Then it was finally time to head to Skye. The advantage of Eilean Donan was that it was nearish to the bridge of Isle of Skye. Then the day really cleared up. We even had blue skies!
We stopped at the tiny town of Kyleakin, which is just over the bridge. Already, we could tell that Skye was one of the prettiest places in Scotland. Mountains framed the area on Skye and across on the mainland. In the small town, we spotted a ruined castle nearby. It was what the Romantics would have wanted. A castle in pieces on a hill next to the water. We decided that would be our first hike on the island. We followed a series of signs promising a castle only 200 meters. This would prove misleading.
At the beginning of this hike, there was a stone path between fields of tall grasses. That was good and fine. But then the path went onto the beach and disappeared. So did we turn around and give up? No, we went up the grassy hill…
Now, normally, this would have been fine. But I had not changed into hiking boots. Critical error. The ground was extraordinarily muddy. While it was grassy, there was bog like mud; I nearly lost my shoes a couple times. I even recognized a specific type of moss, chartreuse color, that seemed to live in the particularly bog like areas.
But the landscape was extraordinary. Hills of grass weaving in the breeze with blue skies above! It was magnificent. Across our hill was the ruined castle, perfection for fawning romantics. But then we realized that we had a deep gully between our hill and the castle’s. There was no way to get around it so we turned back. My shoes haven’t been the same but it was totally worth the trek.
We think that if the tide had been out, there was an easier (and less muddy path) to the foot of the hill with the castle. But 200 m? By the crow flying!
We decided to move on to our next place for hiking. I had read in our guidebook that just three miles from Kyleakin, near Kylerhea, there was an otter hide, a place that otters might hang out. So we ventured off to Kylerhea surrounded by the most magnificent landscape. We saw many more hills covered in shrubs and grass, much of it red and orange. It was astonishingly beautiful.
The road to Kylerhea was not as much fun. The guidebook’s three miles was to the entrance of a seven mile stretch of road that fit only one car. You had little areas to pull over into if a car came in the other direction. Inaddition, the road was curvy and windy in a way that reminded me of the Amalfi Coast. There were some hills that you had to drive up that you couldn’t see the other side. You kinda had to hope no one was gunning the engine on the other side. There was a tense moment with an ambulance but it was fine.
When we got there, we were on an elevated area near the water that had a view of another landmass (island? mainland?). Pines and other trees surrounded us . We wandered on a gravel path to the otter hide. There were some signs along the way talking about other animals that you might see including birds and seals. At the end of the relatively short hike, there was a little house with a bunch of binoculars bolted to the tables.
Unfortunately, there were no otters. But…there were seals. Holy cow, we saw wild seals. One rather fat seal was lounging on the bank while another one swam around. It was amazing. I think I’ll take the wild seals over the otters (There are otters in Illinois but there are not seals in the wild!).
With that final hike, we decided to make our way to our destination for the night: Portree. We passed by numerous lakes and waterfalls. Such beautiful country on the isle of Skye! Our B&B was a decent walk to the center of town where we found dinner. We ended up in this little restaurant/ice cream bar. For an appetizer, I ordered a seafood combo, which was quite tasty. Even the salmon was good! For my main course, I accidentally ended up ordering venison jerky. I thought it was a venison dish but didn’t realized that it took the word “smoked” seriously. I generally don’t like dried meats but this dish was extraordinary. No way I would have ordered it if I had known what it was. But it was quite delicious so it was a happy mistake!
We ended the evening having a shot of Drambuie, which was the liquor of the region. It was okay; I’m not too fond of liquors but it was better than pastis and ouzo. I preferred the tasty Scottish cider. We had it once in Chicago where it was very pricey. Here in its native country, it was really quite inexpensive. It’s called Thistly Cross Cider that was aged in whiskey barrels. Very tasty! Prince among ciders!
The walk home was brisk as the rains decided to come down.
What a wonderful day!