UK and Ireland 2014: Highland Holiday

fairy pools at glenbrittle

Day 6

The day began with black pudding. I understand this may sound like an odd, if not off-putting, opening, but hear me out. You may have deduced based upon my previous postings that I kind of like food. Perhaps you additionally gleaned the fact that I like some, er…different dishes. Black pudding was one such different dish that I hadn’t tried but knew I needed to. I had no expectations but was surprised ever-so-pleasantly by the slightly chewy, faintly meaty, and cinnamon-laced aftertaste of it. “Pudding” is an apt moniker, for sure. Most of the time people try “gross” foods, they’re either unphased or put off; not here. Black pudding, Readers, is DELICIOUS! For those unfamiliar, I won’t spoil you by telling you what’s in it, so here’s a picture for you to play the guessing game with:

scottish breakfast

Now, in spite of the numerous offerings of the Isle of Skye, we had had the Fairy Pools of Glenbrittle on our agenda since the day we started talking about this trip. A long and winding Highland road led us to the beginning of the hike, where we frolicked, climbed, skipped, rock-hopped, and yes, posed for a few hours. The pools themselves are more like sub-sections of a huge crevice in the middle of a valley, surrounded by a vast landscape of green hills. The water is crystal clear, still, and quite frigid, which almost highlights their beauty as a pristine place. That said, don’t pack your swimsuit to come chill with the Fairies, unless you literally want to chill.

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For those interested in visiting, these are fortunately not as difficult to find as certain other remote Scottish landmarks, but the flip-side of that is that they are a bit crowded for a remote Scottish landmark. We didn’t get terribly far on the hike through Croire na Creiche other side, but that’s a good day trip that we, sadly, didn’t prepare for. One more thing to add to the return trip!

Our day next brought us to Armadale Castle, which was more of a slice of history than anything. As the center for the Scottish clan Donald, which happens to be June’s mother-in-law’s ancestry, we had it down as our second must-do. There’s a museum, extensive garden grounds, and the ruins of a reconstructed castle (from the 19th century) here. And man, talk about a photo op:

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In the gift shop, I picked up a book. I opened it up and landed on a page with an otherworldly picture of the ocean.

“Where…is….this?”, I asked the clerk at the gift shop without realizing it. Before I knew it, off we were to hike to the Point of Sleat (say “Slate”).

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Beautiful as these pictures may be, there are some caveats to coming here. First, after you park, you have about a 2.5 mile hike to the beach. We made it 2 miles before we got a little too confused by signs to continue. As you can see, will still achieved fitting photography moments, but it would have been nice to actually experience the ocean breeze in our hair and sand in our toes (I almost typed “toes in our sand”…exhaustion or secret desire for a murder mystery?)

Lesson learned: research first, hike to random places in Scotland later.

Second, I gravely urge you to be careful around the wild animals that lurk on the path to Sleat. They do not mess around. I created a PSA for hikers on how to determine whether you are in imminent danger, but I’ll spare you it. Just remember: only YOU can prevent wild sheep attacks on unplanned hikes to beaches in Scotland.

After escaping near-death-by-livestock at the Point of Sleat, we were hungry. We were stop-roadside-and-eat—dirt-if-we-had-to hungry. The first establishment we found serving edible things at 8:00 pm at night was, lucky for us, Duisdale House Hotel.

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Michelin Guide-accoladed to the nines as it was, the dinner wasn’t quite robust enough to satisfy our adventuring appetites. It was nonetheless delectable food in quite a nice environment – a little too nice for our decoration. Looking a snow bunny and Kim Possible, we may have been a bit out of place, but boy, did we have fun watching videos from the day and trying not to burst out in hysterics as we recounted events from Edinburgh to each other. As we left the restaurant, our server thanked us graciously for coming, and called out for us to “stay out of trouble”.

Like clockwork, we responded in the negative to such a rhetorical question.

– H

Thought of the day: Take 15 seconds to look around at your surroundings once in a while. I guarantee you’ll feel more blessed just by doing it.

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