Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 23: Skye

We awoke with the alarm, then had a lovely breakfast (here I finally had a salty start to my day, care of Marmite). We sat by the window closest to the loch, admiring the view. The clouds were so low in front of the mountains that it looked as though they were moored there, invisible anchor lines thrown down into the loch. Our host, after feeding us, gave us advice and a map showing us how to find nearby walks. After days in the car, my feet were rearing to go.

We began the Two Churches Walk which started at an ruined chapel on an ancient religious site. I roamed the graves before my fiancé found a way out. He headed for the Duirinish stone; I followed. Squishy shoe-stealing ground (the beginnings of bogs, I suspect) prevented us from getting close. Not a huge loss - it was only erected in 2000. Sensibly, they placed a time capsule at the base so no one will be confused when collective memory fails.

We rejoined the muddy track that was littered with glossy black slugs, both alive and smushed. The track turned into dense, prickly vegetation before we were regurgitated on the side of the road near out destination.

The site of Dunvegan Castle has been lived on for 800 years. It is the seat of power for the MacLeods! We ambled through the gardens towards it. At first I denounced it as indefensible and 18th century in date, as the crappy bridge and entrance screamed “folly”. Hmm, but it was on a rock which would have been able to use the loch waters as a moat…

A nearby sign revealed that the bridge and entrance I despised had been added by some clan chief or another. The castle had once been accessible by boat only. The keep boasted a longer history. Intrigued, we stepped inside, cameras dutifully put away.

If it looks like a folly and quacks like a might not be!

The living areas had a distinctly 18th century flavour - they were also painted a hideous soft pink. While placards told us this or that room was medieval, they were dressed from a newer century. A pleasant sitting room was revealed by a guide to be a former Great Hall but was reduced by 10 feet so it would be more comfortable for a clan chief and his family. We were promised that the stonework was beneath the timbers under out feet. This was in the original medieval keep that replaced an earlier fort. The windows showed just how wide the walls actually were, built in the castle’s defensive past.

Then it began. You’d turn a corner and find a room so much more ancient in appearance than the one before it. The dungeon remained, a tiny pokey room with a floor cell. Creepy. We admired the Great MacLeod Sword, made in the 16th century, and we read the family tree - Leod was at the top, of course.

Outside in the back courtyard, we saw the seagate, originally the only entrance. The guide was pointing out to a group how the new additions and the old stonework were rendered so that it all matched. No wonder I had thought the whole thing was a folly!

Sinful chocolate was to be found in the gift shop. Omnom.

We walked back to the B&B and passed the post office which had five Royal Mail vans squeezed outside it. It must be a depot! We had lunch at the oldest bakery in Skye (150+ years old) where we both had burgers. I was not enthused until I received the tasty meal (but I put too much hot English mustard inside - my nose was unpleasantly jolted!). My fiancé was enthused, but only until he received a bun - with unmelted butter! How he hates that!

We drove to Claigan to walk to the coral beach. It was windy, but hot and cold by turns as we were walking a fair distance. Despite seeing evidence of Neolithic habitation (including a suspiciously burial mound-shaped thing we posed on for photos) I could not find the Claigan souterrain (a later Google search would reveal its location - may go back tomorrow).

A view worth questing for.

Claigan is beautiful and practically Atlantic. Crazy parking though - everyone just goes where they want, despite the marked areas. A douchey caravan parked in a passing place, so badly he overhung onto the… “road” is a generous word.

It was single lane traffic back to Dunvegan Castle - what a nightmare. Such a busy road. Good amount of passing places though.

I had headache so my fiancé got me takeaway dinner and snacks!

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