After a night at the Travelodge at the airport (perfectly adequate for a night's stay), we picked up our rental car - why is this always such a stressful experience? We'd already chosen and paid for a car online but getting the keys was difficult.
Do you want extra insurance for another squizillion pounds?
No, its covered by our travel insurance.
Och, no, not in my experience.
Self doubt starts to creep in. Maybe it's not. Pretty sure it is. Let's cross our fingers and hope for the best.
Do ye want road side assist for an extra few pounds a day?
An extra few how many pounds? Shouldn't you assist us if we need help?
No, if you have a flat tyre you'll have to pay for us to come and change it.
Pretty sure we can change a flat tyre ourselves.
Well no, because there's no spare tyre in the cars.
Whaaat? Who supplies a car without a spare? (Have since found a spare tyre in the boot!)
Would ye like to upgrade the car to one with diesel?
What's the extra charge on that?
Man says something unintelligible in a very strong Scot's brogue.
Do we want to take the company's offer of cheaper fuel by dropping it off half full?
OK, yes, just give us the keys before it gets dark and we'll give you complete freedom to charge our credit card with whatever you think is fair!
With an inadequate map and a sense of new adventure, and at least driving on the right (left) side of the road, we manoeuvred our way out of Edinburgh and onto the A9. Taine is a great William Wallace fan so we made a detour to Stirling to have a look at the Wallace monument. Struggling with the inadequate map and the loss of our Swiss hosts wifi we decided to buy a couple of UK sims for our phones so we could use google maps to help with the navigation. Ironically we have NO phone service in Northern Scotland but our little cottage has excellent wifi!
The A9 is a mostly dual lane highway and so it was easy driving for the first 100 miles and we were anticipating an early arrival in Reraig. Once you get up around the mountains in the Craignorms National Park though and particularly when you turn off on the A86 to Kyle of Lochalsh, the road becomes very windy. In fact, if it weren't for the ancient ruins and stone cottages along the route you would swear you were in the South Island of NZ around Queenstown and Wanaka. The views are spectacular with every bend revealing a new loch surrounded by pristine forest and snow capped mountains. Because it was such a beautiful sunny day the reflection off the lochs created a magical optical illusion making it impossible to discern the water from the land from the sky.
The only stop we made was at a little place called Dalwhinnie at a curious (Geoff says weird) little cafe near the bike tracks. My scone had seen better days (several of them I reckon) but the boys' pies were edible. This was our first exposure to Scottish food and not an encouraging one.
We arrived at our little cottage just on dusk. Right across the road from the banks of Loch Alsh, it is a perfect blend of old architecture with contemporary and comfortable amenities. The caretaker had turned the heating on for us so we were toasty warm.
|The village of Reraig|
|The bridge to Skye|
|The harbour at Plockton|