Our Travel blog
Echoes of the past litter Skye. Standing stones and rings of huts, crude shelters built by early inhabitants, so numerous some aren't even mentioned on the map; ruins of crofts, low walls covered in grass that are now used by sheep seeking refuge from the elements. Here and there are skeletons of old machines left where they died, boats rot on the foreshore and in a field the shell of a caravan surrounded by cows. The islanders life has always been harsh and unforgiving, even now with good heating, good roads and all the trappings of modern life winters are long, dark and bleak.
We drove out of Skye on a road like a ribbon laid across the landscape. It was raining relentlessly giving a glossy coating to the moors. Sheep grazed seemingly unaffected while their lambs looked cold and huddled for warmth in the ley of rocks or stood forlornly on the sheltered side of their mother. As we drove, ghosts of mountains floated on the horizon behind a veil of soft mist, revealing themselves only as we got close, before we dropped down through the passes to skirt the sea on the run to the bridge and onto mainland Scotland.
We were sad to leave Skye, its charms were plentiful and with a smaller vehicle or more time to walk we'd love to have explored all of its nooks and crannies. But for now we were heading inland to Inverness via Loch Ness. But first we had to pass through a deep Glen alongside The Five Sisters mountain range. These all comfortably exceed 3000 ft and form a steep sided pass alongside the river Shiel, which snakes through the high glen seemingly in no hurry to leave. On the lower slopes intensely managed pine forests sat behind fences, as if penned in to prevent them from escaping. Where the woodland stopped blankets of last years ginger and rust ferns lay wilted and broken as new shoots reached up, unfurling slowly, one frond at a time, in no great rush now, but soon this whole area will be a lush green carpet waving gently in the mountain air. Higher up the snow capped peaks brooded in halos of dark cloud.
Well, it was all quite nice really.
Onwards we forged and after lunch in the mountain pass we descended to follow the wide River Moriston to the shores of Loch Ness. Here the rain had passed and little puffs of steam rose from the pines as warmer air moved in. We drove North alongside the Loch. Loch Ness, a mighty body of water, is only the second largest Scottish loch by surface area at 22 square miles, but due to its depth, it is the largest by volume in the British Isles. Its deepest point is 755 ft which also makes it the second deepest loch in Scotland, after Loch Morar. It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. It is part of the Great Glen Fault, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south. Incidentally that information was from Wikipedia so don't rely on it in a court of law. It may just be an enormous puddle formed by the tears of dying stoats for all I know.
We won't dwell on the rest of the journey North as it continued in much the same vein. Suffice to say it was all very pleasant, the Loch a constant presence to our right with its backdrop of rolling hills until we swept into Inverness and pitched up at a site on the banks of the Ness Canal, where we took an evening stroll past a flight of Locks to the Sea Loch and stunning views across the Beauly Firth.
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