Travel Tips & Adventures

Real People. Real Travel.

International Travel Planning … on your own … without a net

Part 6

Scotland: Fall 2009

Well, I’m back.
The emergency kilt fitting went reasonably well, although the bagpipe lesson was more problematic.

For some reason there were lots of neighborhood dogs howling … or was that the neighbors screaming at me to stop strangling that cat?


Last time we were coming back from the island of Arran. We plan to arrive back at Glasgow Central train station at around 9:27 P.M. Hopefully, we’ll have enough time to pick up a car for an early morning departure but that might not be possible due to the really odd hours of rental car desks at the train station.Alternative: Move the Arran trip around so we’re sightseeing in Glasgow instead on the last day.

So, I’m going to do some more checking as we don’t really want to go to the airport to pick up a car.


PORTREE – Isle of Skye

Today we are finally in a car, hopefully, driving on the “wrong” side of the road with a steering wheel on the “wrong” side of the car … Other than those two small distractions, it should be quite interesting.

After leaving Glasgow, A82 leads north along the western shore of Loch Lomond, the largest lake by surface area in Great Britain. The drive also passes Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Great Britain near Fort William.

There are plenty of places to stop along the way to see the lake and the mountains so we won’t be driving like we are on the Autobahn.

At about 127 miles into today’s trip, we will turn west on A87 until reaching the Isle of Skye via the much maligned Skye Bridge and to the town of Portree. Up until 1995 the only way to reach the island was by ferry. To rile up the locals even more was the toll that was set by the government to offset the ferry rides. It made the bridge toll the highest in all of Europe! Consequently, it has since been dropped and the drive across the bridge is free.

The harbor town of Portree is mentioned in a Harry Potter novel and is the setting for the Scottish portion of the 2008 film. Made of Honor.

With a wide selection of Hotels/Inns, and Bed & Breakfast establishments, Portree is a centralized location to explore the island.

Apart from the scenery, we are looking forward to checking out Armadale and Dunvegan Castle, the Skye Heritage Centre, the shops and restaurants.

There are also several boat trips that leave from various points on the island.

Glasgow To Portree, Isle of Skye via Ft. William
Distance: 210.7 miles
Time: 4 hr 53 min



Leaving Skye, we will be stopping at one of the most famously photographed castles in all of Scotland. Just 8 miles back on the mainland is the island fortress, Eilean Donan Castle, near the small fishing village of Dornie. The castle been prominently featured in the movie Highlander (1986). Other films that have used the castle: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), Loch Ness (1996), The World Is Not Enough (1999), Elizabeth:The Golden Age (2007), and Made of Honor (2007)

Although not the original castle to stand on the island, it has become the most famous.

Although we could probably take photos there all day, we need to get to Aviemore by evening. It’s only about a two hour drive, but there is another major stop along the way.

At about 43 miles from Eilean Donan we turn back onto A82 and head northeast traveling along the most talked about Loch in Scotland. And, if we’re lucky, we’ll see him or her … the Loch Ness Monster! Although rumored since the 7th century, the “monster” didn’t become famous until 1933 when a local, standing near the castle where we are heading next spotted, something. It was at that time that everyone came out of the woodwork with sightings, and “photographs” of … something! To this day this is no proof one way or the other about the existence of any type of creature, but you never know …

In an effort not to backtrack later we are going to stop at another famous castle before we reach Inverness. Urquhart Castle, on the shore of Loch Ness, is mostly in ruin, but what remains makes an interesting filming location. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), and the aptly titled Loch Ness (1996) used the castle. Conversely, the recent film, The Water Horse, which is totally about the Loch Ness Monster, was filmed mostly in New Zealand!

Gotta love Hollywood!

From Urquhart we are going to drive through Inverness and directly to Aviemore for the next several nights.

Portree To Aviemore (Via Inverness)
Distance: 144.5 miles
Time: 3 hr 17 min

Next week: Details about our planned stay in Aviemore.

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