icon of Mark
Mark in the observation car of the Royal Scotsman, wearing a kilt
Snapshot taken in the Observation Car of the Royal
Scotsman on the evening of the formal dinner.

Walking tour in Scotland:
the Isle of Skye

When a special offer came through from Country Walkers of a “VIP Tour” to Skye, the largest of the Inner Hebrides, the offer being an­nounced eighteen months prior to the tour itself, Mark and I dis­cussed the idea, and decided to go ahead, even if he was uncertain about his employment situation. It turned out that the tour was extremely popular, and we were among the last to be signed up. There were two of these tours, one after the other, each involving about 35 people. Each of those groups split into two, with Part A going clockwise around Skye, so to speak, and Part B going coun­ter­clock­wise. At the end, we all piled onto the Royal Scotsman for a luxurious train ride from Plockton, just across the water from Skye, to Edinburgh. Sounds like a dream tour, doesn’t it? And it was, as you’ll see in these pages.

Packing mess

Our trip started on Wednesday, 1 May, but of course the preparations started somewhat before that, what with ar­ranging cat-sitting, suspension of the newspaper delivery, lots of laundry, etc. Over there to the left, you see the mess of packing spread out on the guest-room bed the night before we left. If you can bear the sight, you can even enjoy a bigger version of the image. Anyway, not so many pictures from May Day, our travel day, but that’s definitely where you start the trip with us.

Next day, Thursday, 2 May, we landed in Edinburgh, and although one serious item of business was to recover from jet lag, there was a something of rather more consequence to take care of, as you’ll see in my account for this day.

On Friday, 3 May, we hopped the train to Inverness, met all our fellow walkers, and the tour began!

The first day of actual walking was Saturday, 4 May, when we visited the site of the 1745 Battle of Culloden, had lunch in Inverness, and drove out to Skye, site of most of the rest of the tour.

A day of wet walking, Sunday, 5 May, but we were walking on the Isle of Skye! We got waterfalls, vistas, and lots of bog underfoot.

Monday, 6 May, we were in the northernmost part of the island, and often within reach of the sea. There were so many pic­tures to display (and a few videos, too) that I split them up into a first part and a second part.

Cari and friend

Cari and Raasay friend,
read all about them.

Sunlight finally! On Tuesday, 7 May, we hiked out directly from our lodgings to enjoy sparkling weather and great views. In the af­ter­noon, we visited the grounds of the burned-out Castle Donald, with its very fine gardens.

But Wednesday, 8 May was definitely entirely different. We took a ferry to the little island of Raasay, had lunch there, and visited a new tourist spot there before sailing back to Skye and driving over to the mainland, where we changed, had a fabulous evening at a pub in the amazing village of Plockton, and climbed onto the Royal Scotsman.

Thursday, 9 May, we woke up on the train, had breakfast, and then took a bus to our walk for the day. Another castle along the way, and then the big formal dinner on the train at night.

Our last day of the tour was Friday, 10 May, when we bade farewell to the Royal Scotsman after pulling in to Edinburgh. And I achieved one of my goals for the trip, to visit the extensive Early Celtic collections of the National Museum. But you can read all about that on the page for this day.

And our last day in Scotland was Saturday, 11 May, which we used to the max for doing important tourist activity. Namely, we got to Edinburgh Castle, and slept. Evening was final packing for our early-morning flight to Newark and thence to the Twin Cities airport MSP.