It’s just as well I had no plans to leave Skye today as I woke to the news that ferries were cancelled again and even the bridge was closed for a few hours due to continuing high winds. Secure in my knowledge that I was here for one more night, I popped down the 3 flights of stairs for my breakfast. Yummy fried egg with bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms. I always forget that bacon here is not like bacon at home. It’s more like what we call country ham in the South, just not salt cured.
As the rain was tipping down pretty heavily, I decided that maybe the day should start with indoor activities, so I popped into the car and headed towards Armadale. Armadale is where Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is located. It was about an hour drive, dodging ponding water and feeling the car shake from wind most of the way. Once at the College, I spent considerable time pondering all the Gaelic items available. I found several presents for people back home and a book called Everyday Gaelic for me. I also bought, well let’s just say several, CDs. I really hope Candida is fond of Celtic music. I also took some time braving the wind and rain to grab some photos from behind the College’s administration building. It’s in a spectacular location right on the sea.
Upon leaving SMO, I continued on into the area where the ferry to Mallaig embarks. It was a very lonely place as the ferry service was suspended due to weather, but I wanted to pop into a shop called Ragamuffin that Susan had told me about. Ragamuffin specializes in knitwear of all sorts and I spent at least half an hour browsing before choosing a couple of items. I got myself a really pretty wool hat and some knit wristlets. Hmm…wonder where I got the idea for those? I opted for some thinner knit ones rather than heavier ones like Claire wears in the show because, after all, I live in Georgia where these are really more of a decorative accessory than a necessity.
After my shopping expedition, it appeared that the rain and clouds might actually be lifting, so I decided to act on another tip from Susan and head out to Elgol. This, she had told me, is where many photographers and artists go to get some of the best pictures of Skye. As long as the clouds aren’t right down to the ground, I was told it would be well worth the trip. I made my way back towards Broadford and then made the turnoff for Elgol. It was then that I realized something very important. The road to Elgol is a single track road. I immediately had flashbacks to some of the roads I drove in Ireland that were single track. (I still have nightmares about some of those.) However, I decided to persevere in pursuit of the picturesque views I was promised.
I was very pleased to discover that single track roads in Scotland are much easier to navigate than the ones I remembered from Ireland. After several minutes I realized why. In Ireland, most of the roads I drove were enclosed on both sides by fairly high walls. This made it very hard to see what was coming ahead, be it a bend in the road or another vehicle. In Scotland, on the other hand, the terrain is much more open and you can see an approaching vehicle far enough ahead in most cases to adjust your speed to meet it in one of the abundant (and well-marked) passing places.
As I continued my way towards Elgol, I also realized that most of the sheep on the farms I was passing were not confined by fences of any sort. There were simply what we would call cattle-guard grates that separated farms and keep one farm’s sheep from passing into the next. This is also about the point I reach my first traffic jam of the day: three sheep apparently deep in conversation in the middle of the road. They eventually consented to move and I continued to make my way further out the peninsula, stopping frequently to take photos.
Finally, after 15 miles of single track, I reached the end of the road, almost literally. And, as promised, the views were just stunning. And this was on a cloudy rainy day. Can’t imagine how stunning it must be in sun and brilliant blue sky. This was also the point where I realized that some lunch might be in order. Luckily there was a little store with a single lonely worker just waiting to serve me up some tea and a scone. This was one of those fascinating places that carries a bit of everything. I could have purchased anything from olive oil to dishwashing soap. As I sat and sipped my tea and munched on my scone, I pulled out my phone and discovered there was BTOpenZone internet, so I was able to catch up on a bit of social media and email. (I never promised to go without Internet all day EVERY day!)
After lunch, I took the opportunity to take a few more photos as the clouds and rain had lifted quite a bit while I was eating.
I decided my next stop of the day would be Dunvegan Castle, so I jumped back in the car to head back along the 15 miles of single track to Broadford and then Sligachan to pick up the road to Dunvegan. I did encounter quite a bit more traffic on the way back than I did on the way in, including one bus. Not all the traffic was of the motorized variety. This time I encountered cows in the road instead of sheep.
As I have come to expect, the views on the road out to Dunvegan were gorgeous as well. For those of you who have been to Cape Breton, it very much reminded me of the Neil’s Harbour area with little clusters of houses along the loch side. In good time, I arrived at Dunvegan Castle, which is in a very picturesque location. The castle itself is very interesting with many parts dating from different periods from the 1500’s onward. Many MacLeod chiefs wanted to make their mark on the Castle and grounds it seems. I also was able to view the famed Fairy Flag that has played a part in several books I have read over the years.
Finishing my tour of the castle, I dodged the raindrops back to the car for the trip back to Portree. I arrived at my B&B by 4:30 pm and was able to take a few better pics than yesterday now that the sun was breaking through. After a bit of a rest, I headed out to dinner at the Caledonian Hotel. I had a taste for some Scottish beef after my seafood of the last two nights and my rib-eye didn’t disappoint.
Tonight I’m planning to get to bed early. Tomorrow I’m off to go around northeast Skye to see the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing and in search of the Fairy Glen. Then it’s off to Inverness for the night and to meet up with some Inverness Outlanders! It’s sure to be a treat.
Slàn leat an-dràsta! (goodbye for now)
P.S. Forgot to mention that I was able to try out my limited Gàidhlig conversation skills on the nice folks at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. They didn’t laugh and seemed to understand me, so hopefully my pronunciation isn’t too bad!