Bonnie Scotland Part One - Skye

24th September, 2000
25th September, 2000
26th September, 2000
27th September, 2000
28th September, 2000
29th September, 2000

Sunday, 24th September, 2000

Neist Point photograph

Neist Point, Skye

Drop Cap oday was beautiful. The sun shone warmly from a blue sky and the wind was not so high. We did a load of washing and hung it out (Mac found a cord and put up a temporary clothes line) before heading off to Neist Point, the most westerly point of Skye. There is a lighthouse but the track to it was a mile and a half long and the wind was blowing me off my feet. But we had a look at the cliffs and spectacular scenery before heading back to Colbost.

Martyrs Cairn photograph

Cairn to the Glendale Martyrs, Colbost, Skye

Drop Cap n the way we passed a memorial cairn and went in to see. It commemorated the Glendale Martyrs, led by one John MacPherson, who led the crofters of Skye to resist the Clearances and led eventually to the Crofters' Act, which allowed tenants to remain and work the land. It was very interesting.

Drop Cap e called at Skye Silver to buy Neil a ring for Christmas. The elderly couple there were very helpful, sizing (and cleaning) my ring and helping me to find one that will fit Neil. I hope it will.

Dunvegan Castle photograph

Dunvegan Castle, Skye

Dunvegan Gardensphotograph

Water Garden, Dunvegan Castle, Skye

Drop Cap hen we took our picnic lunch to Dunvegan Castle, where we ate in the gardens. They looked lovely, with the little waterfalls gushing busily and patches of white and mauve autumn crocus springing up everywhere. We had a look at the round garden, which is a pretty parterre with little box hedges, then looked over the castle which is quite interesting.

Fairy Bridgephotograph

Fairy Bridge, near Dunvegan,Skye

Drop Cap e then drove up the road a little to the "Fairy Bridge". Don't know why it's called that and there was no information. Then we drove back to Glendale and afternoon tea at a local cafe. It had the added attraction of a ginger and white cat under one of the tables, which seemed to enjoy Mac's attentions. Then we came home, took in the washing and put on another load. Unfortunately, it has clouded over and seems to be spitting. Never mind, today has been lovely.

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Monday, 25th September, 2000

Drop Cap ot up and did yet another load of washing. These frontloaders the British use don't hold an awful lot. Hung some out, though it looked dull and misty, put the rest on hangers.

Portree photograph

Beaumont Crescent, Portree, Skye

Drop Cap hen we set off for Portree, the island's capital. By the time we got there the sun was out, it was a brilliant day, warm and sunny. We had morning tea and explored, even finding the Craiglockhart Guest House, where we stayed before, and Neil before us, and Mac's parents before him. Mr. Kemp, the owner, was still there and we talked to him. It was so good to see it had survived new hotels in the street.

Aros photograph

View from the Aros Heritage Centre, Skye

Drop Cap bought a couple of souvenirs from Skye Batiks, and we went on from Portree town centre (where there had been some kind of rally for vintage trucks which filled one of the car parks. There were several lovely vintage Rolls Royces as well.) and headed for the Aros Heritage Centre. Aros is Gaelic for home place, apparently. They had quite a good exhibition of Skye history with a cassette and headphone commentary (which could have been better, lots of static). Then we took our picnic into the forest walk and found a table overlooking a little stone circle (probably a fake) but it was a pleasant place.

Storr photograph

The Old Man of Storr, Skye

Kilt Rock photograph

Kilt Rock and Falls, Skye

Drop Cap fter lunch we drove out of Portree and up to Staffin, passing stupendous scenery, Storr and the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and Falls, everywhere, as Geoff says, is so photogenic that you can't keep on taking photos or you run out of film.

Drop Cap e had afternoon coffee at a wonderful place in Staffin which is a new community facility called Columba 1400, or something. It runs outdoor opportunity courses for city kids in the summer and offers a really nice cafe with Internet access for the benefit of the local community. In a place as small and remote as Staffin, it is a remarkable institution. The building itself was architecturally beautiful and the cafe had wonderful views.

Quiraing photograph

The Quiraing, Skye

Drop Cap e even sent a couple of emails, then headed out along the Quiraing, stunning, and through Uig and home. What a lovely day, I just can't believe this weather. I keep giving thanks to whoever may be listening.

Drop Cap he scenery is so beautiful, dramatic rather than pretty, and we are all enjoying it so much.

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Tuesday, 26th September, 2000

Otter Flyer

Pamphlet for Otter Centre

Drop Cap he day started out beautiful, with a pink dawn, but true to the proverb, red sky in the morning did not bode well. But at least we had half a day fine, during which we drove down to Kylerhea to the Otter Haven. This involved a walk of 1 km each way to the hide which is established overlooking the shore of the Kyle. We had our binoculars, but did not actually see any otters, I don't think my binoculars would be powerful enough anyway. But we did see a colony of grey seals, lying around on the shore with others swimming and diving in the water, and a real bonus, a pod of six dolphins curving and diving right in front of the hide. That was really fantastic, besides, Mac and I have seen sea otters in Alaska, really close around the boats. There were many varieties of hunting birds from grey herons and cormorants, to great skuas, enormous gulls.

Serpentarium flyer

Pamphlet for Skye Serpentarium, Skye

Drop Cap e had a picnic lunch on the road to Broadford, then, continuing the animal theme for the day, visited the Skye Serpentarium, a reptile exhibit. They had large snakes, like the boa constrictor to thin little pythons and some medium sized pythons, one of which, Gypsy, was taken out and given to Mac and Geoff to play with. I kept my distance, there is something so cold about snakes' eyes. They had iguanas, bearded dragons, even a blue tongued lizard. And tortoises and treefrogs. Quite interesting, but not to me.

Drop Cap t started to rain quite heavily so we abandoned our plan of a cruise around Broadford Bay. Maybe another day. Did some shopping and came home and did the ironing. Oh, well.

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Wednesday, 27th September, 2000

Armadale Castle photograph

Ruins of Armadale Castle, Skye

Drop Cap he weather has well and truly broken today. It has been raining hard and the wind is cold. All the little cracks and creeks in the mountain sides are rushing with little waterfalls. It wasn't too bad when we left and headed for Armadale, the pier for the Mallaig ferry. We checked times for Saturday and then went to Armadale Castle and the Clan Donald Centre. We have seen the MacPherson Clan Museum and the seats of Macrae at Eilean Donan and McLeod at Dunvegan, so we thought we should see that of the Lords of the Isles, the MacDonalds.

Armadale Castle Gardens photograph

Mac and Geoff in the Gardens of Armadale Castle

Drop Cap he Castle is a ruin, having been destroyed by fire, but they have built a very good exhibit in the bit that is left, and the gardens are beautiful. We walked around the grounds and ate our picnic in a sheltered lookout over the Sound of Sleat. By this time it was starting to rain and blow hard. So we finished our lunch with hot chocolate and cake in the Stables Restaurant.

Armadale Castle photograph

Armadale Castle, Skye

Drop Cap he exhibition was quite interesting, even though it skipped over the unsavoury episode which we learned about at Aros on Monday, where the lords of MacDonald and McLeod organised the kidnapping of clansmen and selling of them into slavery in the Americas. No wonder the clan system broke down.

Armadale Castle photograph

Armadale Castle Ruins, Skye

Drop Cap nyway, we came home via a couple of little coastal roads which we had not explored before, places like Tokavaig, where we found a crumbling castle on the headland, which was interesting. The little burns and rivers which were very low this morning are in spate this afternoon.

Drop Cap omorrow evening we have made a booking at the 3 Chimneys Restaurant, a major award winning restaurant near here. We tried for Friday, but it's all full up, we could only get a table for 6.30 tomorrow and must be out by 9 o'clock. Even our pack of things to do here says it is very expensive. I hope we can afford it.

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Thursday, 28th September, 2000

Grave Marker photograph

Ancient Grave Marker, Trumpan Medieval Churchyard, Skye

Drop Cap oday was one of those contradictory Skye days. It started out cold and wet as we went up Waternish to the Trumpan Medieval Churchyard ruins. This seems to have extended since we were last here, with a modern graveyard attached. But the grave slab with the knight carved on it is still there. We went down into the fishing and craft village of Stein, where we had coffee and cake by a cosy open fire, then went on through the rain in the direction of Uig.

Quiraing photograph

The Quiraing, Skye

Drop Cap y the time we got there the sun was out, the sky was blue and the Quiraing looked marvellous! We drove across in the opposite direction from which we did it on Monday and the views were clear and stupendous. I think it is better this way than the other.

Thistles photograph

Scottish Thistles outside our Cottage Door

Drop Cap n reaching the Staffin end we headed up and over the top end of Trotternish. It was a wonderful run, the sea and the cliffs and Duntulm Castle mouldering on its headland. We had a light lunch at the pier in Uig, watching the CalMac ferry come in and leave again. Then home, via a few small roads we haven't travelled before. It was a great day when we got home, the sun was pouring through the bedroom windows and it was lovely and warm.

Drop Cap e put on our good gear and drove down to Colbost to the 3 Chimneys Restaurant.
This rates five stars in all the guides and is very expensive. We had sherry and Geoff had a vodka and orange with a little taster plate of complimentary appetisers. Mac didn't have a starter but I had 6 oysters naturel and Geoff had hot crab tart, then Mac had venison, Geoff had turbot fillet and I had brochettes of scallops, prawns and monkfish with chili couscous. It was delicious, though rather a lot and we all cleared our plates. Mac and Geoff had steamed marmalade pudding with Drambuie custard and we all had cappucino with another plate of sweet nothings (choc dipped strawberries, shortbread, mini cherry tarts (only one cherry) etc) all tiny and exquisite.
With a bottle of Alsation Gerwurtztraminer the bill came to one hundred and twenty seven pounds, with a tip of fifteen pounds, that is over $400-00!!!!
It was very good, but not that good. Still, it was nice, unpressured and the service was excellent, even though they were full and needed our table by 9 p.m. We were finished by 8:40.

It was spitting with rain again as we came out.

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Friday, 29th September, 2000

Drop Cap oday we explored some little roads we had not driven before and ended up at the Talisker Distillery. For something to do we went on the guided tour. They gave us a taste of the 10 year old single malt and I disgraced myself by inhaling some of the fumes with my first sip and coughing it all over the counter. Very embarrassing. But I really don't know why people drink whisky. It is horrible.

Cuillins photograph

The Black Cuillins, from Glen Brittle, Skye

Drop Cap hen we went on down into Glen Brittle along the sides of the Black Cuillin until we reached the Mountain Rescue Post. Then the road deteriorated into a 4WD track and we turned back. We had lunch in a picnic spot in the forest with a marvellous view of the Black Cuillin.

Drop Cap hen we headed back to Dunvegan and followed the road beyond the Castle to the "coral beaches". Although we walked down to the beach, we saw no sign of the "coral" that is supposed to be there, but on the way back we had a good view of the seal colony in Loch Dunvegan.

Drop Cap e came home early in order to pack and clean the house. Lochearnhead tomorrow!

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