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A roadtrip from Cardiff to Inverness, Loch Ness, and Isle of Skye

September 8, 2020

Two of my friends decided last minute to go on a roadtrip to Scotland for 3 days. They planned to drive from Cardiff to Inverness, Loch Ness, and Isle of Skye in Scotland. Technically speaking, this trip requires crossing the entire country, and so when I heard that they were planning on driving, I just laughed and called them crazy. Though, 5 minutes later and having thought of all the potential shots I could get along the way, I decided to join them. It is not an easy trip; the drive from Cardiff to Inverness is over 9 hours, but the experience was totally worth it. As you can see from the map, the whole trip consisted of over 30h of driving and we did more than 1,300 miles!

Inverness – The Capital of the Highlands

9 hours later, we found ourselves in Inverness, a beautiful city with modern urban character. It is located at the mouth of River Ness, making it a junction of several major routes through the glens. Its name means “Mouth of River Ness” and it makes great headquarters for exploring the Highlands and Loch Ness area. The town is small and beautiful, filled with cathedrals, shops, an 11th century castle, and many restaurants. You can probably walk around the centre within an hour if not less.

Inverness

Below are some pictures from the city centre:

After strolling around the town for a bit, we had to get ourselves some food. There are some great restaurants in Inverness, including The Kitchen Brasserie & The Mustard Seed. To our disappointment, everything was fully booked. Perhaps because it was Friday or because of the coronavirus. Regardless, we managed to find availability at a nice restaurant by the river where we enjoyed some mussels and steak. The restaurant was the Prime Steakhouse & Seafood.

Tip: If you are travelling these days try to book restaurants in advance to avoid disappointment. No matter where, everything seems to be fully booked, specifically over the weekend!

Loch Ness Lake

Although I’ve been to the Scottish Highlands before, I never actually made it to the famous Loch Ness. So it was necessary to visit this legendary place this time! The lake is the largest of the three lochs which are linked by the River Ness, the River Lochy, and the Caledonian Canal, and it can be accessed from both the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea. It is considered to be the largest volume of fresh water in Great Britain. Along the 38km of wooded banks of the lake are a few places that are worth exploring.

Official Loch Ness Exhibition Centre

I am pretty sure you have heard the myths and legends about Nessie, the monster that lives in Loch Ness lake. So if you are curious about finding out more about it, you should visit the Exhibition Centre. It offers an impressive multi-media audit of the evidence (and lack of it) for the presence of an unidentified marine animal in the loch! The exhibition aims to address questions of both believers and non-believers.

Nessie & I

Urquhart Castle

Very close to the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre is the Urquhart Castle. The castle’s location is beautiful as it stands on an eloquent green headland overlooking the Loch Ness Lake. It is considered to be one of Scotland’s most theatrically sited ruins. Before you visit, you need to pre book your tickets online.

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle

Fort Augustus

At the southern part of Loch Ness lake is the village of Fort Augustus, a very small and particular village in which the Caledonian Canal runs through the centre of the village. The canal and its bridges/locks are a popular spectator sport, but the views up the loch are even more spectacular. At the heart of the village you will find many cafes, shops, and restaurants!

Isle of Skye – The cloud Island

After Fort Augustus we headed to Isle of Skye. A place of cloud, mist, mountains, fairies, and stupendous views. En route to it though, we came across some beautiful landscapes that I managed to capture.

On Skye, the eyes are constantly drifting upwards, to majestic mountains, serrated pinnacles, and tenacious clouds. Ever since it was named by Viking explorers (Skid = cloud island), it has been known for its mist, rain, and other vaporous conditions, as for the spectacular scenery.

Skye, Cloud Island -By Morten HANSEN

En route

Views above lake Duich
Lake Duich
Somewhere en route to Isle of Skye
Somewhere along the way

Eventually we reached the Skye bridge, which takes us to the Isle of Skye..

Skye Bridge

On the island

From the very first moment on the island, you will notice the breathtaking scenery. Once on the Skye, one is never far from the sea. From any point on this coast the views are mind blowing.

Whilst driving to the famous Fairy Pools, we stumbled upon a few Highland cows! They were so cute, I wanted to steal one! A fun fact is that these cows are the oldest registered breed of cattle in the world. They are very friendly and can live up to 20 years.

The Fairy Pools

When we reached the Fairy Pools, it was really busy with tourists. There are 3 different routes you can take to see the small lagoons and waterfalls that can take from 40mins to 2 hours. Because we have the Brecon Beacons Waterfalls nearby in Cardiff and the Fairy Glens in Betws-Y-Coed in North Wales, we decided to skip this as it didn’t seem to be anything special.

The first waterfall at the Fairy Pools

The old Man of Storr

The next place we visited was the area of the Old Man of Storr. Legend has it that a giant died and was buried here. However, they did not bury its thumb properly, so it’s still above the ground.

On the far left you can see the “giant’s thumb” rock
Closer shot to the Old Man
The three boats on Loch Fada

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit any other spots such as the Loch Coruisk, MacLeod’s Maidens, or The Quiraing. All these places do require a fair amount of walking and the weather was not the best. However, we did take a taste of this beautiful island and we can always come back to explore more.

The end

And somehow like that another journey ended. It was exhausting, but the scenery, music, and friendship made it worthy. I think one of the most important things one can learn from road trips, and something I got reminded of, is to “enjoy the journey”…

Until next time!

Irene

P.S. If you enjoy roadtrips, read about an epic Austrian roadtrip here.

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