The northerly route
Leaving Inverness we’ll travel through the northern highlands with a number of stops along the way. We’ll even take the short walk to Rogie Falls and a stop at Loch Carron viewpoint. The road travels through a remote part of Scotland which gives us an appreciation as to why this considered the last great wilderness. The route also makes up part of the famous North Coast 500 driving route.
We’ll then descend to sea level at Loch Alsh for the last stop on the mainland at Eilean Donan.
Eilean Donan Castle
Situated on a small tidal island in Loch Duich, Eilean Donan has arguably the most magnificent location of any castle in Scotland. Named after Donnan of Eigg, a 7th century Celtic saint who may have built a church where the castle now stands, the island has been permanently occupied since the mid-13th century. The castle lay in ruins for nearly two centuries after it was destroyed by government forces after the first Jacobite uprising, being purchased and renovated in 1912, when a footbridge was added to allow easier access than the tidal causeway it replaced.
As we leave the Isle of Skye we’ll take the quirky Glenelg ferry on the short crossing over the Kylerhea straight. This small turntable ferry has served this crossing dutifully since 1934. The ferry is close to the heart of the islanders and is part of the heritage of Skye.
1 million years of Skye
As we leave Portree we pass by The Old Man of Storr, a rocky outcrop that appears to be a sleeping giant with much folklore attached. We’ll visit ‘The Kilt Rock’ a fascinating geological feature on the coast with views across the Ocean to Torridon. Here you’ll learn about geological changes to the islands over the millennia.
Museum of Island Life
The Museum Of Island Life, with its thatched cottages gives an insight as to what a crofters life on Skye would have been like hundreds of years ago. We’ll explore this quaint collection of cottages and workshops that have been accurately recreated. Highland Heroine Flora MacDonald is also buried nearby and we’ll learn her story and how she defined a turbulent period in Scottish history that is culturally significant today.
Founded in by brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill in 1830, they acquired the lease of Talisker House from the chief of Clan Macleod (of Dunvegan Castle). Talisker distillery was was extended by 1887 and again in 1900 before a stillhouse fire completely destroyed the site in 1960. Reconstruction was swift and five exact replicas of the original condensing stills were constructed to preserve the original Talisker flavour. Today Talisker is one of the contributing distilleries for Johnny Walker, probably the most famous blended Scotch.
Tours of the distillery are popular and take visitors through the distillation and bottling process. Of course no visit is complete without a wee dram (or two) at the end of the visit!
We’ll then travel to Portree for the evening.
We’ll overnight in the picture postcard village of Portree on Skye. A traditional fishing community, the harbour is lined with multi-coloured fishing villages and the village centre has quaint shops, restaurants and pubs.
We recommend staying at The Bosville Hotel in Portree. Built into a traditional building, the Bosville offers cozy surroundings and an intimate restaurant serving locally sourced and made dishes.
The evening is your own and we’d recommend exploring this small village. There is often a pipe band procession after dinner and if you want to stretch your legs a walk up ‘The Lump’ doesn’t disappoint for views across the natural harbour to the Island of Rassay.
In the northwest of The Isle of Skye sits Dunvegan Castle, the seat of the Clan MacLeod. The site is likely to have been a Norse fort, dating back to the viking occupation of this part of Scotland from around 800AD. The castle that you see today started life in the late 13th century and has been extended 5 times over its history.
There is a fantastic range of period furniture and artwork on display including portraits of the many clan Chiefs and family members. Most interesting of all is the Fairy Flag, believed to date from the 4th century and probably from Syria, making it one of the oldest surviving fabric artefacts in Scotland.
We’ll take the ferry across The Sound of Sleat to Mallaig, a quaint fishing village where we’ll pick up a bite to eat before heading along ‘the road to the isles’. This stunning route takes in some iconic scenery including views over to the isles of Rum and Eigg.
We’ll stop at Glenfinnan to see the railway viaduct, made famous by its appearance in Harry Potter and also the Lone Highlander monument, built in recognition of the third Jacobite uprising that was famously started here by Charles Edward Stuart in 1745. From the top of the monument experience panoramic views down Loch Shiel and up Glenfinnan.
The Great Glen
Arriving into The Great Glen, a geological fault line that is carved through the highlands, provides a natural route from Fort William in the South West to Inverness 62 miles to the North East. We’ll see The Commando Memorial which affords amazing views to the Nevis Range and Ben Nevis, the Uk’s tallest mountain (4,413 ft).
We’ll stop briefly at Urquhart Castle viewpoint to take in the views of this impressive ruin and the view over Loch Ness, the Uk’s biggest body of water by volume. We might even catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster!
We’ll return to Inverness around 5pm at the end of the trip.