Queen of Denmark by John Grant
Last week, BFF Lindsay and I traveled up to the Isle of Skye. While I'm keen to see anything and everything in Scotland, Skye was a particular interest for Lindsay because the wee peninsula of Sleat was home to her ancestors. So we rented a car, booked a B&B, and drove west. Mostly.
Diversions were inevitable, if not predictable. Being an avowed Monty Python fan, convincing her to take a detour down to Doune Castle didn't take too much work.
Re-enactments were also inevitable.
Doune Castle, aside from having a lovely 14th-century courtyard,...
... gave us an excellent chance to measure the airspeed of an unladen swallow. Not sure if it's African or not.
After Doune Castle, we looped around Loch Lomond. Apparently, this is the part of Argyll that my grandmother's family originally hailed from... although I don't know how recently any of her MacArthurs' lived in and around these lochs.
Very similar to Vancouver Island, no? Down to the rain even. Talk about six of one, half dozen of the other.
After a quick stop on the appropriately misty Rannoch Moor (no sight of Castle MacDuck),...
... we arrived - exhausted - on Skye. Still, we dragged ourselves down the road to the Red Skye Restaurant in Breakish where I tried cullen skink.
Let us pause for a moment on the miracle that is cullen skink. It's a soup. With smoked haddock. And cream. And potatoes. And my gods, it was the greatest thing I'd ever eaten. Words cannot express my love for this soup, or at least the way the Red Skye made it, but for some perspective - my cullen skink face now rivals Miguel's ham face. I'd've taken a photo, but I'd've had to put my spoon down. It was that good.
But no rest for the wicked as the next day we were up the east coast of Skye to hike up to the Old Man of Storr, which we hoped we could see through the ever-present mist and fog. Or foggy mist. There might be a Scottish classification that I'm not aware of. Halfway through our hike and we couldn't see the destination for all the fog.
And then I spotted something above the ridge..
As the fog drifted off, I had a complete weak-in-the-knees-Duomo moment mixed with the world is just awesome gigglefest. Could not believe what I was seeing, although I knew that this is what the Romantics referred to as sublime.
There was nothing else to do but scramble up the hill as fast as possible. We wandered in and around the Old Man of Storr, watched the sheep, and soaked in as much as we possibly could.
The whole of Storr and the Trotternish range was created by a landslip, which makes this area far more jagged and ragged than the rounded Red Cuillins we'd been staying near in Breakish.
After a few hours wandering and stumbling about, we headed back down and into Portree, which is the largest settlement on Skye. The harbour has a rather familiar feel about it.
No wonder so many Scots traveled over to Canada.
The next day it was down south to Sleat to the Clan Donald centre. Sleat is much more cultivated than where we were in Trotternish the day before, and far less rugged. There were some lovely gardens,
an abandoned castle,
and just the right amount of rain.
After the museum, we drove down the peninsula...
... and spotted Rumm off of the coast. Or possibly Eigg. Not to be confused with Uig.
We noticed that the fog/mist/misty fog/foggy mist had finally lifted enough to make the Cuillins visible.
With a few hours of daylight left, we drove out to Tallisker. Although the distillery was closed, there was still a chance to take photos of this western part of Skye and (I think) the more jagged Black Cuillins.
That night we decided to try somewhere different for dinner, having eaten at Red Skye the previous two nights. Big mistake. We headed to Claymore in Broadford for overcooked gnocchi, substandard sticky toffee pudding, and generic tourist fare. We're still kicking ourselves that we didn't just go back to Red Skye for a third night. But, I still have the wonderful memory of that cullen skink...
We discovered that two days is not near long enough to see all of Skye, but that's all the time we had. So the next day we made our meandering way home, stopping off at Glen Affric...
... and Loch Ness...
... before getting caught in the rain in Glen Coe.
A few hours, one desperate search for a petrol station, and a confusing Perth roundabout (seriously Perth, what's up with the A9?), we arrived back home in Cellardyke. After a few days on Skye, I can once again appreciate the difference between the highlands and lowlands. History feels much more present on the highlands, and that's not only because of the Gaelic signage. The Clearances, the Jacobite Risings, the croft houses... it's not such distant history. Down here in Fife, I don't feel that same depth of history. Perhaps depth isn't the right word. Immediacy. The Reformation and the effects on St. Andrews is distant history. I've not heard any Gaelic spoken, although there's a fair bit of Scots. Then again, maybe it's more of an apples-oranges comparison. After all, British Columbia is fair different from Nova Scotia, and I'd imagine history has an immediacy for the Acadians.
Also, did I mention the cullen skink?
Right. So there is a photo of cullen skink face thanks to BFF Lindsay.
Cullen skink face looks remarkably like Deranged Chipmunk Face, which I somehow manage to pull in almost every photo I'm in. Friends with the Spaniard on Facebook? You've undoubtedly seen Deranged Chipmunk peering out from behind Miguel. Yup, he's a lucky, lucky man.