After Edinburgh’s blogmanay celebrations were over I headed up into the wild Scottish highlands with HAGGiS Adventures for three days of beautiful scenery, tales of faeries, giants and clan histories.
The Macleods and the Macdonalds
As we headed up North from Edinburgh the two knowledgeable guides from HAGGiS Adventures; Paddy and Greg, taught us about the clans that used to roam the highlands and engage in much bloody warfare. The Macleod and Macdonald clans came to dominate the Isle of Skye and the rivalry between the two caused a huge amount of bloodshed for centuries.
The most notorious of all incidents led to the Battle of the Spoiling of the Dyke in 1578. In revenge for the massacre of hundreds of MacDonalds in a cave used as a place of worship, the MacDonalds landed on the Isle of Skye and barred the doors or Trumpan Church when it was full of worshippers. The MacDonald clan set the church on fire and no one escaped, except for one fatally wounded girl. The MacLeod chief then set off for Ardmore Bay and almost every MacDonald was killed in the ensuing battle. The corpses were dragged into a turf dyke, giving the battle its name. Here’s some more information on the bloody warfare between the two clans.
Although a blood thirsty history, the windswept landscapes are undeniably stunning. Driving through Glen Coe, passing the shadow of Ben Nevis and ending on the coast where an illuminated Eilean Donal castle stands, had me thinking of how easy a decision to move to Scotland would be.
If would seem I’m not the only one who has been taken in by the Highlands. The following day, having woken up on Skye, my HAGGiS Adventures guides tell me that the population on Skye is growing as more and more people try to escape other people. Quite the paradox.
The Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye, or the isle of mist, is everything you’ve ever imagined it to be.
It’s rugged scenery and brooding mountain ranges are commonly featured in films and television series.
The island is rife with tales of tricksy faeries; ones that are a lot more mischievous than the likes of the tooth fairy! Take the faeries that kept a man underground playing bagpipes for them for several decades for instance! He thought he’d been playing all night and only discovered the trickery of the faeries that had enticed him down there when he returned to his house to discover no one had ever heard of him.
Visit the little town of Portree on Skye for a tasty fish and chips and a stroll around the harbour to take in the colour buildings and fishermen’s chit-chatter.
For a trip abound with myths and legends, this doesn’t cease on the third day of my HAGGiS Adventures. Having slept near the Loch Ness, our HAGGiS bus drove its entire length. I kept my eyes peeled trying to sneak a peak of the reclusive creature whilst Paddy told us carious tales. During the summer, when the days are longer, there’s a chance to cruise the Loch by boat. In the winter, however, it suffices to stand on the banks and keep watch.
No Scottish adventure is complete without a visit to a whisky distillery and HAGGiS Adventures have got you covered on this front too. A stop at Tomatin whisky distillery gave me the chance to see how the famous brand produces its whisky and a quick sample finished the tour perfectly.
Return to Edinburgh
On the return to Edinburgh we passed through the charming village of Dunkeld with a visit inside the beautiful cathedral. On the afternoon on my visit the frost still lay on the ground giving the cathedral ground a mysterious feel. If you’re in need of a slice of cake, or coffee pick-me-up then pop into Spill the Beans café.
The scenic entry into Edinburgh means passing over the Forth of Firth bridge. The bridge you cross over isn’t the main attraction however, it’s the red steel bridge to the right hand side that deserves the ‘wow’ factor. The 8,296ft long bridge over the Forth has been operational since 1890 and, unlike the road bridge which is in the process of being replaced due to weakness, looks like it will last for centuries more.
Need to know:
A trip to Skye and the highlands with HAGGiS Adventures costs from £129 for 3 days.
Wrap up warm – it’s chilly up there!