Exploring Scotland during wintertime
We took it step by step. Every time I put one foot in front of the other the backpack felt a bit heavier and my upper legs started to burn even more than they already did. Since we planned to spend the night somewhere on the mountain, we had to take all camping gear in order to make the night somewhat more comfortable and even though it was only 2 pm I was already looking forward to dinner. And breakfast. Actually, anything food related sounded like heaven. Slowly but surely we made our way to the top, although we knew we couldn’t reach the actual summit without the proper alpine gear. Yes, we were prepared for a hike up the mountain. No, we were not prepared to do actual alpine climbing on top of a layer of 30-50 centimeters of frozen snow. Even though summit was impossible, the views we were rewarded with, made it all worthwile. Welcome to Scotland during wintertime.
After a comfortable boat ride we arrived in Newcastle upon Tyne – ready for a Scottish adventure and prepared for the cold winter nights (little did we know..). With a car full of camping gear, waterproof hiking boots strapped on and all camera batteries charged, there were only 800 kilometers between us and the beautiful Isle of Skye. Located in the North-West of Scotland this island offers the most stunning views, hikes and above all plenty of sheep. I present to you a winter road trip through Scotland!
On the way to Isle of Skye you’ll pass through the beautiful surroundings of Glencoe: the hills grow taller, the rocks get steeper and some wild deer show themselves. If you’re excited about spotting deer, make sure to head over to the valley Glen Etive: local inhabitants often leave food for the animals with the result that the animals get less shy.
In the South of Skye there are a few mountains to be found, containing the tallest mountains of the island. Before arriving to Scotland we already decided to climb one of the mountains: it turned out Sgurr Alasdair was the lucky one. The beautiful thing about Scotland is that you can park your car in a random spot next to the road and just start your hike towards the area you’re aiming for. Even though we didn’t reach the summit, as written in the introduction of this story, a hike in such surroundings is always worth the effort. We even found a stunning 80 meters tall (a rough guess) waterfall we never heard of before!
Old man of Storr
Little words are needed for a description of this famous landmark: alien-like rock structures, a gorgeous hike, snowy winter conditions and trying not to be blown away by the strong winds on top of the mountain.. If I had to choose one word: fun!
Not too far from Old man of Storr in northern direction there is an area just begging to be explored during sunrise. From a easily located parking place next to the main road, dozens of tiny hiking trials feather out in all directions. In need of a easy walk with views of rugged mountains in the background? Check! In need of a tough climb with rewarding views at the top? Check! We could’ve spent days without getting bored and if there’s one place I could go back to right now, it would have been the Quiraing.
On the westernmost point of Skye there is this one lighthouse to be found. Not only the lighthouse itself is an impressive architectural piece - imagine the amount of work to construct a building like this during the heavy storms and rain coming from the ocean - the route towards the building and the neighbouring area are beautiful as well. Quite a ride to reach this area of the island, but definitely a recommended visit.
There are many places waiting to be explored: not only on Isle of Skye, but all around Scotland. I have had recommendations to visit Scotland during fall, because of the diversity in yellow, red and brown colors. I followed the recommendations, visited the country and yes, it was worth it! However, since I have visited Scotland during wintertime all I can say is: think twice about heading out during fall. Maybe wait a little longer and experience the cold beauty of February or March..?
The journey through Scotland was made possible by DFDS Seaways - a ferry operator offering crossings between IJmuiden (The Netherlands) and Newcastle upon Tyne (Great Britain).