This map is far out of proportion if one refers to current cartographic output of the Isle of Skye, but it is one of my favorites so far - winding around the lochs on the central part of the isle really does feel that wiggly. However, since we have the modern pleasure of google maps at our fingertips, we were still able to find our way to and around the island without much trouble. Not that it would have been too easy to get lost - the road from Inverness to Skye is clearly marked and once you're on the island itself, there aren't too many roads period. Most loop around or come to a dead stop, literally at the mouth of the sea and you simply have to turn around and head back to whatever turn you last made. It is really satisfying, in a way.
Thus, our weekend adventure to Skye on the 27th through the 29th of May was concise but brimming with Scottish goodness. It began with our sweet mini ride, rented from the Inverness airport:
That is Eli, boldly driving manual on the right side of the car and wrong (I mean left) side of the road. It was strange even being a passenger at first, and all of the traffic circles that this country loves were a little dicey. Once we were out of the little city though, it was fairly smooth sailing. Though, our wee steed had positively zero ability to climb hills, so locals were flying past us any chance they got.
En route to Skye we stopped for a picnic-in-the-car lunch across from the Eilean Donan (pronounced ail-en don-en) castle. It is a picturesque little (ha) place that was originally built in the 13th century, destroyed a few times - most recently in the 18th century during the Jacobite rebellion - and finalized as its current version in the 1930s. A bit of old/new but still rather classic and lovely to look at during the constant misty rain:
We stayed our first night in Portree, the main town and base of the north loop - a fairly popular place for tourists, but also the only place to really find groceries for the hostel dinner and shelter from the sideways rain. Did we mention that Skye is an amalgam of Norse, Gaelic and English in meaning - and two of the leading etymologies are 'mist' and 'clouds'? There is good reason that it would've been named either. Portree is also where we had the fortune of stumbling upon the pub experience we shared in the last post. Oh YEAH! Old (and one young) Scottish dudes freestyle on the accordion really made our night complete.
The next morning the weather had eased up a bit and we decided to head towards the Talisker Distillery in the central part of the island, abandoning the north loop and it's attractions partly because of the ominous clouds in that direction and mostly because there was a cycling event planned for that road during the day. It was a great decision. Our 10am scotch tour smelled of peaty deliciousness and the post tour dram was super tasty. Talisker is the only distillery on Skye and will actually stop production entirely if the spring-fed water source goes away. It is right on the water, simple and classy. Also, it is pretty much all that is happening in the "town" of Carbost, aside from the Old Inn pub:
After getting a tip about a good campsite from the hostel owner up over the hill in the picture above, we headed to Glenbrittle - slightly southwest of this town and right on the edge of a loch at the base of the Cuillen (pronounced cue-lin) Mountains. The campsite was right on the water and our tent (loaned to us by our amazing co-wwoofers at the farm) was instantly enveloped in wind and rain, but it held steady. During a break in the clouds, the sun eeked and peeked and strained to show up and we took advantage of the few hours to hike a trail a few miles from camp called Fairy Pools. Strange enough, the landscape we were in seemed a mix of Colorado, Iceland, and Wyoming to us and the mention of fairies immediately brought me back to Þorsmörk romping
. Here there were roaming sheep that left their mark (wool) on the trails, a network of waterfalls leading up to the base of the range, and - for good measure - a brisk and windy rain on our hike back out.
As we walked up to where the car was parked, we ran into a couple we had met on our Talisker tour and another shrinking world experience entered our trip. We may even meet up with them in Edinburgh in a few weeks.
At the same time, the world is growing and expanding and becoming more colorfully complex than ever. There is always more to see, other roads to take, different tips to listen to (or not) ... the realization that we cannot possibly do or be a part of everything we plan on or hope to be involved with while traveling is fresh in our minds. It is paired with the fact that each choice we make, each movement our inertia urges us towards, brings only exactly what we need. Having the weekend away from weeding and eggs and compost gave us that...and some magnificent views, so much green, misty glasses for eli, warm pubs and lots of oatcakes.
Location:Isle of Skye, Scotland