After our adventures in Fort William and InverLochy our Rabbie’s Tours mini-bus continued up north on Highway A82 until we reached Invergarry when we turned off to Highway A87 which goes all the way to Skye. But when we reached the south-east tip of Loch Duich at Shiel Bridge we turned off that road, too, in favor of an old mountain road that was called The Old Mountain Road and would take us up and down hills and around a few hairpin turns to an alternate route to Skye: the tiny ferry at Glenelg. In the middle of this crazy ride we stopped at a viewpoint on Ratagan Pass and marveled at the spectacular view.
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The plan for Rabbie’s Tours is to use A87 for both the road to and return from Skye but our driver / tour guide convinced us that it would be better to go to Skye via the ferry and drive back from the island via the Skye bridge on A87 that connects Skye to the mainland. So he collected an additional £2 from each passenger to pay the ferry fare and off we went to the palindrome known as Glenelg.
Ratagan Pass is also called Mam Ratagan and even Bealach Ratagain. Whatever you want to call it the viewpoint offers a spectacular view of Loch Duich and the mountains called the Five Sisters of Kintail. Just like Glencoe we couldn’t see the tops of these mountains because of the low-hanging clouds.
This old road used to be the main route to Skye. Drovers first used this route to lead their cattle to Glenelg. The cattle would then have to swim to Skye over the Kyle Rhea Strait. The English military established garrisons all over the Highlands in the 18th century to control the feisty Highlanders during the various Jacobite Rebellions and built this road in the 18th century to connect to the barracks at Glenelg. In the 19th century the road was rebuilt by Thomas Telford and it was vastly improved in the 1980s. It still is mostly a single track road, though, but with many passing places.
In my next posting I will cover our ride on the ferry from Glenelg to the Isle of Skye.