To our great regret, on the fourth day, we had to leave the amazing Isle of Skye. However, to fully experience the spirit of the island, we had to make our final journey in a traditional way, by boarding a ferry. As we stayed at the Armadale Castle, we decided to book the Caledonian MacBryayne Ferry which was leaving from a nearby, small port, still within the boundaries of Armadale. It is also worth mentioning that booking your ticket directly through the Caledonian MacBryayne website is a little bit cheaper than through the prices compare websites.
After visiting, for the last time, the Castle gardens and buying few souvenirs at the local gift shop we got into the car and drove to the docking point of the ferry. I must admit that the traffic was well organised and there was plenty of helpful staff to answer any questions. The cars were slowly guided, one by one, on board and after a short while we were ready to cross the cold Atlantic.
At first, I was wondering why no one is going to the top deck, to enjoy the amazing view. Sure, I thought it must be a bit windy up there but it can’t be that bad.. Oh how wrong I was. Full of optimism, I grabbed my camera and decided to move to the top deck. Already on the stairs I’ve realised that the wind was much stronger and colder then I expected. By the time I’ve reached the top I knew I would not last up there for long. Taking photos with your phone is very risky in these circumstances as I literally could feel the wind trying to push it out of my hands. After taking few shots with my camera I hurried back to safety. However, it is something that you definitely want to experience while making this crossing.
After about 30 minutes we were asked to move back to our vehicles. We disembarked in the lovely town of Mallaig. It is a typical, small port town, which personally I did find quite charming. It is also a ‘must visit’ place for all Harry Potter fans, as this is the place where you can board the unique Jacobite steam train, which was featured in the movies. It operates usually from May till September, between Fort William and Mallaig. However, do double check the dates on their website before you plan your holiday.
If you like sandy beaches, just outside Mallaig, on the banks of River Morar, is the lovely, secluded Morar beach. It is fairly easy to find, and you can get to it from the main A830 Road. The whole Morar bay is a quiet place to relax and simply enjoy the local nature and landscape. The sandy beach is especially popular with tourists during the summer.
During our return journey we did hope to see the slate quarries of Ballachulish, Falls of Falloch, The Meeting of Three Waters and Loch Achtriochtan. If you have time to spare, you can also go and visit Fort William and catch a glimpse of Ben Nevis.
Our first stop was the lovely village of Ballachulish, near Glen Coe. It is located near Loch Leven and is most famous for its slate quarries. It is also very popular not only with hikers but also with tourists who are interested in kayaking, fishing and mountain biking. It is a good spot for a family holiday as there is plenty things to do to entertain your kids. As I mentioned above, we were especially curious about the slate quarries. After finding the main car park, which was of a very decent size, we got out of the car and straight away headed to the tourist information centre, as we were not sure about the exact location of the quarries. Armed with new knowledge and maps we headed towards our destination.
Straight away we could tell the place is well prepared for tourists as there were multiple information boards along the way and there was even a short trail round the quarry. This is a very unusual place, as the sharp, black wall create a very unique, almost haunting landscape.
Along the trail you can also take a closer look at the Sandstone Obelisk which has been moved there from Fort William. It represents the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. However, the water theme does dominate ‘to represent Fort William’s support from water in all forms’. It is absolutely packed with symbols representing seasons, Scottish music, old industries and has even the sign of three knots to ward off witches.
After a short stroll we decided to head to our next destination - Loch Achtriochtan and The Meeting of Three Waters. Both of these destination are located fairly close to each other, in the Glen Coe area, and they can be reached via A82. Whereas the Loch has its own car park, The Meeting of Three Waters has only a small amount of parking bays available so, in season, you might struggle to find a place to leave your car.
Loch Achtriochtan is an absolutely beautiful place. The valley looks amazing during any season. It was extremely windy and cold when we had a chance to visit it, yet we could not simply drive past it without stopping even just for a brief moment. It has everything you would expect from the Scottish Highlands – mountains, massive waterfalls, beautiful river and a lovely lake. There are a few hiking trails in the area as well however these do require some level of hiking skills so make sure you research the route properly before you head out.
The Meeting of Three Waters is also a one of a kind place, however, due to limited parking spaces and limited access to the waterfalls, it is a location for a brief stop. There is a viewpoint prepared for the tourists, so you can still take some good photos of the location. I would advise to visit this place especially when the water level is high as then you can admire the roaring waterfalls in its full glory. As the name suggests, this is where 3 different rivers meet and form River Coe.
If you are a fan of Monty Python, you will recognise the area from the movie Holy Grail, where the scene at the Bridge of Death was shot. Unfortunately, the bridge itself is was taken down after the they finished shooting.
We continued our drive on the A82 to finally reach our last destination on the list. It is very easy to miss the Falls of Falloch. Even though there are information boards along the road, the turn itself is a bit narrow and the road is just a simple woodland road, so make sure you drive slowly when getting close to the car park. There are only a few spaces available however I don’t think this place gets very busy at any time. A well prepared, woodland path leads along the Falloch river straight to the waterfall. I was glad to see that we could approach it from almost any direction and there was even a special cage bridge to allow tourists to admire the main waterfall from higher ground.
Throughout the whole trip we were very lucky with the weather so needles to say by the end of our journey our luck ran out. Heavy rain and snowfall accompanied us for the rest of our journey. Overwhelmed by all the beautiful places we already have seen, we decided not to stop at any other location. It was time to return home
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