3 Day Isle Of Skye Tour: The First Day of Exploring Scotland with MacBackpackers
One of the highlights of visiting Scotland is a tour of the mighty Highlands. All of a sudden mountains rise up around you and the street signs start looking like you’ve crossed into a foreign country. It might as well be, as the Highlands has its own culture and unique history that is unmatched anywhere in the world. We set off on a 3 Day Isle of Skye Tour with MacBackpackers this last week intending to see some of this culture and natural beauty just a few hours north of Edinburgh. These were just a few of our highlights from day one…
Cross the Bridge and you’re ready to go!
The first bit of the tour you’ll remember (if you didn’t drink too much the night before, like some of our passengers), is the Forth Bridges. The Forth Bridges span the Firth of the Forth and connect Lothian with the Kingdom of Fife. The original bridge was opened in 1890 and was, at the time, the longest suspension bridge in the world. A few windy turns and you’ll be on your way to our first stop: Pitlochry.
Pitlochry: The Gate to the Highlands
Soon those mountains you saw in the distance will be surrounding you as you officially cross into the Highlands. Rolling hills are replaced by crystal clear streams flowing off the pine-covered mountains. Crossing the River Tummel, you’ll find yourself in Pitlochry. Pitlochry is a quaint highland town with a selection of cute cafes, wonderful whisky distilleries and our very own Pitlochry Backpackers Hotel. There are plenty of places to hike, fish or ride a bike nearby; but you’ll have to come back to explore it, as this stop is just for lunch before we head further north. If you like the town, then check out our Pitlochry Backpackers Hotel for the best spot to stay and some suggestions on things to see and do nearby!
A beach? In the Scottish Highlands?!
You read that right: a beach! Now not quite the perfect spot to catch a wave, Loch Morlich does have the title of the highest beach in the UK. Located in the Cairngorms, the sandy beach was once the site of military training during World War II and now has remnants of broken (but completely smooth) glass all over it. The Northern Cairngorm Mountains behind the Loch provide such a scenic backdrop that the spot was used in Season 5 of Game of Thrones. For the more fitness-focused, you can choose from a selection of watersport hires or grab a bike for a relaxed ride around the loch’s wooded banks. Now onto some history!
Culloden: The End of The Jacobite Rebellion
Heading north along the valley of the River Spey, we were suddenly exposed to the brutal and fascinating history of Scotland. While most people know of the rivalry between Scotland and England, the history really exposes why the divisions exist to this day. Your driver will delve into the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the sabotage of his rebellion and how he united the clans of the Highlands before eventually failing to claim his birthright. The Battlefield of Culloden serves as our next stop and is filled to the brim with an interesting history and interactive exhibition.
There’s a monster beneath those waves
From Culloden, we hop back onto the bus and skip through the only city in the Highlands, Inverness. Before you know it we’ll be flanked by the largest body of fresh water in the UK: Loch Ness. After a few stories of the mysterious Nessie, you’ll be given the chance to get up close and personal with the beast if you remembered your swimming costume (it is rather chilly though, don’t say we didn’t warn you.) You may even get to see our famous Lochside Hostel: the only hostel on the banks of Loch Ness. This is also a favourite spot for the first taste of Scotland’s finest export, whisky! Give it a go, you know you want to! Slainte Mhath!
The Most Instagrammed Castle in Scotland
Now with a warm belly (believe me whisky will keep you warm in almost any weather), you’ll head west, past Invermoriston and towards Skye. But before you hit the Misty Isle, you’ll get the chance to see Scotland’s most Instagram worthy castle: Eilean Donan. With snow-capped mountains often providing the perfect backdrop, Eilean Donan sits upon an island where 3 sea lochs meet and is the perfect spot to make your friends at home insanely jealous of your travels. After a short photography break, it’s time to head to your home for the night, the fishing village of Kyleakin.
No ferry is needed to reach the Isle of Skye as we head over the beautiful Skye Bridge into the town of Kyleakin. A small fishing village, Kyleakin has a few small bars and is home to our funky Skye Backpackers. As part of our MacBackpackers tour, we are given free rein in their private guest house Lochbuie. Either cook your own meal or head out for some food at the town’s lively pubs and mingle with some locals. If you have any energy left then head out to Castle Moil; castle ruins just 10 minutes from the guest house with stunning views over the town and the perfect spot to watch the sun set below the horizon.
What sets MacBackpackers apart?
We may be biased, but Scottish people just do some things better than others. Whisky, mountains, drinking… The list goes on. But one thing we are pretty sure most people can agree on is, that Scottish people sure know how to tell a story. Many tour companies will cart you off to the Highlands or Isles for a day, but there’s nothing quite as memorable as hearing the tales of a country from one of its native sons (or daughters). You see this is where MacBackpackers differs. No stories rehearsed in a class for days by a pretender to the crown; at MacBackpackers you get the full, passionate version by a handful of eager Scottish and naturalized Scottish guides who just want to convey their love for this country. So choose MacBackpackers if you want to support a Scottish owned company, with Scottish guides and Scottish passion!
You can check out MacBackpackers tours on their website www.macbackpackers.com and even pick up a 15% discount by using the code “LeafPeeper”