Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day 22: Eilean Donan & Skye

The morning began with rain - and an amusing display downstairs in the breakfast room. Other guests at breakfast discussed marathons from the previous day and requested piles of food while talking about all the weight they were losing. Our grandmotherly host kept appearing to take orders of hot food from the guests, then would always finish with, “All good? Yes.”

She was a very pleasant woman who seemed keen to chat even as we were heading out the door. The rain eased as we hit the arterial road, though we found ourselves fighting terrible drivers who have apparently never learned to take the bends at reasonable speeds. They would speed up on straights so I could not overtake them easily. Annoying!!

We stopped briefly for a hot chocolate and a gander at the gorgeous scenery which was beginning to become a bit old hat - no wonder locals take it for granted!

After an hour or so, we finally reached Eilean Donan Castle which stood on an island (accessible by footbridge), defiant against the overcast sky. It was packed. I had to squeeze my car into overflowing overflow parking and copped a squat on the least muddy ground I could find. The longer walk to the castle was worth it - what a view!

The most photographed castle in the UK...gets another photo taken of it.

It would be hard to sneak across the bridge to the castle, though the bridge was a 20th century addition. As we walked over, we saw that the restored walls were smooth - so try to get on a boat and climb that! The 13th century version of the castle had been bigger - but over the centuries a smaller garrison shrunk it then it fell to ruin before becoming some dude’s home. The MacRae clan have their reunion here.

Have fun climbing those walls.

The more modern interior bits formed a fun maze but I enjoyed looking down at the old well more. The castle was filled with tiny passages and tiny stairs - perfect for a Jacobean stronghold. Not so much fun for crowds of tourists! Happy to escape across the bridge.

We crossed over into Skye. The scenery somehow became even more wonderful, rising over the water. We veered off towards the Clan Donald Skye Visitor Centre because we had time to burn before our 4pm check in over at Dunvegan.

There was a restaurant at the visitor centre which yielded local venison lasagne that just tasted like normal lasagne. I am becoming a huge fan of elderflower drinks. They are floral, but not overpoweringly so. We meandered up to the ticket office and noted that there was mention of castle ruins. The gardens offered pleasant strolls and if I lived near the centre, I’d walk there every day.

The castle looked suspiciously like a folly; it paled beside Inveraray. I guessed it to be 18th-19th century. I was right. This castle was 1790 onwards, laughably indefensible but times were changing then, stabilising. It fell to fire and ruin.

Pfft. You call that a castle?

We moved towards the museum, encountering a herb garden where I caught a whiff - no, a plume of fragrant thyme! We found the old laundry and explored those ruins before venturing on.

The museum talked about the ancient history of the isles, which featured Picts, Vikings and the prolific McDonalds. A newly constructed stone circle stood in the museum. That will confuse archaeologists one day!

Outside in the gardens a lone peacock lurked nervously. A sign at the entrance had angrily told people to keep their dogs on leashes as one peacock had perished and the remaining one was often harassed. Well, he posed for photos then chased us, sometimes at a fair clip, all the way back to the entrance. Buses full of tourists were turning up so it was time to leave.

Poor peacock :(

More slowpokes on the road. More GPS shenanigans (it took us down a single-lane road for no reason - this road had so many passing points and so much space either side they might as well make it two lanes!). We passed Dun Beag Broch - going too fast to stop, whoops - and finally made our way into Dunvegan.

Our B&B looked quaint, standing across the road from its parking. It had a telescope in the entrance. We were a few minutes early, but this was nothing to our long suffering hostess who’d had people turn up hours early or late, past her bedtime. We bonded over people being unable to read webpages and who were poor timekeepers.

We were shown to our room which had a lockable sliding door but this is in a corridor behind another door (this one was unlocked) that says “emergency exit and room 5”. It’s like having our own extra (if chillier) room. Half the ceiling slopes down but it gives the room a cosy feel. The small window lets us keep an eye on the car and the lovely loch. Damn those stairs are a killer with suitcases. The candles lining the hallways give a soothing effect. This is the perfect honeymoon spot.

Our hostess booked us into a restaurant which is hard to get into. We went there after I bought thistle and heather teas. So far I have tried thistle which is mixed into a black breakfast tea - an unusual taste. The restaurant was small, intimate, and the most romantic place I’ve eaten at. I enjoyed sitting beneath those fairy lights, tapping my toe to Scottish reels from the speakers (“no singing, no dancing, no swearing” a sign warned - oh well) and smiling over at the man I love, fielding his attempt at footsies and holding his hands.

We were offered homemade bread - cheesy wholemeal. My pheasant breast was divine. All in all, an awesome place.

Can’t wait to continue our relaxing time in Skye tomorrow, although apparently rain is dune.

No comments:

Post a Comment