Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.John Muir
Sep 1-3 2014
Leaving the interior Highlands we arrived in the quaint village of Dornie, set near the west coast of Scotland, where we would be staying for the next couple of day while we visited the nearby Isle of Skye.
Our place was located right on Loch Long, one of the many inlets in the area connecting to the Atlantic. We rented an apartment part of a duplex with a lovely owner and her two dogs.
Dornie is also home to the famous Eilean Donan Castle, the most photgraphed castle in Scotland used in many pictures and in television and film. The castle was founded in the thirteenth century and was a stronghold for the Clan Mackenzie and their allies, the perfect place for us to stay as we continue seeing the sites and land of our ancestors. The castle is beautifully lit at night and during the day shrowded in a mystical fog that hangs above the loch. In town was a nice restaurant and pub where we enjoyed an evening meal before resting up to tour Skye the following day.
On Skye we traveled in a counter-clockwise direction around the island. Some of the sights we visited include the Tartan Falls, Fairy Glen and Uamh Oir Cave. We also hiked to the Old Man of Storr and along the Fairy Pools.
The first stop was Mealt Falls, with the sea cliff resembleing a kilt. The vertical basalt columns form the pleats while and intruded sills of dolerite form the pattern. The waterfall cascades almost 200 feet into the Sound of Raasay below.
A little further down the road we stopped for a short, but challenging upward hike to the Old Man of Storr. The ‘Old Man’ is a large pinnacle of rock that stands high and can be seen for miles around. As part of the Trotternish ridge the Storr was created by a massive ancient landside, leaving one of the most photographed landscapes in the world. The hike uses the same path up and down, starting & returning at the same point. We made it just about halfway before returning after snapping some photos of the surrounding landscape, while the parents waited at the bottom as the climb was pretty steep and rugged.
Back in the car we continued traveling towards the far northwest part of the island. First we would hop out and explore the Kilmuir Graveyard. One gravestone at Kilmuir literally towers above all the others. This is a tall cross marking the last resting place of Flora MacDonald, a Jacobite heroine and the “Preserver of Prince Charles Edward Stuart”, complete with an epitaph written by the notable author Samuel Johnson. This reads “Her name will be mentioned in history and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour.” Seven other members of her family are also buried here. Another interesting tomb is that of Angus Martin, “Angus of the Wind”, earning the nickname by insisting on going to sea whatever the weather. The grave marker is a carved effigy of a knight in armor. Angus is said to have stolen the grave slab from the island of Iona, where it had previously been used to mark the grave of one of the Scottish kings buried there.
Continuing nearby, we parked our car for another short hike, traversing through local farmers fields to the steep cliffs edge, to the site of the Uamh Oir Cave, or the Cave of Gold. Nobody was around but and so it made for a very peacefull and idyllic hike. As there was some rain, the edge was very slippery so we approached with caution, there are no barries to stop you from falling into the ocean. The cave can not be entered, but looking dowin into provides an impressive site of perfectly hexagonal columns of basalt all around, much like the famous Giants Causeway found in Ireland. We turned around and continued back through the grassy pastors in which we came to reach our car.
Continuing south along the coast our next stop was an area known as Fairy Glen near the town of Uig. It is also not well known as there are no roadsigns to point the way, but you’ll know when you get there. Wandering around the area we were rewarded with fantastic landforms and inexplicable oddities. If anything puzzles you, don’t try to find a rational explanation. It is simply the magic of the fairies. The most prominant feature is a hill with it’s basalt topping still intact, which from a distance looks like a ruin and has been named Castle Ewan. It is actually a much easier hike then it looks, as everything is smaller then it appears, in fact I would best describe the area as the landscsape of Scotland in minature.
Continuing on we would next make a stop at Skyeskyns in the town of Waternish. Here you could see how sheepskin is made was made from start to finish, run by a family it was a very personal and fun experience. We couldn’t help but purchase one of the soft skins for ourselves.
Heading further south we reahed our favorite place on Skye, known as the Fairy Pools (do you notice a theme?). At the foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle there are beautifully crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle. The walk includes many waterfalls between the pools, with the main fall at the end about a mile and half from the start. It is an amazing landscape and something that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
From the Fairy Pools we completed our loop around Skye and headed back to Dornie. It was a beautiful place and wouldn’t hesitate to visit again in the future as there is so much more to see. It definitely lived up to the hype, it’s easy to see why it’s a noted highlight in a country full of so many amazing landscapes.