It’s not easy to organise a hire car for a pick up either late on Saturday or on a Sunday morning in the Scottish Highlands; however the lovely people of Easydrive allow an out-of-hours collection for a not unreasonable fee, and hence we organised that we’d pick up the car on Sunday morning once we’d had a leisurely breakfast. Whilst the pick-up itself went well (the car was well presented, the staff lovely and helpful), getting from hotel to the hire location (about a mile’s walk) was probably the least successful bit of the trip. In hindsight, i should probably have left dad in the hotel room and gone and picked the car up myself, or we should have followed the main road out to the site. Instead, i’d used a walking route from Google maps (other maps services are available!!), which gave some nice views of Loch Linnhe etc, but which presented a problem for someone with dad’s particular needs – a sizable footbridge over the railway, with those lattice-metal steps that you can see through. We nearly had a refusal, but as the rain set in, we worked out a plan – I’d haul over the luggage), and then let dad take his time, and see how he did. In the end all was fine, but I really should have checked how on earth the route I’d chosen was meant to cross the railway line (after all we’d arrived on it the previous evening, so I knew it was there!).
A particular purpose of this trip was to try to trigger some of the happy memories dad and i had shared a decade previously, as well as exploring a few new places. I’d therefore planned a route (see the map below), taking in the new sights of Glenelg (“twinned with Mars“) [B]; a lunch stop at Eilean Donan Castle (where we had stopped on previous drives north) [C]; and some tea and cake on the road to Elgol [D], before heading back to the B&B we’d stayed in on two previous visits (and indeed where Mrs T and I had stayed back in the days when we just had the one child!).
In summer months a small turntable ferry runs from Glenelg to Kylerhea on Skye, and the crossing is renowed for its quietness and connection with nature. We wouldn’t be able to get the ferry in March, but we thought we’d scout out the location! The drive from Fort William is spectacular, tracking up the Great Glen beneath majestic mountains, and then heading over the lovely A87 past Loch Garry and Loch Cluanie. After more wonderful quiet highland driving, the road drops down towards the beautiful Loch Duich, a relatively sizable sea loch. The junction for Glenelg is at the head (south end) of the Loch, and is primarily single track with several steep and windy sections – you get great views first back to Loch Duich, then forward to the Kylerhea Narrows and the Isle of Skye. In Glenelg we found an empty spot for a snack, a short mooch around outside the car, and a photo-stop.
From Glenelg it was a case of retracing our steps and rejoining the A87 for the run alongside Loch Duich towards Eilean Donan and then Kyle of Lochalshe.
Eilean Donan Castle
This castle is one of Scotland’s most famous, sitting on a junction of arms of Loch Duich, and guarding the entrance to the them. The ruin is from the 13th Century. Even in winter season, the castle visitor centre and (most importantly on a trip like this) cafe and facilities are open, providing a welcome lunch stop for us on our journey north. The sun decided to peak through amongst the stormy sky, giving a particularly wonderful light too.
The stretch of road between Eilean Donan and the Skye Bridge then opened up in front of us – as the weather cleared, the Cuillin began to loom in the distance, with the sea shimmering beneath – it’s a good job there are lots of parking spots allowing photo opportunities. We even found one with a suitable rock perch for the camera so we could take a picture of the two of us together!
Elgol and Amy’s Place
Elgol sits at the end of a long, mostly single track road, that winds its way past some of the most spectacular scenery on the whole of Skye. The village itself is tiny, but in summer plays host to a number of companies offering boat trips – either for close in views of the Cuillin and Loch Coruisk, or wildlife trips including to the Small Isles. On both our previous trips, we had enjoyed tea and cake in the Elgol Tea room, however we knew that it would be closed on this winter Sunday. However, we had scouted out alternative tea and cake provision at Amy’s Place – a lovely tea room in Torrin, about half way along the route to Elgol, and with magnificent views. The cafe is run by a couple whose daughter, Amy, died from complications of Lupus at a young age, and the decorative theme is designed to reflect the colour and emblem associated with that illness.
We had booked three nights in the Anchorage, near Eabost West, a lovely bungalow B&B right need the coast, overlooking Loch Bracadale and MacLeod’s Tables (two flat topped hills across the Loch). We had stayed there before, although Moira, the proprietor, had retired to the next door bungalow and the next generation was now running everything. As accommodation for people in our circumstances it was ideal – a lovely twin room with private bathroom, everything on the level, excellent choice of breakfast, and a lovely lounge area with massive windows, binoculars and a large-screen TV. I’m not a massive TV watcher, but dad is definitely partial, and the late afternoon episodes of Midsomer Murders kept us occupied during some less clement weather – and gave dad a chance for a rest (and to be honest, I needed the rest too!).
Getting an evening meal on Skye in the winter season can be a bit challenging, but i’d done my research, and a quiet drive took us to the Edinbane Inn, which was serving tasty meals that I knew dad would be able to manage and enjoy. Skye in the off-season is so quiet, that it’s quite possible to drive the 14 miles back from the Inn without passing a single oncoming vehicle (even at only 730pm).
The weather forecast for the next day was not the best, so i spent some of the evening looking up some indoor options, meal stops and trying to get from dad what he’d feel up to doing if the weather was a bit bleak. I think we had it worked out – we can find out in the next instalment!
For Day One of the trip, and some background, click here.
For all posts in this category, then click here.