On the edge of Britain: Isle of Skye Part 1

10 December 2013

(Soundtrack to this post: Scottish Gaelic song, in which the poet praises the island of his heart. Composed during WWI). 

Oh Skye, you stole my heart. Surrounded by sea, with the migthy Cuillin on the horizon, narrow windy roads and countless crofts, a big piece of the Inner Hebrides jigsaw puzzle.

We went to Skye on a whim. During the summer I watched this documentary about the Hebrides and I couldn't find an excuse for why we shouldn't just drive up to Skye one weekend. We've lived here for over 6 years now, why have we not been there yet. We booked a Shepherd's hut for two nights, packed rain jackets, wellies, burgers and beer to our little car and off we went. J put together 4h of good oldies and road trip music.

^^ Ready to go
 ^^ Crossing the Firth of Forth
^^ First stop for coffee and cake. 
 ^^ It looked like it was going to rain. It didn't. yet.
 ^^ Meadow next to the cafe. pretty.
^^ Narrow windy roads.

Even the drive itself was rather pleasant. A good supply of "paluszki" to munch on, singing along and praying for good weather. Across the Skye bridge, 6 km down the croft (including a couple of stops to let the sheep pass across the road) and we arrived at Janet's place. Janet has two Shepherd's huts, 2 donkeys, 3 greyhounds and a bull. As soon as we arrived I knew we were in one of my favourite places I've ever stayed in, I mean, have you seen those huts? They have everything you need to have a good sleep relax after a long walk or a boat trip, even a small wood burning stove and a bench for sitting outside with a cup of tea to stargaze. After unpacking we drove to the village for dinner. Foolishly, we didn't make any dinner reservations and found all places to be fully booked. No seafood for us then. Waiter in one of the local bistros felt sorry for us and allowed us to eat in the bar area. J had fish & chips, I chose lobster. It wasn't mind blowing to be honest, but after the 4h drive we were happy enough.

I read on twitter that killer whales visited waters around Skye a couple of days back. We set off early in the morning to go on a boat trip. The sea had different ideas and the boats were cancelled. Oh well. Fairly pools then, we thought. That's one of the best things about Skye: there's so much to see and do. A long drive and a short walk down the glen later and we were at the fairly pools. Here is a thing: pinterest is full of lies. To take a picture like this we'd have to climb down the rocks and pretty much stand in the stream. We didn't, which doesn't mean that I didn't like the views. It was peaceful and quiet. Reminded me about walking in Tatry. Portree with its colourful harbour for late lunch and a drive back to our cosy hut.

In the evening we made burgers on a barbecue, sat outside taking in the view and reading books I borrowed from Janet.  I particularly enjoyed reading about history and geology of Skye - any geological process, you name it, and Skye has been through it: volcanoes, glaciers, mountain formation, cliffs, lochs. Also: Vikings, and beautiful names they left behind: Elgol, Bla Bheinn, Soay...

In the morning it was time to leave, too soon. Stopping over at Eilean Donan castle (the most photographed castle in Scotland), Glenfinnan to see the Harry Potter railway and a long drive down the majestic Glen Coe and we were back home in Edinburgh. I would go back to Skye in a heartbeat. I don't know why, and I have thought about it a lot, but I feel I would find happiness in living a simple life on a croft. In many ways it's very similar to living in the North of Norway I guess. Living close to the sea, in harmony but always at its mercy. Who knows, maybe I'll have a chance to try it and I will realise it's just my escapism talking, not what I really want or need. Anyway, this trip, although too short, was the highlight of my summer. In the future I'd love to see more of the Hebrides and meet more people living there. Who knows, maybe it'll happen. Island hopping...yes please.

 ^^ True, that.

 ^^ Getting closer.
 ^^ and closer...
 ^^ the sea!

^^ The Skye Bridge - the only link from the island apart from the boat. slightly scary to cross. 
 ^^ through the croft
 ^^ rainbow!
 ^^... and we're here. Can you spot a little house on the top of the hill? That's not our hut.
^^ view from our hut
^^ and a super comfy bed.

Tomorrow:  staying in Shepherd's Huts, Elgol, Fairy Pools, Portree and Glenfinnan

Practical information:

  • How to get there: about 300 km drive from Edinburgh, or by bus from Glasgow
  • Where we stayed: Skye Shepherd's huts, £70 per hut, sleeps 2, including an amazing breakfast (I can't recommend this place enough, it's awesome)
  • Guide we used: Isle of Skye: 40 Coast and Country walks
  • When to go: depends what you want to see, weather in August was lovely, but winters can be much colder and harsher. But then you can see Aurora Borealis! I guess it depends on preferences and what you want to do. Janet's place is open all year long.
Part 2 of our trip to Isle of Skye. Including staying in the awesome Skye Shepherd's Huts

No comments: