Monday, November 23, 2009

Scotland: Beautiful, Peaceful, Soft, Harsh, Dramatic, Predictable, Unpredictable, Extreme . . .

Thank you so much to everyone for all of your kind comments and taking the time to read my blog. I'm so glad that you have found it interesting, humorous and inspiring that you may one day want to visit Scotland and the Highlands. Today was my 4th Day here and although I have one more full day left I can already begin to feel that sad emotion of having to say farewell until next time (which I hope there will be). The title of my blog pretty much sums up how I would describe the Isle of Skye and the west Highlands. It is a very beautiful and unspoilt land that I think everyone should have to experience at least once in their life time. If I am lucky maybe it will be twice in my lifetime.

I have heard the term "God's Country" when describing Scotland and the Highlands and I think I can understand why! When I'm sitting at the breakfast room in my hotel and looking out onto Portee Bay and the Cullins I am hypnotized by the simplicity and beauty. When driving even in a downpour I can't help but still be in awe with the rolling hills of grass and white spots of sheep that I have become really fond of seeing while driving. They are busy chewing their grass, some of them cross the roads with no sense of you waiting for them to cross. And I just love them.

The Highlands is known for it's high winds! I remember reading an entry by Deborah about it and now I can relate. There were two times when I felt the strongest of the winds, on the Quiraing peak and near the Cullin Hills yesterday. The wind was unbelievable. The power harnessed could light up Manhattan New York for a year! Let's just say I didn't bother brushing each time I stepped out of the car. There was really no point. :)

Yesterday, I traveled south from Portee on the A863 to visit the Cullin Hills. There are two Cuillin ranges; the Black Cuillins, formed of jagged dark igneous rock, and the softer, rounder peaks of the Red Cuillins, formed of red granite. I had read that one of the best places to view the Cullin Hills is from a very tiny town called Sligachan.

Then I visited the second largest town, Bradford (taking the A863) . . .

From Bradford, I took a small single track road to Egol . . .

I also traveled on the A850 to visit the famous Fairy tale Dunvegan Castle which is located on the western side of the Isle. Unfortunately, it was closed! eek! Not very good planning on my part. Luckily I found a side gate opened and went in to at least take a photo....

Today, I traveled south again on the A87 and I took the Talisker Distillery Tour which is located near the town of Carbost. It was only 5lbs and it was for about 40 minutes. At the beginning of the tour they give you a free sample of their single malt. They give you a bottle of Water too which I understood why as soon as I sipped my Scotch Whisky. I'll borrow Girasoli's saying! Whoa! Strong is putting it mildly. There is a smokey taste to it just like how Sandra and Marta described. Very good though. It's funny that the lady told me that there is no shame is adding water. :)

It was an interesting tour and the process is so specific and they don't sway from it because that is what their flavors are known for. I didn't know that their whisky is used in other liquer like Rum, Baileys, etc. But they are well known for their single malts too. And they are the most expensive. After all the fermenting with Peat, the mashing and washing (using Copper machinery), the final products goes into these oak barrels where they will have to mature for at least 3 years before they are considered Whiskey (before then it is referred to as spirits). Did you know that there is an acutal Scottish law that says that you can't call it whisky until then! While it lays there maturing the liquids will evaporate from the barrels (just the natural process) at least by 2 percent. And there is an old Scots saying that says that this 2 percent is for the "Angels". I thought that was a cute saying.

After the tour we are led to their shop. I just had to buy a little bottle for a souvenir. Thank goodness I brought a wine skin (which I learned about from Cindy Ruth aka Baked Alaska, thanks Cindy)with me to pack it when I go home. Thanks again Sandra for the tour idea. That was really fun. The second photo is of their storage room and the barrels there are from 1979! And did you know that the alcohol is actually clear and that the coloring actually comes from the natural color of the barrells. Interesting!


I ended the day with a nice walk on this path called the Scorrybreac Cercuit which is actually located right by my hotel. The path is well paved which made it nice and it was a great way to end my 4th full day here.

I have one more full day here on the Isle before I head back to Fort William. I will travel going over the Kyle Bridge, stopping to see the Eilean Castle. Then after one night in Fort William (maybe I'll be lucky with clear weather so I can actually see Ben Nevis) I will return my car and take the train to Edinburgh where I will stay for 8 days in an apartment. Can't wait to see all the cool Holiday events and Finale week festivities for St. Andrews Day Homecoming week.

I totally loved my adventures here in the Highlands from the wonderful Road to the Isles, Arisaig and the Silver Sands of Morar and the wonders and intrigue of the Isle of Skye with it's dramatic scenery and equally dramatic weather, it's very cool sheep and Highland Cows, and the fierce winds of the Quiraing and the beauty of the Cullins! Tomorrow is my last full day here and if the weather holds up, I may drive up and give the Quiraing another go.

I know for sure that my apartment in Edinburgh does not have wi-fi, so I will try to find an internet cafe the first chance that I get. And if I don't get a chance to blog before the holidays (hopefully I will), I want to wish all of my blogging friends and their families a very Safe and Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you so much for reading my entries.

Meanwhile, more visuals...First, the small town of Portee is so quaint and charming. I think it has been the ideal location to base myself here on Skye while I explore the different peninsulas. BTW, I brought my garmin but the roads have been so easy to follow and to be honest I never used it once...

Second, my meals in the Highlands have been wonderful. They serve a lot of seafood and being so close to the waters they have been fresh and very yummy! Thanks so much to Marta for sharing her magazine with me in preparation for my trip. It has been so helpful. This dish was a fresh Salmon, with steamed veggies and potatoes with this sauce that was made with mayo. It was delicious.

Third, while driving back I saw the most perfect Rainbow and it reminded me of Anne's blog entries with her beautiful rainbows. I hit the breaks and took several photos of it...

And last but not least. This is not quite a sunset, but it is the closest that I've come to it. I took this from the window of my hotel room. This has been my view everynight! So priceless.

More to come I promise...


  1. Wow, even with all the wind and rain, you must be ecstatic about all the truly amazing photos you've gotten. What a beautiful place. That rainbow is something - I've never seen one as full as that!

    The Talisker tour sounds so intereting and I love that part about the angels getting the evaporated whisky. I didn't know that angels drank, ha ha! It really is some potent stuff but I liked the smokiness of it when I tried it.

    And thanks for the update on the food - it looks delicious!

    I'm so glad you are having such a great time and have found another place in the world that you love and want to return to. I think there's something very healing about beautiful unspoiled nature like you are seeing. Amazing view from your hotel window!

    Safe travels tomorrow and I can't wait to hear all about Edinburgh. I hope you can find an Internet cafe but don't fret if you can't - you can always get us caught up later. Thanks so much for all these great posts and Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Hi Annie, thanks so much for your comments. You know, I have never seen a full rainbow like that either. In fact, I had to switch to my wide angle lens because my normal lens couldn't capture the entire rainbow. I've seen parts of rainbows but this is the first time I have ever seen one full. Very pretty.

    I also loved that angels story too. And I didn't know they drank too. And single malts to boot! :) The smokiness is so different and very rich in flavor. It was good.

    The seafood here has been really good and fresh. Thanks so much for asking about the food.I also tried Haddock (although that was a little too salty for me) I love their prawns and salmon though. It's so fresh!

    This really is an unspoilt place and I hope it stays that way.

    Thanks again for all of your comments. You have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holidays and talk to you soon!

  3. oops, me again Annie. The Annonymous is actually me replying to your comments. Not sure how that got published that way....

  4. Scotland is so incredibly gorgeous! You're right, it does resemble Newfoundland in a way with its harsh beauty. I LOVE your rainbow photo, it is spectacular!!!

    Fascinating stories about the whiskey making, and cute about the 2% being for the angels :) Too bad Dunvegan Castle was closed, it looks amazing. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit to the Highlands, hope you have a fantastic final day!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing your Highland adventures with us!

  5. Oops, forgot to that a fish jumping in the third photo down?

  6. Kathy, your photos are stunning! I've never seen a more beautiful rainbow!

  7. How appropriate - a rainbow! If your photos and prose are any indication of the breadth of memories for this trip - well, it's clearly memorable and breathtaking to remember. Thanks for sharing this trip with me. I'll have to visit Scotland again in person. Mahalo, Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels, m

  8. I think "simplicity and beauty" are the perfect words for what you have been sharing with us. I still have a dream of some day spending some time in a small cottage out in the highlands.

    The tour sounded really interesting. I'm glad you took the time to go on it even if you don't drink whisky.

    And you are more than welcome for the food help. I love the picture you posted and the descriptions.

    Have a safe journey to Edinburgh.

  9. Hi everyone, thanks so much for your comments...

    M, breathtaking and memorable is a great way to describe this place and my time here. And that beautiful rainbow was such a treat to see so full of life and color! Very appropriate way to wind down my time here.

    Marta, thanks again for sharing your magazine with me. It is helping a lot. Those two words sort of says it for me. It's pure nature in it's purest most beautiful form. All the weather elements included. That would be such a cool trip for you and your husband to take. While driving around I saw several self catering advertisements. And to wake up and see this amazing place everyone morning has been such a blessing.

    Candi, thanks so much glad you enjoyed the photos. I absolutely love that rainbown. I have an emotional tie to rainbows and when I see them I really get emotional so to see a completely full one like this and the colors it was amazing. It started to down poor as I was snapping my photos and I didn't care I just kept taking photos of it in the rain. I have photos with the big rain drops in them too. :)

    Anne, thanks so much and glad you liked my rainbow. I really love the 2 % to angels too. My favorite line from the tour guide. It was my fault for visiting Dunvegan when it was closed. I forgot to check the hours of operation. It was really great to see it from the outside though. I won't make the same mistake when I go see Edinburgh castle. :) In the third photo, I believe that is a bird diving into the water for food. I see a lot of that when looking out into the bay. It does look like a flying fish. AT night it's really cool looking out into bay. It is completely dark and once in a while I see the lights of the fishing boats possible picking up their catch. The lights move slowly from one end of the bay to the other, one light in the middle of the dark night. Pretty cool watching them...

    Thanks again everyone for taking the time to read my blog entries. Today it is rainey and windy. I may go for a drive or go into town to check out the shops or something. I'm trying to see if it lets up before I decide. My last day in this beautiful place. I just might hang out and catch a late lunch in the hotel restaraunt and just relax. :)

    Take care everyone.

  10. Kathy, what a beautiful write up and pictures of your trip. After reading your entry I have a clear imagine of place I have yet to visit, and a strong desire to get there in person.
    I don't blame you for not brushing your hair. When the winds blow in Adelaide, I know to pull my hair back!
    The saying 2 percent for the Angles brought me a smile this morning.
    Thank you for taking the time to share it with us. Also, thank you for taking time during your exciting trip to read and comment on my blog. Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.

  11. Hi Maya,thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad that you have a picture of what a beautiful place this is to visit. It is really amazing here. I hope you and everyone will get an opportunity to visit too. I'm not sure when I will be able to return myself as there are so many places I'd like to see still, but given the opportunity, I would do it all over again.

    I've missed reading everyone's blog a lot so the wi-fi and dark stormy nights are giving me a great chance catch up with everyone. Good idea to tie your hair back! :) I love the 2 percent to angels saying too. My favorite line in the tour. It is such a cute story.

    Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving too!

  12. Kathy, your posts have been clutching at my heart, they're so beautiful! Now, I really want to experience the Highlands.

    What a contrast! Your top photos are so wild, and the lower ones so charming. The rainbow and the night view are stunning.

    I'm envious of your Scotch whiskey tour -- and I also love the idea of giving the angels a wee nip! They've earned it. Do you think you'll develop a taste for single-malt when you return home?

    Safe travels, and I can't wait to hear about Edinburgh. You've been so generous with your time, posting these wonderful entries. Thanks so much!

  13. Oh my gosh - I have SO enjoyed reading this! :)

  14. Wow - you have posted the most wonderful photos. It sounds as if you're having quite the adventure. . . and are even managing to cope with the traditional Scottish weather. *smile*

  15. Gorgeous photos. Amazing rainbow and sunset photos!! I also love rainbows. Saw a one the other day and thought of you and your rainbow. Too bad the castle was closed. Glad you at least got to see the outside.

    Funny story about trying the whiskey. I am sure I would have said the same thing :) It must have been really interesting seeing how whiskey is made.

    Glad you are enjoying the food. I hope you are having a great time in Edinburgh now.

    Sorry so late in commenting. I read your the day you posted it but have not had time to do much commenting until now.

  16. Hi Girasoli, Jerry, Sandra and Leslie, thanks so much for your comments. Sorry for the delay in posting your comments and replying but I have not had a chance until now to get back on line.

    The rainbow was a very special thing to see and since I have not seen one full like that it was extra special. I'm so glad you all are enjoying my posts and photos. Being the ameteur that I am, I can't come close to bringing the scenery justice. It is really an amazing place. So beautiful and untamed...I loved my time there. Sandra, I'm not sure that I will become a single malt drinker being that I am a light drinker. The drinks that I can handle really well seems to be Prosecco or Cava and margharitas. Everything else seems to go straight to my head. :)

    I am having so much fun in Edinburgh! Which is partly the reason for me not blogging until now. :) sorry about that. I have so much to say about Edinburgh! It is an amazing city and I am loving my time here so much. there is so much history, so much to do, so much to absorb and soak in. I found this Internet point but it does not take USB sticks. I tried the free wi-fi at the coffee shop but they only provide 10 minute passwords at a sitting and it took forever just to upload the photos that I posted just a few mintues ago. I will go for a nice walk and try to see if I can find an internet point that takes USB sticks to post more on Edinburgh.

    Thanks so much again everyone. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and post comments.

    Talk to you soon.

  17. Kathy,

    I am so enjoying tagging along with you in Scotland.

    I have really loved seeing the Scottish Highlands thru your eyes.

    Your pictures are gorgeous - thank you for sharing them with us.

  18. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  19. Hi Nancy, I somehow missed your comments on this entry. Thank you so much for your kind words. It was a real joy to blog while on the road and to somehow convey as best I could what I was seeing and how my experiences were going. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my blog.

    Hi Anonymous, thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed this post and I appreciate your kind comments and encouragements. I'm not a very good writer by nature and so I have to really work at it. I also find that I write better when I am emotionally moved, excited or touched by the subject, which is probably why I did better on this post. The Isle of Skye and my experiences was very memorable and therefore eaisier to write about. This is probably why I enjoy blogging while on the road . . .

    thanks again for your nice comments and encouragements.


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.