Day 11. What a beautiful day. Blue skies. Sunshine. In the 70’s. A little heavenly really.
As much as I love road trips, I don’t feel like I’ve experienced a place – really connected with a place – until I’m outside, breathing its air, walking its paths. So this day, as we hiked the hills of the Quiriang (pronounced kuh-rang) and walked along country roads and climbed through fairy pools, I felt alive. Alive in Scotland. The clear skies and warm sun probably helped a bit, too.
Coastal Views Everywhere
We started with a drive up the eastern coast of Skye toward the Quiraing, and watched the sun break through the clouds to the east, kiss the water and turn it silver. On the horizon, rows of mountains faded into lighter and lighter shades of blue.
Old Man of Storr
We drove by the legendary Old Man of Storr, an unusual rock formation jutting up from the hillside, which can be seen for miles and miles. When surrounded by these kinds of things, one begins to understand why the Scots so easily believe in fairies and sprites.
Next stop: Kilt Rock. Just look.
Gorgeous right? These pics were a favorite among family and friends on social media. Some day I would love to see these cliffs from the water, but for now this will do.
We didn’t have a lot of time to dilly-dally (I’m going to claim that’s a term a picked up in the UK) because we wanted to walk the Quiraing, and apparently, with one single lane road in and out, the place gets a little crazy between 10am and 4pm. And remember…we were driving the Red Dragon. So onward and upward we went.
After battling for one of the dozen or so parking spots near the top…
and witnessing an accident between two cars also battling for a spot, we made our way to the nearest viewing spot.
We spent about an hour at the Quariaing. After taking photos and relishing the views,
Doug’s parents were kind enough to wait for us in the car while we hiked up as high as we could in the time we had. The muddy terrain makes for some interesting climbing.
We’ve discovered why Robert Frost took the road less traveled: it’s less muddy.
Along one of the paths, just over a hill, this hole, well over six feet deep and wide enough to swallow a person, awaits distracted climbers.
Thank God, Christina spotted the hole before falling in and warned us all as we crested the hill after her.
A short but phenomenal hike, we could have spent all day there. Rather than try to describe the views, I think I’ll just show you:
Our next stop was the Museum of Island Life. While Jean and Steve toured the village replica of island life in the 1800’s, Doug, the girls and I walked along the roads and enjoyed the scenery: sheep grazing in meadows along cliffs that overhang the ocean, a single sailboat, its crisp white sails standing out against the deep blue sea, the sun, the breeze.
We headed back to the town of Portree, where we ate lunch at Cafe Carribba, a tiny little cafe on the high street at the water’s edge (not the street down at the shoreline). Because of the crowds, we split up – Jean and Steve at one table and the four of us at another. If you ever go to Cafe Carribba, I hope you’re lucky enough to sit at the same table we did. Yes, it’s right by the bathroom BUT it is the only table that offers this view of the harbor:
Doug absolutely LOVED is burger and Skye Gold beer. He thought it was the best food he ate all week. We think he was just hangry.
After lunch, while Doug drove his parents back and forth around this little 1/4 square mile town (in the Red Dragon) looking for a genealogy library that was ultimately closed, we searched for sea glass. When Jacquelyn walked out on the rocky beach to take a photo of these colorful buildings,
she discovered a treasure trove of the colorful glass hiding among the rocks. We’d never seen so much sea glass in one place. After about an hour, our pockets sagged with the weight of our hoard.
Next, we shopped for a little while in town, which has about eight shops and at least as many restaurants.
Then we were off to the Fairy Pools. When I researched the Fairy Pools online, I found pictures of people swimming in small pools, in what looked like grassy areas. I read that it’s a short walk over streams and through some grass and mud to the first pools. Nowhere did I see that when you arrive at the Fairy Pools, you find this:
A long gravel walkway along a mile or more of pools and waterfalls. Even the lady in the information center didn’t tell us that the walking included a steep hill down to the pools. Refusing to miss out on anything, Jean and Steve climbed down (and eventually back up) to some of the first pools.
The rest of us ventured at least a mile or more upstream, climbing and exploring the many pools and rocks.
Our biggest regret was that we didn’t bring our bathing suits…even though the water was rather icy, we really, really, really, wanted to dive in.
We stayed about an hour and a half and then headed back to our house.
Hairy Coos (Yep…that’s a thing.)
Oh and I forgot to mention, on our way to the Fairy Pools, we met these guys.
I cannot adequately express Doug’s excitement upon finding and photographing these hairy coos, as they’re known in the highlands.
All in all, our days in Skye were absolutely magnificent. I am still shocked by how many UK people (What do you call them? UK-ians? Kingers? Ukers? UK’ers? Or do you have to be all specific and say “Scottish, English, Welsh”?) Anyway, the point is, lots and lots and lots of people who actualy live in the UK have never been to the Isle of Skye and I’m like, “Dude, what are you waiting for? Your country’s not even that big. Go!”
So listen, if you ever go to Scotland..trust me…you want to go the Isle of Skye. Maybe pack some snacks…and a paper map or two…but go. Just go!
Next up: Fort William, Jacobite Train