure, which I highly recommend, and our guides were so awesome. It had been raining there so we got a nice little boost on the river grade. At some point we took a quick break from rafting to climb some rocks to jump off the cliff into the river. I absolutely hate the feeling of free falling, but that was really fun.
Loch Ness, of monster folklore fame, is a long narrow lake that slices through the middle of Scotland’s Highlands region. Driving along it is fantastically scenic. Although, there are treacherous passes that a little nerve racking, specially because I’m driving on the “wrong” side of the road (j.k.), and of the fact that the Scots are terrifying drivers. In some places, you also have to deal with Mull sheep! They’re kind of really funny in a cute way. Anyway, we walked along the southern shore of Loch Ness, hoping for sightings of the legendary Nessie. As it turned it, she was just a log.
Moray is probably most famous for its whisky, the most popular of which is arguably Glenfiddich. There are tons of distilleries that are open to the public for tastings. Unfortunately, because of time and driving constraints, we didn’t get to visit any of them. But, who cares when you can geek out about Shakespeare’s Macbeth and see the Cawdor Castle! That was fun.
Yes, there remains so much more natural beauty to experience in Scotland, specially in Skye…