Inverness to Torridon
On this drive from Inverness to the small village of Torridon on the west central coast of Scotland, the skies began to clear a bit. We were in store for a number of consecutive days in which we were actually to see quite a bit of blue, partially clouded skies. It was nice to see the sun peak through and it provided many of our pictures with some much more pleasant backgrounds.
Not far from Inverness, we encountered I believe the first, or at least the first prominent waterfall of our trip – Rogie Falls.
We stumbled upon the interesting ruins of the Beauly Priory while actually trying to locate something else. In looking back at my notes, I had in fact noted Beauly Priory on my list of possible things to see, but had just overlooked it. Glad that we stumbled upon it. The Priory also contained the first tomb/grave that we found on this trip prior to 1800 – from 1479.
During this drive, we also stopped at our first and only whiskey distillery, although we had many opportunities. We ended up getting a small bottle that Deborah enjoyed periodically throughout the remainder of our trip.
Just before we arrived in Torridon, as the afternoon light began to wane, Deborah told me to pull over as we approached a turn off on the single track road on which we were driving. She thought that she caught a glimpse of an elusive Scottish Red Deer for which we had been keeping a lookout. Her sharp eyes did not betray her. We found a large, Red Deer stag meandering around the turn off. At one point, it leisurely strode past a sign with its picture (or a close relative) indicating that this was a spot where you might see one of these. Ya think!
We arrived at the Torridon Inn which is a smaller and less pricey alternative to the grand Torridon Hotel which stands right next to it. Although we were here for only one full day and two nights, this turned out to be one of our favorite locations on the trip. The setting is wonderful – situated near a loch and at the base of the Torridon Hills. The Inn also had a nice restaurant attached to it where we enjoyed two very pleasant dinners … and also avoided the much higher prices and also the dress code at the Torridon Hotel.
The Torridon Inn and Hotel also had a good sized herd of Hairy Coos grazing on the land right out in the front of the property. Deborah took the opportunity to get one of our best pictures of one of the curious, gentle beasties.
While in Torridon, I had mapped out a circle drive which would take us on about a 50 mile drive from Torridon down along the coast to the village of Applecross, and then across the scenic Belach na Ba road on the way back to Torridon. Deborah decided to sit this one out and instead spent most of the day walking the paths around the Inn and also doing some painting. So I made this drive on my own. With the cooperation of some of the best skies we had on our entire trip, I greatly enjoyed the loop and brought back some wonderful pictures to show for it. Here are a few …
Torridon to the Isle of Skye
From our short, but very enjoyable stay in Torridon, we moved on south and west toward the Isle of Skye. The Isle of Skye is connected to the Scottish mainland by the Skye Bridge, which is at the town of Kyle of Lochalsh. It is the only island that we visited since all other islands would require a car ferry and would have been significantly out of the path of our circle trip around the Highlands.
Just prior to driving into Kyle of Lochalsh, we stopped at what most sites describe as the most beautiful of the Scottish castles – Eilean Donan castle. The location is indeed special – it being located on a piece of land jutting out into Loch Alsh. Having seen many castles already on our trip, while this one was very nice, other than the location, we didn’t find it notably more special than others we had seen.
Once across the Skye Bridge, we began or drive up the eastern coast of the Isle of Skye. Our first stop, but just for a few pictures, was the Old Man of Storr – an isolated rock formation. It is easily viewed as you approach from the south on the A87 road. As we drove on by, it appeared that that the path leading up to the formation goes beyond and provides some more interesting views.
Continuing north on A87, our next stop was at Kilt Rock. There is a car park just off the road and a short walk to a rather high bluff over which the falls cascades over the cliff. There are also ruins on the beach below. Kilt Rock itself is a rock outcropping viewable to the north.
Rather than driving up all the way to and around the northern most tip of the Isle of Skye, we turned west near the town of Brogaig and drove through the Quirang, the road which stretches all the way across to the village of Uig where we had reserved a room for the night.
As usual, the road across the Quirang is what is known as a single track road – wide enough for only one vehicle. However, as is the case with almost all of the many single track roads on which we drove, there are usually “passing places” every 100-200 yards or so. Driving etiquette suggests that when you see a car approaching, the one nearest a passing place turns into it to let the other pass. However, you don’t always have enough notice and sometimes one or the other of you needs to back up to find the nearest passing place.
The Quirang is a wild, interesting area best known for hiking. It features high cliffs, plateaus that are often hidden until you come up on them, as well as rock pinnacles and formations. We stopped at one of the best known viewpoints to take some pictures.
After checking into our lodging for the night – the Uig Hotel – we drove out to try and find before dark what is known as the Fairy Glen and Castle. I had found a number of pictures of this location while researching the trip. It appeared to be very close to the Uig Hotel … and it was – only a couple of miles along (what else?) yet another single track road.
From the pictures I had seen, the most notable feature was a spiral of small rocks on the ground at the foot of a rock formation called Castle Ewan. The area has a bit of a mystical feel, and legend has it that it is often visited by faeries. As we drew near, we could see the rock formation known as Castle Ewan but the spiral stone circle was nowhere to be seen, even as both Deborah and I climbed up the initial slope. Deborah had done a great job just getting to the top of that first slope, especially given the sometimes slippery conditions.
From the top of the first slope, I saw that some other visitors had continued up a second slope, so I decided to investigate. Deborah stayed behind. As I crested the slope, I came above a valley on the other side of Castle Ewan and that is where the spiral stone circle was located. When I returned to Deborah, I told her what I had found. She is still a bit disappointed that having made it so close, she was not able to see this site. But the second slope would have been even more challenging than the first, so I think her decision was wise.
We drove back to the hotel and had a very nice dinner at the hotel restaurant before retiring for the evening.
Isle of Skye to Drumnadrocit (Loch Ness)
Our drive south from Uig back to the Kyle of Lochalsh took us to a turn off that appeared on maps, to be about 10 miles or so southwest of the highway we were on, near the very small village of Sligachen. We then proceeded to take quite a bit of time trying to find the Fairy Pools. We eventually did find them after a bit of backtracking and then stumbling across a very small sign – visible from only one direction.
The pictures I had seen of the Fairy Pools, and the descriptions I had read, made it seem almost magical, much like Fairy Glen. Reality here proved to be much less impressive. Granted, the day was rather gray, but even with a bright, blue sky, I have a difficult time imagining how those pictures I had seen were captured. It was also quite a hike down to get to the first of the “pools” and then another hike to get to the next one, and another hike to get to the next after that.
Deborah made it down to the first pool and she captured a picture of my muddy boot, that I had just extracted from shin-high mud that I had stepped into. Thankfully, the boot stayed attached to my foot. When I look at these pictures that I took, it frankly makes those pools look better than what they appeared to be in real life.
Due to the amount of time we spent, first in trying to find, and then in walking down and back to those Fairy Pools, we would have quickly run out of daylight had we attempted to stop at a number of other sights that I had mapped out as possibilities between Uig and Drumnadrocit. We did drive through the beautiful area known as the Glencoe Highlands, and arrived in the Loch Ness coastal village of Drumnadrocit just before dark.
We had little difficulty finding our lodging. It turned out to be one of our least favorite lodgings of the trip. Lynn was our gentle, older and widowed host. She and her husband had built the home before he died. Now she runs the place as a BnB on her own.
We only had a very small bedroom and bath to ourselves. The place was surprisingly unkempt (i.e kind of messy). That is very unusual for the many VRBO’s and AirBnB’s in which we have stayed. But we made the best of it. We took a rainy boat tour of Loch Ness which would have been significantly better had it been a nicer day.
On the last day we were there, as I did once before when we were in Torridon, I again took a solo drive out into the countryside, this time west and a bit south of Drumnadrocit. The area is known as the Glen Affric. That turned out to be one of the more enjoyable and picture-worthy efforts of the trip. I discovered by far the nicest waterfall of the trip – Plodda Falls.
After visiting the falls, I drove around to the other side of two, parallel roads and drove to the end of the Glen Affric area. I was rewarded by a few nice, short walks and also some great pictures.
While it was nice to personally fulfill one of my lifelong bucket list items (to see Loch Ness, unfortunately minus Nessie), we were nonetheless happy to check out and continue our drive the following morning.
To view Part 1 of this 4 Part series of posts on Scotland …
To view Part 2 of this 4 Part series of posts on Scotland …
To view Part 4 of this 4 Part series of posts on Scotland …
To view a PDF which includes some of our best pictures from our entire, three week Scotland trip …