2011 UK and Ireland travel blog

View of Portree from our hotel

Old bridge on Skye

One of hundreds of mountain streams on Skye

Skye seep

Typical hurry back sign on Skye


This entry for Saturday September 24 is being logged the day after as there was no free WiFi at last night's stay. From Campbeltown we drove over the green hills and through the farms on a gorgeous sunny morning heading for the Mull Of Kintyre. So beautiful and serene, we followed the narrow walled farm roads down to the coast. A wonderful sandy beach with pounding surf and blustery winds belied the mildness. Following the signs and the goat tracks westward we climbed the cliffside until greeted with an iron gate preventing further passage. The Mull's lighthouse was just up the track further and around the bend so I left Joan & Mother in the car and set out hiking the steep incline. It took me a short while to discover the reason why the gate was closed. It became quite apparent that I was walking not only a narrow road but a herding trail. I took a few quick photos and beat a hasty retreat back to the car. I shudder to think the dreadful beasts that expelled those ploppules I encountered. Mission accomplished, I saw the Mull. Back and on our way north we passed a cliff at the beach marking an event. Apparently a few centuries back a clan of Campbells drove a clan of McDonalds in a massacre off the cliff. This explains the actions of our ex-Premier. Serve them one bad burger and wrath is upon you. We retraced our route of our day before up the Kintyre peninsula and then headed north west.Following the slow and winding highway through the mountains and along the rugged coast of the Firth Of Lorne and Loch Linnhe alongside fjords, inlets and bays with incredible wild beauty surrounding. At Fort William at the southern end of the Great Glen, the chain of long narrow lochs that seems to diagonally split Scotland, we headed west to catch the ferry at Mallaig to take us across to the Isle Of Skye. Amazing similar to the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island, departure from a cove where the mountainsides steeply slant into the sea, an eighteen minute crossing on a small car ferry to a quaint hamlet on the other side; albeit with rougher seas. Now the Isle Of Skye is something indeed! A big island with few people and a lot of sheep along with those glorious Highland cattle with the long orange hair and long slender pointed horns. If cattle could ever be referred to a pretty, well I suppose these might be. Filled with towering mountains and long steep slopes that form incredibly long glens, the mountains are treeless covered higher with coarse grass and lower with vast pastures of thick purple heather. The lack of trees make the mountain peaks and tops seem to be fit with a snug gold and green velvet covering split constantly with the long white ribbons of rushing mountain streams and cascading waterfalls. The lack of trees reveals the entire length of these streams from mountain top to sea with the deep narrow crags and crevasses they create. Exactly I suppose as our North Shore mountain streams would look without the cover of trees and brush. Halfway up Skye, at the little fishing town of Portree, our hotel the Cullins Hills was set high up at the end of the long Portree inlet. A marvellous view looking about southeast it is autumn here with the vibrant hues of the turning leaves, a chill in the constant wind, and the scent of comforting woodsmoke in the air. Our hotel has a real fireplace and though wood is not plentiful, it is added to the coal and charcoal fires. The hotel is packed for there is news reports that a sperm whale has been sighted in the area, and wouldn't you know it, here come the Germans and now moreso the French along with an always steady presence of Americans. We are always taken as Americans which does not at all bother me for I regard Americans as the friendliest most generous people in history. I set them right about us being Canadian and from Vancouver. Everyone it seems knows Vancouver and is full of good comments about our home. But everyone can tell a North American accent. You get picked out in a crowd by the locals and by the tourists. I must tell an encounter I had with one particular American in Ireland. It was at a gift shop at one of those innumerable castles and he picked up my North American accent, we got to chatting and his "where y'all from" bespoke his home. This old boy was Alabama Cracker, hectored by his wife and her four sisters to be as he called it "the porter on this here tour". As we talked (well he talked, I listened) his thick-as-Tupelo-honey drawal told of how things "were a-changin' back home". He has pure pone and when I told him how much Joan & I loved Alabama and the southern hospitality, well there was no stopping him. But his wife beckoned so he left me with what I supposed to be his "punch line". "Been to so many castles, yesterday I felt like a King in my castle, but last night I was just a beggar in the bedroom". This statement was immediately followed with a cacophony of wheezes, snorts and hee-haws, a broad grin that revealed a puzzle of green teeth that could easily be flossed with a popsicle stick. And all the while with wild gesticulations reminiscent of that old boy at the gas pump in the movie "Deliverance" jigging to "Duelling Banjos". Then with a friendly slap on my back and a "nice talkin' with y'all son" he rejoined his entourage of crones and was gone. I stood in bemused silence for obviously I had just met the Bob Hope of Peckerwood, Alambama. Oh the people one meets while travelling. A good meal, a good night's rest after a long drive. Tomorrow onto Loch Ness. Bye for the moment. Today follows immediately after dinner.

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