October 6, 2014
Our last full day on Skye! The weather was overcast, and rain was likely to come at some point during the day. We had planned to get going earlier today, but as it turned out we didn’t get going until nearly 10 am. We headed up the A87 towards Uig, where we planned to visit the Fairy Glen.
None of us really knew where the Fairy Glen was, except that Rosemary thought it might be up behind the Uig Hotel. But we didn’t see any signs there, so we continued into Uig. We went into the pottery shop there for a look around, but in the end nothing really appealed to us. Then we continued up the Trotternish Peninsula, still not seeing any signs. After about half an hour we stopped a couple driving the other way along the road and asked them if they knew where it was; it turned out that they were planning to go there too but didn’t really know, so we turned around and followed them back to Uig.
Outside the hotel we caught a tour-bus driver who pointed to the narrow road that went up behind the hotel. It’s too bad that Rosemary wasn’t really sure of this route as it would have saved us an hour of unnecessary driving!
There were no signs for the Fairy Glen up this road either, but Caroline recognized it as soon as she saw it. It was an enchanting area with a little pond and some small green hills, and a strangely-shaped rock tower (known as Castle Ewan) in the centre. We wandered over the hills for a bit and then climbed up the tower, not for any great view but just to be firmly in the centre of the area. We were lucky with the weather; only a few raindrops fell but we did have strong gusts of wind.
Back in the car we headed down to the south of the island, stopping at craft shops along the way. In Broadford we bought a framed print of the Old Man of Storr to take home with us. We also ate our packed lunch before driving down the A851 to Armadale, which was our main destination for the afternoon. At Armadale we could see across the Sound of Sleat to Mallaig, which the two of us had visited on the Jacobite Steam Train, the year we had done our long walks in Scotland.
We went into the Armadale Castle for a look around. The castle had been owned by Lord Macdonald of Skye and it had been a grand place, but it had been abandoned in the 1920’s and now it’s just a ruin. And since it was now October, there weren’t many flowers in the gardens. However there was a very good museum which chronicled the history of Clan Donald Skye and of the people of the Scottish Highlands in general, from about the year 500 until the 19th century, when they were (sort of) integrated into British society. There was also a place where you could research your Macdonald ancestry, but as far as we know we don’t have any Macdonald ancestors.
From Armadale we headed back, with a longish diversion to Elgol. On the way there we stopped at a gloomy castle which was a showroom for jewellery and knives. But the jewellery was way out of our price range and we didn’t need any dirks, no matter how finely tooled. Elgol was at the end of the road, looking across the water to the Cuillin Hills. There was almost nothing there, but we bought a few things at the little shop before heading back.
Rosemary had seen a sweater that she thought she liked at the Skyeskins tannery when we visited there earlier in the trip. They were open until 6 pm, but it was getting late and they were at the far end of the island so it would be touch-and-go whether we could get there in time. The clock ticked on as we rocketed along the narrow roads, and we pulled into the Skyeskins car park at 6:01 pm. The owner was just closing up, but didn’t want to miss a sale so he let us in and Rosemary bought the sweater.
The sun was getting low in the sky and was very beautiful, so we drove down to the water’s edge before going back to the cottage. Dinner was spaghetti and sauce with sausages in it, along with clean-out-the-fridge as we are leaving early tomorrow morning. After dinner we started the process of packing up, as well as cleaning up the cottage, so bedtime was a bit later than usual.
October 7, 2014
We had cleaned the cottage and mostly packed our bags last night, so when we got up at 6 am we only had to eat breakfast and finish up the last cleaning and packing. So we were on our way to Inverness by 6:45 am. Luckily for us although it was still dark outside, there was no wind or rain or traffic so the drive went smoothly. However it got light quite quickly, and before long we had to slow down for a pair of red deer crossing the road in front of us.
In Broadford we stopped at the Cooperative to buy gas and also to dispose of glass bottles at the recycling point, after which we carried on over the Skye Bridge to the mainland. We returned to Inverness the way we had come, through Glen Shiel and past Loch Ness. We saw a moor with a dozen red deer and a field with about a hundred pheasants—good news for Highland hunters!
We filled the car up with gas again in Inverness again before dropping it off at the Hertz office. It didn’t take long to do the paperwork and get a ride to the airport, so we were in plenty of time. Caroline had checked us all in; the boarding process went smoothly and soon we were on our way south. Along the way we saw some views that we recognized, especially Loch Lomond.
Once we arrived at Luton Airport we claimed our checked bag and headed out to the shuttle bus stop. The bus was there so we got on and luckily it left quite soon. The trip into London took over an hour and the traffic was terrible! We wondered how the driver could possibly keep to a schedule and decided maybe he couldn’t. Anyway the bus dropped us off outside Liverpool Street Station, from where it was only a short walk to Caroline’s flat.
We were planning on doing some walking while in London, but Rosemary didn’t really have suitable shoes for city walking. So later in the afternoon we walked along the Regent’s Canal towpath over to the Cotswold Outdoor shop in Islington High Street. They had some suitable walking shoes, in her size, so we bought them and also two books about the Thames Path, one for London and the other for outside London. Caroline had a 15% discount code which even worked on sale-priced items, so we were happy about that. Back at Caroline’s we had dinner then a quiet evening.