Thought my scintillating experience in Scotland is over as yet??!!!
We started before dawn break in a temperature of 3 degrees heading North to the Highlands-one of the UK’s most adventurous and scenic destinations- particularly the “Isle of Skye”. The moist, chill breeze penetrated deep inside our bones. With the heater in the car switched on we were off to mingle with natures scenic beauty that is magnanimously sprinkled all across in this part of the world. The thought of us unearthing these treasures with our eyes while venturing the hillocks, valleys and mountains over-rode the adversity in the weather! The drive was amazing-our car was in a cruising speed on the never-ending spiral roads dotted with avenue trees, leaving behind rolling hills and shades of greens and that too when you are a back-seat driver the enjoyment becomes multi-fold!!For a brief-while we stopped in a farm stores-all produces reaped from the farm. We could see the brisk activities of plucking and washing of tomatoes, cabbage etc. How I wished all the farming activities happened in my home town-I would have loaded my kitchen with the freshest of fresh!!
A couple of hours further driving North, we could see the skyline of a ruined castle and a tower-we were entering the picturesque port town of Oban-the gateway to the Isles. The waterway was brimming with activities-the place was a straight lift from an English classic. Along the waterway seats are provided and with the weather not raising more than 14 degrees at any point of time one can sit in a penance, the train station is just alongside and so is the small harbor. We had ordered for food and within that span of time 2 ferries left the port, one was in entering –such was the traffic in the waters. Scores of seagulls were working overtime. With all these happenings, still there was a deafening silence-a typical European legacy!
Mallaig, the end of the road to the Isles, is yet again a port town. The famous Jacobite train (in the ever-loved fiction Harry Potter, the steam train had a starring role as the Hogwarts Express taking Harry from platform 9 ¾ all the way to Hogwarts!! ) destination is this small picturesque place. This is where from we take a ferry to the Skye. It was evening that we reached the place at the farther end of the town was our inn. The location was at the top of a small hillock overseeing the marina. As much as the eyes could see, there was water, water everywhere in the evening sun, the whole place was glittering like gold. The horizon was mushroomed with the rocky black Cuillin mountains that rise to meet the clouds in the Southern hemisphere! Weather changes quickly around-started to drizzle and we were engulfed in the chill breeze. We hurried to our accommodation- Massive rooms tastefully decorated invited us. The hostess-cum-owner, a very warm person was so excited to host Indians. She was telling that very few Indians visited that part of the world due to the distance and exorbitant costs She was excited to see people from the land of Mr.Modi! We had booked the first ferry to Skye for the next morning. After an early dinner and few games of cards, we called it a day!
Nine hours went in a jiffy and it already was time for us to report at the port. The ferry was already in the dock and we queued up with the car. In less than ten minutes all passengers and vehicles were loaded and it was all set to sail. It took just 30 minutes for us to reach the port of Armadale. From the dock the road goes on and on around the island and each and every part is a marvelous scenery that I have never seen in all my travel over these years. Dramatic landscapes are some of the most scenic in Scotland. Every mountain, every hillock, everything concerned with nature looked unique! We were in a paradise land of the creator of the Universe. I, for one, is averse to walk even short distances. But, the place had some magnetic effect and I walked yards and yards together in steep terrains. Sitting back and when I chew the cud of the experiences, I wonder myself how I walked the distances in highly windy conditions with an umbrella in one hand and my L(w)ife in another!
The indented coastline, peninsulas, rugged highland landscapes, precarious peaks, jutting ridges, imposing pinnacles, sweeping glens which are nothing short of majestic. Many movies were shot in this part-to name a few: the 007 film Skyfall, Sean Connery’s Highlander, the magnum opus King Arthur etc., I am told by my daughter many locations of the island are depicted in Harry Potter movies. The jaw-dropping scenery provides the perfect backdrop for the camera with its rugged landscape and ethereal geological features which left us awe!!
The old man of Storr is a rocky hill surrounded by several smaller mountains-it gives an illusion that a person is lying down among the rocks and is visible from miles away. He often is covered in clouds giving him the look of a grand old man -visualization knows no bounds! Anywhere we see, it will be either a huge mountain or some stream or a unique waterfall or the sea cliffs. Water falling from a height to the sea below is something amazing. We had to queer up in a grotesque manner on the edge of the cliff and see the water hurling down. Believe me, I felt like that I was transported into an epic fantasy novel as similar as in Harry Potter. We had been to the Jurassic age too! Foot prints of meat eating dinosaurs are found and preserved in one of the tall peaks-it is astonishing to note that due to volcanic eruption during the ‘Big Bang’, they perished. I read it in the board that In many parts of the vast coastline of Scotland, the fossils of the big beast are found and new discoveries keeps happening. It is in that place herds of sheep graze – a future fossil!!
The one nice thing about the trip to the Skye is that, you can be one with nature. No noisy crowds, no queues, no time limits, no traffic hold ups. To return to the mainland we took the option of going through the town Portree from where we need to cross the sea over a bridge. While entering the town, even from a distance we can see rows of houses in different colors- these are heritage structures notified by UNESCO.
The fantastic sightseeing experience still lingers in the mind -the area still remains etched in memory even after couple of years after the trip!
Till I lace up for the next….