Tuesday, April 25

The Scottish Highlands - Gairloch to Inverness

We had 2 nights in Gairloch and this is the weather we woke up to on our first morning!

It was exciting for me, as it was the first time I'd been snowed on in 10 years, and it was also a not unwelcome excuse to relax, do some personal stuff, and have a break from being on the road.

A Highland Cow

By late morning however, we decided to go for a little drive along a coastal road, and were rewarded with some amazing views across to Skye as the snow showers were chased by glorious sunny spells.
Highland sheep with Skye in the background

           We'd had a fairly dreadful dinner at our hotel the night before, so we found a much, much better place to eat on our second night. The view was magnificent!

Our last day together on our Roadtrip took us from Gairloch to Inverness. 
We took a longer route, via Little Loch Broome and Loch Ness. 
A long, long day on the road, but well worth the effort.
On the A832 near Poolewe
Gruinard Bay
Gruinard Bay

Little Loch Broom
Little Loch Broom

Heading over Dundonnell Forest we really hit a lot of snow, and quickly took the opportunity during a short sunny spell to get some pics.....

And then some more snow showers.......

By now we were well past lunch-time, so "put foot" on the accelerator and didn't stop for much more.

We picked up a couple of sandwiches & fruit in a little village on the way to Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness, where we sat in a layby, eating our lunch and admiring the view.
Loch Ness

There was no time to do any boat cruises or walks, so we headed north again to Inverness for our last night together.


Sunday, April 23

The Scottish Highlands - Applecross Peninsular to Gairloch


The very next day after our glorious excursion to Skye, Jean and I tackled the Applecross peninsular on our way to spending 2 nights in Gairloch.

This route had come with both high recommendations and warnings, so when we saw the road signs at the foot of the Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) I wasn't sure if the slight hollowness in my stomach was from trepidation or anticipation..............

Fortunately, the snow only really caught up with us overnight and the next day, so we had a clear pass, and the most spectacular views.

looking up the Pass
a view back down from the hair pins near the top.....

views from the top - that's Skye again......
Back down on the coast, we stopped for a walk, and a welcome coffee & cake break in Applecross village itself.

Spring flowers in the woodland above the village.

In and around Applecross village.

Then we carried on, along the narrow coastal road, with non-stop views across to Skye, and then north across Loch Torridon.
My road-trip "buddy" Jean was, as always, incredibly patient with the continuous stops I made to take photos.
I'm not going to test your patience with more than these 3 favourites of mine!


By mid afternoon, the polar blast from the Arctic was making itself known with lowering, dark grey skies, and as I was also getting tired with both the driving and the camera we didn't stop too much more, except for a couple of times when we drove down the length of Loch Maree.
Scotland's Victoria Falls
Loch Maree
 It was another long, long day - but so totally worth it.

Saturday, April 22

Road tripping thru the Scottish Highlands - A Day on Skye

Looking over Skye Bridge to Skye, from Kyle of Lochalsh

This post is going to be dedicated to our day trip to the Isle of Skye.

There was no time for whisky tasting, exploring the fishing villages or taking too much time over our meals......  It was all about the landscapes, and we covered a lot of ground to see as much as we could!
Reflections in Loch Ainort

Glen Sligachan and The Cuillin Hills
Although I was on a bit of a mission to get up to the Quiraing in the north of Skye, we did stop a few times for photos and stretching legs - including an hour long session of "bog hopping" next to the River Sligachan in an effort to get the picture above!

More views from the road north..........

The Old Man of Storr

Looking over Rona back to the mainland
In the 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, there was an amazing picture (taken by Jonathan Fuhrmann) of a green mountainous landscape that just left me in total awe. But there was no indication of the location. 
Fast forward to a random "pop-in" to the National Scottish Portrait Gallery, in Edinburgh, at the start of this trip..........
they were hosting a Landscape Photography Exhibition - and there was the same picture!! Reproduced as a massive print, mounted on a large wall, all to itself - and it blew me away.  
More to the point, the accompanying label gave me the location - The Quiraing on the Isle of Skye.

So there I had my specific objective for our planned day on Skye.

We didn't have the time, or inclination, to go far along any of the many trails in the area - just far enough to get out of the crowd........

Below are my attempts at capturing that magnificent landscape in the north of Skye.

looking north.....

looking south.....

and looking south again.
Then it was time to head back south.......

With a diversion to the fishing village of Elgol to get another photographic angle on the Cuillin Hills....

A welcome stop for some of the best Fish and Chips I've ever had, in the village of Broadford.....

and crossing back over Skye Bridge as the day turned to evening........

One of the best parts, of the one of the best days we had on this roadtrip, was the fresh, home-baked banana bread with hot chocolate and cream waiting for us at our B&B in Nostie!

Perfect end to a perfect day!

Friday, April 21

Road tripping thru the Scottish Highlands (1)

Day 1 - Dumbarton to Oban

Loch Lomond

The day started foggy and cold, but by lunchtime we had sunshine and glorious views over the loch....

Balloch Castle, southern end of Loch Lomond
A quiet lunchtime at Luss
Looking north near Inveruglas


Working our way west the skies clouded over again but despite the less than ideal photographic conditions we briefly stopped for pictures at Inveraray on Loch Fyne

Near Kilmartin, Mid Argyll

On the west coast of Mid Argyll there are many sites of ancients cairns and standing stones. A stop at Temple Wood was also a great opportunity to get some pictures of sheep and newly born lambs!


Day 2 - Oban to Fort William via Isle of Mull

We took 3 separate ferries to complete our journey on this day , but there was no doubt that the first, Oban to Craignure was the most spectacular.....
Isle of Mull
Lighthouse at Eilean Musdile, and a view up Loch Linnhe on the left

On Mull itself we went searching for Sea Eagles (White-tailed Eagle) and were really lucky to have a clear but distant sighting. Otherwise the day was mostly wet which meant a dearth of good photographic opportunities.

However, the rain showers paused for long enough whilst we lunched and explored Tobermory to get some classic pictures.
Tobermory - the colouful "capital" of Mull
Tobermory's anchorage

Day 3 - Fort William to Nostie (Kyle of Lochalsh)

This was a day of Lochs and Glens. We travelled north from Fort William, past Neptune's Staircase and up The Great Glen, turned west at Invergarry, over Beinneun Forest and carried on west along Glen Shiel, until we hit the sea lochs again.....
Laggan, Loch Lochy
Loch Loyne
Loch Cluanie

Upper Loch Duich and the Five Sisters

 Kyle of Loch Alsh area

Eilean Donan Castle - mid-afternoon
Eilean Donan Castle - after sunset
After checking into our B&B in the hamlet of Nostie, we went over the hill (Auchtertyre) to have dinner in the village of Plocton. Both the dinner at the Plocton Hotel and the evening sun lighting the views were amazing. Well worth the extra drive after a long day on the road.......