Do you remember the movie where a man lives forever, with Queen’s famous song Who wants to live forever“? Good, our journey on the west coast of the Isle of Skye takes us to Dunvegan and its famous castle, the stronghold of the MacLeod clan for 800 years. The castle is built on a rocky outcrop on the shore of Loch Dunvegan. Now, can you make the connection?
We move on to the stunning Talisker Bay (from “Thalasgair” in Scottish Gaelic), which gave its name to the famous whiskey: the TALISKER. The fauna are more than unexpected. On the northern side of the bay, the magnificent cliffs and an impressive waterfall look unreal, but they are not Photoshopped!
The Cuillins Hills, a range of Rocky Mountains in the southwest side of the Isle of Skye, offer an impressive sight as long as the clouds, which often cover the area, dissipate. These spectacular, but austere mountains are the subject of many photographs of Skye. There are many rivers and “Skye Falls” on the steep hillsides (but no sign of the house of agent 007). The Black Cuillins are a group of horseshoe-shaped mountains surrounding the Loch Coruisk. There are more than twenty sharp peaks composed mainly of Gabbro and Basalt. The highest point in the Cuillins is Sgurr Alasair at 3,255 feet.
With some regret, we leave the beautiful Isle of Skye for the mountainous region of Wester Ross in the Northwest Highlands (even trying to be a Sherlock fan, our searches were in vain: no sign of the HBO drama series “Game of Thrones” in Westeros). We make a rapid stop at the viewpoint above the village of Strome Ferry, with no ferry service as indicated on the sign, to admire Loch Carron, or in Scottish Gaelic “Loch Carrann“. Loch Carron is a sea loch on the West coast of Ross and Cromarty where the river Carron enters the North Atlantic Ocean. Consequently is not a lake, but rather a fjord. In Scotland, it seems that all inland water surfaces are called “Loch,” whether they are a lake or not. Sea water enters the loch by a narrow inlet with a depth of less than 20 meters deep while the basin is over 100 meters deep. From our outlook, there is a magnificent view of the basin and the distinctive hills of the Highlands that surround it.
We take one of the most breathtaking and spectacular roads of Scotland to the Bealach na Ba (“Pass of the Cattle”). The road has a magnificent view of the mountains of Skye and passes through untouched scenery. A narrow and winding coastal road leads to the Applecross Peninsula wedged between small cliffs and endless marshlands. With a population of only 238, the Appelcross Peninsula is a haven of peace and fresh air. It is no coincidence that the Gaelic name for this region, A’ Chomraich’, means The Sanctuary. After heading into the clouds, the road descends along the coast. At the sight of Loch Torridon, we feel the strongest emotions at the out-of-this-world view of the bay peppered with forested islands! We are ready to die from happiness!
Then Glen Torridon appears between the communities of Kinlochewe and Torridon. It is a beautiful valley of vast bogs dotted with a few lonely trees and small lakes at the foot of Beinn Eighe, a complex mountain massif, with dramatic and spectacular peaks, the highest of which stands at 3,314 feet, “A River Runs Through It…”
Finally, no tour of the Highlands is complete without a visit to the mysterious Loch Ness. The loch is located approximately 23 miles southwest of Inverness and at 22 square miles is the second largest loch in Scotland. The city of Inverness, a charming little town on the River Ness, lies at the end of the Great Glen. Inverness has many beautiful old monuments, including a red sandstone castle built in the Victorian style overlooking the river Ness. Today, Inverness Castle is the headquarter of the Sherif Court. Centuries ago, Robin Hood, the heroic outlaw of English folklore, was held prisoner in Nottingham Castle.
Driving along Loch Ness, we pass beautiful scenery, majestic valleys and mysterious ruins like Urquhart Castle. But Loch Ness always brings to mind the alleged sighting of a monster, half dinosaur, half dragon, nicknamed “Nessie.” The legend was first recorded in the 6th century in the chronicles of the Irish missionary monk Saint Colomba. Columba claimed he saw some people burying a man who was fatally bitten by “Niseag” (Celtic for Nessie), a creature related to a dragon. Celtic folklore is full of stories of magical and monstrous underwater creatures, including the mysterious Kelpie or sea dragon, a supernatural polymorphous creature that haunts the rivers and lochs of Scotland. According to legend, the Kelpie lures people onto its back before plunging into the loch and disappearing with them into the depths…. So beware, one Nessie leads to another…
Thank you for having been so “Brave” (though it is a cartoon and I am not even afraid) in this extraordinary journey into the heart of the wild and mysterious land of the Highlands, Scotland.