Another little guest post from Scott Hutchison here, with photos provided by Natalia Mazur. I really need to start writing more stuff myself! Appreciated as always though!
For those who are unaware, the Skye trip is one of the flagship weekends of IAESTE Glasgow’s summer reception, if you missed it this year, make sure you get yourself there next year!
With the slam of a locker door, the turn of a key and the cough of an engine, the IAESTE Skye coach departed from Thomas Campbell court with brilliant blue sky and gentle sun rays kissing the road. We had a feeling, a feeling that tonight, and indeed the whole of the trip, was going to be a good trip.
Laden with 53 people and a world of expectation the bus gently weaved through the heavy city streets, breaking into the incredible and beautiful oasis of Glasgow Green. Here the opportunity to build these lonely individuals into one group was seized, could there be a better location, steeped in history and culture from, Bonnie Prince Charlie, through the Tobacco Lords, Industrial Revolution it seemed apt to forge the IAESTE Skye 2012 group here. And forge it they did, 50 people from 27 countries, all working together to solve a challenging engineering problem. Having successfully created a group we needed to move forward as one.
From here we escaped the harassment of the city and entered the freedom and beauty of the countryside which quickly gave way to gentle rolling hills before succumbing to the start of the breath taking landscapes of the West Highlands. The bus wound its way up the side of the beautiful Loch Lomond unveiling spectacular views of Ben Lomond and the Arrochar range of mountains. As the day gently eased on the scenery got even more spectacular, soaking up the views of the Great Glen of Glencoe, eerie with so much unwritten pain and bloodshed, but beautiful in its magnificence. Here was a pause for lunch and a time to recharge with coffee, after all an army marches on its stomach and an IAESTE trip functions on caffeine and beer.
On departing the National Trust Centre we continued winding our way up through to Fort William, which in other times is the home to the World Mountain Bike Championships and of course the Nevis Range of Mountains with the great Ben Nevis being the jewel in the crown. Sadly being short of time we were unable to complete the ascent and forged valiantly to Mallaig, our last stop on the Mainland until Monday morning. On the journey to Mallaig we paused at Glenfinnan Viaduct to witness the engineering marvel carry a steam train across the glen. This scene was made famous by Harry Potter. On the way again we passed the crystal clear waters and beautiful white sands of the West Coast of Scotland, with its rugged landscapes gently melting into tranquil beaches and pristine waters.
As the gang plank was raised and the ferry set sail for Skye the weather smiled on us and presented to us the Island of Skye with the great Cuilins to us for the weekend. We were welcomed on our way to the Island by a Pod of Dolphins, jumping and skipping through the water. As we berthed at Armadale and set up the island there was a change of driving crew. Possibly the only IAESTE Coach driven by an IAESTE member.
As Skye enveloped us and we pulled into Portree (Port Righ) it was time to feed the army. To the chip shop they marched, laughing and joking and most importantly, smiling. The fish and chips was consumed on the harbour wall, with the calm water, boats and beautiful mountains creating a unique backdrop for the meal.
The next destination was the Hostel at Flodigarry, on the northerly eastern coast of Skye. Set at the foot of the Quirang Mountain range, with the views out of sea, it is a tranquil location. Once the tents were set up and everyone had got settled into their new home we started to relax and chill out, some with beers, some with tea and some with the piano.
With the sun breaking the darkness and lighting the day we rose early and prepared for the exciting day ahead. Once again the weather was beautiful as we headed deep into the cultural depths of a Scotland which was prevalent until the 1700s when it became illegal and suppressed. The Gaelic college provided a window to a culture which is still strong on remote islands, introducing the language, the music, dance and history. With the Isle of Skye still basking in sunshine we seized the opportunity to get closer to the island and took a walk over the Quirang back to the hostel. This gave us the opportunity to drink in the scenery, rugged crags, gentle soft lines merging to the ocean, bright vibrant greens, blues and white. It was fortunate to find a herd of beautiful friendly Highland Cows who posed for photos with us.