Do you have anything planned for this year’s St.Andrews day weekend? If not, it’s not too late…
Europcar asked us how we would celebrate St. Andrews Day like true Scots and we decided that it should involve dramatic Highland scenery and food, lots of high quality food!
We decided to visit Skye due its beautiful remote landscapes and its 2 Michelin-starred restaurants (and many other recommended seafood restaurants) and the fact that it’s one of the few islands in Scotland you can get to by road from the mainland thanks to the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh. It is still a 5 hour non-stop drive from Glasgow, just to get to the bridge and then it’ll take at least another hour to get to opposite side of the island. We took a few breaks so it took us closer to 7 hours just to get to the island! We found a good hotel deal so booked a room for the night and made the 7 hour back the following day.
Rather than head direct on the A82 we opted to go via the M80 past Stirling and then onto the A84 into the Trossachs so that we could stop off at Mhor 84 Motel for breakfast with delicious Eggs Benedict.
Here are some of the misty views we saw on our way through the Trossachs.
Once we had some sustenance we headed off north towards the A82 in the direction of Fort William. On the way you’ll pass one Scotlan’s most foreboding valleys – Glen Coe, site of the Glencoe massacre (and seen in James Bond’s Skyfall). The West Highland way walkway passes through here and there are plenty of walks (and climbing if you’re into that sort of thing), a visitor centre (where you can find out about the history) and even a hidden valley!
Fort William used to be known as Inverlochy, Inver meaning “mouth of a river” and Lochy being the name of the loch that leads up to Fort William (surely the “lochiest” loch in Scotland?!), just like Inverness at the opposite end of the great glen. As well as a river there’s also the Caledonian Canal which works its way to Inverness via loch Ness. A staircase lock of eight locks called “Neptune’s Staircase”is only about 3 miles from the centre of Fort William, built by Thomas Telford beteeen 1803 and 1822, it is the longest such staircase lock in Britain.
Shortly after this we had another break at Lochaber Farm Shop just off the A82 a bit further north. We met a couple of shy Shetland Ponies – Maisie and Iris, all they wanted to do was munch.
After that, our next stop was nother hour away at Eilean Donan Castle which is widely regarded as Scotland’s most photographed castle. See for yourself why below, though most of it was rebuilt in the 20th century.
Not too long after that we were within reach of the Skye Bridge. This is a view from the Murchison Memorial which is just off the main road – there’s a car park at the side of the road and then it’s only a short walk to get a photo…
Despite having a population of only 10,000 Skye has 2 Michelin starred restaurants (with 1 star each), and we were lucky enough to secure a booking in both. First up was Kinloch Lodge in the south-east of the island about 30 minutes from the bridge. Our lunch was lovely and the cost for 3 courses (no dessert) was £37.99, you could also pay a wee bit extra for a fourth (dessert) course.
After a very enjoyable lunch we set off again and about 45 minutes later met up with the Isle of Skye Sea Salt Company, a small environmentally-friendly company producing salt from the waters of Loch Snizort
The salt is made in small quantities and is used in places such as Kinloch Lodge, where we had just eaten and the Three Chimneys, where we would dine that evening…
We checked into our hotel at Skeabost, an old Norse name meaning “sheltered house” (we noticed a few Norse sounding place names on the way there) and were happy to receive a complimentary whisky each on arrival!
But we didn’t have much time before we were on the road again, this time to the well-regarded The Three Chimneys in Colbost, which was perhaps a 30 minute drive away, and being winter we had to drive in the dark and the road to Colbost is single track with passing places.
We narrowly avoided hitting some sheep in the dark and arrived at the Three Chimneys, a small but very busy restaurant in a very remote spot – and yes, the restaurant does have chimneys!
The meal was excellent, there was a choice of 5 or 8 course tasting menu, we went for the 5 course costing £60 each. The total for both of us, with a drink each and tip came to £150, ouch! But it was certainly one of the best meals we’ve ever had so money well spent in our opinion!
After that we headed back to the Skeabost Hotel for some much needed sleep.
In the morning we headed towards Uig, a little village on the north-eastern peninsula of Skye. From here you can catch a ferry to the Western Isles.
But we cut across back inland to Trotternish and the Quiraing to see some amazing rock formations.
We quickly drove through Portree as it was a bit dull so we didn’t stop. We also passed by the Old Man of Storr for the same reason, perhaps we’ll see “him” next time.
The skies cleared a bit further south and we got some more good pictures of the mountains.
We left Skye the following afternoon after our whistlestop tour – it has some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland the roads were a joy to drive around (unlike some roads in Glasgow!)
We timed it nicely and got to the viewpoint above Loch Garry (which looks a bit like the shape of Scotland from this angle) just in time for the sun setting.
And then a another quick setting sun photo-op at the Commando Monument at Spean Bridge.
We had a fabulous road trip, saw some wonderful scenery, ate some amazing food and now we’re plotting out next drive into the countryside! We don’t own a car so we always hire so many many thanks to Europcar for providing the Mini Cooper for the overnighter, it was a smashing modern car, with sleek interior and more space than we expected, certainly one we would hire again.
We were fortunate enough to experience good weather with (mostly) clear skies on out trip in November. We do however recommend travelling out of season to avoid the tourists and of course secure bookings in both of the high quality and popular restaurants we visited.