Just as we are approaching the rocky coast with our Hymer motorhome, the sun slowly disappears behind the mountain chains of the Isle of Tiree. Noel steers the caravan safely through the small winding streets, past idyllic farms, large pasture lands and grazing cows. It is completely calm here, only the ocean announced itself from afar with its gentle sound. Now the waves are breaking against the shore with a rumbling noise. We park our Hymer with the Sprinter chassis opposite a rambling sand beach. The wind tickles our faces. Water as far as the eye can see – in shades of blue that we would never have expected in Scotland.
In the distance, a surfer plunges into the waves. As he slowly strolls along the beach to meet us, he brushes some wet strands of hair from his forehead. He is breathing fast and initially uses his surfboard to support himself. William MacLean says he is a little out of breath. He was lucky enough to grow up on Tiree. He knows the beauty of the Scottish island, he breathes the feeling of freedom that it gives to all its inhabitants. “Tiree is wild and precious“, says the 40-year-old, with his surfboard tucked under his arm now. His gaze wanders back to the ocean which reflects the golden light of the evening sun. His love of the water prompted him to found his own surfing school here on Tiree almost 20 years ago: “Wild Diamond Watersports“ was the name he chose for it. This name has been chosen to reflect the rough charm of the island.
The Scots are curious, sarcastic, resourceful and patriotic.
Even as a boy William was a nature lover and was therefore bold enough to plunge into the waves at the tender age of ten. It soon became clear to him that he wanted to turn his big passion into his profession. While still at school, he started teaching at the Tiree Windsurfing Club, later he opened a surfing school in Ireland. “My grandmother was a key influence in this. She was very industrious and ran a busy B & B.“ However, William soon felt drawn back to his native Scotland. “The Scots are curious, sarcastic, resourceful and patriotic.“ No question, his deep voice holds a measure of pride.
After we, too,were bold enough to step onto a surfboard, we speak with William about his job. He says he is his own boss – and that he likes it that way. Nevertheless, William describes his everyday life as a constant challenge. He says that self-employment requires courage: “Be aware you need to put all of your time into your project. Not just lots ... all of your time!“ He also had to learn first how to deal with setbacks and doubts. Now he knows: Problems are a part of life. His love of sports has of course helped him to arrive at this insight. “As long as I can make a living from my business I will continue!“
This view is shared by Scott Davies whom we meet a few days later on the Isle of Skye. When we arrive at the island in our Hymer motorhome, we see Scott carrying a large bucket full of freshly caught crabs, shrimps and crayfish across the street. The scent of the sea is hanging in the air, seagulls are crossing his path. The native Welshman is executive chef of the most renowned restaurant in Scotland. He has brought in his own style and delights the guests of “The Three Chimneys“ more than anything else with authentic flavours.
When we arrive at the restaurant, there is the usual hustle and bustle. Does he sometimes get nervous on such hectic evenings? Scott shakes his head. He says he has always been thrilled by the fast pace in the professional kitchen. “I think I made my mind up to be a chef when I was about thirteen, and that was it. I have never changed my mind!“ Scott smiles.
Inspired by his parents who were cooking enthusiasts, but also by TV star chef Gordon Ramsay, Scott starts his apprenticeship at the Catering College. His own style is taking shape in various restaurants, with his time in Australia being of special importance for his professional development. “The food there was a lot lighter and less influenced by heavy aromas.“ With this experience under his belt, he moves to Skye in 2015. His mission in “The Three Chimneys“: “Serve the most local nature to plate and offer our guests the finest that Skye has to offer.“
The new concept is not immediately understood by everybody. For Scott, this is a painful insight: “It is very discouraging when people got out of their way to be negative. They clearly just did not get what I was trying to achieve.“ This taught him: “I have learned that I need to communicate my story and my intentions more clearly.“ The hard work is paying off. A selection of delicious seafoods lands on our table, the scent of lamb steaks sweeps through the restaurant. With his choice of ingredients, Scott celebrates the unique nature of the island.
The most amazing thing about Skye is how wild and rugged this place is – and yet so beautiful and bountiful in many of it`s secret places
“The most amazing thing about Skye is how wild and rugged this place is – and yet so beautiful and bountiful in many of ist secret places“, Scott tells us. The chef has quickly felt at home in Scotland. His tip for the exploration of the Highlands: Take a road trip. “Head off in almost any direction from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Inverness and you will be staggered by what you discover!“ We leave Skye, too, and continue touring the country in search of all the other magic places and impressive personalities.
The islands of Skye and Tiree are located to the west of Scotland and belong to the so-called “Inner Hebrides “. Together, they are characterized by a particularly varied landscape, but each of them also exudes its own very unique charm.
And even though the entire island is gorgeous, you should by no means forget to visit the following four places:
Here are three reasons why the island should be part of any road trip: