Chapter Ten – Touring Isle Of Skye

MaiTaiTom Gets The Royal Treatment…Two Weeks Exploring London and Scotland

Chapter Ten – Touring Isle Of Skye

DAY ELEVEN – In A Fog, The Old Man And The Can’t See, The Falls Guy, I’ll Never Find Another Ewe, Looks Like We Missed That Turn, Flora Graveyard, Cottage Industry, Fairy Land, Escape Route, Lochside Lunch, Garden Paradise, “Kim You’re On The Wrong Side Of The Road!”, Room With A View, United Nations Of Servers, May I Order One Of These With Breakfast & Do I Need A Tetanus Shot With This Drink?

We woke up in a fog, and it had nothing to do with the wine we drank the previous evening.

It was a bit chilly, but we had travel plans.

They let cruise ships up here?  This one nearly blocked out the sun (well, had there been any sun).

After a hearty breakfast (Tracy attempted the blood sausage, but one bite was enough)…

…we hit the road. Since our petrol experiences in Europe have been met with mixed results, we checked carefully on what our car wanted to drink.

After filling up, it was off to explore the Trotternish Peninsula, a 50-mile or so circuit that takes in a lot of sights.

We were quite excited as we approached our first stop, The Old Man of Storr. Unfortunately, the pea soup fog shrouded the old guy, and the views were grayer than my hair. Tracy quipped, “It looks like the only old men we’ll see on this trip are Tom and Kim.”  We let her out of the trunk at our next destination.  It wasn’t far until our first “real” stop, Lealt Falls. The wind was whipping as we made the beautiful, albeit short hike toward the sea.

                                                  

On our right we saw Lealt Gorge, the river and the Falls cascading down.

Also at the top, there are spectacular views toward the sea and the cliffs.

It was everything and more we had envisioned Scotland to be.

                        

Across the way, high on a cliff, the sheep seemed to be having a good time, and why not, they have quite a view.

                                              

As we descended back toward the car…

…we ran into a group of ewes (or ewes and rams…we didn’t ask).  I broke into a verse of Happy Together…”Imagine me and ewe…I do.”

      

The sheep were unimpressed, so onward we traveled.

Another short drive and we arrived at our next destination, which was really a double header. About 17 kilometers north of Portree, we made the short trek to a viewpoint where we witnessed the beauty of Mealt Falls crashing down onto the  Sound of Raasay.

In the distance is Kilt Rock, called that because it sort of looks like a pleated kilt.  I read, “Made up of basalt columns resting on a sandstone base, one might even say that the colors of the rock formation appear almost tartan.”

Views south weren’t too shabby either.

                           

One cool aspect on this very cool day was a sound emanating from the pipes of the railing.   As the wind howled, the protective railing seemed to be humming organ-like music that really made the entire experience a little surrealistic.

All this sightseeing was making me hungry, and thankfully a young lady set up shop while we were checking out the area.

Ostensibly, the next stop on our Trotternish drive was supposed to be the Quirang. It was very foggy in that direction, so I doubt we would have seen much. After driving for quite a while, we realized we had passed the turnoff.   I guess we were all too busy checking out the scenery toward the sea. It gives us yet another reason to return to the Isle of Skye.

We pressed on past Duntulm Castle as we got hit by some more of that famed Scotch Mist. On the north end of the peninsula is the Skye Museum of Island Life.  After parking, we walked past the museum to check out a famous grave in the Kilmuir Cemetery.

                                         

Towering over the graveyard is the tomb of Flora MacDonald, “Preserver of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.” MacDonald is the woman who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape Scotland after the defeat of the Jacobites in 1746.  You should read about it.

Flora’s funeral was one for the ages. 3,000 people attended and between them drank 300 gallons of whisky (sounds like one of our parties). Liver transplants were optional afterward. MacDonald was “buried in a shroud said to have been made from a bed sheet in which Bonnie Prince Charlie had slept.”

Walking around the wind-whipped graveyard for a while…

                 

…we decided to skip the Museum of Island Life, which consists of seven traditional thatched cottages…

                  

…but snapped a few photos.

            

On the way to our next adventure, we saw a strange object from a past century.  I believe you were able to communicate with other people from inside this contraption.

The Isle of Skye is certainly not wanting for incredible scenery.

One interesting thing we noticed, no matter where we traveled in Scotland, the tide was always out.

Our next stop was an enchanting fairyland near Uig.

The dramatic Fairy Glen is full of cone-shaped hills…

                 

…ponds, waterfalls and forests.

                                                                                    

After walking (carefully) down a large hill, I wondered how I was going to get back up.

Thankfully, as we walked I saw that our hike, full of our sheepish buddies…

     

…was headed back toward the road, so I would not need someone to throw me a rope.  How cute is that black faced ewe?

            

We wandered for nearly 45 minutes taking in the magical area.

                                    

Now we had a decision to make. It was still relatively early, so we decided to make the 45-minute drive to see the gardens at Dunvegan Castle. As we neared the castle, we realized we had forgotten to eat. In Dunvegan, the Lochside Cafe (inside the Lochside Crafts & Tea Room) was a welcoming sight.  My tomato and basil soup was delicious as was my cheese toastie (you can never have enough cheese toasties, by the way).

                 

The view over the loch would have been a lot better on a non-foggy day.

Tracy can find a flora picture even in a parking lot.  That means on this day we took photos of Flora and flora!

Less than a mile from our lunch stood Dunvegan Castle & Gardens…

…and it was the gardens we had wanted to see.

They certainly did not disappoint in all their blooming beauty. For the elderly among us it cost £8 to enter the gardens. The youngster (Tracy) had to fork over £11.

                                                                                 

We learned that Dunvegan Castle is the “oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.”

                    

There are five acres of formal gardens.

There a total of seven full-time gardeners who take care of this place. It was “Tracy Garden Heaven.”

               

The plants and flowers change dramatically depending on which garden we walked through.

                                                    

One was just as beautiful as another…

…as we traversed wooded glens…

      

..to waterfalls and streams.

                    

These were the nicest gardens we saw in Scotland, and it ranks as one of the best we’ve ever been in all our travels. They were lush, well maintained (they have seven full time gardeners) and very well marked.

                  Tracy was excited because the rhododendrons were in full bloom.

                       

We strolled through the gardens for about 90 minutes…

                 

…and by now, even I now could be talked into a nap (but not on a bench).

                             

We had wanted to go to the Fairy Pools, but the fog was really dense, so we headed back to Portree.  I closed my eyes for a second, only to be startled back to reality by Mary yelling, “Kim you’re on the wrong side of the road!” Sure enough, as Kim made a left hand turn, in an American highway moment, he started driving like he was in California on the right side of the road (which, of course, is the wrong side of the road). Before the oncoming lorry crushed us into little Fairy Glens, Kim righted (or “lefted” as the case may be) our automobile. The rest of the drive was anti-climatic and thankfully we had no more near-death experiences.

We can’t get enough of this view.

A nap back at Cuillin Hills was just what the doctor ordered, so the four of were well-rested for our dinner at the hotel.  Although the restaurant was full, we scored the table by the window that we had requested, and we enjoyed watching the rabbits frolicking on the lawn until a tomcat cruised by...”Run Awaaaayyyyy!”

Our United Nations of servers (one from Greece, one from Lithuania and one from England) were all professional and fun.

Not surprising, like the fish out of water she is, Mary started with Steamed Loch Eishort Mussels with Wild Garlic, White Wine and Cream Sauce served with char grilled Bread, and awarded it a “Wow.”  She also had a lamb rump, which I suggested she should have surgery on to remove.

             

I started out with some Jersey Royals (I didn’t even know New Jersey was a monarchy) served with horseradish and mint (Jersey Royals are potatoes, by the way). I almost ordered the “Traditional” Cullen Skink, just because I wanted to say the word “skink.”  Yes, I really am childish.  For my main dish, I ordered a terrific Sirloin of Scotch Beef with Potato Mousseline, Barbecued Leek Wild Garlic and Bone Marrow Butter.

       

Tracy opted for a starter of Pan Seared Scallops with Orbost Salsa Verde, Roasted Chicken Sauce, Baby Onion and followed that up with the Scotch Beef.

Finally, Kim ordered the Hand Picked Crab Salad Orbost Salad Leaves, Lemon Mayonnaise, Croutes.  His entrée was Roasted Grampian Chicken Breast with Toasted Pearl Barley (or was it Pearl Bailey?), Charred Gem Lettuce, Diane Sauce. Everything was delicious.

Why I have to dine with these three other people I don’t know. I ordered a delectable Sticky Toffee Pudding with Salted Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream and Toasted Milk. Although they told me they weren’t going to horn in on my dessert (they had ordered their own), by the time the salted caramel melted they had all dug their grubby little forks into my sticky toffee pudding. I should have ordered another one, but I was trying not to look like a glutton, so I didn’t. I did ask if I could order one for breakfast, but I think my server thought I was kidding.

                                      

I got back at them by stealing much of their Chilled Chocolate Fondant Milk Ice Cream, Chocolate Curd and Cinder Toffee.

Kim and Mary went off to sleep, while Tracy and I retired to the bar for a nightcap. I finally had my first Rusty Nail of the trip, a perfect ending to our beautiful, albeit too short, visit to the Isle of Skye, a place I already yearn to return.

Tomorrow would be (not so shockingly) an action-packed day as the weather warmed up by about 40 degrees. We would finally stop at that famous bridge, take in the beauty of a much-photographed castle and stop to hike to a cute little waterfall. Then we would search for an elusive monster, have lunch among the locks near a loch, visit some castle ruins on the Loch Ness shore, tour yet another castle, visit its three gorgeous gardens and stay at a manor that looked like it came straight out of the movies. Whew, I’m tired already.

Next: DAY TWELVE: Everybody Must Get Stoned, Come On Eilean, Our Summer House, Monstrous Loch, Lunch By The Locks, Medieval Times, Homey Castle, More Magnificent Gardens, So That’s The Name Of That Yellow Tree, Mind Your Manors, Did You Bring Shorts, A Day At The Beach and Where’s Dick Clark?

 

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