30 September – 2 October: Walking in my parents’ footsteps

Author: Mr A

Location: Broadford and Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK

Scotland…the part of the British Isles that my parents fell in love with and retuned to for so many years of wonderful holidays, bird spotting, walking the hills when they could. To visit here and see some of the same places they must have gazed at in wonderment, as we are, is quite special.

Being stuck behind this truck carrying wood for several miles gave us a chance to admire the scenery

I’m an only child, no brothers or sisters to help keep memories alive, my daughters help me in that regard, but I’d love to just have one more conversation with my parents and ask all the questions I never asked when I thought they’d be here forever.

On the road over from the central highlands to the west coast we rounded a corner and there was this stunning sight to feast our eyes on.

A view that has remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years
Incredible reflections
Skye is certainly showing us her best side with this incredible clear weather

Did my mum and dad see the same? Sadly I will likely never know, although I will be poring though my mum’s diaries when I go back to Australia. It’s a an evocative moment. Eilean Donan Castle is one of the more photogenic places we have set eyes on, almost rivalling the vista across Lake Bled in Slovenia for having all the ingredients that make us go “oooh”. Dating back to the 13th century, it was built to fight off the Viking invaders, then as a superb defensive position for warring Scottish clans. It even saw a group of Spanish soldiers assisting in the Jacobite rebellions use it as a base. It has been lovingly restored after being left in ruins for several hundred years, and now features in selfies from the coach loads of tourists pulling up to admire its beauty.

We arrived on the Isle of Skye via the road bridge that was opened in ‘95, and I could just hear my dad saying “Look Jill, look at that!”, as he nudged her in the ribs, seeing the soaring peaks of the island’s Cuillin range dropping down into the deep blue waters of the surrounding sea.

Our first view of the bridge and the Isle of Skye in the distance
Crossing over the bridge, wondering whether dad drove this exact same path…

We had identified a campsite on the edge of the small town of Broadford, which straddles along a wide bay and river mouth. It was time to pull on the walking shoes and head for the hills. But first of course the flask needed to be filled. I am clearly walking in my father’s footsteps in this regard as well. At one point he was a 15 cups of tea a day man, a little too much caffeine me thinks…we stick to the caffeine-free herbal variety.

Beautiful views out to sea at every turn
The delicate pink of the ever present heather adds a splash of colour to the green
More lovely views as we reach the next bay
Heading inland through a million shades of green
The next bay around is equally unspoilt
With every cloud the scene changes constantly
Local lady Isabel needed a hand with 15 year old Lucy who decided she wasn’t up for walking any more

The views were out to the mainland and across some small outlying islands, with tiny cottages on them, for fisherfolk I assume. It’s wild and wooly country and we love it. We didn’t strike as lucky though going into town to try and find that stereotype of the welcoming Scottish pub, complete with fiddle player. Instead we found a horrible place with slot machines and widescreen TV showing the football. Ah well…perhaps the next town?

The next day also dawned clear in the morning, apparently its been a very wet late summer, so the locals are finding this showery autumnal weather “quite nice”, wandering round in shirt sleeves when its 10 degrees. Being unused to what feels to us like sub-arctic temperatures we are all rugged up I can tell you. Catherine was busy writing up her notes from the conference she attended, so I grabbed the opportunity to head out on the bike for a ride. And what a ride it was, through scenery that made it one of the more memorable I have ever done.

My little Tinker and the cool but stunning scenery
Love where this little bike can take me

My iPhone and lack of skill with its camera just dont do it justice, and when returning back to Catherine I was so enthusiastic about what I’d seen we agreed to drive it the following morning. Later in the afternoon we took a stroll around the shore of Broadford, apparently the site of a Neolithic settlement (12,000 – 6,500 years ago) and many burial mounds, several dismantled over the years to use the rocks for houses and walls.

Looking out towards a fishing trawler in the bay
I wonder how many people over the past 12,000 years have admired this view
The clouds provide an ever changing scenery

Tuesday morning we retraced my stunning cycling path along the road from Broadford to the isolated road’s end at Glasnakille, a collection of a few houses, tiny primary school and a boat shed offering tours up the coast.

The blue skies belying the freshness of the morning
The Church of Christ (Cille Chriosd) – built in the early 1500s – it was superseded in 1840 and has since fallen to ruin
The single track road with a passing point ahead
The sheep are grateful for their wooly coats, at 10 degrees, it’s quite a brisk autumn day
A lovely spot for a tea break
The wind whistled across the water as we stood and admired the Cuillin Hills
Looking out to Cuillin Sound as we drive down the hill towards Glasnakille
A lovely Robin followed us on our walk through the tiny village
The little white building on the right is the tiny little school – we saw around 6 students chasing around the playground
Mrs A loving the scenery from behind glass!
The sun peeps out from behind a cloud, highlighting the hills for mere seconds before moving on to another location
There’s a bit of slow moving traffic on the road, you cannot be in a rush here

These end-of-the-world places have a magic feel to them. The road was single track, windy with a few unprotected drops into an icy looking ocean, but I’m a lot more confident driving Truffy knowing what he and I can tackle together.

We wandered up the coast, and ended up at the Talisker distillery. Now I’m a fan of bourbon, but have never managed to acquire a liking for that smoky single malt flavour of whiskey, but I keep persevering.

The oldest distillery on the Isle of Skye, Talisker has been here since 1830
Medicinal purposes only, at £55 a bottle we didn’t purchase

We tried a couple, I’m still not convinced, Catherine was pretty neutral as well, so no purchases made.

It was another drive round the coast until we found a campsite in Dunvegan with a lovely view across a loch. A little amble round the village revealed a few places to eat but nothing that really grabbed us, a pattern that’s emerging in Skye.

The walk into Dunvegan from our campground

Well, I hope my parents did see this part of Skye, it really is quite stunning. I’m going to tell myself they did and picture them sharing the pleasure we feel in seeing nature at its most scenic.

Truffy’s home for the night in Dunvegan
Sunset across Loch Dunvegan

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