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Monday, 23 March 2009

The Isle of Skye: a Microcosm of the Scottish Highlands - Page 4

Written by Clint Cameron
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Aye lad, for sure hameldame ole Eilean a’Cheo” was the thickly accented and somewhat incomprehensible drawl of a reply uttered from a rather uncordial elderly local to what I assumed to be a fairly non-pugnacious question “So…, do you enjoy living all the way out here on Skye?”.

The Isle of Skye: a Microcosm of the Scottish Highlands, The Isle of Skye, northwestern Scotland, Inner Hebrides Islands, Cuillin Mountains, Scottish Highlands, Glenbrittle, Sligachan, Loch Coruisk, Kyleakin, Portree, travel scotland, Clint CameronCrumbling igneous rocks and precipitous cliff faces flank the coast, some of which form near vertical seawall drop-offs that extend down to abyssal depths 100m or more below the surface. Inland, translucent rivers stocked with an abundance of Brown trout and Atlantic salmon gush and bubble along, meandering past river beaches composed of shorn-off shale and granite slabs polished and rounded smooth by the tumbling action of cascading water. Blessed with such stunning weather, a classic BBQ seemed mandatory and we managed to come across a concealed stretch of river beach in which to partake. Screened by blossoming broom, heather and gorse and framed by the Cuillin’s iconic mountain vista, our serene BBQ was only perturbed by the irritating plagues of Scotland’s infamous ‘midges’ (tiny flies), which prove the foil of many camping expeditions during summer.

A short drive skirting the coast will deposit you at Portree, the largest township on the Isle with a resident population of around 2000. Portree is a quaint and relaxing seaside town, renown for its picturesque multi-coloured pastel shop facades fronting a sheltered harbour and framed by a turquoise sea. The Isle of Skye: a Microcosm of the Scottish Highlands, The Isle of Skye, northwestern Scotland, Inner Hebrides Islands, Cuillin Mountains, Scottish Highlands, Glenbrittle, Sligachan, Loch Coruisk, Kyleakin, Portree, travel scotland, Clint CameronOur inquiries as to the whereabouts of the best beer garden in town led us up the hill to ‘The Marmalade,’ a secluded hotel complex with a relaxing atmosphere and a superb array of outdoor tables set amongst beautifully landscaped surrounds. The Scott’s penchant for whiskey is as famous as their midges are notorious, and we duly indulged in a locally brewed dram from the Isle’s own Talisker Distillery. With somewhat of a peaty, earthy aftertaste, however, I think this is one for the serious whiskey connoisseurs. If you do want to impress the locals and display a knowledgeable touch of whiskey drinker’s repute, be sure to tell the barman (in no uncertain terms) ‘Dinna drown the miller’- don’t put too much water in the whiskey (the miller being the supplier of the grain which went in the whisky).


Three days is ample to experience what gives the Isle of Skye its sense of capturing in caricature the essence of Highland life. However, it’s certainly not enough time to explore the island fully – given its relatively large size and varied assortment of sights and attractions. The next jaunt will be a prolonged excursion around Skye before meandering our way to the Outer Hebrides Islands, which are rumoured to possess some of the most outstanding coastline in the entire country. They can be reached via ferry from the township of Uig in northern Skye.

For now, it is back to the already too familiar, seemingly perpetual bleakness of Edinburgh as whatever meek (although much appreciated) dose of sun we had harnessed is withered away by the relentless onward march of Scottish inclemency.

Isle of Skye highlights and key facts

Population:

At 12,500 (2006), Skye is the least densely populated area in the UK.

Best time to visit:

May/June. These two months typically exhibit the most sunshine and least rainfall (although not the highest temperatures), the days are very long and the abhorrent hordes of midges have not yet reached their zenith.

(Page 4 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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