We woke semi-early (lol no we didn’t) and packed up the car for a half-day ride around Skye. We were trying to loop around the Northern most…eh…chunk…of the island today. First a quick check-in on how the team is doing:
- Dad: Is fine. He slept in and walked down to town and got a Cappuccino this morning all by hisself…so that happiness will tide him over for like a month.
- Mom: Is great. Despite being up a few times with L last night, she is really pumped about today’s adventure.
- R: Has decided that his super power is being smart, laughs all the time, and is generally in great spirits.
- L: Is still not adjusted very well, may be sick, but is still the cutest thing on Earth.
The guide book that we are using for some of today’s drive recommends going counter-clockwise, so of course we are not doing that. If everyone is going to get to the sites at the same time, we’d rather not…this is a pro tip by the way…I think.
Our first stop was just across from the ferry town of Uig (oo-ig), West of a place called Balnaknock (which is so super fun to say that Erin had to…erm, ask…me to stop…you can sing the chorus from The Chordette’s 1958 smash hit ‘Lollipop’ with this word instead!…its great fun) on a single track residential road. This area is affectionately called The Fairy Glen.
Almost immediately upon seeing it you get the sense of being in an other-wordly landscape. Be it the ice-cream cone hills, the hidden loch, the secret plateaus, the stone lookout tower (called Castle Ewan), the rock stacks and circles (sacred only to the tour operators that drive people up here) or the impressive views of the valley carved by the River Conon, this magical place was a hit with all four of us.
I did have the sense for a bit that were basically trekking through some people’s backyard though. I mean we paid nothing to get here and I felt like the locals should be getting something for this. It didn’t stop us from the hiking it though.
After a quick rest we walked back to the car, baa-ing at the countless sheep zig zagging across the hills or lounging in the sun, and drive down into Uig proper where the Outer Hebrides ferry was just pulling in. The Skye brewing company is here in town but unfortunately was a only a retail outlet (it seemed), so we settled for lunch at a small cafe called The Hungry Gull.
So now let me clarify what I mean by single track road. This does not mean that each direction of traffic gets a lane. No friend, this means that there is a single track for both directions. Every few hundred yards or so there is an extra 5 feet of pavement where cars pull out to let oncoming traffic through, but mostly if you come face to face with another vehicle (the enemy), one of you is throwing it into reverse. Here are “the moves”:
- The Gentleman: When approaching a turn-off on your side, but not yet passed it, and you spot one or more cars oncoming (no farther than it would take you to get to the next turn off), pull in to the turn off, stop, and flash your lights, allowing those cars to clear through before continuing. You are very likely in this scenario to have someone “Gentleman” you if you’ve let many cars go.
- The Leap Frog: If a car is coming, and your are beside a turn off that isn’t on your side, stop. Allow the oncoming car to reach the turn off and go around, leap-frogging your car.
- The Tug of War: When face to face with oncoming traffic in between pull offs, have a test of nerves to see which driver will put their car in reverse first. Once that car is moving in reverse, the other car should keep up the pressure by continuing to drive as close as possible to the other’s bumper.
- The Local: Just drive and don’t care about any of the rules or any of the other cars. Drive on the shoulder a lot. Replace your tires monthly.
- The Tourist: Just freak out a lot.
For the record, I excelled at all but the last of these moves, as well as a few more. Also, it is absolutely imperative that you wave at everyone who passes you. Do not forget the wave. Do not.
So we are driving along, leap frogging fools and doing the tug of war when we passed Dutulm which has an old MacDonald castle ruin (e-i-e-i-o) on a precarious peninsula of land. The MacDonalds and the MacLeods (ask Erin how many times I sang the Highlander theme song and associated other works from Queen’s seminal, but under-rated album “It’s a Kind of Magic”) were the primary clans on Skye and fought and fought and fought and stuff. Anyway, we weren’t initially going to stop, but then we did.
I’m glad we stopped because I like old stuff, and this old castle was old…and crumbly…and didn’t look much like a castle anymore. In fact, it was fenced off with a sign that suggested that we not go any farther due to unstable ground. So, I did what any responsible father of a 4 year old who really wants to see a castle would do and picked him up, set him on the other side of the fence, and then followed…hey, it was only a suggestion. Inside (around the corner actually…the roof is long gone) was rather uneventful, though there were some steps leading down to a dungeon or a drawing room or something that I didn’t want to chance, so we took some photos and got out before the cliff tumbled into the ocean.
Then we walked down to a lower peninsula and out onto some coastal rocks where we saw a bunch of weird white and yellow algae/mold/hopefully not bird poop, a bunch of sheep, and bunch for “Scottish Landmines”, and a Puffin which I’m lead to believe is a bit of a thing.
Back in the car, Erin was starting to not feel great and L was really sleepy, so we sped on over the top of the island through some exceedingly remote, scraggly, and beautiful scenery till we got to the entrance to the Quiraing, which is known for its scenery and hikes. We were planning on doing a mild hike, but it was already late in the day, people were tired and not feeling great, and the hills were mobbed with people, so we skipped it. We did stop at the look out point for the so-called “kilted cliffs” a little farther south which are supposed to look like, well, a kilt…I guess.
We also took a short detour drive up to see The Storr, a big rock formation caused when (people think) the top of a mountain just kind of…fell off…and stuck straight up. You’ll have to use the Google for pictures because while the hike up to it was always out of the question with the kids, the lighting this time of day (maybe that tour book had it right) put everything in shadow for us.
We drove back home, hung out for a bit, and went to visit the local Fire Brigade, before going to town and having a really nice dinner at a hotel called The Caledonian (the Roman name for Scotland). Well thats it for today. Some of us aren’t feeling well so we’ll have to take it easy tomorrow. Or we could go on this boat trip. Probably the boat trip.