The next time I go to the Isle of Skye, I’m taking the train.
It turns out that the Glasgow to Mallaig rail journey is one of the world’s most scenic routes. Had I known this on my last trip to Scotland, perhaps I’d have happily shelled out the £25.70 (that’s right, I said £25.70) for the 5 1/2 hour journey, letting someone else drive.
Of course, once getting to Mallaig, I’d have had to either hire a car for the Skye portion, taking the ferry across the Loch to Armadale, or rely on foot and bus. Actually, just talking about it now kind of makes me want to drop everything, fill up the backpack and fly straight to Glasgow. Who’s with me?!
Instead, my partner and I did it the truly independent way. We drove. And here is our trusty, if not sluggish, steed:
Let’s get back to that thought: we always equate independent travel with budgets, with rail passes and bus tours. With walking instead of taking a taxi. But what about independence? Why is it that driving through the Highlands feels more independent than train, bus and foot? Maybe it’s the fact that on a road trip, you can make your own schedule. Maybe it’s the ability to stop for every scenic overlook you come across, practically tearing your camera from its case, but at your own speed, unafraid of losing the view as your ride forces you onward. Maybe it gives you the choice to decide to picnic in the shadow of giants. Of course, there’s always the downside of being in the middle of nowhere without a toilet. Yep, romantic speech over.
Leaving Glasgow was tough. We really wanted to explore the city more than a brief walk to and from dinner. But we had miles to go, our destination so close yet so far.
I should mention that I don’t drive. Well, I do drive. I’m an excellent driver. But just not in the UK. As an expatriate in London, I did not feel the need to get my UK driving license. See, here is the rule: you move to the UK on your visa, you have one year to pass the test and get a new one. It’s ideal to do it upon arrival because you can still use your driving license from your home country, leaving that whole provisional license thingie out of it. After the one year, your home license is void, you cannot drive. It gets more difficult. So I thought, why do it? I’m a Londoner, after all.
I should also mention that my partner is British, so he does the UK driving. In fact, I kind of think he’s a fantastic driver. He understands what the signs mean, how to properly navigate a roundabout, and the correct way to drive on the motorway. Americans are seriously rubbish at driving on the freeway with absolutely no understanding of fast lanes or slow lanes. Maybe I shouldn’t tar the entire country with my bias – Angelenos are the terrible drivers. Blame Los Angeles.
So as we left Glasgow, we set up the time lapse camera which sometimes worked and sometimes does not. And as the passenger, I sit back and take photos. I navigate (sometimes poorly). And I still get to sit in the driver’s seat, since it’s on the left of the car. Neat.
I’ll just let the images do most of the talking now. Photos will be a mix from my iPhone, my beloved Olympus Pen E-P1 with 17mm 1:2.8 pancake lens and my husband’s Fuji X100s, of which I’ve just not been able to get the hang of, so I did some pretty serious editing in Adobe Lightroom on those.
The time lapse that you’ll eventually see was taken with this lovely little Canon which we affixed with a little baby tripod to the windshield.
It was another glorious July day, reminding us that summer does exist, even in Scotland.
And our first random stop of the day? Loch Lomond of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park. How lucky are Glaswegians? In just over 30 minutes they could be at this stunning park, as its right in their backyard.
Loch Lomond, like most of Scotland, is beautiful. And on this sunny summer day, everyone was out to enjoy it.
Including me! Bucket list item: toes in a Loch… check.
Since we were there, we had to check out the visitor’s centre and wander a bit around Luss, the village which acts as gateway to the park for many tourists.
Next was our drive through part the achingly beautiful Argyll & Bute. The expected weather proved most entertaining.
In fact, quite the opposite. It gave me time to take lots of photos as we drove ever so slowly by Loch Tulla. The traffic didn’t deter us.
Looking back at Loch Tulla and whence we came. Traffic shmaffic.
It wasn’t too long after that we entered the Highlands.
And looking at all the photographs now, I believe the Highlands deserve its own post. For to visit there, even if just to drive through, leaves this writer currently speechless.
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