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Our Journey To The Isle of Skye | Day 1 of 3

Updated on September 10, 2012

How It All Started...

My partner and I have always wanted to travel to the Isle of Skye. It is one of our "Must Go Places In The World" and it doesn't matter when or how, we are somehow going to make it to the Isle of Skye, before we got too old to travel around... and I am so glad that we made it...

Before we went on this journey, there was quite a bit of planning that went into it because we absolutely did not want to miss out on all the attractions along the way, so we thought that it was either going to be an adventure that we will undertake ourselves or on a tour...

We are both not so much of a fan of tours but we decided that due to the remoteness of our travel to the Isle of Skye and the unfamiliarity with a totally different country, we thought that being part of a tour gives us an added sense of security as well as not miss any attractions along the way.

After much searching on the internet, we decided to go with Rabbie's Trail Burners. Mind you there are heaps of tour guides that you can choose on the Internet to bring you to the Isle of Skye but thanks to the amazing reviews that we've read on TripAdvisor, we decided that Rabbie's Trail Burners will be the one!

And boy we definitely weren't disappointed as you will soon find out... ;)

N.B I am not in any way promoting Rabbie's Trail Burners or any other tour on this lens but merely sharing my own experience

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The First Day of our Isle of Skye Tour

As we have been travelling around England, we started our journey from Glasgow and we were REALLY REALLY excited.

In Glasgow, we were supposed to meet at the tourist information centre, which was to be the pick-up point for the start of our three day tour. Thankfully we were early and when we got into the bus we were quite surprised to find that only a few of us were on the bus.

In our minds, we were thinking, if the tour was lousy and no one wanted to participate in it or was it just the wrong season to go as it was spring.

We were reassured by our tour guide who told us that we will meet up with the rest of the tour group on another town called Callander.

Don't Get Lost In Glasgow!

Frommer's Edinburgh and Glasgow (Frommer's Complete Guides)
Frommer's Edinburgh and Glasgow (Frommer's Complete Guides)

The Frommer's Edinburgh and Glasgow guide is our guide book of choice when we were touring these two places. We simply love the detail and the clear instructions in this book. If you can't find a place of interest, this book will tell you exactly where to go i.e which road to take and how long it will take you. If you want to know any great restaurants or pubs or just about anything, this resource will tell you. Put simply, you definitely need this guide when you are a tourist there.

 

Our First Stop in Callander

A.K.A "Gateway To The Highlands"

We started our journey at about quarter past 9, which was a little late because they were some latecomers.

We left Glasgow and took the freeway to Callander. Along the way, it was our tour guide who made it really entertaining with the rich history that comes with every castle and every crossing we made on the freeway. There are some tour guides that really annoys me but our tour guide, was really good and he made every bit interesting with songs and history and how millions of years of earth movements and weather gave rise to the highlands and lowlands

I remember that he was telling us how the movie "Braveheart" was a total misrepresentation of certain characters in Scottish history and the Battle between the Campbells of Argyle and the Atholl men in 1645. He even sang for us a Scottish song along the way! How awesome was that!

After about an hours drive, we arrived at Callander. This is our first stop where we could explore the local shops and the town. We ended up having a cuppa and took some beautiful shots too!

On the picture below, you can see one of my few shots taken while my partner and I were in Callander

Callander as the locals say, is the "Gateway to The Highlands" because it is where the lowlands transform into the highlands. It is also a more difficult place to grow crops and hence a less fertile area for farming. Nevertheless, we thought Callander is a beautiful place. It may be a small town but it had all the ingredients of a Scottish town and the beautiful mountains on its backdrop.

Learn More About Scottish History

Scotland: The Story of a Nation
Scotland: The Story of a Nation

By far the reviews have been very consistent for the quality of this book. Beautiful story telling by Magnus Magnusson on all things encompassing Scottish history. Everything from the geological history of Scotland to the starting of the first tribes to the Independence from England can be found in this exciting book.

Not often do you find a history book as well written and as entertaining as this. As one reader put it, "An Indispensable guide for those who want to know more about Scotland and its beginnings..."

 
The Wee Guide to Scotland: A Concise History with 1200 Heritage Sites to Visit (Wee Guides)
The Wee Guide to Scotland: A Concise History with 1200 Heritage Sites to Visit (Wee Guides)

This guide to Scotland comes with multiple pictures of various heritage sites. A definite must have for those interested in Scottish History and for those keen enough to find all the places in this book. With about 1200 heritage sites, it will surely keep you busy hunting down all the castles, stone circles, churches, abbeys and museums.

 

Our Journey Begins From Callander!

Throughout our Scottish adventure to the Isle of Skye, we've learned quite a bit of Scottish words that refer to the beautiful landscape that we see on our tour.

"Ben" = means Mountain

"Glen" = means Valley

"Loch" = means Lake

So there you go, a quick crash course in Scottish language. :)

We left Callander at just after 11am and we joined with the rest of the tour which eventually became a 15 passenger tour. Our tour guide changed and he was with us until the end of our 3 day tour of the Isle of Skye. I could still remember that his name was Eric and he is THE MOST entertaining tour guide I've ever come across in my life!!

If there was a particular tour guide that you need to have on any Scottish tour, it would be Eric but that is if you ever will get him... Not all tours get the same guide repeatedly.

Speak Like A Scotsmen....!

Colloquial Scottish Gaelic: The Complete Course for Beginners
Colloquial Scottish Gaelic: The Complete Course for Beginners

Want a complete course of Gaelic? Dig deep into this book and you will find all you need to master this ancient language.

 
Scottish Gaelic - English / English  - Scottish Gaelic Dictionary
Scottish Gaelic - English / English - Scottish Gaelic Dictionary

For those who want a quick Gaelic lesson, this dictionary is for you. Perfect for travellers and for those who want to learn the basics of Gaelic. Don't worry, even if you don't have this dictionary, you can still survive in Scotsland or the Isle of Skye. They all speak perfect English anyway, albeit with their Scottish accent!

 

On The Way To The Mountainpass of Glencoe - To Loch Lubnaig

Our next phase of this journey brings us to various highlands and glens of Western Scotland. There are just plenty of names and history associated with these places that I can't recall all of them but I do remember a few ones that really stand out in my mind.

After a short drive away from Callander, we passed a river known as Loch Lubnaig. Loch Lubnaig is the first river we passed on our 3-day tour and is one of the bluest and clearest rivers I've ever seen in my life. "Lubnaig" stands for crooked and below are some of our pictures of this Loch!

Another thing that we've learned about Scottish language is the overemphasis on the "-ch". Traditional English speakers will pronounce Loch as "Loch" but the actual Scottish pronunciation is "Lockkkh.." as I could recall. It was our tour guide who taught us the "correct way" of pronunciating "Loch".

The Beautiful Mountain Ranges of Glencoe

The mountain passing of Glencoe is probably one of the most beautiful mountain passings that I have ever seen.

I think only the mountain ranges in the South Island of New Zealand can come close to the spectacular beauty of this landscape. Shaped by millions of years of glacier movements, the mountain ranges have been carved into a beautiful postcard like backdrop that can only be appreciated if you are there to see it for yourself!

Most of the peaks and glens have names which I can't remember very well. There are a few places like the "Three Sisters" which form three distinct peaks that you can easily see on the road. Another important geological landmark is the "Devil's Staircase" which is an off road mountain bike road track.

Thankfully, our tour guide stopped for us so that we can slowly appreciate the various geological formations. Of course, we are not allowed to venture off on our own...

According to our tour guide, the rocks that are part of the mountains are so ancient that it is said to be there since the Earth was still forming. He even said that some of the mountain ranges here were once taller than even Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world currently! He added that there are parts of the Scottish Highlands that are hundreds of millions of years younger than other parts of Western Scotland.

For these reasons, the western part of Scotland, including the Isle of Skye is an area of great interest to geologists from all over the world.

Geology aside... this natural beauty can be appreciated even more if you dare to do the nature walks that takes you along the entire stretch of this passing into the next town.

Surprisingly, thousands of tourists including the locals do this a few times annually. If you are someone adventurous and would love to do the nature walk along the Mountain Ranges of Glencoe, do it! I would definitely go back to do at least one walk here. if you want to ride a bike here, it is recommended to do it in Summer.

As we traveled along the road, we come across one particular historical site that has of great significance in Scottish history, the Glencoe Massacre. This event took place in the late 17th century in Glen Coe itself. Although this event happened hundreds of years ago, this event was romanticised in popular art and literature throughout the years, even up til the 21st century.

The picture that you see are just one of many pictures taken as we passed Glencoe

Glencoe and The Three Sisters Behind Me....

Geology aside... this natural beauty can be appreciated even more if you dare to do the nature walks that takes you along the entire stretch of this passing into the next town.

Cameras... Don't Go On This Tour Without ONE! - Point and Shoot Cameras

If you are like me on this tour, who prefers something easy to handle and less bulky, Point and Shoot cameras are the way to go. These days a lot of these types of cameras take great photos without the expensive price tag of a DSLR

DSLR Cameras - For Beautiful Photos and Scenery

For the perfect photos, DSLR cameras are the way to go. Below are some great choices

On Our Way Pass Ben Nevis - Britain's Highest Mountain

Fort William and Ben Nevis

After passing the beautiful and majestic mountain passes of Glencoe, we make our way towards Fort William.

The scenic view continues as we make our way on the tour. For those who don't know Fort William, it is one of the biggest towns in the Scottish Highlands. As we have discovered, there really isn't any other town that is as big as Fort William. When we arrived, there is plenty of development going on there to make the town an even better tourist centre.

When we stopped here for lunch, we were surprised to find just about all sorts of food there. Everything from the best Scottish cuisine to Asian to Western food can be found here. Of course, when you come to this part of Scotland, you MUST try their seafood!

You can even find a nice whiskey shop that sells all things whiskey especially Scottish Whiskey which we bought later on during the end of our tour.

Ben Nevis...

After lunch, we left and continued our journey towards the Isle of Skye. As we left Fort William, we passed by Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain. It is quite difficult to see Ben Nevis from Fort William according to our tour guide. He told us that we could probably only see the lower peaks. As we drove along, he pointed to us what appeared to be a snow covered cap peak. That, he said was Ben Nevis.

Further West to the Isle of Skye

Through Bens, Lochs and pass Eilean Donan Castle

After passing Ben Nevis, our tour guide brought us on roads that seem to be going higher and higher and more winding. He was telling us that we have been really lucky to have such a clear and sunny day on the first day of our tour. We definitely appreciate the good weather because otherwise we would not have appreciate the majestic natural beauty of all the Lochs, Glens and Bens that just seems to be everywhere as we travel along.

At this time, it was almost 3-4pm in the evening and we were told that it would still be a couple of hours more before we arrive at the Isle of Skye. But first, we were told that we are going pass Eilean Donan castle. We were so excited!

Eilean Donan is one of hundreds of Scottish castles that sits on a small island, connected to the mainly only by one footbridge. This castle has been the inspiration of many photographers, the place of weddings and film locations including "The World is Not Enough", "Made of Honor", "Elizabeth: The Golden Age".

When we approach the castle, the itinerary wasn't for us to stop by but we had a bit of a photo session of the castle from a distance. This stop was to be our last stop before a long journey to the Isle of Skye where we will be placed in an accommodation arranged by Rabbie's Trail Burners. (I know you guys must be dying to find out more about the Eilean Donan Castle but I will talk a lot more about it on the 3rd day of this tour, so stay tune!>)

Eilean Donan Castle!

Learn More About Scottish Castles

Finally... The Isle of Skye!

After a short stop taking photos of Eilean Donan castle, we continued our 1-2 hr journey towards the Isle of Skye.

The Isle of Skye from where we stopped wasn't so far anymore but the long roads that are made according to the geographical terrain makes the drive longer. The last past of our tour for the day ends here as our tour guide brings us to our respective accommodation.

Eric, our tour guide told us that cars were supposed to take the ferry across to the Isle of Skye from the mainland but a bridge build recently made travelling easier but it also meant some businesses along the ferry route slowed down together with it.

The Isle of Skye is a beautiful remarkable piece of natural beauty. The setting sun and the clear blue skies made everything so much more scenic to watch. Our tour guide was just as entertaining as he explained every important geographical landmark we saw and add a bit of humour to it. As we come towards the end of the day, he had already sang us quite a number of Gaelic and Scottish songs, which was very interesting to say the least.

We drove past Portree, the island capital of Isle of Skye, . It is a small town but I guess adequate for the island community. There are other towns on the Isle, but Portree is by far the largest and busiest.

After about 2 hours, we finally arrived at our accommodation, where we were welcomed by our host, Ian.

Eric dropped us off and helped us with our luggage and we were pleasantly brought in to our rooms and the kitchen where we can make ourselves comfortable. Ian was one of very friendly and very accommodation to our needs and he made sure that we feel at home and comfortable.

This concludes the last leg of our tour... Be sure to join me in my next lens as I continue our tour of the Isle!

Find the Isle of Skye, Scotland on Google Maps!

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Isle of Skye, Scotland
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Have You Been To the Isle of Skye?

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    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 4 years ago from Albany New York

      Thank you for the personal tour....I loved it!

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 5 years ago from Ohio

      SquidAngel Blessings.

    • bwet profile image
      Author

      bwet 5 years ago

      @JohnTannahill: Hi John, The Isle of Skye was a beautiful place. You're right about the weather. When I was there, we were told that cloudy skies were pretty common so yup we were definitely happy that the weather was on our side when we were there.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

      Sounds like you had a great time and looks like the weather was nice for you too. I'm happy you enjoyed visiting 'my country.'

    • bwet profile image
      Author

      bwet 5 years ago

      @Diana Wenzel: Thx so much for your comments! it is a great place. in fact there are so many beautiflu places around Scotland that looks like this.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I would love to visit the Isle of Skye. Great job on this introduction to a beautiful, fascinating place. Appreciated!