The Road to Skye

There are only 2 buses a day from Glasgow Airport that go directly to the Isle of Skye. Luckily for me, my flight was on time and I had an hour to have coffee and wait for the 915.

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Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides in the northwest of Scotland. Before the opening of the Skye Bridge in 1995, people had to take ferries from Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin to cross the 500m sound in between.

It’s a 200 mile drive from Glasgow to Skye, but the scenery is spectacular.

IMG_0028After leaving Glasgow on the A82, you drive along the bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest freshwater loch, and the Trossachs, a region of pristine lochs, small glens, crumpled hills and forests. Sir Walter Scott was so enthralled by this scenery that he wrote a poem (‘The Lady of the Lake’) about a girl who lived there.

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The Bonnie Banks O’ Loch Lomond

By the time we got to Tyndrum, the summer sky had dissipated into the moody weather Scotland is notorious for.

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Tyndrum by the Way

The bus drove through wetlands and gradually fell into silence as passengers either fell asleep or slipped into the same silent reverie I was in. One thing that always strikes me about Scotland is how empty it is: just miles upon miles of land covered in heather.

I stared at the landscape that had captivated me so much almost two years ago, with the same, if not even more, reverence for the land. I had not thought about how much attention I had paid in my previous road trip until I realised how well I remembered the route and the scenery. The only difference was this time, the landscape was green.

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Glencoe

By the time we entered Glencoe, the conversations completely died out. Glencoe is unarguably Scotland’s most famous and most beautiful glen. It is one of those places that demand silent reverence. There was something so serene in that moment. Glencoe is, for all its beauty, the site of an infamous massacre.

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Glencoe

Fittingly, the clouds cleared up when we left Glencoe.

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Traffic in the highlands depends on the season. In the summer, when the roads are busier, the 915 takes around 6 hours all the way to Portree and around 5.5 hours to Kyleakin, with a 20 minute break at Fort William.

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Fort William sits on the shore of Loch Linnhe and at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. It is the second largest settlement in the Highlands and is a major tourist center (UK’s Outdoor Capital). It is both the start/end of the Great Glen Way and the West Highland Way, and the terminus for the Caledonian Sleeper all the way from London Euston. It’s a good place to stock up on supplies and outdoor gear.

IMG_0035Onwards along the A82, then a change to the A87 by Invergarry. This is the stretch I like to dub ‘The Road to the Isles’. The A87 wounds its way along lochs some seriously stunning glen scenery. The Lochalsh is a picturesque area and merits a few days of exploration. Many times, I wished I drove my own car and could stop and just pick up one of the hike trails along the way.

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Eilean Donan Castle

The final stop before Skye is Kyle of Lochalsh, a village that serves as a transport and shopping centre for the area. It is the terminus of the Kyle of Lochalsh railway line (built in 1897) that connects to Inverness. Before the Skye Bridge was opened, it used to be the port for the ferries across to Kyleakin.

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Kyle

I arrived in Kyleakin at around 9pm, feeling like I had already seen so much in this trip although the real deal had not even started yet. On my first trip to Skye (back in 2014), I was so annoyed by the lack of overnight buses to Portree as I wanted to spend as much time as possible to explore Scotland and didn’t want to ‘waste’ a day traveling. take my word for it: a day spent driving along the Highlands is a day never wasted.

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Kyleakin, Isle of Skye

 

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