The bank holiday September weekend is very much a hit or a miss weather wise here in Scotland. Last year I was extremely lucky on a trip to Arran. This year's visit to the Isle of Skye...not so much.
However, my latest dreich midlife adventure was still a big success as I headed off with my 2 teenage sons to our glamping destination....the closest I think I'll ever get to real, outdoorsy camping (much to my youngest's disappointment).
Last year at my son's suggestion, we agreed to try visit all the Scottish islands, Arran being the first. Skye was chosen this time as we could drive the whole way there and not worry about ferry strikes. I could also give myself an environmental pat on the back as we'd be in my Tesla (although the unknown charging situation did kind of give me the fear).
Via Airbnb I booked 3 nights in a Flodigarry pod, which is kind of like a wooden, elongated igloo shape. The choice was clear when I read it was set on a farm, with fresh eggs and milk part of the offerings. My nature loving sons would love it!
Planning the route I was somewhat taken aback that the journey was an estimated 6 hours. The thought was not as horrendous as long car journeys with all 4 kids when they were young, but would not be without challenge. Turns out the main point of contention between the boys was arguing over which of their vastly different music styles would entertain us en route. To stop the fights I played my own quite often; they were delighted.
For those unfamiliar with driving in Scotland, I may be biased, but it would be hard to find more beautiful scenery than that found heading towards the Highlands, passing through Callander with it's quaint shops and cafes and Eilean Donan castle, to name a couple highlights. The time went by fairly quickly in my admiration, briefly distracted by a random sign on the side of a cafe and B&B boasting it housed "The World Famous Shark Toilet". My curiosity was piqued, but sadly by the time my son had confirmed that I had read correctly, we were well past the building with nowhere obvious to turn back. We determined to investigate further on the way back home, but sadly it was closed, so this novelty still remains a mystery.
Not much further on my son was intrigued by a sign which read Crazy Goose Lady, but again, too late to stop. Further investigation since I returned home seems to point to a now padlocked honesty box where people can purchase home baked cakes baked using goose eggs. As someone with a very sweet tooth, I am very sorry that we missed that one. Article about this found here:
Fort William super chargers worked perfectly, so after a short break we were on our way again and finally made it to Flodigarry around 5pm, which was perfect for the check-in time. The last part of the drive was a bit of a shock, as the speed limit was 10mph surrounded by wandering sheep, narrow roads with passing places and I couldn't help but wonder how people coped with this in heavy snow. However, we made it safe and sound and finally down the winding path to the farm. There is always something satisfying about driving over white gravel stones as I parked up outside our pod, lucky to still see the spectacular view in daylight. Youngest spotted the chicken coop and went to say hello to new feathered friends, who gathered near the fence looking for food (they were disappointed). What do you even feed chickens? You practically get arrested for giving bread to ducks these days, so best leave the feeding to the farmers.
The pod's interior was surprisingly spacious, and my extremely tall older son managed to stand up comfortably which was a relief. There was a double bed, fold out bed, mini kitchen, table and chairs, bathroom with shower, heating, spotlights...basically everything we would need. Everything high quality and very clean, including Harris Tweed cushions which felt extra Scottish and cosy.
Having unpacked, we went a short walk and discovered just how isolated our location was. Whilst there was a bus stop, I was very glad we had a car to travel about. Speaking of bus stops, this was the first time I'd ever seen one fitted with a cattle gate to stop any livestock nipping into town.
Tired from the journey we settled in for the night, pasta cooked for dinner and a short practise on the chanter by my dedicated musical son (we persuaded him to leave the full bagpipes at home, as pretty sure our pod neighbours, Flodigarry hosts and their two friendly border collies would not necessarily be grateful for the 2 hours practise he normally puts in every day!)
Saturday morning we woke to rare sunshine and the view outside was quite magical. We ate breakfast al freco in our jammies and hoodies on the wooden picnic bench outside our pod. Our everyday cereal and toast, and of course the eggs provided by the chickens on site. The friendly dogs came to say good morning on a break from their sheep herding duties. Crossing our fingers the weather would stay this way at least for the whole day, preferably longer, we planned what to do next
An Corran Beach in Staffin was high on our list of places to visit, especially given the weather. The location is famed for dinosaur footprints and we were confident we'd spot some, you'd think they'd be pretty hard to miss! sadly, they were nowhere to be seen, the closest we got was the photograph showing what we were missing. However, it was a lovely beach and I took some good photos of our time there, including photographing the photographer (when he's not on the bagpipes, youngest is keen photographer)
In the afternoon we stopped by a waterfall for more photos and a muddy climb before continuing our drive towards the Skye Candle Company where you can also find a cinema, restaurant and one of the few working electric chargers I managed to find during our time on Skye (only one out of two mind you). We bought some candles and watched Blue Beetle at the cinema which was better than I'd expected for a superhero movie. Felt strange that we were told to turn our phones off in Gaelic as the only one of us who would have any clue about our original native language is my youngest son who's studying it at school. I've tried to learn some via Duolingo as part of me does feel it's not right if the language dies out, but Gaelic really is quite hard...maybe one day. Woodfired pizzas for dinner and then returning to a much healthier Tesla battery level, we headed back to the pod.
Sunday the boys convinced me we should climb the Old Man of Storr, one of Scotland's most popular hikes. Bearing in mind that the nearest thing to a hike I've ever partaken in is a leisurely stroll part way up the Campsie Hills, I was a little hesitant to agree. However, this is my midlife adventures project right? So...best be adventurous. The beautiful weather of the previous day was long gone, and so our hike was cold, rainy and misty. I guess if I tried to put a positive spin on it, I'd describe it as...atmospheric. Youngest was too impatient and went on ahead, camera at the ready. Myself and other son took a more leisurely pace and eventually made it to the top in around an hour. Sadly the view was basically invisible, as the sky was completely white and foggy. Tried to see the funny side and focus more on the fact I'd actually managed it and my Vitality health app would be well impressed. The legend surrounding the Old Man of Storr is that there lived a giant who lived there and when he died and was laid to rest, only his thumb remained above ground.
After some warming tomato soup and change of clothes back at the pod, we drove to our next must-see location. The famed Fairy Pools, a natural waterfall phenomenon, which in photographs look almost too beautiful to be real. They were indeed beautiful, but without doubt a sunny day would do them far more justice than the miserable weather which we faced the entire day. The drive was pretty slow too, again with long stretches of narrow roads with passing places. I found a good technique was to stay quite close to the car in front, as there was always room for two cars in each passing place. Easier to let them lead the way.
After so much exercise and battling the elements we slept very well that night, but were packed and ready to go by the 10am checkout time. We hadn't had much chance to explore the town of Portree, so spent some time there wandering the gift shops and enjoying coffee and cakes in the Highland Cow Shop. The adventure had come to an end, so we faced the 6 hour drive back home with one panic over charging situation, but found one just over the Skye bridge. Thoroughly enjoyed my glamping adventure with my sons, and we're planning which island to visit next. Any suggestions?
So, that's September midlife adventure ticked off. What will I be up to next? Follow my socials and sign up to my newsletter to keep updated!