Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Road to Skye: Part 2

It's a new day, and we're doing much better than last night. We stopped in for coffee at Costa and headed off to the Tourist Information Center, where we met a very nice woman who had never been where we're going and had no advice for how to get there. We'd heard there was a smoother, flatter road that went to a ferry in Mallaig, but the ticket website appeared to indicate that the early morning ferry was sold out, and that the first available ferry would be at 4pm

That's fine. Skye's roads aren't going to be any better, so I might as well get used to it. Part of the issue is that the car we were driving is significantly wider than the car I normally drive, so I don't really have a good sense of how far to the left my car goes. Also, the roads are generally pretty narrow, and there are huge lumber trucks that come flying down them as close to the far right of their lane as possible. 

So we worked out a system. Marina and Alice served as both navigators (in the sense of watching where the GPS was demanding we go) and an externalization of my sense of where the left of the car was. This was accomplished through the following exchange whenever a truck went flying by. 

Ryan (panicked): "How's my left? How's my left?"

Marina and Alice: "It's fine. Still fine."

Repeat for every truck. 

We headed off into the highlands, passing Glenfinnan, which had amazing views and also the bridge from Harry Potter (the Glenfinnan Viaduct, if you're into the proper names for things), which everyone was excited about. There's also a monument across the road topped with a statue of an anonymous Highlander, though to be honest I was too worried about my left, even when stopped, to learn more about that until later.

By "anonymous Highlander", I'm going to allow myself to make the obvious and overdone joke.
It's Christopher Lambert.

I should note that now that we were a little more confident in driving, the Highlands are just ridiculously gorgeous. These are almost certainly both the largest mountains I've seen to date and the closest I've interacted with them. 

We drove along, following the GPS, noting that the roads aren't really that bad. And then the GPS had a big straight line.

It had taken us to Mallaig, to get on the ferry.

That's total drive time if you go from Fort William to Portree by going an hour out of the way first.

This is why we shouldn't rely on the GPS. 

To be fair to Garmin, it's not like it's a bad assumption. There are usually ferries every half hour, and Mallaig is closer than driving up to Invergarry and turning to go through Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge. But they only do that on the Summer Schedule, which starts Friday. When we'll be in Dublin.

Nothing to do but turn around, head to Fort William, and continue up through the more dangerous course. We were still able to use the GPS by putting in much smaller sections of highway (so, rather than Fort William to Portree, we entered Fort William to Invergarry, then Invergarry to Kyle of Lochalsh, then across to Kyleakin, because not doing so resulted in the GPS screaming at us to turn around and get on the ferry that wasn't running).

We actually made much better time going back. The roads were starting to feel like the Western Pennsylvania roads I grew up driving on. Aside from the "drive on the left" thing, it felt more familiar.

We managed to make it to Kyleakin, which apparently has otters. Or, at least, statues of otters and emblems of otters. So some connection to the otter.

See? I would not lie to you about otters.
The occupant of the ever-present Tourist Information Center advised that our plan to go up to Portree and then around the island to get to our accommodations in Dunvegan on the other side was fine, and agreed that driving on the side you're not used to is confusing. He also recommended that we drive out onto the Trotternish peninsula to get a look at a few of the sights, and then cut across the road that runs across the middle.

We drove up to Portree, bought some yarn, got dinner and continued on.

In the next post, adventures around the Trotternish Peninsula, and finally making it to Dunvegan.

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