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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Dunvegan and the seals

Skye monday TaliskerMy plan for the day was to visit Dunvegan, detouring first to have a look at the Talisker whisky distillery at the other end of the village.  I didn’t go in! For one thing it was too early….

near portnalong Then onwards to the end of the road at Fiskavaig, just for a look.  The village houses are well scattered, as you can see, all the little houses no doubt having their own little patches of land to cultivate and keep animals on.  The wild roses were blooming all over the place, just asking to be photographed, wild roseso I took this one…. and several others.

It wasn’t a long drive up the main road through Bracadale to Dunvegan, but first I made another detourskye silver by skye silver


to visit Skye Silver in an old school on the road to Glendale.  (Photo courtesy of Skye Silver) I once bought a lovely ring with delicate Celtic designs on it from them, I suspect in the days of its infancy.  It is well worn now, almost smooth.  Well, the designs today are still beautiful, but prices are not as they were back then!  I wouldn’t have been able to afford comparable prices in those days!!!  the three chimneys Another place I remembered from that particular holiday was The Three Chimneys Restaurant, which is now very well known in many parts of the country, and is rather exclusive.  Was this the same building?  My memory of it was that the gable, not the front, faced the road!  Well, it is face on to the road now!  Again, I didn’t go in!  Still too early! 

Skye monday blackhouse Next door is the small folk museum which I also remember, though I think there was only one simple blackhouse there then.  There are more little buildings there now.  The blackhouse  was a low single storey stone  cottage with thatched roof, no windows, only a door at back and front and a hole in the roof for smoke to escape through.  The fire in the middle of the main room warmed the place and was used for cooking on, but the smoke didn’t always go out of the hole in the roof.  It swirled around the room, blackening the stone walls, and getting into the chests of the inhabitants.  Not the most salubrious of dwellings, but this was how many of the Highland people lived even into the 20th century – well into it, though perhaps with some improvements and modernisation, like a couple of windows, and maybe a fireplace ….with a chimney! !   And maybe they had stopped keeping the cows in the lower part of the house.  A lot had by that time moved out of the old blackhouses and built new modern houses that were named white houses – like the three chimneys house – the original part - with a chimney at either end, door in the middle, window on either side, matching dormer windows….. fireplaces, plumbing…..

Driving back towards Dunvegan  I tried to see if I could see the Castle across the loch, but there didn’t appear to be anything in view except a large white tent thing in the distance.  What was that? I wondered.  I reached Dunvegan, parked the car, paid to get into the grounds – I was only going to the seal boats but still had to pay to go through the grounds, dunvegan castle entrance but when I wandered down the castle drive, I found that the “tent” I had seen, was covering the centre section of the castle!  Roof repairs!  There was quite a controversy over the late MacLeod of MacLeod’s ideas for fundraising for the repairs needed so I am wondering how his son, the present clan chief, has managed to raise the money!  None of my business, really – just curious!  However it is a shame the whole building has had to be hidden under it’s tent.  I saw in Venice whole building facades painted/printed? on the covering tarpaulin, same thing on a building in Glasgow – shame Dunvegan couldn’t have done that!DunveganCastle3 

dunvegan castle2 Anyway I wandered down through the gardens to the  loch front where the boats left regularly on tours to see the local seal population, paid my money, donned a lifejacket, and climbed into the next boat to leave.   It’s only a short distance to the rocks where the seals are to be found, dunvegan seal and we found them basking in the sunshine, Dunvegan seals4 quite




unconcerned about us and the boat – maybe an occasional eye opened or head turned, but by and large there was not much movement going on!  dunvegan seal6 Most of the seals would have been out at sea while the tide was still rising, we learned, Dunvegan seals but we enjoyed the views of the velvety looking creatures that were there, mostly common seals,  dunvegan seal5with an occasional grey

seal quietly swimming around just off the edges of the rocks.  Aw cute! – Just one more? … mother and babeDunvegan seals5!


I had more time on the way back to the car to look at the gardens with their wild woodlands and tamed formal gardens.  Very peaceful and not quite as “perfectly pristine” as some of the gardens I have visited lately, it was very pleasant and wanderable.  Oh I have to put some pics in here!dunvegan lilies dunvegan blue beddunvegan top of waterfall

 dunvegan water lily

 walled garden door

Then I was off again to Portree, as I hoped to get a CD of some Gaelic choral singing.  I bought two in the end, and another of my favourite “old folky” Archie Fisher!  Lovely!  Played them loud and long the rest of the afternoon in the car!

When I arrived back at the cottage I was surprised to see Colin, Mark and Peter home as it was still early for them, then colin's poorly thumbColin held up his hand in a fist -  he had had his thumb split open by a falling boulder, and spent a good part of the day in Portree hospital having it stitched up!  He’s trying here to look like the little boy lost – trembling lip and all that!

Aw, poor lad!

It didn’t stop him climbing the next day though!

Hope it hasn’t been too long a read today!

Talk again soon. 

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