[Personal] Honeymoon to Scotland on Film | Edinburgh, Loch Ness, & Isle of Skye | Part 2
11pm on Loch Ness
Each day here feels more like two or three days. Time is stretching so far here. I couldn't get to sleep last night - I was anxious about today. I lie in bed trying to relax, but I heard the church bells chime midnight and I knew that, at best, I would sleep for maybe three hours. And that's all the sleep I did manage to get.
Sandi was waiting in the square for me at 3:40am just like we agreed. As we walked up to High Street, we passed people still out from the night - not quite finished drinking.
Sandi is young - maybe 20 or 21 years old. I'm forgetting what she told me now, but she's mature and smart. She brought coffee in a thermos and I knew instantly that I liked her.
We walked to the end of High Street, passing Hollyrood Castle/ Estate and the Scottish Parliament Building. There, at the end, is the park with the Crags and Arthur's Seat. We made our way up - which wasn't so hard except that we are out of shape and I got very little sleep.
There were only two others in the whole city walking up for sunrise. We chose to watch the sun come up, not from Arthur's seat proper, but the crag just east of it. We beat the sun peaking over the water by 10-15 minutes and the wait was rather cold. I was glad for my extra scarf and Henry's warm hat that I brought from home.
The sunrise was breathtaking - I wanted to cry. This was unlike any other sunrise of my entire life.
As we climbed down and walked back, I learned the proper pronunciation of things and that all the swans belong to the Queen. We had breakfast where I managed to leave Henry's hat and had to go back to get it before heading to the rental car. I did felt so panicked that I might not be able to get his hat back - the one thing from the children that I brought with me. I miss them and wish that they were here with me.
I took a taxi to the AVIS car rental place, hoping it would help me figure things out - like how to stay on the correct side of the road. My big takeaway was to always stay on the left hand side. (insert sarcasm) The taxi driver seemed to think I'd be fine.
I got the GPS so that I wouldn't have to think about where to go. It might have been the best idea yet.
Sandi's family lives in the highlands and on the way, she told me to stop at Braur.
I made it out of Edinburgh after making some wrong turns, following a car in front of me to keep my mind on staying on the correct side of the road. But when the car turned, I panicked and turned too. Using a manual transmission with my left hand is surprisingly easy. It's the turning left, right, traffic circles that has me second guessing if I'm doing the right thing. My brain is wired all wrong!
I needed a break from the drive and stopped at Braur as Sandi had suggested. I found haddock fish and chips with salt and vinegar and it was AMAZING. The lady who handed me the fish said that I had a lovely accent and I laughed to myself.
Sandi said there would be a short walk to a waterfall here, but I didn't see any clear signs and decided to skip it to make my way on to Foyers.
I took a wrong turn into a national park after Braur and almost flew off the road when someone almost hit me. The roads only have space for one car and there are passing areas. This person was going too fast (so was I, I suppose, but below the speed limit) and coming up over a hill, we couldn't see each other on the opposite sides approaching. The park was beautiful and it was fortunate that I wandered off the road to see it.
After getting back on the A9, I entered the highlands. There was a valley with a storm raining far off in the distance. There wasn't any place to stop, but as a first view of the highlands, it was quite epic.
The boat on Loch Ness is located at the Foyers Pier in Foyers - a tiny town that seems to just barely exist.
The road off the A9 to Foyers was one lane with sheep and cattle. I saw goats and sheep on the sides of mountains and highland cattle in the fields. There were British telephone booths randomly out in the countryside on the side of the road with weeds growing up all around. It felt like something out of a movie or some joke being played on me.
I found the boat on the loch and the host Alex is wonderful. He shared a lot about the area and Scotland's overall history, which I never thought to investigate. He told me how he came to be doing the Airbnb thing and his plans for the next year. I want to bring Chris back here with the boys. Maybe to live.
The air is so pure and water is so soft. I found dinner at the nearby caravan park food truck and the nice man working there made me a chicken kabob even though he was closed. I walked down to the loch and ate on the rocks at the shoreline. When I was done, I took my shoes off, pulled up my leggings, and stepped in, but the rocks were so slippery. The water was calm and cool.
The sky was overcast and blue while the gentle waves washed up to my ankles. Alex said many people come from the east to step in and be blessed by the water. I suppose that's what I wanted too.
Intending to take a photo of myself, a couple stopped in front of my camera while I was setting up and after I insisted, they let me take their photo.
I took so many photos today. I almost lost my light meter when I drove off with it sitting on my windshield. I once lost a pair of sunglasses that way.
I love the sound of the big generator for the boat I'm staying on. It's so soothing. And now... to sleep.
Day 4 - On the way to Skye
I got petrol today, which was confusing like everything else about using a car here. I actually got petrol twice and the second time proved to be easier. Things don't feel commercialized here. People seem like they're busy living real lives.
The road to Skye was so beautiful. It took a long time to get to the bridge - I thought I might never make it. I wanted to stop along the road constantly to take photos - the scenery was so astonishing.
I stopped at Eilean Donan Castle for a break and ate a steak + ale pie. The castle was fine, not overly impressive from the inside. I got a pair of fingerless gloves in the gift shop and carried on with my drive.
Skye isn't particularly large and I over estimated how big it was by a lot before I came here. I think I may have done that with the entire country. I saw the Old Man of Storr from a distance and my heart began to beat faster.
It was difficult to find my Airbnb - the Hermitage. I haven't connected to wifi for a couple days and don't have any directions to get there past the standard ones that I received when booking. I ended up in this tiny little place called Campus Morr and got directions to find The Nun from a lady who runs a caravan site next to her home on the edge of the sea. I drove back down to the jetty at Campus Morr where I had previously turned around (obviously in the wrong spot since my Airbnb was not there) and ate my strawberries and clotted cream from the cafe at Eilean Donan while looking out into the sea. There was plenty of daylight left to find my destination so I sat for a while on the jetty at the very end watching the light move over the waves.
The Hermitage was behind two cattle gates that I had to open and shut again, praying that I was in the right spot. The host, Elizabeth, is a nun from England. She moved here with her elderly mother eight years ago and they spent five years here together before her mother passed. I wondered, but didn't ask, if she was buried on the property somewhere.
There are chickens, ducks, bees, parrots, a cat.. and other animals scattered around the house. There's a gate into a pasture that leads down to a rock beach. Elizabeth told me that there are no trespassing laws in Scotland and encouraged me to venture into the pastures and walk where I pleased.
And so I did. I watched the sun set fro the tip of this north part of the island after finding a spot that I learned in a hiking book here by the bed, they call the Cave of Gold. The midges were dreadful and my face is covered in bites after my adventure, but it was completely worth it.
Day 5 - my notes get less journal-like
Kilt Rock + Falls
The Black Sheep - Haggis for lunch
Waterfall (small) past Storr on the way south
Co-op grocery store in Portree (more strawberries and clotted cream)
Home to The Hermitage to put groceries away
Edited digital photos
Plan for tomorrow:
The Hermitage to Storr Car Park (40-45 min)
Storr Hike (2 hours)
Drive to Neist Point Lighthouse (90 min)
Walk around (40 min)
Drive back to Fairy Glen (90 min)
Walk around (40 min)
Drive back to The Hermitage (20 min)
Planning to leave for Storr at 3am, begin hiking at 4am to make sunrise at 5am.
If you're interested in hiking Arthur's Seat - find more info HERE.
More information on Eilean Donan Castle can be found HERE.
Information on Duntulm Castle can be found HERE.
Kilt Rock information can be found HERE. And reviews for The Black Sheep with the best Haggis sandwich that you simply must try go HERE.
Most photos were taken with my Pentax 645n and Olympus OM-1. All film is Kodak Portra 400 (120mm + 35mm). There are a couple digital photos in the mix.