Skye unravelled

The morning in Portree began with a frenzied photo-taking session of the harbour from the room window.

Sated with Charlotte’s vanilla plums and the generous breakfast a little later, Bill proceeded to tell us that hordes of tourists queue up in front of their door, taking photos of the harbour.

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“The second game we play is figuring out where they come from,” he smiled in glee.

Breakfast was heavy, and we were soon on our way once more. A855 towards Staffin from Portree is a single carriageway (and at times a single road!), and an RBS truck and other larger vehicles hilariously overtook our leisurely romp in the Vectra as they looked in danger of tipping sideways.

I finally understood why so many people laud the ethereal light and its shadow-effects on Skye.

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The Trotternish peninsula’s coastal drive exceeded our expectations, and we marvelled at the unfairness of the location of some Leadership training camp in Staffin as we made our way up the hairpin turns of the Quiraing, an spectacular and alien landscape of rock formations, stopping to guess at the kind of animal that could have made bean-like droppings. Somehow, the occasional scatalogical nature of our conversations never did diminish.

My words do the pictures no justice. We continued around the peninsula, and the highland bulls finally came into view. It excited me greatly, and TC was highly disturbed by my ‘unholy fascination’ and excitement with them.

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Lunch took place at Dunvegan Hotel (we were the only visitors in this low season) and in the setting sun at 2pm, after which it was a short route to Dunvegan Castle, the traditional seat of the Macleod Clan for several centuries.

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But we had more to look. Up from Dunvegan Castle lay a dirt track road to Claigan that was supposed to lead to Coral Beach, something that Charlotte promised was a nice and easy walk. What she did not mention however, was that it seemed to be a shingle beach and its walking track smelled overwhelmingly of dung.

“Gallantry is dead,” I remarked casually as TC hopped past a stream and ambled on. He turned immediately and grimaced, holding out his hand.

“That was just once! All the other times I did so, it went unnoticed!” He protested gamely.

The setting sun promised good pictures, but also meant that we couldn’t finish the walk in order to hit the road back in time. It was only later when we were back in Edinburgh did we realise Coral Beach had indeed a sandy portion, but we needed to walk 2 miles to reach it.

Bill commented that it was “quite a drive” that we had done for the day. Indeed it was – the route back was a single track road for 9 miles, a rather remote area uphill on which we saw a passing taxi (!), a lone walker and several other trucks.

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