For those who haven’t traveled to the Isle of Sky, on the west coast of Scotland, I will try to describe it to you. It is rocky and rugged in form. But the land is covered with a soft sort of spongy green, comprised of bog plants like heather, sedge, bracken and moss. From a distance, everything appears soft and spongy. Close up, however, it’s often prickly and/or hiding knee deep mud. There are few trees. There are scattered towns – each a collection of houses, perhaps a Co-op (grocery), a pier, a town hall and a shop or two for visitors. For the most part, the built environment consists of “white houses” – croft homes built in the vernacular style. They stand out from the green like icebergs in the sea. Or like oversized sheep in the sweeping moorland meadows. You can drive for miles here seeing nothing but softly indulating hills. Then suddenly turn a corner, drop down a hill and a needle of seawater reaches for you, a scattering of houses and trees reaching up both sides of the steep shoreline edges.
Skye is an island, completely separate from the mainland. It is connected by ferry in the south, between Mallaig (MAH-layg) and Armadale (pronounced exactly as you’d expect). On its southeast side, Skye connects with the mainland via a soaring bridge. Aside from those points, plus additional ferry crossings to other islands, Skye is a self-contained universe. Stand at any peninsula terminus and you feel like you’re at the edge of the world.
On Friday, Heather and I spent the morning working from our phones and computers right at the hotel. We’re staying here for just a couple nights, using up some of the $7000 dollars in deposit monies from trips canceled in 2020 and 2021 that we won’t be allowed to use on any future tours. In fact, we won’t be able to book with them at all in the future because it’s no longer cost effective for them to work with small travel companies (i.e. less than 60 tours per year). Kind of a bummer, cause I do love this place. It is elegant, comfortable and gracious. I know our travelers will enjoy their time here. It has a spectacular view across to the town of Portree.
But we shall find another beautiful but also homey hotel here on Skye. In fact, we set out after lunch to visit two we have in mind. We also stopped in at Dunvegan Castle. I’ve never been there. It’s large, imposing and homely. But the gardens were spectacular. I have to tell you, some castles in England and Scotland are beyond spectacular. But some are, well… I wouldn’t choose to live in them under any circumstances. Nor, I think, would you. Even though their settings are spectacular. Dunvegan Castle is one of those, I’m afraid.
And onward then, to a tiny, tiny, tiny weaving studio on the far Duirinish peninsula. Skye Weavers! Herbie did his very best to get us there. We had a great visit with one of the owners, Roger. Beautiful work.
By the way, all locations we visited rquired masking inside, provide hand sanitizer about every five feet and have information about Covid health guidelines prominently posted. In general, people here take this thing very seriously. And they are consistent with their practices from place to place.
We drove a fair way to get back to the hotel for dinner. It was about an hour over hills and down them, in and out of peninsulas, etc. You don’t get anywhere quickly on Skye. Then we had a very fancy dinner with two of our friends who live in the area. I don’t think we made much of a dent in that $7000 they owe us. But we did give it our best effort. Dinner done at ten, writing to you folks until midnight or beyond, crash in my uber-luxurious king size bed. That’s Skye for you.
Since then, I just want you to know that we’ve come down in the world. Lodging and eating on funds owed to us by Cuillin Hills Hotel gets us this:
Lodging and eating on funds out of our business, things look a bit different:
For those of you who know the Cuillin Hills hotel, you know how sumptuous it is. Tonight is decidedly not. We chuckle about it. In our tiny room.
More tomorrow. And it’s a good ‘un, cause we’re going on to places I’ve not been before. However, the day does start with a self-administered Covid test that I just can’t WAIT to share with you.