Saturday, 11 June 2011

Holiday to the Isle of Skye

Bearreraig Bay


The second post yesterday was only half finished, so here it is.... Today we got back from a week long holiday in the Isle of Skye in north-west Scotland. It was fantastic and by some incredible flook we had lovely weather for most of the week. Normally I just talk about embroidery and patchwork here, but I shall indulge myself and share some photos from my holiday.





Archie and Charlie

THE JOURNEY

So, it turns out that even starting our trip from as far north as Newcastle, the Isle of Skye is still quite a long way away and we maybe underestimated our journey time slightly... it took 8 and a half hours but the journey route was lovely. We crossed through the Northumberland countryside to Hexham, then across to Carlisle. North on the M73/4 then the M8 (not the prettiest section of the journey), then across the Erskine Bridge, up the west coast of Loch Lomond towards Crianlarich then over Rannoch Moor, through Glencoe to Fort William. Past Ben Nevis, up the Great Glen, then turned off towards the Skye Bridge past Eileen Doonan and onto Skye. The cottage was still over an hour further north from the bridge.


Eileen Doonan Castle


THE ROADS

My idea of a main A-Road is something like the Spine road from Newcastle up to Blyth and Cramlington - busy, a lane (or two) in each direction, road markings..... not in Skye. There may well have been signs describing the road from Portree to Staffin as a key route, and funding from the EU had helped to redevelope the road. Some of the road was two lanes. A fair stretch of it was not - god knows what it was like before the redevelopment! But, if there is one thing in plentiful supply, it was passing places. It wouldn't have taken much more to join them all up and create that second lane. Of course, in some cases it simple wasn't possible: in the narrow strip between cliff face and loch there was only space for the two cottages and the single lane road. Having said that, there seemed to be a lot of work being done on the roads, with resurfacing. It was just as well, because the roads that had not yet been resurfaced were potholes within potholes. And then you would get stuck behind someone doing half the speed that the road would allow and ignoring the numerous signs asking you to let traffic behind you pass. There were just too many tourists who wanted to lead the parade.


Passing Place and Post Box at Gedintailor

But of course, the Sheep always always had right of way, and if they chose to stand in the middle of the road looking at you, then you just had to wait.

DUNVEGAN and the MACLOEDS

We spent the week driving round the island, looking at the scenery (and some wildlife - did you know Heron's nested in trees....?). The first day we recovered from the journey (took the opportunity as it was raining) and went into Portree and bought a map! The second day we drove round the Northern part of the Island, up to Duntulm then round to the Flora Macdonald Memorial, then round to Uig - a major ferry port!


Uig

Sewing in mind I bought a handmade pottery button from the Uig Pottery to go on my Wilding Angels Quilt. We watched a ferry come in, then drove on to Dunvegan. We decided not to pay to go into the Clan Mcleod castle, and instead took the dogs on a free walk, then drove down the coast. We were lucky enough to see an Eagle (or at least that's what the other people with binoculars said).





MacLeod's Table (right) from Dunvegan

ELGOL, ARMADALE and the MACDONALDS
Another day on the island we travelled south to Elgol, as we had heard it was the best place to view the Cuillin Hills (which are actually mountains with some peaks at 3000 feet and more). The views were stunning but the hills and passing places probably didn't do the clutch on the car much good.


View of the Cuillin Hills over Loch Slapin

We then headed further south to Sleat and the ferry port of Armadale (even smaller than Uig). In the intersts of fairness, we decided not to pay to go into the home of the clan MacDonald either (though again in the interest of fairness, we did buy a cup of tea and a cake from both clans), so headed to the north of the peninsula for a free walk. Unfortunately, 100 yards into the walk there was a field of bulls. Archie and Charlie don't like cows. So we turned round and instead walked around the beach where we got an even better view of the Cuillins than we had from Elgol. Despite a small issue with a cattle grid it was a lovely spot and very quiet - I'm not sure many people get down to that bay. We had gone 100yards into the walk and there was a cattle grid. We couldn't open the gate next to it. Archie managed to cross it ok. Charlie refused. So I had to carry him. Stupid dog. They went in the sea on the beach and there was no way he was getting carried back - he learnt very quickly.


Archie and Charlie on the beach at Ob Ghabhsgabhaig with a view of the castle an Cuillin Hills


WALKS

Despite the near failure of the walk near Armadale - silly me for not seeing a field of cows on the OS map (!) - we did attemtp some more walks. Later in the week we drove to the west of the island. This was one of the few coasts we went to where the sea was less sheltered, everywhere else tended to be sea lochs and the water was like a mirrow. Over on the west coast there were actually waves. We went to Ullinish and walked out to the island of Oronsay - this time I can blame Michael for not noticing peat bogs on the OS map so we both ended up with wet feet - though not as wet as another couple we met on the way back where the woman had white trousers and flip flops! We don't think they got much further after we passed them. We think we walked about 4 miles, which is quite a distance for us.


Oronsay Island off Ullinish Point


We also did a short walk on the Braes on the east coast of the island which had stunning views up the coast .




View from Camas a' Mhor-bheoil


FOOD and SCRABBLE
It wasn't all hard work and walking.... the food was also wonderful. I tried scallops for the first time and the midges on the island tried Michael for the first time. Apparently I wasn't quite as tasty though. Michael decided to buy scrabble whilst we were oon holiday based on the idea that he would win. He was disappointed - I beat him twice and it didn't come out of the box again!


SEWING

Despite all of the sightseeing, I did have some time to do sewing. Although the dogs and I were up very early in the morning, Michael wasn't, so I got some sewing done then, and also in the evenings, when we came back to the cottage after dinner in Portree. One night we planned to wait up till it was dark because we thought the view of the stars would be wonderful. It got to 1 o'clock in the morning, there was still too much light in the sky to see the stars, so we went to bed, but I had got a lot of stitching done up to that point. I completed a birthday card for Jane and stitched the first three Calendar Girlies and did some more of the Vignette block 1 embroidery.

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