Over the sea to Skye - Part 1
A couple of weekends ago we took a short trip to the Isle of Skye with my family. We went to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday. It was his choice of destination and although I had a few reservations about going to Scotland in February, I needn't have. We had four most beautiful days, at times bright and clear, at other times dark and brooding. At all times the ever-changing landscape was breathtaking.
We rented a cottage in the north of the island, near the village of Trumpan. Mum and dad drove up from Wales, breaking the journey along the way. Me, R and my sisters flew to Inverness from London and hired a car from there. We took an evening flight, arriving at the house at about 2am, wind howling around us, with no idea where we were!
On our first day we did a bit of exploring, finding our bearings and getting a taste of what the island had to offer. We got our first glimpses of wide, open skies, moving clouds and rolling tawny fields.Our eyes followed miles of ancient stone walls, pock marked with yellow-green lichen and white.
In the afternoon we took a walk to
, a picturesque white coral beach, near to the small crofting village of Claigan, a short drive from Dunvegan.
The walk took about an hour and a half (at a fairly leisurely pace). It was seriously cold! We had to wrap up very warm (tights under trousers, two pairs of gloves, three pairs of socks).
As we came over the headland, we spotted a slither of yellow-white sand in the distance and we headed towards it, our hearts leaping a little at the prospect of reaching it.
Claigan beach is one of the only white beaches on Skye (most of the beaches are grey sand beaches). Although it s called Claigan coral beach, the beach is not actually coral, but rather crushed skeletons of Red Coralline seaweed (known as maerl). You can see the knobbly fragments of the bleached seaweed if you look down, and when the sun comes out the white shore makes the sea look tropical.
I spent a long time wandering with my head down, marvelling at the colours and shapes below me, the brilliant variation of shell and seaweed, pebble and sand, fragments of soft-edged seaglass, pinks and yellows, dusky orange and pearly white, greys and lavenders and blues.
At the far end of the beach there were some black rocks with rockpools, from where we looked out across Loch Dunvegan, and could see the tiny island of Lampay. Apparently at very low tide, a causeway appears across which you can walk to the island. Sadly the tide was too high for us to see the causeway, but....
...we did see a friendly little seal, bobbing around near the rocks, interested to see who we were and what we were doing near his coral beach!
So glad I remembered to take our binoculars with us!
On our way back, we stopped to take some pictures of these beautiful grasses, rustling peacefully under the early evening sky, a flock of swans gliding quietly on the loch.
Since we were in need of refreshments by then, but not quite ready to go home, we stopped at Stein, a pretty village on the shore of Loch Bay, and home to the oldest pub on Skye. It would have been a shame not to visit!
The following day was Dad's birthday so we had a slow morning of present opening and fried breakfast and then set off towards The Quairang...
We passed various wonderful cottages and cabins on our way and I did my best to persuade R that we needed to live in one of them.
This little crofters cottage was a particular favourite.
As was this incredible cabin that just needed a little makeover.....
Another strong contender...imagine that view!
Maybe a step too far down the "rustic" path....
The Quairang is one of the most striking and famous landscapes on Skye and, arguably in Scotland, so we were very keen to see it. The Quairang is the name of a part of the landslip on the Trotternish ridge in the north of the island. Parts of the ridge have earned different names, such as The Needle, The Table and The Prison. All of these make up The Quairang, which translates as Round Fold.
On our way we passed another of Skye's famous landmarks, the Storr, a rocky hill along the Trotternish ridge, and the Old Man of Storr, a large pinnacle of rock that stands upright against the sky and can be seen from miles away.
The view across the Sound of Raasay was incredible. The sky kept swelling and subsiding, great swathes of grey and moody blues gathered and then lifted and ribbons of pale yellow light emerged above the horizon, illuminating the sea, making dark silhouettes of the far off peaks.
Unfortunately our Quairang plans were somewhat scuppered before they'd even begun.... in the interests of full disclosure I will tell you that instead of climbing the Quairang that day what we actually did was spend two hours chasing mum and dad's very young, very excited and very naughty spaniel as she in turn chased sheep up and down hill and vale with us running after her desperately trying to catch her. She caused no harm and we caught her in the end, but by that time we were exhausted, shaken and out of time to climb the Quairang. Doggy was not popular.
This was us, heading off before the (sheep) incident happened.....
Anyway, we cut our losses and, as the sun fell behind the craggy peaks, we headed home for baths and champagne. We spent the evening eating and chatting over a very long, very special and very lovely meal at
. Unfortunately I forgot to take even one photo (a sign of excellent food!).
In the interests of not boring you to death I will share the rest of our trip in a little while.....xx