Day six – Arisaig
After two nights near Glencoe in Ballachulish, we started for our new destination: the Isle of Skye. We drove Northwest via Hwy A830 and stopped at the Glenfinnan monument on Loch Shiel. In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard to begin the rebellion of the Jacobites—he was defeated at the battle of Culloden. A few miles down the road we made a sharp stop at a gray, stoic structure set against a Loch and mountains. The sculptures inside drew us into the 1873 church of St. Mary’s and St. Finnan.
As we drove Northwest towards Mallaig our path brought us to the teal water and white sand of Arisaig—I was sure we had left our sulky, moody Scotland for the Caribbean! The tiny white village had a post office featuring fresh produce and groceries, and was reminiscent of the small village postal shops of England.
We boarded the Ferry Caledonian MacBrayne from Mallaig and crossed over to the Sleat peninsula to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. As we drove along the coast of Armadale, the greenish teal water changed to an inky blue.
Sleat Peninsula, Isle of Skye
Simple white houses on carpets of thick mossy green dotted the countryside as we made our way North. How suddenly on crossing over from England, the flowers end!
The sun never set at our next destination in the North of Skye. In Edinbane on Loch Greshornish we left our B&B to have dinner down the street at a pub with deep rich paneling. Barely able to stay awake, we watched the sunset over the Loch. It was beautiful, all night long…
The next morning, all the guests at the Straethern B&B gathered around one large table set with Edinbane pottery; we got to know a vivacious German couple who enjoyed correcting one another’s English. Our gracious hosts—an older couple who cared for us like children—loaded us down with bagged lunches featuring cheese and ham on thick hunks of bread wrapped in wax paper.
Travel book photos had enticed me to Scotland. The most intriguing were those of the Quiraing in the northernmost Trotternish peninsula. We made our way northeast on a tiny road passing more sheep than cars and blankets of green.
We reached the trailhead of the Quiraing and began our five hour trek down a dirt road. In the distance to our right we saw small lakes and the sea. Huge crazy shapes sprang out of the ground covered in green carpet. More sheep…loud vivacious young sheep occasionally charged towards me.
We bundled up against the cold, wind and mist. The one-of-a-kind formations and sudden drop-offs were not of this planet—and I sank into the effect. Each turn brought a heart stopping view of crazy wild shapes that would have made Edward Scissorhands smile.
Near the end of our trek we left the footpath and ascended to the rocky pinnacles known as the Storr. As there was no path and I don’t like heights, it took some convincing before I resigned my fate to this rocky hazard. I tried not to look down as I grasped thick grass on hands and knees and placed my feet in giant divots. And yet more unnerving was the fog. I could barely see more than one step in front of my feet! No one followed.
When we reached the summit, the ghostly shapes of the pinnacles were barely visible. The granite giants made a cozy enclosure and I hated to leave. We would have gone beyond the summit, but the fog made it impossible to see and we didn’t want to get lost.
The climb down was slightly less unnerving, but I enjoyed the challenge, and I would never forget this hike…
Before leaving the Isle of Skye, we headed over to Neist Point at the far west end to see the Lighthouse. The drive on the tiny single lane road was the most deserted of our trip. We made a brief stop at the Dunvegan Castle and the Skye Museum of island life.
Driving in the Highlands and Skye on isolated twisting roads through unreal scenery: the misplaced carribean, desolate landscapes of white cottages, hiking in the space age Quairaing and making new friends is etched in my senses and I want to return…