Sunday, May 7, 2017

Isle of Skye

Quiraing
In the fall of 2016 I did a trip way outside the box for me, I flew to the UK and spent two weeks in the Scottish Highlands, finally getting a stamp in my passport.

This is one of those trips I had thought about for years and never taken.  Last year I made it happen.  It was easier and cheaper than I thought.  I did cash in some airline miles for free airfare then rented a car for two weeks and camped in the Highlands.

This was a solo trip too.  I could not get anyone to go with me.  So here I am traveling internationally for the first time in life, going solo and going to live in a one man tent for two weeks at the end of October.

Needless to say my friends thought I was crazy......
Sky coastal cliffs

When I think Scotland I wanted the lonely mountains, castles and wild country of the Highlands.  So I decided to skip the typical tourist spots and the cities and to concentrate on visiting four areas:  Isle of Skye, Torridon, Assynt, and Glencoe.

This let me stay in each location 3 nights and gave me a chance to explore a few areas rather than hurry through the country trying to do too much.

I started on the Isle of Skye.

Skye is one of those locations I had heard of and seen some amazing images of.  Since I wanted to camp I looked for one of the campgrounds there.  I found that Uig Bay campsite was open all year.  Like most of the campsites in Scotland, it is private.  It had a grassy area for tents (I was the only person in a tent) and a parking area for camper vans (4 or 5 of those).  They had showers and a laundry on site.  Nice people too.

I set up camp and began to explore the island.

Dunscaith Castle- the Shadow Fortress
Now I had a car but for those who have never driven in the UK, it is a bit disconcerting when you first get out on the road in a right hand drive car, driving on the "wrong" side of the road, in a manual where you shift with your left hand.  

Honestly it was not too bad.  The first 15 minutes are the worst, but keep saying...stay left...  

On Skye some of the roads become single track.  There are turn outs every few hundred yards.  When I saw an oncoming car, I always pulled into pull out to let them past.

Wizards Tower in the Fairy Glen
So on the Isle of Skye I had marked several areas I wanted to visit but even with three days it was not enough to see them all.  On my next trip to Scotland I will do 4 nights there.

One of the places I had seen on the map was Dunscaith Castle.  It sits on a cliff over the sea.  It means the Shadow Fortress.  Now what Tolkien fan can resist a name like that? :-)  I made my way there on morning and took the short walk out to the castle ruins.  I made my way up the hill past what were the stone ruins of a draw bridge and listened to the waves crashing in below.

Off to the north the peaks of the Cuillins had dark clouds hanging over them and I can see how it gets it name of Shadow Fortress.  I easily spend a couple of hours exploring the location and imagining the stories the stones could tell.

I spent an afternoon in the Fairy Glen.  This is an area of unique little hills and rocks that also looks like something out of Tolkien.  If you saw elves and hobbits running around you would not be surprised.  I stayed here through a cloudy evening with no sunset and still loved the moody quality to it.

I planned a morning photography hike along the Quiraing a cliff of green with more unique rock formations.  I made the drive in the early morning rain and 40+ mph winds.  There was little indication of a sunrise.  Despite the wind and rain, I geared up and started hiking under the rim.  The rain stopped, the clouds parted and glorious light light the hills.  For ten minutes I was going crazy taking images.  Then the clouds closed back in and the rain started again.

Cuillins
That is typical Scottish weather.  In fact it rained at least part of every day there over my two weeks.  I only saw the stars once.

I made the drive to Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock.  The viewpoint is such only one person at a time can really get a good picture of the falls, but it is still a good stop.

I also had a rainy morning near the Cuillins.  These are said to be the most rugged mountains in Britian and on this rainy, windy morning certainly looked ominous.  

The few days on the island were just not enough to see it all.  I have several more locations on my list, but they will have to wait until my next trip.

I drove back over the Skye bridge and headed north.







No comments: