Over the bridge to Skye

Skye Bridge from Kyleakin

Way back in November, I abandoned my diary of our summer trip to Dornie in the North West Highlands. Even further back, in October, I wrote about our first, abortive, attempt to visit Skye via the Glenelg ferry. That was scuppered by a puncture. Now it’s time to resume the tale. A few days later, we made it to Skye by simply driving over the bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin.

Both Kyle and Kyleakin would have been much busier before the bridge was built in 1995, with ferries shuttling back and forth on the five-minute crossing between their harbours. Now both can be easily by-passed, although Kyleakin seems still to be a popular stop for coach trips. However, most tourists headed straight for the coffee shops so wandering the village was a peaceful pastime.

First we climbed to the War Memorial where we had good views of Castle Moil.

Then we made our way towards the castle, enjoying the quirky art work, gnome-decorated gardens, and signs that Kyleakin has not given up on the dream of Scottish independence. The sculpture of Teko the Otter is a nod to Gavin Maxwell who wrote Ring of Bright Water and once lived on Eilean Ban, the island which now joins the two parts of the Skye Bridge.

Castle Moil, or Maol, stands on a promontory a few hundred yards from the village’s slipway. There’s not much left of it, especially after it was damaged by lightening a couple of years ago and lost about four metres from one of its towers. The warning signs are there, about both falling masonry and the dangers of being cut off by the tide. Still, it’s a pleasant climb and the views back to the village and bridge are pretty.

Just outside Kyleakin we stopped to climb Cnoc a’Mhadaidh-ruaidh (hill of the fox). As on many walks last summer, we found there had been a lot of logging, which rather detracted from the appeal, but the views back to the bridge were interesting. It looked very odd from this angle. In the wider view you can see Eilean Ban (with the lighthouse) which the road crosses before continuing over the second part of the bridge beyond.

From here, we drove to Broadford, the next village, where we explored a small park and the harbour, then partook of a welcome coffee – next to a bookshop, which I managed to resist.

Beyond Broadford, we found another forestry trail which took us in a loop above the sea, and back past the cemetery.

After our walk, we set off back to the mainland and our base in Dornie. If you think of Skye as a mountainous island, you are right, which means you might be puzzled by this post as it looks quite flat. However, if Skye were a house we would barely have made it into the entrance hall. We’d had a lovely time though, and it wasn’t over yet.

In the next village to Dornie, Ardelve, there is a ‘pizza hut’ which we had promised ourselves we would try before we left. Pizza Jo has to be the quirkiest pizza place ever, and if you visit the area I highly recommend it.

Also on site is Manuela’s Wee Bakery (closed by the time we got there) and the Fairytale Distillery, all run by the same German family. While our pizzas were being made we sampled some gin and, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, we left with a bottle. The pizzas were absolutely delicious too! A lovely end to a lovely day.

I is for Inner Hebrides

The Hebrides Image credit: Kelisi via Wikimedia
The Hebrides
Image credit: Kelisi via Wikimedia

The Hebrides is an archipelago off the west coast of Scotland (sometimes known as the Western Isles) and is divided into Inner and Outer (see map). There are 36 inhabited islands in the Inner Hebrides, of which I’ve visited a handful, and many more uninhabited. There are pictures below of:

Skye – The Quirang

Mull – the colourful houses of Tobermory which starred in the children’s TV series as Balamory. From Mull you can take boat trips to smaller islands such as Staffa, home to Fingal’s Cave of Mendelssohn’s overture fame, and the Treshnish Isles which are great for birdwatchers – see the puffin on Lunga, for example.

Islay – most famous for its multitude of distilleries, two of which are shown here. The Kildalton Cross is the only surviving complete Celtic cross in Scotland and dates from about 800 AD. I love that I’ve also got the mobile library in shot in Bowmore.

Arran – a stone circle on Machrie Moor.

Anyone guess what O is going to be?