Category Archives: Scottish Highlands

Eilean Donan Castle

Scottish Highlands, Scotland

September 2017

Third day into our road trip of Scotland, we left Fort William as early as 8:00 a.m. for Glenfinnan. A 17 mile drive and a ½ hour later, we reached Glenfinnan Monument parking lot. It was drizzling lightly and we were able to park close-by to the visitor’s center. The parking fee is £2.

Glenfinnan

First itinerary for the day, Glenfinnan Viewpoint. A visitor’s centre is close by to the parking lot.

We are here to climb up the Glenfinnan Viewpoint which is just towards the back of the visitor’s centre. A 5-10 minutes walk up the gradual gravel footpath will take you to the viewpoint. From here you have a stunning scenery of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the Glenfinnan Monument as well as Loch Shiel.

Glenfinnan

Way up to the viewpoint is clearly signposted. Although walking boots is recommended, it’s probably not required during dry condition.

Glenfinnan

Towards the back of the visitor’s centre, you’ll find the footpath up to the viewpoint through this woods.

Glenfinnan

The vegetation changes half way up. The gravel footpath is gradual.

Once up at Glenfinnan Viewpoint, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking 360° view of the surrounding. You’ll get a fantastic view of the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct with it’s 21 arches. It spans 1,000 feet in length and is 100 feet above ground. From the viewpoint, it looks like it was built straight but in actuality it’s curved, almost semi-circle to align it’s tracks with the contour of the hills. The viaduct has become well-known through its appearances in various Harry Potter films.

The filming of ‘Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secret’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ took place in this area. The famous scenic railway with it’s Jacobite steam train runs to and from Fort William and Mallaig in the summer months. If you are lucky, you will be able to see the same train from the movies passing by. Be caution, up on the viewpoint there are midges that bites, even on your face.

Glenfinnan

The magnificent view towards the Glenfinnan Viaduct aka Harry Potter’s Bridge.

Turn yourself around and you’ll have the views towards the monument and Loch Shiel. The monument is situated at the head of Loch Shiel, an inland freshwater loch which stretches south for 17½ miles. The monument was erected, in 1815, in tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought and died in the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

Glenfinnan Monument

Up at the viewpoint, towards your back you’ll get a view of Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument.

Glenfinnan Monument

You cross the road in-front of the visitor’s centre to get to the monument.

Glenfinnan Monument

The visitor’s centre seen  from the monument. The Glenfinnan Viewpoint is only half way up the hill about where the pointed roof is. The parking lot is to the left.

Glenfinnan Monument

The Glenfinnan Monument.

Glenfinnan Monument

View of Loch Shiel behind the monument.

Glenfinnan Monument

House by the shore of Loch Shiel.

From Glenfinnan we backtracked to Fort William to check-out off Premier Inn. Continuing our drive, we will end the day at Portree, Isle of Skye. This will be a journey of more than 100 miles and would take almost 3 hours. Despite the early drizzle, the weather has turn out to been more brighter than the day before, however still cloudy in some areas. The drive to Isle of Skye is more stunning as you drive up the mountain and being able to see whats below compared to the drive on the previous day, that was mostly on flat plane.

Sheep grazing on the grassland off A82 about 6 miles after Fort William.

From the location of the grazing flock of sheep, you would need to drive towards the town of Spean Bridge. To head towards Isle of Skye, continue left to stay on A82 just after the bridge crossing River Spean. Soon you’ll be driving uphill and be rewarded with a beautiful views of the area below.

Spean Bridge

Looking downwards towards Spean Bridge and the mountain in the background.

A little further up, is the Commando Memorial just by the roadside to your left. If you miss this memorial, you’ve taken the wrong turn into Spean Bridge town. This area is dedicated to the fallen Commandos who gave their lives to the service of their country during the 1939-1945 war.

Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge

Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge.

Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge

Massive traffic build-up at the junction turning into Commando Memorial as police facilitated the journey of several wide load containers.

A further 7 miles from Commando Memorial on the A82, there is a large lay-by that ‘s difficult to miss. Here you’ll get a fantastic view of Loch Lochy.

Drive for about 14 miles from Loch Lochy and do make a point to stop at Glen Garry Viewpoint to see views of Loch Garry. At about ½ distance before Glen Garry Viewpoint, you’ll reach a ‘T’ junction at Invergarry. Turn left into A87 after crossing the bridge over River Garry. On reaching Glen Garry Viewpoint, If you hear sounds of bagpipe, chances there will be a lone bagpiper performing and he’ll be glad to take photos with you. Naturally, to show our support, we bought CDs he sells. It’s easy to miss this spot as it’s a little elevated from the road and hidden by overgrown bushes. When you search for this location in Google, type exactly this : Glen Garry Viewpoint

Glengarry

View of Loch Garry from Glen Garry Viewpoint off A87. You are no longer on A82.

Glengarry

A lone bagpiper earning a living at the Glen Garry Viewpoint.

A couple of miles from Glen Garry Viewpoint, we came across this charming view overlooking Loch Garry. The wooden fence (with a gate) leads to what seems to be a private land.

Picturesque view a little further ahead.

Same spot as above but looking uphill.

Yet a little further up, we came across these ‘Stone Balancing’ overlooking Loch Loyne. What a superb view.

Four miles ahead from the ‘Stone Balancing’ you’ll reach yet another ‘T’ junction. Turn left to continue on A87 toward Isle of Skye. Along the way, there are more beautiful scenery for you to soak in or photograph.

About 10 minutes drive from the last ‘T’ junction, you’ll reach this spot. About a mile before Cluanie Inn.

Mountain range in-front of Cluanie Inn.

From Cluanie Inn, it will be a 18½ mile, 30 minutes drive to Eilean Donan castle. This charming castle is just besides the A87. Ample free parking is available and do expect lots of visitors as it is a favorite tourist attraction. Castle admission is £7.50. Spend some time taking in the views and visit the visitor’s centre. Free toilet facilities are available whether in the centre or outside.

Eilean Donan Castle

The charming Eilean Donan Castle viewed from the parking lot.

Eilean Donan Castle

Front view (or is it the back) of the castle.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan visitor’s centre.

Eilean Donan Castle

As it says.

Another 9 miles or ¼ hour of driving, you’ll reach the Skye Bridge that will take you across to Isle of Skye. Before crossing the bridge, why not go up Plock Viewpoint to see the bridge from the mainland side. Plock Viewpoint is not marked on Google map although you can view it in street view. Search for Heathmount Pl, the end of that road that will lead you there.

Plock Viewpoint

At Plock Viewpoint, you get a hill view of the Syke Bridge from the mainland.

Skye Bridge

The Skye Bridge from Plock viewpoint. It is actually two bridges, which uses the island of Eilean Bàn as a stepping stone towards Isle of Skye.

Reaching Skye Bridge is ¾ of our drive to Isle of Skye and officially put us off the highlands grid. We will be putting up for 2 nights in a B&B at Portree before heading back to Edinburhg. The next posting will fully be on Isle of Skye.

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