Travelling to an island invariably means waiting in a queue on a departure pier, chatting to fellow travellers and trusting that for any reason, however obscure, the ferry will not be delayed or cancelled.Many many times I’ve been there, when stormy weather has denied sailing, or a technical fault has made the journey seemingly impossible. On other occasions the crossing has been embarked upon only to have the final landing denied as a turnabout is exercised and the vessel returns to its point of origin, and we are disembarked to await another day or week or worse before making another attempt. Such are the joys of island living. Been there, done that, got the tea-shirt.
This week, I visited an island and avoided the queues and delays and possible technical difficulties. I crossed over the sea to Skye via its bridge and made my second visit to this remarkable island.The bridge covers the short distance between island and mainland and within minutes Skye was under wheels and we were heading north to our destination, Beaton’s Croft House at Bournesketaig.It did take a couple of hours to reach this north west corner of Skye, but there was such varied terrain en route, that the time passed quickly with more than a dozen camera shot stops. The sun was shining, our home for the week a picture postcard delight, and not a midge was in sight!Hairpin bends, single track roads and much ado about passingFor the most part roads on Skye are pretty good. There certainly are miles and miles of them. We travelled many of each format during our short stay. We frequented the single track variety most often as our home for the week was in such a northerly location. Single track they may have been but rarely was a single vehicle seen on any journey out and about. They appeared in their droves. Cars, vans, more cars, motor bikes by the quad, and a single quad too, even a lawnmower appeared to pass( Straight Story Style) us by. And then there were the camper vans, dozens of them in all shapes and sizes, wending their way to night-time stopping places after daytime visiting places. And of course it wouldn’t be an island without sheep, and lambs escaping their mothers, and an odd cow and calf or mini herd, and a rabbit or fifty darting off white tailtip bobbing. Not a traffic light ordered their or our movement, except the inevitable ones where road works were in operation. Surprisingly, there appeared to be few bumps or near misses. Words might well have been of a blue hue here and there, but generally people stopped and waited, offered courteous waves of thanks, and allowed free passage to residents recognised by their speed and obvious understanding of every inch of well-kent roadway.
Island Heritage is in safe hands
Our cottage on Skye is a piece of island heritage. It was bought by the National Trust for Scotland a decade or so ago and has been renovated to provide a permanent reminder of what an original croft house would have looked like, despite the fact that centuries ago, whitewash would not have been applied to the outer walls. The croft house has walls three feet thick, doors to duck under and a thatched roof lovingly restored by a Uist man who has developed his skill to perfection. He actually came to repair part of the rear thatching while we were there, and gave us a small insight into what his job entailed. The end result would keep the cottage and its occupants warm and dry for years to come.
We left the thatcher to his craft and headed for The Island Heritage Museum at Kilmuir, a mere 5 minute drive away. It was misty and murky and rain encouraged us to don our jackets. The museum is made up of a group of renovated croft houses similar to the one we were staying in, but fitted with artefacts and archives to please every one with a historical bent. There was much to see, much to ponder over, but unfortunately the weather dampened our spirits to remain for any length of time on this visit. It will be a place to visit again ……and again. Much credit must go to the island and its people for maintaining this remnant of past life in the present and continuing to develop its impressive impact for the future.
Memories Memories Memories
Before I leave the museum and move on to the remaining adventures on this trip to Skye, I’d like to share a couple of memories inspired by the local ‘shop’ that was exhibited in one of the croft buildings.
On the top right corner of the above picture there are some National Dried Milk tins. I remember these very well from my childhood days in Tighnabruaich where we spent our long summer holidays with my grandparents, uncles aunts and cousins. My cousins were much younger than my brother and I, so were still being fed dried milk mixed with water. George and I waited with great anticipation for the tins to empty. When we had four, we set about using a screw driver to punch holes near the top, thread strong string through to a fairly long length then tie the ends. The lids were put back on and we each had a very fine pair of stilts to play on! I’m sure we fell off regularly but it was fun and a great recycling process to engage in.
Given that we were brought up in Bearsden and Milngavie was a close neighbourhood, I remember well our Garvies lemonade, cream soda, irn bru and limeade. We used to call them ‘ginger’, a very Glasgow definition of anything out of a bottle. I remember too that in those days we returned the bottles to the shop for recycling and got threepence for the trouble, enough to buy some sweets! No plastic waste in those days!
A Fine Dining Experience at The Three Chimneys
Given our location in the very north west tip of the island, we had quite a journey to make to enjoy our dining experience of the holiday ( a delightful present from my mum) in The Three Chimneys Restaurant. We love masterchef in all its formats, and were thrilled to be served such fine cuisine in the glorious setting of this exclusive restaurant. We went for lunch, had three courses and enjoyed the experience immensely. Here we were faced with the best produce from local sources made for us by Scott Davies, a truly gifted head chef who will no doubt follow his predecessor and open his own fine dining restaurant with his very own michelin star.
It was expensive, but worth every penny, although I do have to say I felt it was a bit much to charge £5 for a bottle of sparkling water!!
Our trip to Skye was most successful. We will return to see another magnificent view over land and sea, investigate Portree, Dunvegan and Broadford, walk part of the way up ‘The Cuillin’ or maybe just view them from below with a good camera and a lot of oohing and ahhing . We might join the camper van brigade and spend nights in different locations around the length and breadth of the island. We might even take a trip on a ferry to nearby Raasay or joy of joy, make a trip to The Outer Hebrides or even St Kilda. There is much more to do and see on this magnificent island, so we shall return to do just that…..more.
No more words……just a final few pictures to whet the appetite.