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Taking Emma around Skye

Skye Scotland is a land of craggy, rugged landscapes which inspires and soothes. Photographer Adam Marsden took away Emma and travelled the length and breadth of Skye. Here is what he said about his trip.

Picking Emma up

We both took the Friday off work so that we could start our journey early as we had a hell of a lot of miles to cover. Emma is kept at a car garage in Kendal which is about an hour away from our house. Meandering through the dales on the way to pick her up, the weather started to change! A strong downpour was over our heads and it looked like it was set to stay. Mike (Emma’s owner) was probably the most horizontal garage owner I had ever met, nothing was a problem ! We transferred all of our belongings for the next 4 days and set out on our adventure to the north.

The journey to Mallaig

Prior to our journey we had loosely planned some stop offs for photos and well needed breaks but we didn’t stick to them at all. We ploughed all the way up to Glasgow to try and beat the rush hour traffic as our timing would mean that we could sneak through just a little before 5pm ….. oh how we were wrong ! As we hit the outskirts of Glasgow we see a sea of break lights of stationary traffic so we referred to the good ol app of Google Maps! Luckily it diverted us around the centre of Glasgow where we could keep on the move.

Emma was cruising up the M8 again to where we slip off onto the scenic route of the A82, this is where the journey gets to be an eye opener. We enter Loch Lomond & Trossachs national park where the terrain seems to elevate massively alongside us, creating a valley that makes you feel super small (even in a camper van). The light was starting to drop and the weather was starting to look turbulent ahead as we cross the rugged terrain towards Glencoe, this was our first official leg stretch!

With the Trossachs completed I breathed a sigh of relief that the roads where getting wider and Emma had a little bit more room to breathe. We powered through Glencoe and decided to stop off in Fort William for fuel and fuel for us… fish and chips !

8:33pm

Both us and the camper were full up but we were slightly more tired than Emma at this point and with 46 miles still to go until Mallaig we set off with intent to find a lay-by to bunk down for the night until the morning. As you can probably already tell, we aren’t too good at sticking to plans so I decided I would just keep going until we reached a car park right at the side of the harbour of Mallaig.

Mallaig to Skye

6:45 am

I was glad I had done the journey on the night before because we were on the first ferry out of the port at 7:20 am, good job we were only next door in the car park. We woke up as late as we possibly could so we could catch some valuable shut eye as we were both feeling the long haul the day before. Waking up to the sound of the gentle waves rocking up on the shoreline was definitely tranquil, I could definitely get used to it !

7:36am

“ALL ABOARD”

We were now all boarded and bobbing along the North Sea across to Skye, where the weather was looking like a complete contrast as we passed over the water. At one point you could literally look down the dividing line of the two polar opposite weather forecasts out of the window, Skye was dark and ominous while Mallaig was looking a little more inviting. As I gazed out of the window I saw a very lonely sailing boat which could probably only carry two people max, I remember thinking that whoever is on that boat is either super brave or has a screw loose! As we floated closer to Skye the terrain began to elevate once more and we were now looking at rugged mountains and jurassic like landscapes. Perfect!

Back on dry land

8:15am

Emma’s wheels were firmly back on dry land and we were now meandering through the narrow roads away from Skye’s ferry dock. We drove about 15 minutes inland so we could find somewhere to park up and grab some breakfast as we were both hungry as hell ! We stopped off at a little lay-by that was on the incline from sea level back up to the mainland of Skye. Gas on …. check! ……. Hob lit….. check! ….. Kettle boiling….. check!, bacon butties and brews all round !

Our first little meal went down a treat in the new abode, ‘even if It was only a bacon butty!’ All filled up with tea and excitement we knew that we had not even scratched the surface of the amazing landscape and scenery that sky has to offer, so we fired Emma back up and hit the inclining road once again.

To the sights

From doing a bit of previous research we had already planned our journey based on the sights we wanted to see on each day, this meant that we could utilise our time spent on sky a lot better. Our first stop was going to be straight up to Sligachan Old Bridge on the east side of Skye which is a hot spot for photographers alike. I had seen this spot on photos thousands of times before but I honestly underestimated how spectacular this place really looked until we pulled up to it, wether this was down to the amazing sunlight with a combination of blanketing cloud acting as a huge soft box I don’t know! All I know was It looked amazing! We were in awe of this 18th century bridge nestled in the rugged landscape of Skye … sounds pretty basic right? Well, take a look!

12:28

Straight after these photos were taken the weather took a turn for the worse and gave use a heavy Scottish downpour, which means its time to get indoors … Talisker distillery seems like a wise choice. We hopped back in Emma and headed down what seemed to be the ever narrowing backroads that twisted in all directions through the rugged landscape of Skye Scotland. Just as we dropped down into Carbost where Talisker is situated, and we were greeted with a scene of Loch Harport surrounded by hills.

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” – Mark Twain

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to take the official tour around the distillery but we did however, take time to look around the gift shop which was educating enough about Talisker alone without taking the tour ! We wandered around the Loch for a little while but it was totally vacant of people apart from one woman with a dog, that was it …. nobody ! I found it strange how a place holding such an attraction could be so bare of life, maybe everybody was at work, I don’t know ? But as always, me and the good lady wanted to see the world in one day so we fired Emma up and headed to the Neist Point Lighthouse!

Now I have to say, this place took my breath away.

From Talisker it took about 40 minutes to get to Neist Point purely by the fact the roads were narrowing even more around Emma, now as said before we were already on narrow roads for my liking. The road got to a point where it was pretty much patchwork across this barren land, there were pot holes the size of a cow accompanied with blind crests over what I can imagine is the rough formation of the hills we were passing through.

Neist Point

This place is nothing short of spectacular ! Even after being to Iceland this place still impressed me with its gorgeous scenery.

We had arrived at what I could only describe as the edge of the Earth, the shear drop of the land that plummeted straight into the ocean give you a swift indication that the road went no further on Skye. We parked Emma up, and headed back out on foot down the precarious footpath that I can only imagine has been brutally weathered by the seaside weather over the 100’s of years. The descent down to the lighthouse was mega steep even though you had the steps and a ‘sort of’ handrail, it was a massive killer on the knees. Neist point had so much to offer in terms of great views, no matter which way you turned you are greeted with an awesome scene whether it be sea or land. After walking around the lighthouse up and close, curiosity got the better of us and we had to research why the rooms still looked like they are lived in, I mean some of them literally looked like the person had just left minutes ago. We learned that the Lighthouse was first lit on the 1st on November 1909 but the rooms surrounding the lighthouse are now privately owned and used to be rented out as holiday lets but they didn’t see much use so people just kept them as breakaway homes, hence why they seemed lived in. Nevertheless it had a certain creepy sort of vibe to it.

Times knocking on, we did go to the fairy glens but that was cut short by the ever so turbulent weather of Skye which we had now become all too familiar with.

Time hop.

20:30pm

Since we drove all day we forgot to get food to fill ourselves up. Back to Portree we went to find a nice little restaurant for some quick food as we were both past the feeling of waiting for anything to cook. Its a pretty nice place for food so that was a good ol brainwave!

All full up we had previously seen a lay-by that looked pretty peaceful for a good nights kip, so thats where we headed. I knew I wanted to get a shot of Emma all set up in the night scene, but i vastly underestimated how unbelievably spectacular the sky is at night without any light pollution. I mean there are stars that we normally see but then this…

Well that was a treat, a super cosy night with a whole load of stargazing was more than I could have expected!

So this is going to be a short one.

As you can tell from the last picture the weather was a far stretch from blue skies and golden sun, the weather took a turn for the worse in the night and it looked like it was set for the day. We had planned to go up to the Old man of Storr today so we got up early and braved what seemed like just rain for now. Pulling up to the car park at the bottom of The Storr we realised we were about to get pretty wet, very wet! Mother Nature was now starting to show her true power with the strongest gusts I have ever experienced, it was to the point that the rain was being forced against your skin that it felt like being shot by 100 bb bullets at the same time. ‘We are here so lets do it’ we both said to each other as we head up the walking path.

3/4 of the way up nothing was dry. All of our clothes apart from the rain jackets where now soaked, even the socks!

I swiftly grabbed a quick snap and I was out of there! (Because if you don’t have a photo of it it didn’t happen, right?)

Today is a write off!

Given that the ferry back to Mallaig was now cancelled due to inclement weather, the journey home had just had about 35 miles added back on to it as we had to now take the Skye bridge. Great! 60mph crosswinds in a camper and now I have to take it over a bridge that has no walls and is suspended over seriously choppy waters….. lovely! The day was pretty much a write off so we sauntered back slowly taking extra care of the roads that were now turning into rivers. We had so much more we wanted to see of Skye but it seemed that something was telling us to get back looking at the state of the road conditions. No drainage was coping and they were filling up fast! Without heading off down any roads other than main roads we decided we would go highland cow hunting for the ‘i’ve been to Skye’ cow shot. Here you go 😀

Home time

So that was it, we had a pretty exciting journey back to a lay-by just outside of Luss for the last night. Our adventure was over and the weather was too. We woke up on Monday morning bright a breezy ready to bring Emma back to her owner before the rush hour traffic through Glasgow. We cruised back to Kendal with plenty of time to spare for Mike to clean her up and check her over before she went back out for another adventure. This journey has probably been one of the most enjoyable to date and we both will be back to take Emma for another adventure …. probably in summer next time !

I would like to thank Quirky Campers for sorting this trip out, and I would like to thank Mike for such a fast and hassle free handover when we picked up and dropped the van off! Brilliant service.