To Scotland We Go!
Having spent the last 4 days in Wales, it was time to say goodbye and head to Scotland. It was going to be a long drive, almost 9 hours and we were headed straight to Fort William where Ben Nevis is situated. The weather wasn’t too bad when we left Wales, the sun was shining and we were hopeful that it would continue. How wrong could we be!
As we crossed over into Scotland, the clouds took over and everything around us took a very grey tone. By the time we reached our destination, the rain was pouring down again. The drive up should’ve been so beautiful. The journey took us right around Loch Lomond, which seemed like it would never end, then directly through Glencoe, which even in the rain was pretty outstanding. We could only imagine what it would’ve been like if it was dry. Having said that, if the weather was good, the journey probably would’ve taken us a lot longer as Barry would’ve been stopping to take pictures and fly the drone with every gorgeous piece of scenery. We could only hope the weather was going to be better when we drove back this way in a week’s time.
We checked into the Glen Nevis Caravan and Camping Site, where we would be staying for the next three nights. The site was very different to where we’d stayed in Wales. This was a big green field which was surrounded by all the lush green mountains. Ben Nevis was just behind the mountain that loomed over the site. You couldn’t see it, but you could see the walking path that took you round to it.
Of the two full days that we were in Fort William, only one was filled with sunshine. Fortunately, Barry made the most of it and took the hike up to the summit of Ben Nevis – but that’s another story!
So, for the other day, which was filled with rain, we did a very traditional Scottish thing and went looking for a deep-fried Mars bar. We found one in the Pierhead Takeaway by the sea in Fort William. They took a couple of minutes to fry up and cost an eye-watering £3.50! For that we got a Mars Bar Duo deep fried in batter. I’m not really a fan of Mars Bars anyway so I had a quick bite and then passed it over to Barry to enjoy. It wasn’t anything special. The batter was soft. I had imagined it was going to be crispy like what you get on fish, and the Mars Bar didn’t ooze out of it when you bit into it. I can say I’ve tried it, but I wouldn’t rush to have it again!
The campsite had its own restaurant so we thought we’d give it a try one night. Seeing as we were in Scotland, we tried to go for the most Scottish culinary delights on the menu. Barry started with Venison Pate and I had Smoked Linnhe Salmon. For our main course, I had Glen Nevis Chicken which was a chicken breast stuffed what Haggis and Barry had a traditional dish of Haggis with Neeps and Tatties (turnips & mashed potato). To finish it all off Barry had Highland Cranachan (Honey and whisky cream with red berries) and I had the not so traditional Salted Chocolate Mudcake. The food was delicious and along with the great service we received, it was well worth a visit.
The Scenic Isle of Skye
After Fort William, it was time to head further up into Scotland. This time to the Isle of Skye. I’d seen so many gorgeous pictures and heard so many great stories about the Isle of Skye that I was really looking forward to this and spent a lot of time when we were planning this trip convincing Barry that it was worth the visit. I had the itinerary planned to capture all the must-see sights – The Fairy Pools, Old Man of Storr, Talisker Bay, Kilt Rock, Coral Beach, however as we drove further up into Scotland, the rain just got heavier and it never gave up. I had been told the landscape on the drive up, was going to be the best in the country. Unfortunately, I can’t back that claim up. The clouds were so thick and the rain so torrential that we really couldn’t see very much at all. Along route somewhere, we did find some quirky road art. Someone had piled up hundreds of rocks in little piles on the grass verge. There were so many piles, we just had to stop and take a wander round.
When we crossed over the bridge to enter Skye, we could feel a change of pace. The houses were few and far between, but they were overshadowed by sweeping hills and greenery. We soon found ourselves on a long winding road that took us through some large mountains. Where the rain was so heavy it had found pathways enabling it to run down the hills and create waterfalls. If only the cloud dispersed, it was sure to be a magnificent site.
We eventually reached Sligachan Campsite where we planned to stay for the next four nights. It wasn’t quite the campsite we were expecting. It was literally a patch of land just on the road side. It had a small shower block and toilets with a laundry room and all the campervan sites were on gravel, neatly packed together. You couldn’t book in advance so we just had to park up and find the guy at reception to pay. We decided to only book in for two nights. With the weather the way it was, we couldn’t be sure we would want to spend the whole four nights we’d originally planned.
With Skye being only a two-and-a-half-hour journey from Fort William we still had lots of time to go and find something to do. We opted for the Talisker Distillery, where they make whisky. For £10, you could have a tour of the place. When we arrived, it was very busy and we were told there weren’t any places left on the tour. Fortunately, there were still places for the following day so we booked ourselves in at 10am. Having checked the weather, it was still likely to be raining, so we thought it was a good option to do something indoors. As we left the distillery we saw a sign for The Oyster Shed. Intrigued and feeling a bit peckish we drove the one minute up the hill to get there (we tried to walk but the hill was extremely steep and the road very narrow so gave up!).
As we pulled up, we were literally met with a large shed. There was a small seating area, a stall to the left where you could collect hot food such as chips and just inside was a farm shop filled with lots of different condiments and frozen meats. At the back, there was a large fish counter and an oyster bar where a guy was shucking oysters to order. We were spoilt for choice with the extensive menu, but true to form Barry stuck with his favourite of lobster and chips and I had a seafood platter which included langoustines, smoked white fish, rolled herring, mackerel and crab claws. We, of course, couldn’t come to The Oyster Shed and not have oysters so we ordered two of these as well. It all went down a treat and was so fresh! The only disadvantage was that our fingers were left smelling very fishy as we ate it all with our hands whilst hovering over a barrel for a table.
With not much else left to do given that the rain was still pouring, we headed back to our campsite. We spent the night, with the rain hammering on the roof and the strong winds rocking the van from side to side.
Drinking Whisky in the Morning
It was still raining when we awoke the following morning. Fortunately, we had the tour at the Talisker Distillery so at least we’d be indoors. We drove the 20 minutes to get there and had a quick look round the museum before the tour began. As the clock struck 10, our guide Claire arrived to take us round. Talisker is the oldest distillery on the Isle of Skye having been founded in 1830. The water they use in the whisky is pumped into the distillery from the local springs around the building. They also have an unusual feature – swan neck lye pipes. They believe it’s the unusual shape that gives the whisky a better flavour as it gets pumped through the pipes. At the end of the tour, we got to do some tasting. Admittedly I’m not really a whisky fan, especially when it’s only 10:30 in the morning! So, we quickly necked the shots and got on our way.
Everything else on our list of things to do on Skye was outdoors and still, it was raining! We agreed to just go and visit them anyway in the hope that the rain would stop. Oh, how wrong could we be! As we made our way to the Fairy Pools, which was only about a 10-minute drive away, the rain came down even harder. We found a space in the car park and stared out the window with the windscreen wipers barely coping. Were we really going to do this? The rain was absolutely hammering down and we both felt really disappointed.
After nine days, of which only two had shown us sun, we were done. We decided to give up and head South back into England, where they were complaining about a heatwave!