The Old Man of Storr—A Scottish Icon

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There’s a reason why this hike is one of the most popular and photographed sites on the Isle of Skye. With massive rock pinnacles towering amid rolling green hills, valleys, and mountains, no wonder this has been the site for many science-fiction films, as it looks as though you are on another planet! Yes, stunning scenery and dramatic landscapes set the stage. Located on the Trotternish Ridge, just north of Portree, the Old Man of Storr hike begins.

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We were considering skipping it, thinking it may not be all it’s cracked up to be. So glad that we went! It wasn’t overly crowded on a mid-October day. But I hear it is unbearable in the summer, as Skye has become more discovered. The walk is rated medium in difficulty. With good hiking boots and a raincoat, it’s suitable for anyone with average fitness. There are plenty of spots to stop and catch your breath if needed. The path does get quite muddy and slippery from the rain of course; so caution is needed. We had a fair amount of sunshine on our October day but did encounter a heavy rain shower once we reached the top. While waiting it out for 10 minutes, the sun came out.

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It probably takes about an hour and a half to reach the top. Once you make it, the last section is a bit of a rock scramble. You can stop here or crawl a little on all fours like I did. After this, it’s a must to veer off on the path to the left of the Old Man as you are facing it. Follow the path down a little and then back up for breathtaking views that will make you think you are in Switzerland. This path eventually reconnects with the main path to take you back down.

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We were originally torn between the Old Man of Storr hike and the Quiraing. We chose Storr, being that the Quiraing was rated difficult. Now that we conquered the Old Man, we are ready—boots and all—for the Quiraing because the scenery looks even more amazing. Check out this family’s beautiful photos of Storr and the Quiraing for inspiration.

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And at the end of our hike, the Tea Pot was waiting in a parking area nearby, where we had the most delicious sandwich that I was skeptical about at first—Scottish cheddar and raw onion in a hot dog bun. Crazy good.

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DSC00643À bientôt!

Escape to the Rolling Hills of Perthshire

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Just a mere hour from the Edinburgh Airport in a misty land of rolling hills with sheep and cattle grazing about awaits the Hayloft—the most charming, high-quality, peaceful retreat one could find to stay for a night or two! On our way to Scotland’s Isle of Skye, we spent a night, and I was ready to move in. Though I love the sun of Provence, I immediately felt like I could live in this beautiful place. Another place that feels like a world away, like something out of a Jane Austen novel.

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The Hayloft Bed and Breakfast, just outside of Pitlochry, is composed of two independent cottages—the Hayloft and the Barn. We stayed in the Hayloft, a beautifully decorated room with the most gorgeous high-quality fabrics and peaceful views. I couldn’t stop staring out the window at the sheep grazing on the hill or at the charming, rustic outside terrace, which reminded me of  le Clos de Rohan in Provence.

We had the most peaceful sleep in this quiet location. And our morning breakfast basket delivered to our room was a delight—yogurt, berries, croissants and honey, and freshly brewed coffee. Do we really have to leave? I still can’t stop thinking about this place.

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Before we headed out to the Isle of Skye, we took a little walk down a misty lane.

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Serious charm for days! Why is everything so cute?

À bientôt!

Scotland’s Mesmerizing Fairy Pools

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Most visitors to the Isle of Skye plan to visit the popular Fairy Pools. And you should too! Rain or shine, I was going. And it was mesmerizing to say the least.

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After leaving the parking lot and walking the trail a little ways, you come to a gushing river crossing with three slippery rocks overflowing with water that you must cross in order to proceed. First thought. Now, what could possibly go wrong here? Yes, it is treacherous! After searching for some time for another way across and studying the strategy of others in how to do it without falling, we said: “Let’s go! Make it quick and get it over with!” Thankfully, we escaped a fall and were on our way. Though on our way back, it was sad to see one young person down while the Mountain Rescue team was making its way down the trail to carry him out. Here’s a thought. How about a small bridge instead of  rocks covered in gushing water? Or is there no fun in that?

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After the treacherous water crossing, the rest is easy. It is a moderate walk—with good hiking boots—amid beautiful glistening pools of water and ominous mountains lurking behind.

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When we got to the end of the Fairy Pools, my husband naturally wanted to keep going despite the sign.

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So we continued on a little further until the only way to continue was to wade through water. Seeing the rain clouds coming and being the mountain “experts” that we are, we decided it would be best to make our way back. After all, we still had to cross the treacherous rocks at the end.

For more information on the Fairy Pools, located near the village of Carbost on the road to Glen Brittle at the foot of the Black Cuillins, the Isle of Skye.com has a wealth of information.

À bientôt!

Scotland’s Captivating Isle of Skye

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Filled with raw, rugged, breathtaking landscapes, this 50-mile-long island is one of the largest of Scotland. Voted as the fourth best island in the world by National Geographic, the Isle of Skye is a hiker’s paradise. Just ask the Munro baggers—hikers who are striving to climb all 282 Munros, mountains that are over 3,000 feet. From majestic mountains to breathtaking waterfalls to the sea, the lochs, and the moors, the scenery is dramatic to say the least. This isle of beauty is a photographer’s dream.

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We were told by a local: “You don’t come to Scotland for the weather!” And to that, we have to add: “That’s why you go to Provence!” Though it does rain nearly every day on the isle, the weather can change every five minutes. One minute it may be raining and the next the sun is shining, at least for a few minutes. We had no trouble in the month of October, as it mostly rained only during the night or in the early morning hours. Rain was quickly replaced by spectacular rainbows, and the sheep didn’t seem to mind.

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Driving for hours a day around the isle seemed like minutes as we were captivated by the spectacular scenery. Although at one point, I did have to wonder where in the world we were when the sign said we were entering Sleat peninsula. Here is an introduction to Skye.

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À bientôt!