Island of Skye & Gemma August 26th August 30th

Friday morning our trip to the Isle of Skye starts but a detour necessary before getting there.  We have way too much luggage with us and since our future trip to Norway allows us only one suitcase each we have to drop, off excess luggage.  Since we fly back to Canada from Glasgow we head that way to drop of our luggage at the airport hotel that we are staying at, the night before we head home. After doing this we head north to Fort Augustus, where we spend one night on the way north at the Lovat Hotel.

Saturday we continue our drive to Skye crossing the bridge around 11:00.  Our first port of call was  Elgol (miles from anywhere).  I had read that there was a nice walk along the coast.  Having not walked for a day or two, it was nice to get out.  Lovely walk but very boggy.  We walked along the coast until we got to a nice bay where we had our usual lunch. This bay was infact the last place the Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed (in a cave), before fleeing to France after having been defeated by the Brits!.  

Leaving here we drove off to our accomodation at Dunvegan – Beacarrie House.  Well it wasn’t exactly Dunvegan but rather a place about 3 Kms from  there called Orbost.  Down and down we went along roads that got smaller and smaller then finally gravel, washed out tracks-  but when we got to our place we immediately fell in love with it. The views were unbelievable.  Right on the coast.  We were met by Rosie, our host and her crazy retriever dog Susie! The place was stacked with eggs, milk, fruit porridge etc.  After unpacking the car we decided to go for a walk down the track following the shoreline.  Susie the dog decided to follow us.  I thought nothing of it but after a while Rosie appeared in her car to pick up the dog!!! Susie gets too excited with strangers and since this was a public footpath there are people around so she tries to keep Susie on her property.  Continued on our walk for a while past beaches and into forests.  Heading home we meet up with Rosie at the house and after long discussions she goes off to her garden and brings back fresh  potatoes, mint, carrots, lettuce for us to enjoy.  A great meal that night!!!

Sunday, our first full day we drive to the north end of the island to Quiraing- an amazing mountain that only pictures can show.  Most  people that do this walk, only walk up to the top of the pinnacle type range but we of course have to do the circular route.  So on we continue in to unknown territory!  Further and further in to the wilds.  There are a few other people around and I do ask  one couple  if we are on the right track.  Finally we cross over a stile and head vaguely towards where we had parked the car.  But in between the car and us is a monumental mountain!  Up we go along with a few others.  Reaching the top the weather which had been nice, turned to rain, hail and clouds which reduced the visibility!  Finding our way vaguely we start heading down to the car which was somewhere below and out of site.  We had been warned that there was no real path down and you just had to make your way down as best as possible.  This we did following semi dry river beds, sheep trails etc.  Car in sight, wet and tired we made another adventure complete!  It was still reasonably early in the day so heading towards Portree we came across the “Old Man of Storr” walk.   The walk up for the 1 km was steep and had way too many people on it for our liking.  Disappointed on the walk because of the people and clouds covering the “Old Man” most of the time.  Leaving here we drove into Portree and again nothing to really like.  Headed home to our abode in the middle of nowhere for some peace and quiet and loved it!

Monday, we drove  first to the Coral Beach which was a short distance from Dunvegan. It too was a fairly short walk along the coast until we got the the beach known as the Coral Beach-  Close inspection reveals the sand is made out of dried, calcified sea weed known as maerl. There are also thousands of tiny, delicate snail shells. On the way back, we climb the little flat-topped hill behind the beaches, known as Cnoc Mor a Ghrobain. This had excellent and  extensive views over the beach from Stein in Waternish right round to Dunvegan Head.  After this we returned along the same path to the car. The next stop was to Neist Point Lighthouse. Again a popular spot for walkers  but for hikers the walk to the lighthouse was not enough!!!  We did walk to the lighthouse and past a little onto the rock formations below the lighthouse.  These were extremely similar to the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland.  We found a sheltered place here to have our lunch.  From here we walked back past the lighthouse and up the steep track towards the car.  Rather than calling it a day we hikers moved off to the north and followed the cliffs for a few kilometres.  Very boggy and infact our feet got totally soaked.  Found a wonderful gap in the cliffs that had a ‘sheep track’ leading down to a lower platform.  We went down a little bit and enjoyed the scenery to say the least!  If it had been earlier in the day we would have ventured all the way down but time was not on our side.  Skye  of course has so many narrow roads and the one to this area is no different.  On the way back a car had moved over to let another car go by- but it slipped into the ditch and got thoroughly  stuck.  By the time people realized this, there were likely 15 cars backed up each side with no where to go. People including myself got out of their cars and physically picked it up and put it back on the road- actually although I got out of my car to help, by the time I got there it was already out!!! However it caused major problems as all the other cars had nowhere really to go.  A lot of backing up etc etc we finally got out of the area!

Tuesday morning we said our farewells to Rosie and headed off the Island to spend the night with Gemma and family.  But before leaving the island we headed  off to the “Fairy Pools”.  We arrived there around 10:00 but already the place was packed with cars and needless to say people.  We found a spot further down the road and then walked back up to where the walk started.  Way too many people for our liking but up we went following the trail to many little waterfalls and pools.  After a short while there came a sign  ” official Fairy Pool Walk has reached its top-  use caution from here onwards”. To our delight basically no one went any further – except us.  Hiking up the mountain we could see some professional rock/mountain climbers scaling one area. Following the path we moved away from where they were and headed along the path to the west at the base of some large mountain ranges.  The path gradually got smaller and smaller and at times no path at all but rather just bog.  We met a couple from Australia and asked the if this was a circular route and their  hiking book told them it was but they could not find the path that should have taken them back to their car and so they doubled back.  We continued walking and eventually found the track, thanks to some hikers way ahead of us that were using it.  As we came back to the car we found our Australian friends again and chatted for a while. 

As usual a 4 hour journey takes way longer  as there are just too  many places to stop for photographs, lunch and general delays following tractors along single track roads!!!  Arrived at Gemma’s around 5:30 which is the time we had told them we would arrive.  Had a lovely dinner with Gemma, Gavin, Archie and Jenny.  It was nice to see them in their own environment as for the last few years it has always been France.

Thursday- leave The Duncan’s and head towards Edinburgh- Dalhousie Castle for one night before our flight to Norway.  To get to the hotel we were lucky enough to cross over the brand new ‘Queensferry Bridge,’ on the very first day of its opening – lovely bridge but the traffic was horrendous.


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