Isle of Skye: Thursday 1 October

img_8438Awoke thankfully refreshed (with no vestiges of yesterday’s intestinal upheavals) to a misty view across the campsite and the prospect of a full days exploration of the island.

Electing to mark our pitch and – after a “safe” breakfast of simple porridge – we set off in the van. Skye is a surprisingly large island as we discovered on quiet roads which led us northwards – first of all stumbling into the unattractively named town of Uig, another island ferry port with not-a-lot-going-on and the only open attractions being a slightly dilapidated Skye Brewery (and subsequently a twee pottery awash with undesirable artisan crockery boasting overblown scenic patterns.)

However the Skye Brewery, though nothing more than a retail frontage grafted onto the non-visitable microbrewery to the rear, was staffed by a chatty local man who was happy to sell us some bottled product and a “secret” half-pint Skye Brewery souvenir glass. These were accompanied with some local tourist guidance to what he described as a Fairy Glen unsigned off the main road on which we’d already approached Uig, so back we tracked and wended our way along a winding track being patched-back to road-status by two guys with shovels and a tipper full of tarmac.

Squeezing past them, we proceeded on to yet more scenic quirkiness and beauty: peculiar, green, inverted fairy-cake hills spiralled with strange protrusions – all of which we guessed was some form of drumlin formation – although they could just as easily have been volcanic rather than glacial.

We parked up and explored on foot – clambering onto the slightly narrow and unnerving summit of one particular hill by squeezing through a narrow footworn cleft to enjoy spectacular views back down the Fairy Glen. Others joined us as we wandered about and the area soon became quite busy. We examined the man-made stone ring formations where a large centre rock had become a collecting plate with an incongruous mix of coins – presumably left in the same sense of hope as a wishing well?

We viewed and photographed tiny stone cairns and then headed back to the van, trundling gently back down the newly patched road and thence back onto the main road continuing onwards around the coastal route.

Keeping eyes peeled for eagles as advised we followed a minor road into yet more toweringly awesome scenery then back onto a Pembrokeshire-esque coastal road which led us to the Skye Museum of Island Life – a huddled collection of low-lying stone crofts hunched into the softer downland and providing a fascinating insight into past island life. The exhibits were all clearly amateurishly but diligently curated but well worth our pound-in-the-pot entrance fee.

Onwards around the coast to the Totternish range of mountains lit by biblical sunbeams breaking through cloud to highlight their huge enormity and culminating in the columnar stack of the Old Man of Story. Eventually, low on fuel, we trundled into Portree, Skye’s “capital” and a refreshingly picturesque fishing village-cum-town which we explored on foot, finding an encouragingly likeable artisan café up a flight of stairs (always a risk in a strange place) but with a Harbour view, we lunched on imaginative, unassuming and sadly unrecorded but enjoyable food while the clouds continued to break up allowing bright afternoon sunshine to highlight the coloured boats moored in the harbour.

Thus refuelled, we returned to the van to refuel it on the way out of the town and then travelled back to the campsite where we settled back in; setting off again on foot to what had become known as Pukey Point for a spot more unsuccessful sea loch fishing (measured thus by a catch of just one sole baby Pollock) then back in the early evening sunshine to enjoy our postponed lobster and Sancerre supper, a spot of laundry, the journal and bed.

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