Scotland and amazing beauty of its islands
While living in London, I had many conversations with Brits about Scottish islands, especially about Isle of Skye. Almost all of them new about Isle of Skye, although not many of them had visited this beautiful island located in the north west of Scotland. Perhaps, because it is so far away from the UK – more than one thousand kilometres. Although, the nature of the Isle of Skye is so unpredictable that you newer know either you may enjoy nice holiday or weather conditions would challenge all way through while you are there.
We accepted the challenge and went there for our early summer holidays. Have to admit that we have chosen early June for going over to Isle of Skye, knowing that there may be a chance to get some sunny day there during that time of the year. After being on Isle of Skye already twice now, I can tell that it really is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Because of people living there, because of nature and whole range of experiences you may get there.
Scotland was joined with England in 1603 when Scottish King James VI also became the King of England James I. This agreement was formalised in 1707 and as a result of it both kingdoms created the United Kingdom with parliament in Westminster. Before that, there were many wars between England and Scotland, however English never were able to conqer Scotland. In 1999, Scots voted in favour of creating their own Scottish Parliament, which has legal rights to deal with a number of matters in Scotland, for example, education and tax policy.
Arrival to Scotland
First time, we visited Scotland in June 2009 arriving to Glasgow Prestwick airport on Ryanair flight. We booked car for rent and a van picked us up in the airport to give us a lift to their office in Prestwick. Only 15 minutes we had to wait for the van to arrive and we were soon in Prestwick; since our exit from the airport, it took about half an hour to arrive in the Arnold Clark car rental office. We made booking a while in advance through Economy car Rentals website. After completing all paperwork, we started our trip to Isle of Skye – our destination was Prtnalong village some 380 kilometres from Prestwick. As far as I know, the name of village may be translated from local language as harbour.
Arrival to Skye
For centuries, Isle of Skye was under influence of two major clans – MacDonalds and MacLeods (existence of the last one you may recall from film Highlander). First impressions about Scottish highlands – really wild and very beautiful. Something similar to scenery you may see in Norway, though everything is more compact – you do not have to travel very long distances to se everything. And of course – sheep all around, even an roads everywhere you go (similar like some places in Norway).
As we arrived around midday, we reached Isle of Skye very late in the afternoon; it was nice to observe the sunset while crossing a bridge connecting mainland Scotland with the Isle of Skye. Before that, we made a couple of stops and visited Eilean Donan Castle, which is one of the most known castles in Scotland, sometime presented as a symbol of Scotland and its castles. The castle is located on a tiny island close to the road and, most probably because of that, is one of most photographed objects in Scotland.
Very close to midnight, we arrived at camping The Croft Bunkhouse, Bothies & Wigwams (address: 7 Portnalong, Isle of Skye, IV47 8SL, phone Billy/Kara on 07834827524); please note that they only accept bookings for a minimum of 3 nights. We got a place for four people in bunkhouse with a kitchen inside the room. It really was little, nice and cosy room for a family with two children. I have to note that finding place on Skye according to given address may be a challenge, especially if you visit Skye for the first time; it may take more time than you have expected. Upon our arrival, the hosts already were in their beads, however they kindly left us the keys of bunkhouse and short welcome letter, so we happily went to sleep after a very long and exciting day in Scotland.
There is another blog about our trip around Isle of Skye; for this only a bit more about us leaving the island.
Back to mainland of Scotland
After a few exciting and sometimes even challenging days on Isle of Skye, we had to leave this beautiful island and return to mainland Scotland. We arrived at our bunkhouse exhausted but very happy to spend our last night on Skye. The next destination, popular town Fort William, was waiting for us.
There are two major options to get from Skye to Fort William – bridge near Kyle and ferry connecting Armadale with Mallaig. As we arrived to Skye via bridge, we decided to go for ferry for our return. Actually, there is no big difference in terms of travel distance between those if you are in central or northern part of Skye. Going via bridge, it will take some 180 kilometres of driving; using ferry, it will take about 150 kilometres. It was worth to try ferry because port of Armadale was very nice, we spent some time wandering around and taking some nice pictures.