Most travelers don’t automatically think of Scotland for hiking, but that’s exactly what I loved about our road trip through Glencoe and the Isle of Skye. There are treks for every fitness level, whether you want an easy walk, or an uphill cardio challenge. The dramatic landscape of Glencoe is well suited to its human history – a bloody tale of clan warfare and brutal oppression by the English. Traditionally home to the MacDonald clan, the area’s most famous event was the Glencoe massacre of February 1692. This combination of ugly history and epic nature has inspired countless artists and poets, drawn to the region’s bleak beauty. Unsurprisingly, both Braveheart and Highlander were filmed here. We chose to hike the Three Sisters in Glencoe. The hike covers a variety of terrains, babbling streams, and to our delight the weather cooperated.
We decided to take the ferry to the southern end of the Isle of Skye. Word of warning….make a reservation. We did not, and arrived to the ferry terminal before the last crossing of the day only to find there were no spots left for our vehicle. We were given stand-by status and thankfully made it aboard.
The Isle of Skye hikes offer stunning cliff to sea views, walking paths, hill climbs that get your heart pumping, and an amazing variety of flora and fauna. Once again, we were blessed with a rare sunny day and no mist (which can obscure the views).
We overnighted in Portree, which is the main village on the Isle of Skye and well located as a base for exploring most of the popular sights. After hiking in the morning, we packed a lunch and started our drive around the Trotternish Peninsula part of the island. First stop – Kilt Rock, a tall sea cliff where we picnicked and enjoyed the sea air and crashing waves below.
A few more sights and we were off to cross the Skye Bridge to the mainland and a visit to the iconic castle – Eilean Donan.
Although it is probably the most photogenic castle in Scotland, it is a mere 100 years old. The original castle built in the 13th century was destroyed during a battle in 1719.
While we weren’t able to secure lodging in Inverness (a Rod Stewart concert resulted in sold out hotels and B&Bs!), we drove by Loch Ness on our way to Inverness. Why not stop at the famous Loch Ness? In all honesty….it’s a big, long lake. And the chances of Nessie showing herself just for us…..zero. So we headed to Carrbridge, south of Inverness, for a good night’s rest.