Over the Sea to Skye

Like many folk out there I have been gorging on Outlander episodes (ooft!) and have found myself humming the theme tune, “Over the Sea to Skye…” throughout the day. It finally kick-started these next posts that have been marinating for two and a half years so I hope you enjoy.

Each autumn when leaves turn and the air get crisp my wee family packs up the car and head to the Isle of Skye for our October Holidays. It is a good six-hour drive from our house, but the journey is an adventure in itself with several beautiful and curious sites along the way.

1 Autumn Colours 400

The first turn that takes us out of our usual zone of travel is when we get off the motorway and head left past the Dalwhinnie Whisky Distillery.  Most of the Scottish distilleries themselves are adorned with impressive architectural details.  I confess I haven’t actually been to the one, nor even tasted their whisky (yet) but it is a welcome sight regardless and a promise of good things to come.

(I am sure it has been done, before but I do feel an obligation to do some dedicated blogs on distilleries because they are just fabulous.  Hey, it’s a tough gig but someone has to do it!)

2 Dalwhinny 400

Dalwhinnie is classed as one of the Speyside Single Malts and this distillery dates to the 1890s.  The sight of the structure cheers me immensely whenever I see it because it triggers the promise of adventure at the start of the journey and the last road mark to know I am in the home stretch on the return.

3 Spean Bridge 400

Right after the distillery you know for sure your are in the High-lands Baby.  Huge mountains, forests, lochs, rivers and tons of moorland abound.  It is all about the wilderness here until you hit the beautiful town of Spean Bridge and it’s most atmospheric Commando Monument.

4 Commando Statue 400

This impressive statue was unveiled by the Queen Mother in 1952 to honour the original British Commandos of WWII whose training camp was founded at nearby Achnacarry Castle in 1942.  The rugged terrain and harsh climate proved a perfect sight to train this elite element of the army during such an intense period of war.  It has become one of Scotland’s best known statues as it serves both as a memorial and a tourist attraction.
7 Rocks 3 400

As you weave your way through the vast and seemingly empty landscape, you then come across this odd diddy.  In a layby on the A87 overlooking Loch Loyne there is a bizarre collection of small piles of rocks known as cairns.

6 Rocks 2 400

Traditionally cairns mark a location of a path or sometimes a burial site, but these have literally sprouted up over that last decade or so. After a fair bit of research, it appears that this is simply a modern craze, aided by tourists in an accessible location with yet another stunning view.

5 Rocks 400

So take a moment to savour the beauty of it all, and file this under “People are Weird but Wonderful” before continuing on your merry way.

8 Eilean Donan Castle 400

And you know that you are getting close to Skye when you see this emerging from the bend in the road.  This is Eilean Donan, one of the most photographed of all of Scotland’s castles.  For those of you who recognise it but can’t place where I will give you a hint, “There can be only one”!

9 Kyle of Lochalsh 400

Right after Eilean Donan you come into the port town of Kyle of Lochalsh.  This used to be where you would get the ferry to Skye before they built the Skye Bridge in 1992.

10 Sky Bridge 400

This was my first view of the Skye Bridge which I thought would be bigger to be honest.  I quickly realised I was only seeing half of the structure as it used this handy island as a midway support and continues on again after to Skye itself. (So clever these Scots.)

11 Reptile World 400

So after five hours in the car we finally arrive on the island itself and everyone but me is thrilled by our first stop on our annual trip.  My husband and kids happily march in through the central door, but I refuse and will only go into the tea room on the far left and wait.

12 Skye Serpentaium 400

Because it is only a flipping serpentarium for heaven’s sake! Initially opened in 1991 as a refuge for unwanted or exotic pets that had been illegally brought to the island it is now a booming exhibition centre.  My husband and kids absolutely love this place, but I am here to relax and don’t need to be reminded that I am on an island with tons of slithery friends.

13 Portree 400

One more good jaunt up the road and we finally arrive in Portree.

14 Haven 400

Our wee stone cottage is as welcoming as cosy as we remember from the year before, and

15 Bliss 400

the view from our front door helps to remind us that we made it once again.  We have reached our haven.

 

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