My list item Scottish Landmarks was to do with celebrating my Scottish ancestry. I wanted to go to wild, beautiful places and feel moved by extraordinary nature; to learn about the country, and to feel like a true Scot. I specified three places: Loch Ness, Isle of Skye and Cairngorms National Park. Last year, I visited them them all with my Dad. Whilst all were lovely, I fell head-over-heels for the Isle of Skye – it just had me at the mountains.
Happily, my Dad has since bought a house on Skye – he lives in Aberdeen, but wanted a holiday home (and, another project). Next week I’m visiting him for a long weekend, and are spending most of the time on Skye. I absolutely cannot wait.
In anticipation, my Scottish Landmarks photos. Brace yourself, this is a long one…
Cairngorms National Park
Loch Muich, a beautiful lake on the edge of the Cairngorms.
(My Dad took the first six photos – he’s a much better photographer than I am, hence the superior quality.)
If I ever put out an album – this is my cover.
Ballater, a town in the midst of the park.
Fort William & Glenfinnen
On the road, we stopped off at a few places.
Celebrity sighting of the ferocious Highland Coo.
We made a pit stop at Glenfinnan. It’s a beautiful place in its own right, but particularly excellent for being featured in a popular film franchise. Any guesses?
It’s from Harry Potter! The Hogwarts Express ran right along these tracks!
Scotland is truly a remarkable place.
Isle of Skye
We took the ferry to Skye. It would have been faster to drive, but my Dad likes boats. Go figure.
Our first stop once we got to Skye was the Kilt Rock Waterfall, near Staffin.
Then over to Staffin Beach, to see the Dinosaur footprints. 165 million years ago, herbivorous dinosaurs called Ornithopods roamed here, creating impressions in the basalt rocks. It’s a pretty heady experience, to touch the impressions where actual dinosaurs walked.
At the time, my Dad told me all about the rock structures around here and why they’re particularly so good for preserving fossils etc. Unfortunately, I can’t remember any of it – though I remember being interested at the time. A year on, I can comment that it all looks delightfully rocky and rugged.
Skye’s like this; magnificent rocks just rising from the road. I’m usually much more a fan of exploring by foot, but this was actually pretty perfect.
Racking my memory here, but I think this is the fairy glen. It was raining and the ground didn’t have much traction, so we didn’t wander – but being there is supposed to bring you luck.
We stayed overnight in a B&B, then went walking in the Cullens, a large mountain range. It was ridiculously stunning, and I took a ridiculous number of photos which all pretty much look the same – but they’re just far too lovely to delete.
Double tourist moment.
I love this view of the light coming through the valley. If I had to summarise serenity with a single sight, it might well be this one. If there’s a God, I think he lives in the mountains.
We crossed this. So much brave intrepid explorers.
As I say, I completely fell for Skye. Could you blame me?
Eilean Donan is a 13th century castle on the west coast of the Scottish mainland. It’s one of the most iconic images of Scotland, and was a must-see stop on our way back from Skye.
Then on the road to Inverness…
… to go forth and find the Loch Ness Monster.
Whilst searching, we took a break to explore Urquhart Castle. A medieval fortress for over 500 years, it’s now a collection of ruins which makes for excellent exploration.
Trebuchet. Such Age of Empires flashbacks.
We didn’t see Nessie, but hey – I still have hope.
Cairngorms National Park x2
Right before I left, we had another foray into Cairngorms – again, around Ballater.
An incredible holiday – in high anticipation of the 2017 revival next week.