We love Scotland, heck, we even got married there. So when we were given a holiday voucher I wasn't too surprised when we ended up browsing locations in Scotland. We spotted a renovated crofter's shed in Skye and booked it without a second thought.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks before our holiday in October, I finally realised just how far away Skye is. I ignored my husband's protests that we'd be fine to do the journey in one day and booked a hotel near Carlisle so we could break the journey. With hindsight it was a good job we did. The motorways were a nightmare, we seemed to crawl most of the way to Carlisle. We continued our journey the next day and made much better progress. As the weather was fine, we decided to take the scenic route, the Road to the Isles, from Fort William to Mallaig. The views were spectacular and we managed to spot the Glenfinnan Viaduct (known from the Harry Potter films) in the distance.
When we eventually arrived at our home for the week it was worth the trip. It was on the middle of nowhere with only sheep and rabbits passing our front door.
The next day we got up and headed to Portree, the main town on Skye, partly to see the harbour but mainly to get some food in for the week. We had lunch and grabbed a couple of geocaches whilst we were there. We struck lucky that one of the geocaches gave us a great view of the harbour.
To make the most of the dry weather, we took a walk out to Neist Point on the other side of the island towards the end of the day, to see the lighthouse. It was a round walk of about a mile and a half, relatively easy going to get there, but a hard slog back up the steps on the way back. The lighthouse is less impressive close up as it's fallen to ruin, it looks much better from a distance.
The next day the weather was still dry, if cloudy, so we headed out for a longer walk. We drove to the parking area near the Storr and headed up to the Old Man. Although it was only about three miles, this was a much tougher climb, the gradient was relentless, the weather deteriorated as we gained height and as we approached the Old Man itself, we were literally scrambling up on all fours. By the time we reached the top it was so windy that I just sat on a rock and took a quick panorama hoping I wouldn't be blown away! I was very glad to get back to lower ground. It was certainly an achievement though!
Our next trip, a couple of days later, was to Dunvegan Castle. I'd managed to get free tickets through work, so we felt we should go, even if it was their last open day of the year. It was clear when we got there that it was end of season, with stocktaking underway. The Castle itself was a little underwhelming but the grounds were interesting and varied, even in October. We had a good walk around and found the best views of the castle weren't necessarily from the front.
After our walk around the castle and gardens, we headed up the coast for a walk out to Coral Beach. Despite its name, the beach isn't actually made of coral, but dessicated and sun bleached algae. Its sandy appearance is unusual for Skye. It was a walk of about three miles, including a climb up the hill you can see in the distance. We were there on a bit of a gloomy day, but it would be beautiful there in the summer.
On our last day we ventured back to where we'd first entered the island to see Armadale Castle Gardens. Again, we'd got free entry and so felt we should make the most of it. The castle (actually a ruined country house) was a bit of a disappointment, just the frontage remained, and the gardens were past their best given the time of year. It's a shame the castle wasn't rescued after it was abandoned by the family before it fell into such disrepair.
We did a couple of geocaches before heading to Fairy Pools. We walked the mile and a half route fairly briskly as the light was starting to fade. It was worth the walk to see the waterfalls and the sunset on the way back made me glad we left it until late in the day.
Our journey home the following day took twelve hours from door to door, with a couple of stops for fuel and one for food. Luckily the traffic was much clearer on the way back. I guess Skye's not that far after all!