Day 67-Ben Nevis
This day was on the best days of this whole trip so far. I woke up, ate breakfast, went to the outdoor supply store and got a map, got some food for the day, then hit the trail. I climbed along a creek, then through sheep pastures, which by the way it is lambing season so there are new lambs EVERYWHERE. I then started getting high into the hills. Passing a lake that seems like it was just dropped in there by helicopter. Then after that I got really high up there. Started getting into little pockets of snow with melting streams all around me. I stopped to eat lunch on a ledge, which was one of the best views I have ever had eating lunch. I don’t know what it is, but I love eating in places like this, just sitting down, stopping, and just taking it all in. It really is the best way to really appreciate a place is to just sit down and eat for a while, and take it all in. After that I kept climbing until I got to just snow and boulders breaking out. I kept climbing until I got to the top of Ben Nevis. I am not really sure how tall it is. It isn’t crazy high by any means, but it is good enough for a good day hike. After looking at the old rock weather watching hut that lay in ruins, taking some pictures, and just trying to stay warm, it was time for the fun part; GOING DOWN!! Now this really was one of the most fun things I have ever done. EVER!!! There were some tracks in the snow from people sliding down on their butts through the valley, instead of walking back down. I had seen them going up, but nobody seemed to be actually doing it. I decided that on the way back down I was going to do it of course. So I started heading to the valley I saw the marks in. As I was heading there I saw a man ahead of me who had the same idea. We both got there at about the same time and took off. It was so incredibly fast. I was digging my heels and elbows in the entire time just trying to stay in control. Every once in a while the guy in front of me would stop and so would I. We looked back at one of our stops and realized we had started a whole train coming down. There were probably 20 people coming down behind us. They must have thought it looked fun, which it was. About half way down the tracks also started to become more like a luge run instead of a sled run. It was weaving back and forth, with high walls on each side. We were just zipping down the mountain through this little valley. It was AMAZING. Almost to the end we almost fell into a large hole about 5 or 6 feet deep. I looked down and realized there was a small stream running underneath us. Luckily the guy I was with and I missed it. Unluckily a guy behind us went in, but was all right after he got out. At the end I took my shoes off, as they had been full of snow, and talked to the guy I had been following. He was a conservation worker from Ireland studying salmon migration in the area. I got some food out and talked to all of the people who had followed us down. One of the guys behind me had a altimeter with him and told me we dropped 2000 feet on that slide. I dropped 2000 feet in a few minutes on my but. AMAZING!! After a while I decided to keep going on my hike down. I walked by the lake I had past earlier and went on the other side of the hill this time. The trail I was following ended, but I knew there was another one farther down the hill I could meet up with. So I just followed a small quickly moving stream with small falls down the hill. Running down the hill with no trail was really fun. Just jumping from rock to rock, through bushes and marches. My feet were soaked, I was soaked, I had mud all over me, but I was having the time of my life. I twisted my ankle on a bush half way down, but luckily it wasn’t bad. I kept going until the stream I was following met up with a larger stream. This stream was full of deep little pockets of water, with little waterfalls falling into them. Now another fascination I have along with eating in beautiful places, is getting into water in these places. I don’t know what it is, but I always have to strip down and jump into a stream or lake that looks beautiful. I love water and it puts me at ease when I do this. I was in the middle of nowhere with no trails around me, so I stripped down and jumped in. It was a quick swim as it was freezing since it was melting snow only a couple thousand feet up. After that I got dressed, changed into some other dryer clothes I had brought with me and kept going down. I passed through a thick pine forest and then into some pasture areas again. I kept walking until my trail ended at a distillery, which I could smell a mile away. I then walked back into town and to the hostel, ate some dinner, and went to bed. What an amazing day.
Day 68-Drive to Isle of Skye
So I thought the drive to Ben Nevis was cool. I knew nothing until I took this drive. It had even higher hills and bigger and more beautiful lochs than before. I once again got angry I was not driving myself and couldn’t stop at all of these places. I did make one stop at the Eilean Donan Castle, which is a small castle built on a small island in a large loch. I stopped for a few hours and explored the castle and the area around it. The castle was originally built in the 13th century, but was destroyed in the late 18th century. It was then rebuilt in the 1930’s by a man whose clan owned it when it was in use. The insides of castle reminded me a lot of the cabin in Wisconsin because it had that 30’s or 40’s look to in the inside. It also had pictures of the family that lived in it for a few decades. Anyway, it was nice to see the castle. I walked up a hill above it and got a picture, and walked through a small town. I then got on the bus again and went to the Isle of Skye. The rest of the drive was just as amazing as the previous part. The isle was had a very eerie beauty about it. With black as black stones and creeks, waterfalls, towering black hills, and green pastures. It was a very interesting looking place. I got to Portree, found a hostel, and explored the town a bit. Portree is a small fishing town, very beautiful town though. I walked around took some pictures. Got some whiskey-roasted salmon that was caught that day. It was a great meal. Tomorrow I am going to try to see as much of the area as I can while I am here, so I got back and went back to bed, well after talking to Whitney for a couple of hours I did.
Day 69- Isle of Skye
Today I went and climbed to the top of the Quiraing, which is a plateau that runs along the northern coast of the Isle of Skye for about 30 miles. There are amazing cliffs on the coast, that drop off into the sea, then about 3 miles of pasture, just jammed pack of sheep and lochs, then there is the plateau. I got on a bus in the morning that cut through the island to the southern coast, then up to the north western tip of the island, then back down the north coast. It was nice to see a lot of the tiny villages around the island. Anyway I got the Quiraing and started my hike for the day. It started around a small Loch, then climbed up about a thousand feet to another loch that was even smaller. I decided to stop and eat lunch here, and to take a swim, as usual. After my pit stop I kept climbing. It looked like a scene from Lord of the Rings or something. There was this giant plateau in front of me, with small streams, lakes, and other giant boulders exploding out of the ground. It was quite a sight. I kept climbing until I got to the top of the plateau then walked along its edge for about a mile. The views up here were breathtaking. There was a place below me that was another plateau. Something it seemed you would have to rock climb to get to. It had rock walls on all sides with a bright grassy top. After looking at this a little more I realized there were sheep with their lambs on this plateau. I have no idea how they got up there, but it was pretty cool. I looked on the map I had and saw that this plateau was named “The Prison”. I understood why. I then started making my descent following the trail. The trail kept getting muddier and muddier, so I decided to get off of it and go down the way the sheep do. I started jogging down the hill, going from side to side as if I was skiing just keeping to the ledges the sheep walk on. It was SO much faster, SO much easier, and SO much cleaner. I passed a group of women who were taking the trail down. They saw my approach to the hill and decided to do the same. They weren’t jogging down it but hey were keeping to the sheep ledges. I then reached a small creek that cut through the plateau and decided to take that the rest of the way down. I was jumping form side-to-side, rock-to-rock, until I reached the road at the bottom of the cliff. I then started to walk on the road to the next place, Kilt Rock and the waterfall in front of it. After a while of walking I decided I was going to hitch a ride to the waterfall. So the first car that went by was the group of women whom I helped get down the hill, they drove right on by. The second car stopped and was a nice lady, but the only problem was she was going north at the T in the road ahead and I needed to go south. So I kept walking and kept trying, but the entire day, she was the only one who pulled over for me. I never knew hitch hiking was so hard. I must look like a dangerous person. Anyway I walked through a couple of villages and then finally reached Kilt Rock, about 6 miles later. It was quite a sight, but besides the one sight there really wasn’t anything else to do. So I started walking again. No luck on hitching again. After another hour I realized I wasn’t going to reach The Old Man of Storr, which was my next and final destination. I wasn’t going to make it there before the last bus made its round around the island. So I got off on another trail that went down to a rocky beach and sat there for a while until I caught the bus again. On the way back to Portree I saw the old man, which is a giant boulder standing straight up with a few smaller ones around it and a giant cliff behind all of that. I got a couple of good pictures, but I was upset I didn’t have the time to really go explore it. Only if someone would have picked me up. O well. I got back to Portree and caught my bus to Inverness. Another beautiful drive and I was at Inverness. I found a hostel and went to sleep.
Day 70-Inverness/Loch Ness
Today I took a guided tour around the town of Inverness on a bus and a tour of Loch Ness on a boat. It was nice to hear all of the history that went along with the area. I visited a ruined castle, which was blown up in the 1700’s, and went through a Loch Ness monster tour. It was a good day, but I really wouldn’t consider Loch Ness area being one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland. After that I caught a bus to Edinburgh, for 4 hours, then an overnight bus to London for 9 hours. Right now I am in the airport, VERY tired and waiting for my flight back to Bratislava.