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Friday, 30 July 2010

So near, yet so far - 2

I was retracing my route south to Broadford, anticipating the beautiful run along to Elgol, past  Blaven (Bla Bheinn, blue mountain) when I stopped to take pictures of this waterfall.  Skye tuesday 062I love waterfalls, as you can probably tell by the amount you’ve seen in the last few days.   This was quite spectacular, pretty high, as you can see from the heights of the trees.  Travelling on I turned off at Broadford  and joined the familiar single track road with passing places.  elgol roadRealising the mist was way down and that views would not be brilliant,  I still drove on round through Torrin on Loch Slapin, below Blaven, where on a sunny day with the tide in you see the sea in various beautiful colours of blues and greens.

 loch slapin tide's outHowever, there was still colour on a dreich day in the browns and oranges of the seaweed on the shore, and the greens of the grass and the long leaves of flag irises grazed roundabout by a number of  clean white shorn sheep.

The last bit of road into Elgol is quite steep and twisting , but taken carefully it is fine, but what a surprise greeted me.  Commercialisation had come to Elgol – new houses, car-parks, portacabins used as offices for boat-trip companies…. the place was hoaching with cars and people… and, no surprise, it was raining!  Skye tuesday 081There was enough cloud around to make me hold back from the boat trip, but at last it looked like there was some sun over Loch Coruisk.  Skye tuesday 089



I decided to chance it and rushed to get my ticket for the last trip of the afternoon on the Loch Coruisk boat.crossing loch scavaig  There were only a handful of us on board, and on the way, the skipper pointed out various seabirds,  a seal and even a porpoise swimming along arc-like in the grey blue water.  not far now


Soon we were getting close enough to make out the low point between rocks where we would be landing. 

nearly there

Not far now!

Nearly there!

that's where



Dead ahead now!


just through thereJust through there!



…but first we cruised round the bay a bit to see some seals….scavaig seals basking

and more seals…. scavaig seals

  and another seal…….                scavaig seal

 landing stageMy impatience was growing, but at last we turned towards the landing stage.    I was up and ready to scramble off but the skipper brought all the folk that were waiting up on the rocks down first.  Odd. I thought!  Then he began counting everyone – So do we get off here?  I asked. Oh no, he replied, this is a mini cruise.  You don’t go ashore!  I really thought he was joking….. but when I realised he was serious, I was so upset and angry.  No-one had said anything about not getting ashore from this trip, and they’d all known – from the girl who sold me the ticket to the skipper himself - that that was where I had wanted to go. Back to Elgol We began to push off again and before long were on our way back to Elgol again.  I just could not believe it!  as far away as ever



We were as far away from Loch Coruisk as ever!  As I said, so near, yet so far!

Talk again soon.

PS.  I got my money back, because of the “misunderstanding”!  Omission, more like!

PPS I was looking something up on the net when I found this painting of the Cuillin from Elgol, which I love!  cuillin andy peutherer I’ve asked Andy Peutherer, the artist’s permission to use it on my blog, and if you click here, you’ll find his website.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

So near, yet so far!

On Tuesday the weather wasn’t great, but I had decided I would drive down the main road and turn off to Elgol, where if it looked a bit brighter I might take the boat trip across Loch Scavaig to land at the spot where I would be able to walk along a short stretch of river to reach Loch Coruisk – Cor-ooshk – another two Gaelic words:  Coire, a hollow, and uisge, water.  The loch indeed sits in a hollow, and wears its name well!  I’ve been there twice before, inspired by a framed calendar picture we grew up with in our living room!  It was beautiful – and the real thing was pretty breath-taking too, surrounded as it is with all those high jaggy Cuillin  peaks!  I looked forward to seeing it again.

However, first I drove down the single track road to hopefully get views of the Black Cuillin (as opposed to the Red Cuillin, that surely get their name from the evening sun that catches them, turning them red?  I don’t know!)  Janet and Colin had both mentioned the Fairy Pools so that would be my first stop.  Parking up in the car park I took myself off down a path that was evidently the way to Sligachan.  series of falls It followed the burn down into the valley, and continued across it to climb into the hills!  Not for me.  I’m not able any more for that sort of thing!  Instead I followed the sound of the water fairy falls and found a series of cascades, falling over rocky outcrops into pools and on downwards to the next one.  fairy pools falls Very pretty.  These must be the Fairy Pools!  Not being too clever with balance and not having brought my walking poles, when I finally got to the point where the path crosses the river, there was too big a gap to jump over – I knew me!  I’d land in the water –


daisies and heather white orchid

 yellow orchids so I pottered around there taking pictures for a while before climbing back up the hill to the car.  It turned out when I saw the others later that the actual fairy pools were further on across the gap I couldn’t jump!Cuillins and fairy pools    Never mind!  Next time maybe!  I was quite happy with what I had seen! 


Skye tuesday 002



I drove on, stopping to take a pic of this big fellow, and eventually I reached the end of the road at the gate to the Glenbrittle Camping site.  climbers path The views of the mountains were rather cloud-ridden , but rather atmospheric with the cloud rolling around the peaks.  I decided to go paddling in the sea, just to see how cold or otherwise the water might be.  It was perfect!  Not cold really!   Very enjoyable and relaxing!from glenbrittle

I loved how the land in the distance echoed the shape of the promontory in front.   So with Loch Coruisk at the other side of the cloudy mountains  I started on the road back to Carbost, where I will pick you up next time.

Talk again soon.

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. 

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Continuing our day out

storr From Portree the road took us north for views of the Old Man of Storr, a rather precarious looking needle of rock seen from a great distance.  The cloud was right down by the time we drove the road below it but the best shots I got were the distant ones. 

A little further on we left the car to take a walk – not a long one -  to where we could look down on the ruins of a diatomite works!  processing works lethallt Have you ever heard of diatomite?  I know I hadn’t, but apparently it was/is a clay-like substance made up of the microscopic shells of diatoms!  It was found a few miles from where the works was then built, and was brought here to be treated before being shipped out to be used in insulation of ships’ boilers, in the production of paints and polishes, even for the manufacture of dynamite.  I wonder how tall the chimney was originally.  It reminded me of when I lived in the Dales of Yorkshire having lead mines and smelting mills round about the fells.  lethallt2The chimneys were high to release poisonous fumes higher into the air.  Was this the same? 

Walking back along the track we admired the beautiful waterfall of Lethallt tumbling into a gorge that wound down to the sea near the diatomite works.

kilt rock viewpoint Then on again to look at the Kilt Rocks, named for the stratification patterns on the cliff face that look rather like the pleats and weave of a kilt.  kilt rocks There is a viewing platform there now that was quite new to me, but it does save people leaning out over the top of the cliffs to see the rocks, and the pretty waterfall.  Accidents have happened, so safety barriers have sensibly been put in place.

Not finding too many cafes and those we did find, closed, I suggested to Colin we go to Flodigarry Hotel for afternoon tea!  flodigarry The hotel used to belong to a former colleague from years back, inherited from her grandmother, and I had stayed at the hotel once on a tour with my pal Brenda but that was long ago, and we found out that Donna gave up the hotel quite some time ago.  Still it was nice to sit and take our tea, scones and shortbread, in the company of Donna’s best friend who coincidentally had just popped into the hotel at the same time as us!  Nearby, and part of the hotel, is the house where Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald lived.  You can read about her and see her cottage here

Refreshed, we continued along the single track road allowing oncoming cars to pass, by one of us stopping in a passing place .  Friendly waves of appreciation are exchanged, and you know it’s a local driver when the wave appears as just a raised finger, hand still on the steering wheel!  Through Duntulm at the top of the island, Kilmuir, where my former flatmate Sheila came from – the one who introduced me to the Gaelic choir all those years ago and who I met up with recently after nearly 30 years –  and where Flora MacDonald is buried -  into Uig where the ferry leaves for the Outer Hebrides.  No boat waiting today, as I recalled a time when I was booked to go to Stornaway, and arrived late  at Uig due to hold-ups on the road.  The boat was still there, as we pulled up on the pier, but as I called to the ferryman, the boat slipped away from the pier, off to sea without us!  So near, yet so far!  I was furious!  The whole story is long and I won’t bore you with it, but we should have been on that boat!

colin at sligachan On we drove, back down to Portree, and Sligachan again.  Fine views of the hills demanded that photos should be taken so here’s Colin sitting on the old Sligachan bridge with Sgurr nan Gillean raising its pointed summit in the background – Sgoor nun Geelyan with a hard G not a J, means peak of the lads/young men.  It wasn’t until the  second half of the 19th century that  Gillean – the young men -  started coming here to explore the mountains, and now the peaks are dotted all over with hillwalkers and climbers arriving in their droves.

loch harport We got back to Carbost about the same time as the others and over supper exchanged notes on our day!  Plans were made for the next day, and before long, all exhausted, we retired to our beds.  I took this photo from the bedroom window at about 11.30 p.m.

Talk again soon.