Scotland 2017 - Day 6

Fort William to Portree via the Ratagan Pass and the Glenelg Ferry


From Fort William, at the head of Loch Lochy we drove north and then headed west. We stopped at the Commando Memorial and then drove across the Ratagan Pass to Glenelg in misty rain. We paid a brief visit to the Iron Age brochs just beyond Glenelg. From Glenelg we could take the small ferry across to Kylerhea on the Isle of Skye and on to Portree. We had been the opposite way on this route before and had found it a convenient way to get to Skye - scenic and almost devoid of traffic. There was very little traffic but there was plenty of cloud and a few patches of rain. It still made for an interesting drive, getting us to Portree and the Cuillins Hills Hotel in the late afternoon. We diverted from the main road to visit the small settlement of Carbost, home of the Talisker Whisky Distillery. There was time for a tour of the famous distillery, but... we had forgotten that this being Sunday it was not open (although it does open every day June to September). Judging by the number of people driving aimless around the village, there would have been plenty of customers. So we settled for a quick bite to eat at the local Oyster Farm (fresh oysters of course).

The Commando Memorial

Just beyond Spean Bridge on the A82, at the junction with the B8004, is the memorial to the men of the original Commando Forces who were trained in this area. Commandoa and others are still trained there today. Adjacent to the memorial is a remembrance garden for those who lost their life in World War II and more recent conflicts.

The Commando memorial near Spean Bridge.
The I-5 crosses the harbour.
"Do nots" at the memorial.


Glenelg is an isolated village on the coast of mainland Scotland, facing the Kyle of Rhea across to Skye. It appears to be a mix of locals who fish and farm, and holiday cottages for rent. But Glenelg is also the site of three very well preserved Iron-Age stone houses or brocks which we visited before driving around the coast to the ferry.

View over Spean Bridge as we left the memorial, heading to the Ratagan Pass.
North of Spean Bridge towards Loch Lochy.
Loch Lochy - we would cruise along here in a week's time.
Looking to the northern end and Laggan Locks.
Entrance to the Great Glen Water park and the Laggan Swing Bridge - we would go under this.
The lights would come on...
and the bridge would open for us in the canal boat
Driving from Lochgarry towards Loch Garry.
Looking down on Loch Loyne from the A87.
Looking across Loch Cluanie in the mist.
Loch Cluanie is a hydro lake - the water level was very low.
Heading up and over the Ratagan Pass in the cloud.
A like-minded local.
Just over the summit...
And down towards Glenelg..
Entering Glenelg
The local war memorial.
Ummm... let's go left to the brochs.
Dun Telve broch
A little further up the valley is Dun Trodan.
Looking down-valley from Dun Trodan.
Back to Glenelg.

The Kylerhea turntable ferry

There was a time when Skye could only be reached by ferry and up to 12 small ferries plied back and forth. Many of these ferries were of the "turntable" design, enabling the ferry to moor alongside the dock and then to swing the turnable carrying vehicles around sideways to allow them to drive off. Today the Kylerhea ferry is the sole survivor of this turntable fleet. There are still a few other ferries across to Skye but they are all of the RORO (roll on roll off) type.

Turn left for Kylerhea.
Of course - too late for the last sailing... and too early for the next.
So we waited by the lighthouse and drank their coffee (£2 donation per cup)...
and read all the signs.
Here it comes...
our turn.

And on to Portree

From Kylerhea we headed up the steep one track road that crosses Skye and meets the A87 highway that joins the fancy new bridge to Portree. Then on to Portree and to the Cuillin Hills Hotel.

Up and over the pass
And on to the Cuillin Hills Hotel.
View from the hotel dining room.


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Last updated: 11/11/2017