Over the sea

In case you aren’t partial to Twitter and Facebook, the faeries didn’t get us last weekend in spite of their best attempts at Otherworldly mists.

Skye was spectacular as usual. Our cosy and very comfortable B&B looked down on the swoop of heather and peat that descends into Portree, positioned to admire the rain lashing the town below and catch the winds face first.

For windy it was. We laughed in the face of the elements, wrapped in Goretex and a Fiat500, and went exploring.

We explored the finest pub on the island, which treated us to a platter of crumbly tangy cheeses and a pot of amazingly good haggis doused in Talisker sauce.

Suitably reinforced, we drove tiny twisting single track roads to the far western edge in search of Neist Point.

Partway down the cliff face, I wondered how wise this was as sunset was not far away.

Looking back, I should have realised how hard the return trip was going to be. At the time, I went back to staring at the wire (just visible in the first shot) that they used to use to lift food down the easy way. A trailer at the bottom suggested some motor vehicle was available to drive goods the rest of the way – although having walked the track, I have no idea what vehicle could make the trip.

I’m not good with heights. This chap had no compunctions – rather than sticking to the path over the shoulder of the outcrop that separates the Point (and its lighthouse) from the cliff, he climbed to the top and posed heroically.

The lighthouse seems abandoned now. After ceasing manned service (all the UK’s lighthouses are automated now), it spent some time as a B&B (we argued over the cool factor vs the 45-60 minute hike to reach it) and hosted the shoot of Breaking the Waves. In fact, it’s only very recently they removed the fake cemetery that was built for the film (and subsequently confused lots of tourists).

Instead, hikers (and I’m amused that this autocorrects to jokers) have built dozens of piles of rocks across the headland. Slightly spooky, irritating to locals, but worth negotiating the boggy pasture to see.

We sweated our way back across the headland, the outcrop and up the cliff face before dark.


Another exciting night out in Portree.

Portree is a lovely town, well provisioned for hiking and sightseeing tourists, and thankfully welcoming of both. It’s also home to a decent pub and several good restaurants, making it the gastronomic capital of the island and one of the only places with such amenities still open so late in the year; a week later, 2 of the places we ate – including the Old Inn of Great Haggis at Carbost – will have shut for the winter.

On Sunday, we explored Trotternish, chased by rain and buffeted by strong winds. The tide was too high and the skies too gray for us to find the dinosaur footprints or the Cave of Gold. We admired the Old Man of Storr and the stunning views from the car, and headed off for more haggis.

Indulged, we took the gentle path from Talisker House down to Talisker Bay.

Talisker House sits nestled in trees under Preshal Mor, and is traditionally home to the heir of the MacLeod. It too has served as a B&B more recently (2 four poster beds, 4 more bedrooms, a 4oven AGA, a baby grand and no tv reception – a snip at £2000 a week?) although it looked as if it may be being renovated as we walked by.

Protected from the worst of the wind by towering, tumbling cliffs, we realized it might still be quite breezy when we saw our first waterfail.

The winds were whipping up water tornadoes that danced across the bay, and the thread of waterfall that usually tumbles into the sea here never stood a chance. It never made it more than a third of the way down the cliff while we were on the beach.

In spite (because of?) the weather, two intrepid surfers were doing their best to ride the waves in the turbulent bay. They were failing miserably, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Sunset caught us scrambling over the black boulders that form the beach.

We punctuated our drive south the next day with enough stops to almost miss our flight, but failed to get left behind. Must try harder next time.

After all, who wants to leave an island that creates lawn ornaments like this? Yes, that’s a shark leaping through a fisherman’s face.

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