Given that the Scottish Highlands and Islands are considered worthy of visiting by tourists from all over the world, we try to get out there now and then. This last trip was somewhat wet, and a bit windy now and then. It would have been a disaster in Blackpool, which is often wet, windy and crowded, but has no geography and is bleak. On the way North stop off at Blackpool beach and just stand there for five minutes. Then escape and go to Skye for a week, you'll thank me later.
Our plan was to take the kayaks and have a paddle about somewhere around the island, depending on the weather. Sadly that bit didn't work as the weather, which had looked a little iffy in the forecast, turned out somewhat changeable, a phrase that means almost anything can happen, and it did, including sleet.
Standing, or when necessary leaning into the breeze, on the windward side of a Scottish island, you can see the next season coming. It's a bit odd on a bright warm Summer's day seeing Winter closing a five mile gap in as many minutes. Gives you a chance to adjust your dress though, or get behind something.
Our base was the Camping and Caravan site at Ashaig, one we hadn't used before, it served us well, currently being developed it isn't entirely polished, but has the usual facilities. There's a distinct leaning toward ecological thinking and is the first site I've seen with composting toilets. (and conventional ones for the timid) It was easy to get to, once you stop looking where you think it is and follow the instructions.
Situated between the Bridge and Broadford it gives good general access to the island. The management seem to be working hard at being useful without being obtrusive, and have the added advantage of a very helpful ex-soldier on site. Completely impervious to the weather, he was a mine of information and never seemed to sleep.
Skye 15/16 Sept 2012
Ashaig camping and caravan site. run with a sense of humour, reasonable prices and here's a link to their web page.>>>>>>>
Although the kayaks stayed on the car roof, gradually filling with water, that had not been the only option. We strode off in various directions under (brother in law) Derek's guidance. It's always worth examining the description of the walk he recommends, especially for qualifying terms like "mostly easy" and "soon". Steepish, scramble and interesting are also terms to watch for, and his idea of what constitutes a footpath varies from mine by three times its width and four times the angle. The meaning of the words 'hill' and 'mile' could do with a bit of scrutiny as well.
Having said that, I've survived all of his suggestions so far. He complains that he can't manage what he used to, (I never could), and he's usually too far ahead to hear anyway.
Our walks took us up to the Old Man of Storr and from Elgol to Kirkibost via Camasunary. On the first trip the wind was a bit intrusive, and made us very grateful that we had left the kayaks behind (not that they'd have been much use a thousand feet up) as it was quite difficult to stand up. At sea it would have been a case of......well, drowning probably.
If the video works you might notice the wind noise.
The weather had been excellent for the month beforehand, but on one of the nights the drainage of the site was tested, it rained so heavily I was expecting to have breakfast in a new loch. The wee burn near the site, which had previously been burbling quietly, got quite chatty. Makes you appreciate a solid rock foundation. The hills seen below (genuine colours) are the kind of thing to inspire confidence, at least on the lower slopes, having withstood glaciers, weather and stuff for a while now. After you've been to Skye you'll have some memories, although it's best to take a camera as you might not believe them. Look for 5mph wind, it blows the midges away but leaves your hat.
Almost back to the car, well I thought we were, actually it was another crow mile or so. Thoughts wander, My thanks to the RAF engineers back in the 60's for the track. Remembering, I get the feeling of the hills and their colour, the hardy plants and the ad-hoc waterfalls. The rain, .... suitable clothing can deal with that. The brilliant sunshine coming in under the black clouds, the footpaths incorporating streams and wells, gullies with steps. Scrubby plants that try to trip you up on the flat, but help you negotiate the trickier steep bits. Occasional Helicopters inexplicably nailed to the sky like noisy buzzards. Derek (thats him in front) watching for inspirational views. On, on. Hope the Swiss, (or was it Black-Forest?) lad in the bothy got to the Kyle of Lochalsh in time for his train. On on. Hooded crows about their business like small black-marketeers. Unbelievably hard red rock and black rock as soft as fruitcake. Hills less than a mile away with their peaks, below you, hidden in cloud. The galaxy clearly visible above the caravan. No street lights. Off, Off.