Scotland Adventures 6

First thing in the morning we taxi’d ourselves to Glasgow Queen Street Station to get the train to Mallaig. The ride took five hours, which were beautiful, green, and very damp-looking. We saw many tiny cascades and many miles of grass that could have been moss. Northern Scotland is so lovely.

Mallaig is by the sea, and when we arrived it was idyllically sunny (what a disappointment!). We went to a chippy (what some Scots call fish-and-chip shops, hilariously) and I ate more potatoey chips and more chickeny chicken than I had ever had before. Very fresh stuff! After we had tea for some reason, and then got on the ferry to Skye. The ride over was lovely, but extremely windy and my ears started to ache after a while.

We landed in Armadale to the sound of bagpipes, which we thought had been hired by a tour bus but was in fact produced by a ten-year-old boy in a football jersey surrounded by dogs with his case out for money. We rented a car (with a warning about clingy hitchhikers who will use the unwary Samaritan as an alternative to Skye’s terrible public transportation) and set off along the coast. Signs in the northern section of the mainland are subtitled in Gaelic, but every sign on Skye is in Gaelic first and then English. We enjoyed looking at how different the spellings were.

Eventually, after a bit of napping on my part and a lot of gorgeous scenery and sheep, we arrived in Carbost, where we’re staying at a bunkhouse. We haven’t yet figured out what local tradition prompts residents to put scarecrows not only in the fields, but also on their front lawns in deck chairs with sharpied-on faces. Pretty sure there are no crows to scare on the entire island.

Well, we checked in and immediately found that it was time to go for dinner, so we began the tortuous drive to Elgol. Let me explain, in my mother’s words: the Brits drive tiny cars on tiny roads, and they go super fast. The default speed limit on Skye is 60 mph, for whenever you don’t have a good reason to go slow. Also, nearly all the roads on the island are narrow one-lane affairs with barely room for a motorcycle to pass a car, so the roads are littered with passing points every fifty meters or so. Add to this the windiness of all mountain paths and one begins to see why driving on Skye is such a pain.

Anyway, we managed to get to Elgol an hour early for dinner, so we drove into town and inspected the delightfully boggy little stream, whose banks were populated by many species of moss, grass, oaks, and what we think was heather. We followed it down to the harbor, whose beach is covered with quite large rounded rocks, and walked along it a little way to a truly magnificent cliff with Swiss-cheese holes worn into it by wind and water. Sadly we didn’t get to see much more because it was time to eat.

The Coruisk House has lovely food and a lovely owner (who kind of looks like Joyce Summers from Buffy) who told us some interesting things about local geography and had an extremely detailed survey map of the area. Incidentally, Coruisk House is named after a loch nearby surrounded entirely by mountains, and was also the name of the ferry. Ah, anyway, at this moment we are driving home in the cloudy drizzling dark, and my father the designated driver is looking forward to getting sloshed at the Old Inn’s associated pub. Cheers!

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