We got up early and rode a train and a coach to get to the airport. Was the last time we’d ride public transportation in London so we also stopped to get the rest of the money refunded on our Oyster card. I love that London does that! We landed in Inverness and went to pick up the rental car. We’d booked it through Chase using credit card points and the booking was a disaster. When we initially booked it took us 3 tries to finally get it to work. Well, apparently it got booked wrong and there was one day of our reservation missing. We pretty much had to pay as much $ for the one day as the other 3 days combined. Arrrrrrrrr!!
We finally got started on our drive to Skye. And we were BLOWN AWAY. We had seen pictures and knew it was going to be pretty but we were unprepared for the mystical, magical beauty of the Scottish highland. Every time we’d turn a corner a new sight would take our breath away. It was rainy and cool, a blessed change from the London heat.
We spent a couple of hours in Inverness and this bookstore was the coolest. Halle was in heaven. It was top to bottom second hand books housed in an old church.
We took our time getting to Skye, stopping at lookouts along the way.
We planned to hike Old Man of Storr and when we arrived at the trailhead it was misting rain. We grabbed our jackets and umbrellas and set off. It was a pretty hard hike for the kids. Lots and lots of quick elevation gain. But it was kind of fun hiking in the rain and the mist on the green hills was so beautiful to look at. Soon it started raining. Harder and harder. We were soaked through when we finally made it to the top. Or at least our top. I think the trail might have gone further, but it was good enough for us.
The way down saw little streams of water rushing down the trail and mud everywhere. Halle slipped and got a bum full of mud. Josh was getting pretty discouraged so I entertained him with the story of the hike when Rusty and I got engaged. I told him how that hike had been longer and harder than we expected it to be and how Rusty kept saying things like, “This hike is such a good analogy for life and Marriage. There are hard and rocky times, and there a beautiful times.” Josh got such a kick out of this and said, “That’s such CLASSIC dad!” We were all giggling.
We made it back to the car and we were all pretty spent. We were completely soaked, cold and tired. We blasted the heat in the car and went in search of food. It was 9pm and there was only one restaurant left open in Portree. It looked delicious and we walked in eager for some warm, yummy food. Denied. They had already started their last seating and had no room for us. Soooo…like so many other times on this trip, we grabbed a Meal Deal at the grocery store and ate in the car.
It was one more hour to our hotel in Advarsar. More beautiful scenery passing lochs and quaint little villages.
Our hotel was adorable and right on the water. We all had hot showers and snuggled up on our beds. We were so happy to be warm and dry.
The next morning we went on a little walk and true to form, Blake discovered a Cat! Halle tried to pick it up and it freaked out. It flew at her hissing and scratching. Luckily she wasn’t hurt. my friends had taken a girls trip to Destin a few weeks ago. While they were there they stole a traffic cone, just like we always used to do in HS and they challenged me to steal a U.K. cone. I finally got my chance here at our hotel.
We’d been so busy in London that we didn’t have much time to plan the details of our Scotland trip. We were disappointed to learn they the ferry we were planning to take to Mallaig was already all booked out and we’d have to drive the long way around. I was super bummed and feeling tired and low. Even though we feel so lucky to get to have this grand adventure sometimes it’s really hard! There are lots of people crammed in small spaces, not a lot of privacy or alone time and we can wear on each other’s nerved a bit. I had a mini meltdown at breakfast the next morning but then we applied our family motto of, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get,” and we went down to the ferry dock to see if they could squeeze us in. We had to wait about an hour but they could get us on! Crisis averted. I was so relieved.
The ferry ride was so lovely. Everything feels like deep magic in Scotland. Like the magic that runs through Narnia or Middle earth. It was also very cold. And very loud. Car alarms kept going off like every 3 seconds.
We grabbed lunch at The Cabin in Mallaig. It was a teeny tiny fish and chips take away. Literally a small hall and a tiny window. Then we set off to chase down the Jacobite Steam Train, otherwise know as the Hogwarts Express! We caught it just as it was leaving the station and chased it down the road for awhile. Again, so magical! This is the exact train they used in the Harry Potter movies. We were racing it to the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
We made it to the viewing point. Originally we had wanted to hike up above the viaduct but we didn’t quite have enough time. The train came chugging by and we were surprised to see it was going in the opposite direction we had expected. Turns out that another train headed back from Ft William was running super late. And so we got to see 2 trains pass over the viaduct! The second was our favorite because it slowed down to allow for some pictures and it tooted its horn a few times for us. Halle and I thought this was one of the most fun things in Scotland. We just love that steam train!
We stoped at a beautiful little church, then threw rocks in the Loch for awhile before heading on our way. About 20 min after we left Glenfinnan Rusty realized he left his rain jacket at the loch. So back we went. The kids were playing Hogwarts Mystery on their screens and they never even noticed the detour 😂.
A few hours later we arrived at what we called our Hagrid’s Hut. This is because the filming location for Hagrid’s hut was about a 3 minute walk from our cabin.
We turned on the England World Cup semi final and settled in. Rusty and Blake went to grab dinner and came back with the most delicious ribs, chicken Caesar salad and cauliflower gratin. It was our favorite meal in Scotland!
The Three Lions couldn’t quite bring it home and lost 2-1 to Croatia in a double overtime. Heart breaker for England! Roger Federer also lost at Wimbledon, so it was a sad sports day in England. Josh said we took all the good luck with us when we left.(I made Blake write this journal entry on the plane ride home. He couldn’t have screen time till it was done. He threw the biggest fit ever.)