To the lighthouse and the fairy pools, through sunshine and showers, under the wings of Eagles, through bone beach, to the foot of the mountains, under the shadow of the Old Man of Skye and chips for tea….
The sun was shining, which made us feel incredibly lucky. The colours of the island came alive, bathed in this totally different light.
With only one full day on Skye we had to strategise, a little research and asking a friend who grew up there helped us narrow our choices. It’s a small island, but as soon as you leave the main road the roads are narrow and waiting in passing places slows progress significantly.
When we arrived at Skye’s most westerly point, Neist Point, the rain was flinging itself wildly at the motorhome windows. We took this as our cue to have a mid morning peanut butter sandwich and cup of tea – one of the beauties of having a home on wheels.
Shortly after, as we walked the rocky path to the lighthouse, the sun made a glorious reappearance and remained with us for the rest of the day. The rain shower teaser just made that win more jubliant.
‘Excuse me, is there some kind of lighthouse here?’ asked a passing American tourist.
‘We’re wondering the same’ we replied. From the rocks all you can see is a long narrow ridge stretching out into the sea. 10 minutes more walking revealed that the lighthouse is tucked behind, slightly below and ahead of this incredible ridge. The ridge itself would be an amazing climb, but we had promised a lighthouse and that’s what we headed for.
The scale of the lighthouse, given its tucked away position, was impressive. It was fun to watch the comings and going of the lighthouse keepers too, they changed shift during our visit and we watched, as like us, they climbed back up to the car park. It reminded us of a children’s book we love.
The views are stunning, I think this panorama kind of captures it.
Nature is abundant, at one point we looked up and saw what I am sure was a Sea Eagle, soaring calmly and silently above the edge of the highest rock, mocked by gulls. Talking to my Dad afterwards I am fairly sure it was.
From there we dropped down the the beach, Mr G had seen interesting flotsam and jetsam, some fishing stuff. It was a steep climb but worth it for the treasure he discovered. This might not be the prettiest of beaches, the beaches beyond Dunvegan are sandy and tropical island looking, but it was full of things for a 7 and 9 year old to marvel over. The rock needle formations are pretty impressive too, like Giant’s Causeway.
‘Bones!’ cried G excitedly. Several sheep had fallen to their death into the beach and we found several skulls and a neat line of vertebrae. When I was his age I remember a similar beach on Northumberland, where on a family beach we found a dead cow, several dead birds and sheep. It haunted me for years and a I still occasionally jump a mile at dead birds on the footpath, so I was glad to see my son’s healthier attitude to death.
He also managed to fill an old plastic box with flotsam and jetsam, old bouys, rope – all the things he was so utterly fascinated to bring home from Wales. Sadly we didn’t find a bouy in Wales and now we couldn’t fly this bouy back to Nottingham from Edinburgh, so we took a photo instead.
L and Mr A were down to t shirts and basked in the sun, L even went for a paddle. We couldn’t believe our luck. The bright red sea snails were fascinating too.
Neist point was the perfect family walk – packed with stunning views, distractions aplenty for the kids in the form of ridges, birds, beaches and the lighthouse.
A nap under the Cuillins
The drive continued, we tried to stop at the Red Roof cafe but the car park was full. Instead we stopped just as the Cuillins mountain range came into awe inspring view. We had more lunch in the motorhome, a siesta – fresh air and driving can be tiring, plus we were on holiday – we woke to more sun and the snow capped mountains pulling us in.
The Fairy Pools
‘Hold my hand and let’s fly’ cried G and we ran along the path to the fairy pools leaping over stepping stones and small streams on the way.
‘I’m never stopping’ cried G.
Eventually, I convinced him it would be a long walk up the mountains, and we were already tired, and he slowed to a halt, tuned back, flung out his arms and cried:
‘Carry me to the motorhome!’
Fortunately he was happy to reach the summit of this giant boulder.
We distracted him with the fairy pools on the walk back down. Two young women dressed as fairies were having their photo taken in the water – rather them than me, it never gets beyond 9 degrees on the warmest of days in this popular wild swimming spot. The well worn and muddy path had several treacherous spots from which to take a photo. You have to have your wits about you!
The colour of the pools is stunning, the clarity and many colours of the water remarkable, nature at its finest and most beautiful. I thing I over sold it to my kids though, they were expecting some kind of magical Northern-Lights-in-water-all-singing-Disney-fairy-show-display. Far better to big up the incredible mountains, boulder to climb on and leaping over streams, and then let them wonder at the magic of the fairy pools you ‘happen to’ have encountered I think.
We appreciated the stunning structure of the caves, we were a little tired from our morning, and getting hungry once more, so didn’t climb inside one, but watching others inside really emphasised the magic shapes created by the river crashing down from the Cuillins. It was incredible to see the force of the water in Sctoland, looking up at mountain streams you wonder where it comes from, a few nights snuggled in a cosy heated motorhome, under the sound of rain on the roof soon answered that. Luckily the daytime rain we encountered was less driving!
Chips in Portree
The drive home to the campsite took us back on the the road we first arrived onto Skye via. It showed us the island in sunlight, now bursting into colourful, glittering life. And as we approached Skye, the Old Man of Skye could be seen on the skyline.
We knew we couldn’t do all of Skye and that we had to trust the adventures we would have would be the right ones, there could be no fear of missing out on this trip, so seeing the Old Man lit against a pink Skye as we drove into Portree has to be one of the most wonderful, life affirming moments.
Mr A has taught me to let the day unfold, it is a wonderful gift, life is always an adventure with him and he never seems to feel the pangs of ‘what if’ that I do. I felt truly liberated, that just as it did at Loch Ness, our day was simply unfolding as it should.
Portree is the only town on the island, so returning to civilisation felt quite strange, after a day in the wilds where all there is is nature, the odd cafe or art gallery (Skye has a high number of artists) and lots of sheep.
But the view of the sun setting on the boats in the pretty harbour made our day complete.
‘I love you guys, you’ve been brilliant,’ said Mr A as we sat eating chips. There was a tone in his voice, emotional and heartfelt, we knew because we felt it too. ‘I’m feeling full of it today and I want to share that with my wonderful family.’
I think we will always remember chips in Portree. The perfect end to a perfect day.
Let it come to life here…
Need to Know
We travelled around the Highlands and Islands in partnership with Visit Scotland and stayed at Skye Camping and Caravanning Club Site, on Loch Greshornish on the North of the Island, in a motorhome hired from Bunkcampers.