The Isle of Skye

16.4.14

There are places in the world that captivate and enchant you at first glance - where something about them tugs at your heartstrings, pulls you on in and refuses to let go. Iceland did it to me in a big way, setting my heart racing with its natural beauty and quirky charm. Who would have thought that the next place to do the same would be right here in my home country?

The largest of the Inner Hebrides islands, the Isle of Skye lies off the West coast of Scotland, just 500 meters from the mainland at its closest point. Connected to the rest of the country by a short bridge, the island's 9200 inhabitants seem almost to live in another world entirely - a world which had well and truly won me over by the time we'd travelled north through the settlement of Broadford and out onto the open road!

Built up by a combination of glacial activity and volcanic eruptions - some back when the Americas and Europe were drifting apart! - the mountainous landscape of Skye is like a Geography textbook brought to life. You never know what wonder is set to greet you beyond the next corner on the winding single track roads - it might be a loch or a waterfall; a flock of sheep or a sizeable settlement; a snow-capped mountain or a pebble-strewn beach; a towering rock pinnacle or a dramatic cliff face.

There seemed to be breath-taking views wherever we looked and this island was one, long continuous surprise to me. 

Here are some of my favourite discoveries:

The Fairy Pools
Flowing down from the Cuillin mountains, the Allt Coir a' Mhadaidh carves out a series of crystalline waterfalls and vividly coloured pools. Situated on the west of the island, on the edge of Glen Brittle forest, the sloping trail was dramatically framed by black mountains and a clear blue sky on the day of our visit. Whiling away the hours scrambling over rocks, marvelling at natural arches and stretching our fingers into basins of cool blue, it was easy to understand why they're so popular with walkers and wild-swimmers alike, and why they've been named so magically!



Talisker Distillery
I'm not much of a drinker and of the few alcoholic beverages I consume, whisky certainly doesn't make the list. It's a little ironic, then, that the only man-made attraction gaining a mention should be a distillery!

That said, there's something distinctly Scottish about a whisky distillery and one set on the shore of a loch using spring water from its hilly backdrop is about as proud as they come. The only distillery on Skye, Talisker attracts many a visitor to its home in the village of Carbost, keen to sample its produce and take a tour. We, of course, managed to land during the only fortnight of the year when tours are cancelled but were invited, instead, to view the casks in the warehouse while listening to a free talk on the distilling process and sampling a "wee nip". I was fascinated by the intricacy of all that's involved in the production and, whether you're a whisky drinker or not, would recommend a visit for the education factor alone.



Mealt Waterfall and Kilt Rock
Driving through the Trotternish peninsula on the North East of the island, a stopping point on the road between Portree and Staffin reveals a view of the interestingly named Kilt Rock. So called because of its basalt column "pleats" and dolerite "pattern", this sea cliff looks steadfastly over the Sound of Raasay while Loch Mealt becomes a dramatic 60 meter waterfall to the fore.



The Quiraing
Following the cross-country road from Staffin to Uig - on the recommendation of a stranger we met in a tearoom - our journey over the Trotternish peninsula opened up one of Skye's most remarkable scenes. My poor little car was not a fan of one particularly steep climb in the road, but my soaring heart was certainly a fan of the views!

Part of a 30km-long ridge formed by a series of landslips, the still-moving landscape of the Quiraing is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
(My very limited camera skills do nothing to capture the scenes that took my breath away.)



The Views.. Everywhere, the Views!
It doesn't seem to matter where you go on Skye, there are amazing views wherever you look. It's a wonder we actually managed to get anywhere for the number of times I had to pull over at the side of the road, jumping out of the car and grabbing my camera to get snap-happy.

The Old Man of Storr in the background.

We only had two days on Skye in which to cram in as much as we possibly could. We managed to cover a surprising amount of the island, but I still have a list as long as my arm of hills I'd like to walk up, places I'd like to eat, sights I'd like to see..

What we did take in, though, won me over wholeheartedly and I'll certainly make a return visit to this charming little island and all its other-worldly beauty.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your comment on my blog! I enjoyed your pictures of Skye!!! It's such an amazing place and we didn't get to see everything I wanted to see either. Oh well. Maybe someday I'll get back!!!!!!

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