– Scotland Expedition –
Kyle of Lochalsh is where this next chapter starts.
In the tip of that snipped coastline, where the sea meets the midst of the mountains we ventured towards the ocean. Red Moon Cruise was a dainty little vessel turned into a small cruise with a story of its own. Handmade in late 1945 in the south of England, initially designed as a warship is now a nook of all things delightful.
My little cushy room, with a porthole to the dancing waters of the Scottish Fiords, was an atonement for the soul. From there I saw the cruise take us to the sea of Skye, embrace me in those cozy starry nights and kindle my days with a morning soft light.
On the upper deck, we toasted the days away with the lovely crew Scott and Mary, over a selection of whiskey and amazing curated local cuisine. Talked about life and politics, laughed over weird expressions and discussed new routes for the following days. At night in the bow, as the wind chilled the bones, I could pinpoint the constellations and imagine all the dreams fulfilled in that twilight.
I took the ship now and then, with the captain’s oversight, and sailed away into the dramatic views of the Islands. We encountered orcas, seals, and eagles, and even manage to find time to visited ashore on a nearby island, just to admire from afar that rolling abode painted in white and red.
It’s insane how life tricks us, narrowing the hours and days, rapidly ending this state of bliss we encountered ourselves in, aboard that small family ship. It’s a monumental expression of freedom, which rapidly became one of the best experiences of this already amazing expedition.
From then, the north was the only way ahead. We picked up the car once again and dive into the Assynt. Here the land is bare and the civilization scanty and scattered for miles on end. The sheep and hairy cows where now the usual traffic in the highest road of England, and the stags crying out, the music that cradled the air.
The landscape profiled the outline of mountains in a theatrical scenario, and the dramatic fog portrait views one can only dream of. The hours passed in narrow provincial streets, crossing ridges and waterfalls, plains without horizon and cliffs where the sun hid.
We passed Ullapool and found haven in the Summer Isles, in a forlorn part of the land.
It was nice to be in a cottage for a change, with that iron stove drying our shoes after a rainy day. I took my time to read my newly acquired books in Mallaig, that are today, amongst one of my favorites. Winded myself in a typical Scottish blanket, and embraced cheerful dreams and tails of the Highlands.
When the road couldn’t afford to take us further north, the south was the only way.
A short passage through Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, and then through the Cairngorms National Park to Perth and St. Andrews – that undoubtedly deserves a visit.
Heretofore, the ease of the Highlands was replaced by the hub of city life, with nice pubs and cozy steakhouses. I can’t say I loved the feeling. I’m forever drawn to the wild, to the untouched, where the rivers run copiously throughout the land and the people are born in Gaelic songs.
Nevertheless, the expedition brought us to Edinburg, our last stop.
Full of history, and splendid views of the castle, Edinburg is made of narrow streets, medieval facades, whiskey, and gin.
The hill glances into the city center and casts a shadow over the monumental town. Divided by an inexistent river, the two shores compete between one another, in style and past. It was the perfect ending to this expedition, slowly taking us back to reality. We spend the next few days, wandering in those streets, visiting antique shops and diving into the culinary scene.
By the time I’m writing this, some months have passed. Some new adventures have been born, and yet, Scotland. If I could go back I would. It’s like my favorite painting, my most possessed treasure, one that I can’t help to smile whenever I think of it.
I still, ever so often, visit that little corner at my parent’s house, to see if the book spine changed colors. If there was an added volume to that small collection of wonders. Who knows what new chapters it may hold. I’m hoping for good ones, ones such as Scotland.
Till then, Soraidh Alba.
- Isle of Mull
- Glen Shiel
- Summer Isles
- St. Andrews
- Glenfinnan Viaduct (be there a little before 11 am and 3 pm between April and October to see the Jacobite steaming train)
- Dalwhinnie Distillery
- Talisker Distillery
- Fairy Pools
- The Storr
- Neist Point
- Castle Fraser
- Eileen Donan Castle
- Donnotter Castle
- Scone Palace
- Edinburgh Castle
- North Coast 500
- Pass of the Cattle
- Red Moon Cruise
- Summer Isles Hotel
- Eagle Brae
- The Gleneagles
- Glengarry Castle
- Ardanaiseig Hotel
- The Fitzroy
- Dunstane House
- Skye Soap Co.
- Caramel Fudge Sweets
- Gin and Whiskey
- Wool Blankets and Tweed Garments
- Old books