Scotland gently pulled its foggy coverlet away and showered as its day began. Nestled in the calm and quiet of Loch Nevis, we were greeted by the lush greenery of the surrounding hillsides and the scattered white homes in the isolated community of Inverie.

It has been our habit lately to leave our berth at 0800, and today was no exception. As we ventured forth, blessed by a statue of Our Lady, scores of Manx shearwaters and shimmering northern gannets swirled about us. The journey was not long, just across the strait to the Isle of Skye. The rain continued to fall, but, as happened so frequently throughout the week, the clouds held back their tears while our excursion was underway. Armadale Castle and Gardens offered something for everyone. The Museum of the Isles reviewed the history of Clan MacDonald. Outside, we were all overwhelmed by the size of the trees, both native and introduced exotic. The grounds were soothing and inviting, and we enjoyed a leisurely stroll.

Our return to the ship must have been a message to the skies, for as we dined and the ship repositioned, the rain poured down. Kyle of Lochalsh was our final stop before we all scattered to the four winds. But first Eilean Donan, the ancestral home of Clan MacRae needed to be explored. Down the gangway, we poured while the rain no longer did. Perched on an islet surrounded by golden kelp, the castle has the reputation of being one of the most photographed in Scotland. We did our part to preserve that particular legacy. Inside the keep, we wound our way through narrow passages and well-presented rooms depicting the history of the family.

No visit to Scotland would be complete without the blessing of the haggis and its bagpipe-accompanied procession. Bartender Kieran completed the ritual with his recitation of Robbie Burns’ “Ode to the Haggis” poem. Post-dinner, friendships old and new were solidified with background fiddle music.