I have to hand it to you, February, you really outdid yourself! Maybe it’s the Leap Year magic. I had an incredible month – I kicked off the month at Lunar New Year, then explored the lovely town of Dumfries, and celebrated Mardis Gras with a hot chocolate ice cream float. I had the time of my life in Sevilla and Madrid. And to top it all off, I spent the last weekend of February in easily the most beautiful places I have seen in my life.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky to be offered a spot on the International Student Centre’s weekend trip to the Isle of Skye as a volunteer! This would be my third ISC trip as a volunteer and I was elated to be offered the opportunity. My duties involved organizing bed plans and checking people into the buses – a pretty great deal to be able to visit such incredible places.
The bus departed on Friday evening, and we drove to Inverness. We checked into our hostel then went exploring the town! Here are two pictures of Inverness at night:
Alex, Angela, Sarah, Rachel, and I walked around the town for a bit after admiring the castle. We stopped in a pub with live music for a couple minutes – it was really nice! We did not stay long, though, since I was the only one who had eaten dinner on the bus so everyone else was pretty hungry. After we found them a late dinner, we went back to the hostel… we had an early morning!
In the morning, we went back to the castle before heading off to our next stop. Here are two pictures of the gorgeous city during the day:
Inverness Castle, daytime view
From Inverness, we headed to Drumnadrochit for a quick stop. This is where the Nessie Shops are, and of course I had to get a stuffed baby Nessie. They also sell the smallest bottle of whisky in the world (per the Guinness Book of World Records) at one of the Nessie Shops! They were so cute and unbelievably tiny.
Our next stop was the Urquhart Castle. This castle was founded in the 13th century, but was partially destroyed and has since decayed quite a bit. We did not go onto the castle grounds, but here is a photo from above:
Next, we went to Fort Augustus for lunch and some incredible views of Loch Ness. Incase you hadn’t already noticed in the previous photos, check out the clear blue sky. We got incredibly lucky with the weather. The weekend’s weather was the best I have had so far during my stay here, and it lasted during the whole trip. It was sunny and mild, and there was not a cloud in the sky.
Our next stop was the Eilean Donan Castle, which is the most photographed castle in Scotland. Once I saw it I understood why!! The castle sits on an island where three lochs meet (Loch Alsh, Loch Duich, and Loch Long). The castle and the surrounding water are stunning!
Finally, we crossed over the Skye bridge into the Isle of Skye!! We stopped in Kyleakin, where we spent the night. Upon arriving, I quickly checked in and dropped my bags, then watched the sunset from the Castle Moil. Here are some photos I took as I was walking towards the castle:
Alex, Angela, Rachel, Sarah, and I got dinner at our hostel, then went for a walk. I turned in early – I was tired from the long day and we had another early morning on Sunday! Plus, Alex and I wanted to watch the sunrise from the castle, which made it an even earlier morning.
I hesitate to even put these photos here, because they do absolutely no justice to the insane beauty of the view I saw. None of these photos do!
Alex and I hurried back from the sunrise to grab our bags and get on the bus. Next stop: Sligachan River. Now this requires a bit of a backstory… according to legend, there were two feuding clans: the MacLeod and MacDonald clans. They decided to resolve their feud by having the most beautiful girl from the MacLeod clan marry the most beautiful gentleman from the MacDonald clan. So, the MacLeod bride-to-be set off on horse with a servant. However, on their way over, the horse slipped on rock in the Sligachan River, and the beautiful bride fell in the water. She landed on the rock and her face became covered with cuts and scars. However, the servant decided it was too late to turn back so they continued on. When the MacDonald groom-to-be lifted her veil, he was outraged and thought the MacLeods were trying to make a fool of him. So, he sent the young woman back to her clan. On their way back, they came across a fairy who instructed the girl to put her face in the water of the Sligachan River for seven seconds. Upon following the fairy’s instructions, she lifted her head out of the water and all of her scars had healed and she was more beautiful than ever before!
Here is one view of the river with the Cuillin Mountains in the background:
And, of course, we had to put our face in the water!!
Behind us in both photos is the Sligachan bridge.
Our next destination was Storr, a rocky hill on the Trotternish peninsula. Here is a photo of me with the Scottish flag and Old Man of Storr (the actual rocks) in the background!
After Storr, we continued on along the Trotternish Peninsula.
This is Mealt Waterfall, one of the few waterfalls in which the water falls directly into the sea (rather than a river leading to the sea). The body of water below is the Sound of Rasaay. In the back of the photo, you can see the Kilt Rock, which is said to resemble a kilt because of its pleated look and striped pattern.
We continued further along the Trotternish Peninsula and reached Lealt.
Our final stop in Skye was Portree, the main tourist town. We got lunch here and walked around and enjoyed the lovely views.
I got lunch at the Fish & Chips shop located in the blue house in the photo above. Our tour guide, Hoji, recommended it… and WOW, I was blown away. It was my first fish and chips but I think I would be hard-pressed to find a better one. The shop was take-away only, which turned out to be pretty cool, as I was able to sit by the harbor. This was my lunch view:
Sadly, that marked an end to our weekend in Skye, and it was time to begin the long journey back to Edinburgh. I was exhausted from the exciting weekend, but I stayed awake the entire bus ride back because of how incredible the scenery was! And because we were making good time, we were able to stop for a very brief photo stop at the Three Sisters in Glencoe. These mountains are breathtaking and unbelievably huge. I do not think I had ever felt so small as I did so many times during this weekend trip… in the best way possible. It was really incredible.
When I arrived in Edinburgh, it was time to get back into school mode and prepare for my parents’ arrival on Wednesday, March 2! You can read all about our adventures in my next post.
Thanks for reading!