Quite a few ferry trips coming up, and also some stone circles! Only a brief visit to Skye, ferry from Mallaig to Armadale and back, viewing the remains of Clan Donald Castle and its beautiful gardens. Weather was calm and sunny so great views of nearby islands like Eigg and Rum - and other passing ferries.
Then on to Acharacle through Glen Uig, around a stunning coastline with lovely camping spots, to our hotel at the foot of Loch Shiel. The ruins of Castle Toiram occupy a nearby headland, overlooking a peaceful beach. After dark we walked down to the jetty and star-gazed, this area is remote and the Milky Way and constellations were very clear and bright.
The road from Acharacle to the Corran ferry is one lane only with occasional passing spots, and a speed limit of 40mph which the locals drive to. I have no fingernails left! At Fort William we went to the small West Highland Museum, it has a great local collection, from fossils, to Neolithic era remnants (like leaf-shaped stone arrowheads) to relics of the Jacobite era and Bonny Prince Charlie (eg, an oak chair he used).
Driving through Glen Coe and Rannoch Moor, real Highland scenery with mountains and tumbling burns, we stopped and went for an hour's walk along a foot track, then on to Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel, the castle is built directly onto a huge outcrop of rock and overlooks the sea with views in all directions.
Then on to Oban, an attractive port town from where we caught a ferry to the islands of Mull and Iona. 1.5 hours on the ferry to Mull, it was a bit drizzly when we arrived, but straight on to the bus for a drive across Mull with a very interesting commentary from the driver and more fabulous scenery; then a quick ferry trip to Iona where we spent about 3 hours marvelling at the Abbey with old carved stones and crosses and chapel buildings, many beautifully restored. Amazing to think it was first established by St Columba in the 900's.
After leaving Oban, the next highlight was Kilmartin. Its Church has a large collection of medieval grave slabs; and the surrounding area boasts a series of about 5 Neolithic burial/religious sites running North to South over several miles. We walked along the path through fields with sheep grazing peacefully, coming across huge ancient piles of rocks and standing stones.
We spent a couple of nights at the pretty little port of Tarbert to have a rest and relax, then left for Claonaig to catch the ferry to the Isle of Arran where we visited Lochranza Castle and the Arran Distillery before walking to view another series of standing stones - you may realise by now that we are quite fascinated by these really ancient sites!
Just as we got back to the car from this the heavens opened, and it rained fairly solidly for the rest of the day. Next morning off to Brodick Castle and gardens - all beautifully restored and with an amazing collection of objets d'art - and an enormous collection of stags heads and antlers, as it was much used as a hunting lodge. The gardens had one of the largest NZ cabbage trees I've ever seen, and also NZ punga - we've noticed cabbage trees, flax and toetoe in many places round Scotland.
Now its back to the mainland and off to Edinburgh.
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