If you haven't already, be sure to read Part 1: Planning Our Isle of Skye Camping Trip. That will get you all caught up so you can enjoy exploring the Isle of Skye with me in Part 2: Two Days on the Isle of Skye!
I woke up in the port parking lot of Portree on the Isle of Skye around 4am. Chelsea and Kaitlyn were both sound asleep, so I carefully climbed over them and into the front seat. I pulled on a few extra layers, brewed some tea in the trunk of the van, and brought my blanket and notebook to the docks. Even the fishermen hadn’t come out yet as I sipped my tea and wrote whatever prose the calm waters and quiet city inspired.
After a few minutes of writing, a seagull landed next to me. Then another. And another. They sat for a minute, looking around the port. Then the fishermen appeared all around me and dumped what can only be described as fish-mush into the ocean before boarding their boats and setting out for the morning. The seagulls swarmed the discarded mush, squawking just loudly enough to wake my travel companions.
Kaitlyn and Chelsea stepped sleepily out of the car and joined me for a quiet moment of watching the sun rise over the port. The peaceful, brooding silence was soon interrupted when we realized three things:
One – we didn’t have a parking ticket and had totally gotten away with camping in this random parking lot. Huzzah!
Two – we weren’t at any random parking lot. We were at the random parking lot that also happened to be the Isle of Skye’s most picturesque parking lot, with these charming little homes, quaint fishing boats, and a general atmosphere that looked as if it were designed for a postcard.
Three – we were all very hungry and desperate for a bathroom. So we locked the car, headed up the hill, and started looking for options.
Breakfast with our new best friend, Josh the waiter
When we piled into Cafe Arriba, our bodies were unwashed, our hair unbrushed, and our general air one of smelliness. Thankfully, it was Scotland, so no one cared. We were quickly seated in this adorable little breakfast place and handed steaming cups of tea and coffee.
But it wasn't the coffee or food that made us fall in love with the place. Nor was it the fact that they let us brush our teeth and change in their bathroom. No, our love for Cafe Arriba boils down to one simple factor: our waiter, Josh. Mostly because he put up with all our crap. Kaitlyn and I have a tendency to think we are hilarious and Josh laughed at all the right times. And he drew us a precious picture of a home in the country with a little dog sitting in the garden.
The reason I bring up Josh is because he is demonstrative of all the people we met in Skye, if not in Scotland at large. The Isle of Skye is a place where every stranger is a friendly face and we were constantly welcomed with open arms.
Anyway, after a few more zingers were shared between Josh and us, we cleaned up in the bathroom and made ourselves somewhat presentable. Then, it was back to the camper van. We had two days on the Isle of Skype and we intended to make the most of that time.
The Bitch Brigade and the Radio Ghost explore the Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is one of those destinations that far outshines the hype. Partly because there is not a lot of hype. And partly because every corner of this island is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. After wandering in and out of the shops of Portree for awhile, we set out to see Skye's natural wonders, and we were not disappointed.
But first, it's time you meet The Bitch Brigade and the Radio Ghost. Throughout our trip, the car would suddenly stop playing music from our phones and randomly switch to FM radio. There was no rhyme or reason to when or why this happened; hence "the radio ghost". As for "Bitch Brigade"... to be honest, we felt like an epic girl band driving through Skye in our sick van while blaring music, and the Bitch Brigade is the only one of the "band names" we came up with that I can say without offending my readers. The Bitch Brigade and the Radio Ghost became our band name and we did our best to embody the spirit of a kick-ass girl band for the rest of the trip.
Okay, that may all sound a bit lame, but seriously, something about having a sweet name made us feel powerful. We were up for anything; we were invincible; we were ready for an adventure!! We were The Bitch Brigade and the Radio Ghost.
And thank god for being invincible, because there were a few roads that may have killed a more destructible human. For about 80% of the trip I felt really good about the drive. (Side note- my name was the only one on the rental agreement, so I was the sole driver for our adventures). For the other 20% of the trip, I was following a long, windy, narrow dirt road, nearly got taken out by a truck, and had to back up about 40 feet to let a larger car pass me on the one-way road on the side of a cliff. But I was part of The Bitch Brigade and the Radio Ghost! No amount of terrifying road encounters could ruin my fun!
It was with this fun-loving sense of adventure that we explored the Isle of Skye. Between waterfalls that went straight into the ocean, views that looked like something out of National Geographic, breath-taking peninsulas and mountains, adorable baby lambs blocking our way, and (my personal favorite) super fluffy highland cows, there wasn't a corner of Skye that wasn't worth stopping for.
My recommendation to anyone spending two days on the Isle of Skye would be to just drive. Worry less about where you are going and just go. There are like three roads on the island, so you can't get lost, and regardless of where you drive, you are bound to find something truly beautiful.
My Isle of Skye highlight: the fairy glen
Of all the stops we made during our first day on the Isle of Skye, the fairy glen was my favorite. And not just because fairies live there (which they 100% do).
We arrived at the fairy glen around lunchtime and decided to have a little picnic on the grass, which was easy considering the whole place is just gorgeous emerald hills.
After lunch we explored the glen. We hiked hills, ducked into valleys, and ran barefoot over the soft ground. Eventually, I split off for a little solo yoga time. I found a little valley shielded from view and stretched out on the ground.
Every once in awhile I find a place that is truly magic. I can feel it in the way my practice come from the earth and flows through me, rather than my brain guiding my body through a series of poses. That's exactly what I felt at the fairy glen. Like the earth was vibrating beneath me, sending signals to my body and moving my energy in a particular way. I flowed with that vibration and let the energy of the land move the energy of my body. My year in Edinburgh had been a stressful one and there was something about that practice in that place that felt healing.
I returned to my adventure companions feeling refreshed and closer to center than I'd felt in a long while.
Night two: camping with wine, wind, and most definitely at least one ghost
Our first day on the Isle of Skye was full of lots of great adventures. It was also full of lots of driving and as the sole driver for The Bitch Brigade and the Radio Ghost, I was ready for a drink.
Unfortunately, the bar we went to was awful. The whisky was good, but the bartender was rude, the place was tiny, and we felt less than welcome. We intended to watch the sunset there, but quickly lost interest and decided to find a camping spot with a view instead.
We managed to find a delightful plateau with a small parking lot next to a cemetery. Plus, it had an epic view of the sunset. So we decided to park. Then our Bitch Brigade and the Radio Ghost alter-egos took over and we decided that instead of sitting inside the car and watching the sunset, where we would be safe and warm, we would brave the cold Scottish winds. We climbed on top of the van with a bottle of wine, three mugs, and about 16,000 layers of scarves and jackets. We huddled close and shivered in the cold as we poured wine down our throats (for warmth, of course) and watched the sky change from blue to orange to black.
As soon as the sun was gone, it stopped being cold outside and became frigid. We piled into the van and spent the rest of the night reading tarot cards, drinking the rest of the wine, and laughing far too loudly.
That night, the ghosts of the cemetery surrounded us. They whispered threats and shook our van, making sleep impossible to come by. The ghosts made it clear we weren't welcome and did everything in their power to scare us away. But The Bitch Brigade and the Radio Ghost are no quitters. We stayed the course and, when the sun rose the next morning, the ghosts returned back to their graves.
That, or it was a really windy night.
Day two: much-needed naps, swimming with the fairies, and full moons
The next morning we had no friendly coffee shop artists and had to pee on the side of the van and brush our teeth over the bushes instead.
To say we were presentable would be an overstatement. But her, we were dressed, so that's a start. We headed back down the hill and to the other side of the island in our dirty, sleepy, and smelly glory. Our first stop was Neist Point. This small peninsula is a popular place for a hike on the Isle of Skye. Many tourists hike from the parking lot to the lighthouse for some great views of the island. This would normally be right up my alley but, thanks to the ghosts, I had hardly managed to sleep the night before.
If I was going to spend another day driving in a foreign country, I needed my sleep. So I let Chelsea and Kaitlyn explore on their own while I took a much-needed nap. I was bummed to skip the hike, but least I had one heck of a view during my nap:
I woke fully refreshed and ready for the adventures to continue. And continue they did.
After driving around and catching a few more sick views, we made our way to our final stop on the Isle of Skye: the fairy pools. Now when you hear about the fairy pools in Scotland, you probably think of that picture that went viral awhile back. The one with the bright purple trees along a sapphire river. But that image is a bold-faced lie. First of all, it is a river in New Zealand. Second of all, the trees are normal tree colors and that image has been edited up the wazzoo.
In reality, the fairy pools on the Isle of Skye are in the middle of rocky terrain and not nearly as striking. That being said, they are still very beautiful. And, more than that, they are fun.
When we arrived, we all felt too tired and cold to even consider swimming. We thought we would walk the length of the pools, take some pictures, and head home. Then adventure Sarah emerged.
I was in Scotland visiting the fairy pools on the Isle of Skye, something that had been on my bucket list for years. How could I not jump in? Who cared if it was freezing cold; I had a sweater in the car. So I stripped down to my long underwear and sports bra, handed my loot to Kaitlyn and Chelsea, and dove in.
Chelsea chose the role of photographer and stuff-guarder while Kaitlyn followed my lead. We splashed around in the surprisingly-less-than-freezing water and dove as deep as we could, swimming from one pool to the next. The cold water made us feel alive and the weird looks from passing tourists made us giggle. Eventually, we climbed out of the pools and lay in the sun to dry, savoring our last few moments on the Isle of Skye.
A bitter sweet return to Edinburgh, or, the end of our two days on the Isle of Skye
And just like that, it was time to go.
We packed the car, said goodbye to the Isle of Skye, and hit the road once more.
It was a long drive and we had left later than intended (you can blame our spontaneous swim for that). We knew we weren't going to make it back to Edinburgh in one go, but the car was due at 10am the next morning, so we went as far as we could.
Right around dark I threw in the towel. I was tired, it was getting late, and we were only 2 hours from Edinburgh. I pulled off the road so we could get some sleep, intending to park in the first parking lot we found and wake up early to continue the drive in the morning.
As was the theme of our two days on the Isle of Skye, we stumbled upon something beautiful. Instead of some random roadside parking lot, we ended up in the world's prettiest random roadside parking lot. The lot was next to a river, behind which sat some daunting mountains, above which hovered a full moon.
We wrapped ourselves in blankets and cuddled up in the back of the van. We gazed at the shining moon in silence, soaking in the beauty. We were all sad to see The Bitch Brigade and the Radio Ghost disband so soon, but it had been an amazing tour, and I think I speak for us all when I say we wouldn't have had it any other way. With the full moon shining above and two of my best friends sitting beside me, it was the perfect end to what was truly one epic Isle of Skye adventure.