Oh Look a Castle: Driving Up to Skye

We got lost bright and early on our way to the rental car pick up. Fun fact, Waverley Train Station is a big place! After a few wrong turns we eventually found our way to the car pick up point and pilled into our bright red ride, newly named the Wee Rocket. Though I am not a morning person and will never be mistaken as such, getting up early to pick up the car was a great idea–not just because it would mean we could spend the day seeing other things on the drive up, but because there was less traffic to deal with on our way out of the Edinburgh city center. This is the point where I should mention that Sarah had never driven on the left side of the road before, let alone trying to work out driving standard on the left side too. So a little less traffic was certainly a good thing.


Our car, named Wee Rocket, a Narnia esque phone box found in the middle of no where, and one of our random stops along the way. 

We hit the highway and headed north. We were aiming for Loch Ness, though we stopped a few times along the way to get slightly more precises with the GPS. Where we really wanted to get to was Invergarry Castle, which is the historic seat of the Chiefs of the MacDonells of Glengarry. Sarah is Scottish on her mother’s side and the MacDonells are her clan. On the site there are two buildings, the older ruin and the newer castle which has been converted in to a hotel.


Taking a look at the ruins at Invergarry Castle

From there we hit Loch Ness–no Nessie, but we did see a horrifying visitor’s center that we walked in and then walked right back out again of. Took some pictures, had a snack, and then hit the road again. We wanted to get into Skye by late after noon. We had ideas of a relaxing evening wandering around Portree and having a nice seafood dinner.


Loch Ness

As is the case of so many travel plans, this one didn’t go quite as we envisioned. Some of the highways in Scotland are really narrow and they have pot holes the size of our car. All I can really say is thank god we paid the for the extra insurance because one of those monster pot holes decided to eat one of our tires. There we were, stuck on the side of the road in the middle of no where–though admittedly a very beautiful middle of no where. Eventually the tow truck found us, brought us to Inverness, and Enterprise got us a new car (the exact same as our first one, so we named it Wee Rocket II). We got lost on our way out of Inverness, finally ending up back on the same roads we had been on four times that day.


Well, if you are going to be stranded on the side of the road in the middle of no where, at least let it be a beautiful view. 

As a Canadian, I’m used to long drives. If you want to get much of anywhere you usually end up driving an hour or more to get where you want to be. That being said, for some inexpiable reason, neither Sarah nor I thought this trip all the way through. We didn’t bring water or snacks which are a serious must haves on a long drive. Neither of us thought about it until it was late that night and we were in rural Scotland with no where open on a Sunday night to stop for dinner. Learn from our mistake, always bring food and drinks on a long trip.


Driving through the Highlands up to Skye.


We never did have dinner, eventually we both just got so tired and done with that day that we just booked it for our hostel. We got into Portree close to midnight, both of us punchy, and just ready to sleep. It had been a bit of a struggle to find accommodation in Skye, most places were sold out. Where we ended up staying at was the SYHA in Portree. Good parking (essential with the rental car), easy to find, and the price was quite reasonable for a 10 bed all female dorm with en suite bath. Though I would not recommend getting there exhausted in the middle of the night. Not that we couldn’t check in, there is someone at the reception desk 24 hours a day. The reason was, you have to make your own bed. Sounds small, not something you would even raise an eyebrow at normally. But when you are exhausted and so hangry that you’re about ready to scream, it’s the last inconvenience you want to find. On top of that, their WiFi is sketchy and difficult to connect to. In the light of the next morning neither of these things would be important, but that night I was so done that I would have picked a fight with anyone who said something slightly wrong to me. All I wanted was quick chat with my guy back in London and a good sleep. I got neither being up on the top bunk, phone plugged in on the floor bellow, and green emergency light on directly above my head.

Lessons learned:

  • Always bring food and water on a long road trip
  • Pay for the extra insurance because if you need it, you really need it
  • Travel with a back up power pack for your phone–one of the ones that can handle a couple full charges. There are never enough power outlets in a hostel and if you’re in the top bunk you might have a struggle keeping your phone with you.
  • Eye masks are amazing things. I did have a bandanna with me but it was buried too far in my backpack for me to try to find it that night.
  • Never forget that things usually look better in the morning. Coffee and a shower tend to make the world just that little bit brighter.