Dunvegan: a quieter day

Saturday 22 October: Last day on Skye, and it’s an “old folks’ outing”… “Let’s drive round to Dunvegan – we can watch the seals. There are usually plenty of them on the rocks beside the Claigan road, just beyond the castle. Not today! Perhaps they put them all away for the winter? Instead, a solitary heron and a couple of diving birds (cormorants? Not sure – too far away) – and, in the still air, the loch is mirror-like. Just the thing for a reflective last look at the island – tomorrow we’re on the long road south.

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Kilmaluag coastline

Friday 21 October: A short but interesting walk beside, and above, the sea. There’s a path, though it’s not always very distinct, from the road corner near Kilmaluag old churchyard to the ruins of the WW2 radar station. It’s not on the tourist trail, so it’s quiet – I didn’t meet anyone else. The views are extensive – from the eastern shores of Lewis to the north-west Highlands. The path continues some way towards Flodigarry, but I’ll save that for another day, and head back along the road.

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Fairies and Elves

Thursday 20 October: We’re still on Skye, and the weather on Skye is still… Barely a breath of wind. We’ve taken the car down to Uig, and we’re walking through the woodlands beside the shore, then up what was once a quiet road to what is now one of the most-visited places on the island – the Fairy Glen. We won’t battle it out on Castle Ewen with the selfie-snappers – but we’ll enjoy the reflections in the pool. The little patch of woodland nearby is wonderful – dank, green and mossy-bouldery with some amazing lichen growing on the trunks and low branches. Not sure about the fairies, but there could be elves amongst these trees…

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By Loch Langaig and Loch Hasco

… to Sròn Vourlinn I will go (to the tune of “Tangle o’ the Isles” perhaps?)

Wednesday 19 October: It’s a fine, bright afternoon, perfect for the hills. Sròn Vourlinn is not a particularly high hill, but its shape is impressive, the view from the top is extensive, it’s in an astonishing area of impossible pinnacles and ridges – and being about a third of a mile beyond the range of most visitors, it’s quiet. Really quiet!
The path up past the two lochs meets the popular tourist path from the Uig-Staffin road in a rocky hollow, and suddenly there are numerous other people. Some of them are noisy – don’t they understand? Why are they here? Ah – I see. It’s so they can take selfies. From the convergence of the paths, the way climbs to Fir Breugach, where there’s a slightly awkward rocky step onto the main ridge. Here, most of the others seem to turn back along, and up, the ridge. Some will continue the way I’m going, but they only seem to go as far as the first (and possibly slightly higher) summit of the Sròn Vourlinn ridge. Then they take a selfie, turn around and head back again. Beyond this point, I’ve got that final third of a mile to myself, and at its northern tip, I’ll stop, sit down and take it all in (along with a square of chocolate…). This place is far too good to hurry!

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Bornesketaig cliffs

Tuesday 18 October: Duties done, I’m allowed out. Taking the car as far as the village hall, I’m walking along quiet roads to the grassy clifftop, where there are no paths, but the way is obvious… In the clear air, the hills of Harris, around 25 miles distant, seem closer than usual. Like my Flodigarry walk, I’ve got this little part of Skye to myself (and the sheep)

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Portree: loch and harbour

Tuesday 18 October: A morning in Portree. As tends to happen, I’m on chauffeur duties, taking the household authorities in to the island capital so that they can visit shops, the bank etc. Fortunately, my presence is not required (quite the opposite!) so I’m free for an hour or so, to wander with the camera on this fine cold morning (what a difference after that dismal Monday).

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Flodigarry shore…

Sunday 16 October: Stones and seals! Silhouetted against the southern horizon, I thought they were rocks, until they began to wriggle…

We arrived at our ‘northern office’ yesterday, after driving more than 300 miles, from Dunbar to the northern end of Skye’s Trotternish peninsula. I need a leg stretch – I’ll aim for the shore near Flodigarry. The route down to the sea is clearly marked and easy; the shore itself is very stony – bouldery for long stretches. It would be easy to turn an ankle, and there’s no-one else around. So progress is very slow – just under a mile taking just under an hour! Admittedly, I stopped to watch the seals for a while. Ascent from the shore isn’t easy either – the ground is steep and uneven, to put it mildly. Possibly one of the longest short walks I’ve done for many years! Nevertheless, it’s been a most enjoyable outing, just what was needed after that long journey.

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Hinnisdal forest roads

27 May – last day on Skye. It rained all day yesterday – heavy blustery showers, of the kind which seem to ‘merge into longer periods of rain’, as the Met Office likes to put it. Today will be altogether quieter – the wind has dropped, and I’m heading for gentler scenery, as seen from the forest road in Glen Hinnisdal. That should be ‘roads’, plural – at the start there are paths leading off to left – ‘Rathad na t-aibhne’ (river road) – and right ‘Rathad an t-seann bhaile’ (old town road). We’ll head for the old town (a few stones in the forest!) before wandering up the glen for a mile and back again, this time taking the river road to visit the magnificent falls on the abhainn Hiniosdail. Very pleasant, and definitely quieter – but there’s still some rain about.

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Keep off the rocks!

25 May (we’re still on Skye): It’s been blowing hard all day, the showers coming thick and fast – and heavy. To get caught in one would be to get soaked. Then, late in the afternoon, there’s a bigger break in the cloud – might it stay dry for a while? Let’s chance it – a leg stretch from the village hall down to Camas Mor, where the waves on the rocks could be fun… After an enjoyable half-hour or so, clouds begin to obscure the sun – there’s another big shower coming. If we walk quickly, will we stay dry?

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