Thursday, September 27, 2012

Scotland Recap Part 4

I'm recapping my awesome trip to Scotland. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Day 6: After yet another wonderful breakfast in Scotland, we set out from Portree to drive around the Trotternish Peninsula. It's basically the most beautiful scenic drive you could possibly imagine. We made five or six stops along the way and I'm sure there was plenty more we could have seen! The first major destination to see was the Old Man of Storr, which is one of a series of huge, pointy rocks that are the remnants of ancient landslips (I sound smart, but I'm just paraphrasing Wikipedia). In the pictures below, the Old Man is the taller, pointier rock on the right, off in the distance. It looks small because we're so far away, but as we drove around it you could see it was pretty enormous.

The whole rocky hill is the Storr; the Old Man is the little pointy
guy on the right before the hill slopes down more smoothly.

Storr a little closer up.

Shortly after we drove around Storr, we finally got to experience a little bit of an authentic Scotland traffic delay: sheep crossing!

Most of the sheep had already crossed and gone up the hill
to the left. These crossings can sometimes take several minutes
to pass before cars can move forward! Totally worth it though.

Next was pretty much the coolest natural rock formation EVER. Can you guess what they call it?

If you guessed "Kilt Rock" you are correct! See how it looks like it has a tartan pattern (or "plaid" for the newbs), and the rock flares out toward the bottom? So cool, right?

Oh, and please take note of how gorgeous and clear the sky was for this entire day. We were so blessed to have such great weather on the days we were out and about seeing Scotland's beautiful landscapes!

Lovely heather growing wild (basically EVERYWHERE).

Ben and Pauli were told on a past trip by the owners of one of the B&Bs they stayed at (which we were to stay at later in the trip) about some dinosaur footprints they discovered on a beach in the 80s on the Isle of Skye along the Trotternish Peninsula. So, naturally, we had to go and try to find the spot where they're located. Apparently it's not very well labeled or advertised because they want to preserve the prints as much as possible (or something), so Cathy (said B&B owner and amateur paleontologist, whom you'll hear more about later) described the route to Pauli and we crossed our fingers in hopes that we'd find it.

We knew it would only happen if we were there at low tide so that the ground would be exposed, but even then, most people looking for the footprints can't seem to find them. So, we stopped at the beachy spot we thought was our destination...

With my back facing the shore, this is what I see. Cool place
for a sheep to hang out, right?

It may be a beach on a sunny day, but it was still pretty chilly!

Well, we soon realized that this wasn't the right spot, but we were pretty sure we knew where we'd made a wrong turn. So we drove to another nearby section of beach...

And I spied this crazy little kid running on the sand half naked! May I remind you that it was NOT warm? But anyway, he was adorable and I took like three pictures of him, because obviously I am a total creeper.

Carefree and apparently equipped with skin made of kevlar.

He kinda reminded me of my nephew Levi! Aww...

But I digress. We DID find the dinosaur footprints! They were covered with seaweed so it's not super easy to see in this picture, but I swear it's there:

Here's another photo I found online that shows it a little better (less seaweed, at least):

And here's Joe standing up on the ledge we walked down from to get to the beach and footprint area. (So I'm standing with my back to the water.)

Our next stop was the Quiraing. It's an enormous landslip on the northernmost part of the peninsula, and the views from up there are absolutely amazing.

This big flat section is known as The Table.

I can you not praise God when you see this kinda stuff?

So we walked around the Quiraing for awhile, considered hiking up on one of several available trails, and then decided to save our strength for the next stop... My FAVORITE stop... Faerie Glen!

It's basically just another little stop down a single track (or one-lane) road that is lush with green, cone-shaped hills and feels simply magical.

See how the grass on the hill is kind of striped? Ben's theory
is that the sheep who graze there tend to eat as they walk straight
across, which causes the grass to grow back in that way over time.

This narrow path leads up to the "Faerie Stronghold"
which keeps watch over the glen.

The path in the picture above is a lot scarier than it may appear. As you get closer to the rocky peak (which you have to climb up carefully, placing your feet on whatever jutting-out rocks you can find), the path gets narrower, and if you were to take one wrong step, you could slip and fall down the steep slope to the ground below. You can see (below) that Joe and Ben had no hesitation making their way up there.

 Pauli was a little less excited to make the trip up, and opted to stay down below and take some footage of the crazies who went up there. (I was one of the crazies, but mostly because I didn't even realize it was so narrow and steep until I had already reached the top. I was just following Joe!)

It's a little more evident in this picture just how
narrow the trail is and how steep a drop it is on
either side. Eek!

From atop the stronghold, you can see our black SUV toward
the bottom middle portion of this photo. When we parked, that
waterfall coming out of the hill (about smack dab in the center)
looked pretty big!

This was a little walled-off area at the bottom of the glen.
I want to have a tea party there someday!

And here's the view of the stronghold from below, on the way
back down to the car.

Phew! That was all just ONE day of driving and sightseeing. Stay tuned for Day 7, which -- believe it or not -- may be even MORE picture-heavy than Day 6! Here's a sneak preview:

Guess who's walking up in the pastel hat?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Scotland Recap Part 3

I'm recapping my awesome trip to Scotland. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Day 4: Woke up in our cozy little room in Tobermory, had a delicious breakfast, and saw a brand new view out our window (much different than the one I posted in Part 2). The sunlight coming through below those heavy clouds was breathtaking.

We set out for a little place called the Mull Cheese Shop. It's the only cheese farm on the Isle of Mull, and they make some seriously tasty cheese using old/traditional methods. Their shop was unattended when we arrived, but the door was open and there was a sign posted that basically said, "Have a taste of our cheese and if you decide to buy some, put your money in this box. Change is in this other box." Talk about trust! We of course bought a wedge of cheese and paid for it and signed their little guest book.

I failed to get any photos inside the shop, but there were a couple other pretty sights on the property.

Lovely hydrangeas. There were other bushes with magenta ones, too!

Have I mentioned yet that Pauli looooves dogs? We greeted
many of them on this trip, all very friendly!

This one was pretty old and mellow, and clearly well loved.

More beautiful skies.

Oh, that reminds me. When we arrived at the shop, it was POURING rain. We decided to wait in the car for a few minutes to see if it would let up long enough for us to get inside without being drenched. Sure enough, within about three minutes the clouds parted and the sun came out. We got another few minutes of these blue, cloudy, rain-free skies after we left the shop, and then as we were walking back to the car, it started raining again! Oh, Scotland, how I love your fickle weather.

Found this one on my phone. This is us waiting
in the car for the rain to let up before we got out.

After the cheese shop, we took a leisurely drive around the northern part of Mull and saw some more picturesque scenery.

I think this was a place we stopped at because there was a giant
information placard about a nearby inactive volcano. I forget.


More highland cattle! Ahhh I was so excited.

Beautiful creatures. Beautiful creation.

Why hello there, Norman. Won't you please look at the camera
for me? No? Fine. Be that way.

The famous shipwreck that everyone photographs when they
come to the Isle of Mull. No idea what the story is behind it;
I tried to find out, I swear!

Pretty (and possibly poisonous) berries!

For dinner we ended up at a tiny little pub called the MacDonald Arms. Joe made friends with a local while the rest of us chatted with a British family on vacation from London.

At some point in the day, this happened:


I think it was before dinner, maybe? Man, I need to write these recaps quick before I forget everything! I also have a note in my travel log (which is the ONLY way I am remembering any of these details, let's be honest) that says we walked to town in the rain. I don't recall if that was after dinner, or if we did that after dinner just as a leisurely night-time walk. But I'm sure it was lovely, haha. Maybe the rainbow was after that walk? Would make sense since it stays light till like 9 PM.

Anyway, that was Day 4.

Day 5: This was mostly a travel day, but I have a bunch of pictures. I'll try to keep the commentary to a minimum so we can move on to possibly my favorite day of the trip -- Day 6!

First we said goodbye to Jenny, our awesome Tobermory host.

Then we hopped on a ferry to Kilchouan (apparently pronounced something like "Calhoun"). I liked this message on the side of a giant rock as we were leaving the dock.

After the first ferry ride, we had a long drive to Mallaig, where we boarded a second ferry to take us to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. I of course slept during the entire drive, so here are a million pictures from the two ferry rides. that I think about it, THIS might be where we saw
the volcano information placard, which would mean this was taken
on the drive to Mallaig. Sure, let's go with that!

Ferry #2!

We had another hour-ish-long drive once we got onto Skye, and we landed in the Portree area, which Joe and I recognized from a big photo that his dad framed for us after their last trip to Scotland. Naturally, Pauli wanted to get a picture of Joe and me standing in front of the same background as proof that we were all there together at last! I didn't get that picture myself, but Pauli gave me a hard copy, so just picture us standing in the foreground here:

We finally checked in to our Skye B&B, Cruinn Bheinn, run by a very nice couple named Peter and Marina. This was the first place on our trip that Ben and Pauli hadn't already stayed at on a previous trip, so we weren't sure how it would go. (It went splendidly!) Anyway, we ended up at a place called Skeabost for dinner, at the recommendation of Peter, I think. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't our preferred pub scene. There was a pretty view out our window (maybe it's on a golf course?) and none of us hated our food. But Pauli ordered a cheese sandwich with a "red onion marmalade" or something, and it was literally two dry pieces of bread, some chunks of crumbly cheddar cheese, and RAW onion slices. She was not amused.

So that's Days 4 and 5. I am seriously starting to forget the details here, so look forward to a flurry of recap posts in the hope that I'll remember and record as much as possible before it all disappears!