The Highlands – the mountainous northern region of Scotland – are split by an almost unbelievably clean diagonal fault line (look at a map! dammit it looks like a paper’s been folded in half!), and topped on the northwest side by a sprinkle of jaggedly shaped islands called the Hebrides. The promise of this million-foot view of the highlands is delivered on by the strangeness of the land itself – the baby soft earth, the randomly placed hills and towering mountain ranges, the cracked ocean shores, the huge rocks jutting apocalyptically from the earth, and millions of winding ways water flows and ebbs and falls through the bright green landscape – all courtesy of the ice sheets that once covered all of Scotland.
This was my favorite part of our whole adventure, and yet I’m 100% sure I won’t be able to convey the feeling of discovery, adventure, and awe that the highlands inspired in me. So, skip this blog and book a damn flight.
Our first day on the Isle of Skye – the largest of the inner Hebrides islands – we woke at our Airbnb in the town of Portree, small, sleepy, and yet considered the “big city” by locals.
Our first hike of the day was Old Man of Storr – a relatively rigorous walk up a mountain topped with two huge rock protrusions. Not cool, independent rocks sitting on top – these rocks were part of the mountain itself – two bold beautiful moles that you can’t help but stare at. The weather was, by most measures, shit – low clouds, wet cold, and the type of rainfall that felt like being drooled on by a million angels. But that shit added some serious mystery to the hike. As we wandered around the top of the hill, huge black, gray, and white rocks would emerge from the mist in front of us like ships in a movie about ships. Although we knew that huge mountains loomed above and rivers passed below, we couldn’t see them. We climbed a rock and shouted into the mist and heard our voices echo against – we have no idea! There was also a random pond. WHO PUT A POND THERE?
On the drive to our next stop, we encountered our only traffic jam of the trip – caused by a group of terrified, dumb as sheep sheep wandering around the roadway. You see, they let the sheep roam around Skye so they think they own they place. They probably do.
We stopped briefly to take in Kilt Rock – basically a cliff that has such clean lines that it looks like the plaid of a kilt. Sure.
And then came my favorite hike of the trip – Fairy Friggen Glen (Fairy Glen for short). The sun was beginning to come out, and I frolicked – I mean FROLICKED – around these strange 20 foot mounds of earth covered in the softest grass you’ve ever felt. We climbed another rock earth protrusion that looked just like a castle and took in the what? 20 or so waterfalls you could see all around you. And every corner you turned you’d discover some strange natural secret – a random patch of bright purple thickets, a tiny noisy stream, a lonely tree. Michael and I separated, climbing and running around and frolicking because this is why – and probably where – frolicking was invented. If fairies exist, this is the Beverly Hills of fairy communities.
Every single time I took a picture, I was like “NAILED IT. Armed with only this machine and my highly refined eye, I have absolutely captured the essence, emotions, and experience of this moment to share with admiring friends and family.” Later, in the florescent lights of, say, a coffee shop in Westwood, I wonder who stole my camera and took 15 pictures of the same black rock.
On our last morning in Skye, we drove past the incredible Cullin Hills – the beautiful mountain range in the southwest region of Skye, before making our way to Glen Coe and Fort William.