We reach our final destination on our recent grand tour of the Inner Hebrides – the Isle of Skye.
I cannot deny it, the weather on our first day there was appalling! So much so, it was a challenge to get places, and stand upright long enough to film and photograph. On the other hand, Scotland is beautiful and intriguing, whatever the weather, so come along for the ride with me…
We arrived the night before at Armadale (bottom right) and our hotel, which we’ve stayed at before, is at Isleornsay, just a few miles up the road from the port. My goal for the day was to find the Fairy Glen, which we missed last visit, when we went to the Fairy Pools, not realising they are a completely different site!
This took us up the road to Uig (near the top, centre), where we paused for a cup of coffee at a café before tackling the relentless wind and rain. Inside, I snapped a pic of this adorable painting.
I’d found directions to the Fairy Glen on the blog, AnnualAdventure.com, by reading this post, which is well worth looking at (they were blessed with far better weather than us).
Considering the Fairy Glen is a famous site for visitors to Skye, you might be surprised to hear that it is very hard to find! You have to take a tiny turn off the main road, which is not signposted, other than a placard saying, ‘No Coaches’, then follow the tiny, twisty lane until you come across a bunch of parked cars (and the odd small coach) on the side of the road.
Tricky to fine, but well worth it. This has to be one of the strangest places I’ve ever seen, with land formations that defy explanation, and understandably give rise to the suggestion of other-worldly intervention.
First, you see this rock formation ahead – literally, a head
There’s no question, surely? That’s definitely a head.
And then these weirdly sculpted mounds
A rock castle
And the pièce de résistance – a fairy ring
Let’s put that all together…
We climbed almost up to the castle. but I have to admit, my nerve failed me in the end. I had fully expected to climb right up to the top, but to get up there, you had to cross a raised ridge, a goodly long way up and without anything to stop you from falling in the sudden extremely strong gusts, so I reluctantly gave up the idea.
I got this close
And took this video, in which you can see we were not the only crazy people up there that day.
From the other side of the glen I filmed more of the strangely pleated mounds, and caught a couple of intrepid hikers up on top of the castle
And got Brian to snap one of me, just to prove we’d braved the weather (again)!
And then we had to get back down to the car. We saw more than one visitor returning, soaked and plastered in mud where they’d lost their footing. I’m proud to say, we made it back down without incident.
Our next destination was Lealt Falls, but on the way around the top headland, we spotted this ancient ruin, and despite the gale force wind, took a challenging stagger out to where it perches on the very top point of the island
This is what is left of Duntulm Castle. From Wikipedia: “The castle was built in the 14th and 15th centuries, when the area was subject to feuds between the rival MacLeod and Macdonald clans.” “During the 17th century it was the seat of the chiefs of Clan MacDonald of Sleat. It is a scheduled monument.”
There isn’t much left of it, and it’s closed to visitors because it’s unstable (which didn’t stop the brash teenagers we saw from hopping over the fence and climbing around in there), but you can clearly see what a vantage point it held over the coastline.
That video was taken at an interesting angle – the wind was so strong it was impossible to stand upright, I had to lean forward at an alarming angle just to stay on my feet!
Moving on again, Lealt waterfall has only recently been turned into an easily accessible tourist attraction, with a car park, level access paths, and one of those scary but essential viewing platforms that jut out over the falls, which is where this next video was taken from.
Fabulous, isn’t it?
And here it is in its full glory from a distance – you can make out the platform top right of the pic.
And looking out the other way
The path continues down to the coastal edge, where below, you can see the remains of the old Diatomite workings – heaven only knows how people got down there every day to work
Diatomite is a “silica-rich sediment formed by microscopic algae, and has many uses, such as face powder, fire-proofing and insulation, neutral filler, and as a filter in several industrial processes. However, one of the greatest causes of interest in Skye Diatomite was its potential use as a substitute for Kieselghur by Alfred Nobel in the production of Dynamite in Nobel’s new Scottish factory at Ardeer in Ayrshire during the 1880s.
Nobel eventually found a better source of material, but the Extraction of Diatomite nevertheless began in Skye at Loch Cuithir in 1886. The Diatomite was transported by tramway to be processed at Invertote, production continuing until 1913. The industry was briefly revived between 1950 and 1961, using road transport.” – Historic Environment Scotland
Taking the path back up to the car park, I just had to take this photo, to prove the hardiness of the Scots – you can’t fail to have noticed the weather I’ve described so far, and yet here was one of many tour guides, still proudly wearing their kilts
An ionic picture, surely?
And then it was back to the hotel, via the main town of Portree, displaying its similarities with other island and west coast towns in the bright and cheerful multi-coloured buildings.
And that about wraps up this trip. We stayed for one more day, chilling out at the hotel instead of driving around, so I’ll finish up with this video of the view outside the hotel, and you’ll see why it is such a relaxing place to linger – and it didn’t rain that last day either!