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Monday, 26 July 2010

A sojourn in Skye

As I said yesterday I arrived home on the Friday night and set off the next morning for a few days on the Isle of Skye!  It was a long drive up by Stirling to Callander, and on to Crianlarich, up over Rannoch Moor, through an atmospheric Glencoe with th mist swirling over the tops, across the bridge at Ballachulish, reaching Fort William at last.  I had thought of driving up to Invergarry and taking the road to Kyle of Lochalsh  to cross the Skye bridge, but had instead booked the car on to the ferry crossing from Mallaig to Armadale on the south end of Skye.  It would save a good bit of time and the route took the beautiful “road to the Isles”.  It is a far quicker drive from the Fort to Mallaig these days, as the route has been vastly upgraded.  It misses out all the little coastal settlements, but if you have time to take it slowly you can still drive some of the beautiful little narrow winding roads, through places like Arisaig and Back of Keppoch.  This time I was in a hurry so I kept on the brand new road to Morar and Mallaig.

The ferry was in the dock and it wasn’t long before we could drive on and begin our crossing to Sleat, the southern peninsula of Skye.  Sleat to DouneThis is the part of Skye we look over to when I go to Knoydart each year to join my lacemaker friends, so it followed that I should be able to look across to Doune from here.  The weather wasn’t at its best but with the help of the binoculars I identified the houses that make up the community at Doune, and took some photos – just to prove I’d seen it!

cuillins firstI drove past the Gaelic college which we see very clearly from Doune, and reached the main road through the island, so with views of the Cuillins ahead I continued on up through Broadford to Sligachan  - pronounced SLIG-a-han, it apparently comes from the Gaelic meaning small shells!   I turned left and eventually left again to reach Kintyre and Skye some 450 190 Carbost, the village where my friend Colin and some of his colleagues were staying for a couple of weeks.  While they climbed or went on long walks I was just going to do my own thing.  I had some ideas of where I would go.  I was introduced to the gang, Mark, his wife Janet, son Peter, and friend Ian, and sat down to a lovely supper cooked by Janet, which I was ready for after my long day  travelling.  The sky looked promising for a good sunset so after we’d eaten we went out for some views.

The Free Church is the foreground for this picture.  Taken from up the hill a little, and looking down Loch Harport, loch harport sunset there was too much cloud around to give us the beautiful colours of a Western Highland sunset, and while still very pretty, this was about as good as it got!


The next day Colin and I had a day out together round the north end of Skye.  Just before we reached Portree (Port-REE, port of the King) we took a look at the Aros visitor centre, sea eaglewhere we learned about our largest eagle – the sea eagle, which can be seen at several spots round the island.  We didn’t see any!   I think we’d have known if we had!  Bigger than the golden eagle it looks like a barn door in the sky apparently!


On nextcrabs unloaded to the island’s capital, Portree where we walked around the harbour, and watched the crab man unload his catch from the boat. Hmm!  Not happy about the amount thrown back into the sea – dead.  However maybe they make good fodder for the gulls. 

the lobster man



Then there was the lobster man at the end of the pier, setting his pots and loading them into his boat, all linked together with rope.

Portree has grown quite considerably since the days friends and I used to camp here or visit on holiday.  We’d sit on the harbour side eating prawns  from their shells and enjoy the bustle of the tiny port.   The prawn shop has gone now but there are lots of trendy little shops around the town now.  Being Sunday, a lot of them were closed, but I got a chance to come back as I will tell you next time.

Talk again soon.

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