20190930

The Breathtakingly Beautiful Isle of Skye

Our Loch Ness tour ended around 5pm and by 7pm we were parked at Hector's Boothy for dinner. It was fine.. not much else was open and we needed to eat. A bit bland for our liking.. nothing horrible. And then we crossed over the Skye Bridge and entered the Isle of Skye.



Isle of Skye has resisted against skyscrapers and chain hotels and even chain restaurants. While Isle of Skye does have it's share of local hotels, it mainly thrives on bed and breakfasts, camp sites and caravans. We opted to stay at a BnB in Upper Breakish. While it was a little far from most tourist spots it was a shorter drive when driving into the Isle at night and would be quicker to get back to the mainland the day of departure. We stayed at Bed and Breakfast Rodel. It was run by an elderly woman, Nan who the boys immediately took to. The boys loved the idea of staying in someone's house and H ran to the kitchen the moment we woke up to chit chat and sneak in some screen time while Nan prepared breakfast.

Our first day out was a Sunday.. and Nan warned that most of the Isle is closed on Sundays. Hmm.

Our first stop was Old Man of Storr which was an hour away. It was a two lane road for some parts and then mostly became one road.. there were many indents along the road made primarily for the purpose of pulling over to let other cars pass..



It had started to drizzle a bit.. and the fog made it look so hauntingly dramatic. But this was not my favorite hike. It was a very very long hike.. and you didn't see the rock formation until after the first 20-30 mins of steep uphill hiking. We were all exhausted and had lost steam by the time we saw the glorious pinnacle. The sight gave us that little extra umph and we hiked a little closer.



I know it looks like we had it all to ourselves but the place was swarming with people.. Many of them were hiking all the way up to the pinnacle but we opted out of it.



Our next stop for Brother's Point also known as Rubha nam Brathairean, just a 10 minute drive away. This was a true hidden treasure.. we didn't find too many people on this trail and it made it so much more fun to explore. The reason why I think this spot was so secluded is the poor signage. I had read about Brother's Point on Earth Trekker's and she had mentioned that the entrance looks like a secluded driveway.. we passed by it twice and then parked and walked around till we figured it out. Thank God we did.. it wasn't a spot I would have wanted to miss.

So another quality of Isle of Skye is that it is full of sheep.. like everywhere.. as of 2017 there are over 100,000 sheep on the Isle of Skye. In fact they out number the people that live there. And when there are sheep there is also sheep poop.. everywhere.





Next we headed to Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls Viewpoint.. there was supposed to be a waterfall.. but lucky for us Isle of Skye was having a dry spell hence the waterfall was running low on water. We got out of there quickly and were feeling a little hungry.. and pretty quickly we realized just how right Nan was because everything was closed. We found an open cafe and bought the boys some cake and devoured all the snacks we had in our car. When we finally did find a place that was open the wait was so long the hostess informed us that by the time it would be our turn the kitchen would be out of food?! We tried a few more places with no success. In the end we just decided to suck it up and move on.. we had more to see and didn't want to waste more time.

Next stop.. The Fairy Glen. This place was so cute!


All the hills were smallish with soft grass.. very child friendly.. all of course except the first one we decided to climb! It had started to drizzle again and we went up the first hill we saw.. The ground was softer because of the rain but we were okay..


We were almost to the top.. M in the lead when he exclaimed SHIT! Turns out the top of the hill was hella narrow.. and not at all what we had expected.




The boys went up one hill all by themselves :) They are the little yellow and blue dots.

Our last stop was the The Quiraing. It is known to gradually become a more difficult hike.. It was the end of the day and we hadn't eaten much so the plan was to walk a bit and then head out.



This place has ruined nature for us forever.. every hike we will ever go on we'll think damn.. can't beat the beauty of Skye. Breathtaking..



Thankfully on our way back to the BnB we spotted a pizza place that was open.. we spotted at CafeSia to eat what at that time tasted like the best pizza we have ever eaten! 

The next day we left the house a little better prepared.. Nan gave us bananas and we stopped at the gas station to buy some more snacks.. 

Our first stop were the Fairy Pools about 50 mins away.. 





This little guy decided this hike was to amateur for him.. he needed to up the level of adventure and skipped the stones. He walked through the icy waters.. eventually he hit a low part and his boots filled up with water.. but he was a pro. We wrung out his socks and he put on his boots again and carried on. When it was time to cross the stream again to head to the car he did it again.. lol.


After the Fairy Pools we headed toward the Neist Point Lighthouse.


On our way there we stopped at the Bog Myrtle Cafe. It was a charming cafe slash used bookstore furnished with thrifted mismatched furniture.. 


The Neist Point Lighthouse was first built in 1909. This was another stunning site. 




You can see the lighthouse behind me.. we didn't go there.. it didn't seem as impressive and was on additional walk on flatland.. instead we chose to hike up to the elevated peak seen on the right of the panoramic picture. 

Something we noticed while there... when you go to any national park in the United States there are rangers, safety notices, marked trails and rules. Here on the Isle it was pretty much do whatever you want and if you fall of a cliff, well that's natural selection at work! 


The view from the top. Afterwards we also walked up the cliff you see on the right of the picture. 


It can't get any better than this.. 

The planned next stop was the Dunvegan Castle but remember how I mentioned that most of Skye has one road and you have to let other cars pass.. Well when heading to the lighthouse there is a left turn and a short drive to the parking lot.. that short drive has no indents to move to the side to let a car pass.. and someone.. on that small narrow road had car trouble.. and a tow truck had to come and it caused a major pile up. While we were happy we were had already seen Neist Point we felt bad for all the on coming traffic that had to wait for the tow truck to move and let all of us leave so that they could enter. Most people abandoned there cars at the side of the road and walked to the lighthouse.. some left.. others waited.. but it took so so long to get it all cleared out there was no time left for the castle.. we instead headed to Portree, the city center. Most restaurants were teeming with tourists and many restaurants closed early. Thankfully we found a open table at the Caledonia Cafe and ate some very delicious black bean burgers.


The next morning we headed out of Isle of Skye.. after having the most unforgettable two days.



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20190923

The Search for Nessie in the Loch Ness

Our September has been insane.. my brother had a baby.. their third.. and I ended up making two trips to Houston.. one solo and one with the family.. the boys have already missed two days of school and we have just now finally begun to get into our routine.. We did have a wonderful family filled time in Houston but ugh I hate flying.. as much as I love travelling I hate airports and planes and packing!

Back to our United Kingdom trip..

From Edinburgh we made our way to the Loch Ness.. I had told the boys all about Nessie and I had a little believer while my eldest was the cynic. We booked a two hour Freedom tour with the Jacobite which included a stop at the Urquhart Castle.


We sat on the top open area for the first half of our journey along the Loch Ness. The boys were given complimentary drawstring bags and coloring books. After the first five minutes of staring out into the waters it got boring. The tour guide was talking but nothing captivating or interesting..

It took us 30 mins to get to the Urquhart Castle. Founded in the 13th century, Urquhart played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century. Despite a series of raids the castle was strengthened, only to be largely abandoned by the middle of the 17th century. Urquhart was partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent its use by Jacobite forces, and subsequently decayed. It was placed in state care in the 20th century and open to public use.




It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed touring the grounds.. in fact the hour went by far too quickly and we had to skip a few areas. 

There were a set of stairs that led us all the way down to the Loch.. the boys couldn't help themselves.


Before we knew it it was time to get back on the boat. This time we opted to sit on the lower deck. They had sonar radar sweeping the depths of the Loch. I obviously didn't expect to spot Nessie but maybe a fish or two.. something to get the imagination going. Not a thing.. it was as if the Loch was completely empty and boring.

Would I do it again? No. 


People get sucked into touristy story of the Loch Ness monster and feel that this is a must do.. but we all know there is no Nessie.. so what's the point? Scotland is stunning and there are far more beautiful places in Scotland then the Loch Ness. Skip it!
       
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20190910

Summer of 2019

I have a few more cities left to post about from our United Kingdom summer vacation but before summer is completely gone and fall approaches I want to recap some of our summer fun.

We went for a little weekend getaway with family to Upstate New York to celebrate the 4th of July. We stayed in Corning and went to Watkins Glen to hike through the gorge.. which was simply stunning..


and then went a little further up to the Robert Treman State Park near Ithaca for some swimming..



We did some crafts.. we bought these model planes last summer and never got around to making them.. until now. 


Both of their planes are now hanging in their bedrooms.. 

We also made crystals with borax and pipe cleaners

 

We sailed on the Hudson with friends.. 


We read a lot.. our town library runs a great reading program and the boys get so many goodies after completing certain goals. We hit a nearby book sale as well as spent some birthday money at Barnes and Noble. A friend shared with me booksalefinder.com where you can find book sales near you.


We played a lot of board games.. Monopoly Jr was this summers obsession. And lots of time was spent in the yard.. H finally learnt to ride his bike sans training wheels :)



We tried to explore a bit of our own state and made a trip down to say Hello to Lucy, the elephant. 


She has been standing tall in Margate, New Jersey since 1881.. and her history was much more fascinating than I had expected.

We also made a trip down to Spring Lake as recommended by Debbie of It's All About Purple. To see the sculpture lined downtown. It was a small quaint downtown.. so quaint everything was closed on a Thursday evening. There were 16 sculptures made by J Seward Johnson III who was known for his sculptures of everyday people and H insisted to pose with every single one.  



and we ended the trip with the Godzilla of all desserts at the Coney Waffle in Belmar


and now the kids have gone back to school, both riding the bus together.. we are still working out our routine.. getting the hang of things.. 



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