Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Sleep, Snow, Sunshine & Sheep...Skye

Our cottage for the week - the Old Inn, Staffin

Well, we're back from an amazing week on the Isle of Skye.  We left our house in Ireland at 1.30am and arrived in the cottage at Skye at about 5.30pm, stopping for a cup of tea with S's dad in Glasgow.  The scenery en route is stunning, up into the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Skye is technically an island although there is a bridge now connecting it to the mainland so we didn't have to travel over by ferry as was once the case.  It makes life easier for tourists, like us, although I suspect if I was a Skye inhabitant I'd feel a bit cheated that my island had been linked to the mainland in such a permanent way.

Staffin bay

Skye is mother nature at her moody, don't give a damn, best. She hasn't shaved her legs, she doesn't wear any make up because she doesn't need to; she is naturally beautiful.  She won't dress up just because you decided to pop by - take her as you find her; moody, desolute, with amazing bone structure and wearing her heart on her sleeve.  On Skye you literally experience four seasons in one day.

I loved this old-fashioned telephone box
right out in the middle of nowhere
It was both the same and very different from what I was expecting.  S had shown me photos of his previous trip there and I knew it was remote and barren but I was genuinely surprised at just how remote it actually is.  Portree, the largest town, is tiny and all the other towns appear to be just a collection of houses scattered about the countryside. My theory is that they only gave them a town name so the postman would know where to deliver the mail!


Our days fell into a beautiful, uncomplicated routine. Up early to let the dogs out, then sit with a coffee on the incredibly comfy sofas and watch the BBC news until it completed a loop and we were fed up knowing what new hell Britain was facing - that was as much of the outside world as we allowed into our bubble the whole week.

Then, we would don our best outdoors gear - I did comment at one point that I wouldn't be winning any prizes for style but still, comfort and warmth are the name of the game and I was very, very glad to have my welly boots for some of the muckier walks!

Snowy Old Man of Storr
We would head off either for a coastal walk from the cottage or we'd pile into the truck and drive to one of the places S had earmarked for us to visit - one day we walked up the Old Man of Storr into snow and mist and it was absolutely freezing and two days later we walked up the Quairaing into a cloudless sky and ended up peeling off layers of waterproofs and fleeces and walking in short sleeves (until we stopped for lunch at the top when we soon cooled down again!)

Brodie up the Old Man of Storr

Reuben looking like the Old Man of Storr!

On the Wednesday I quietly turned 40 and I'm happy to report that I don't feel any different to how I did at 39 (or 19 if I'm to be honest).  We stayed close to the cottage that day and S pampered me as he does so well, cooking me dinner, presenting me with a Cadbury's mini roll with a birthday candle in it as he hadn't been able to smuggle a birthday cake onto the island. and generally seeing to my every whim!

My birthday cake!!
The cottage (and I use the word loosely as it was bigger than our house!) was just beautiful.  It dates back to circa 1783 and is decorated in such a way as to instantly make you feel at home.  I never wanted to leave.  We revelled in the glow of the wood burning stove (several times bigger than the one we have at home) and enjoyed a spiced rum or two to mark the passing of another year.

Sunrise view from the cottage garden

I developed a strange love affair with sheep during our week in Skye.  Even though we have them in abundance in Ireland, I've never really paid them much notice before. Now, though, they were in such close proximity and I fell in love with their sweet, simple faces as they lounged by the side of the roads chewing grass like a football manager chewing gum! 

The only traffic we encountered on the roads for the most part!

On one of our walks up to Neist Lighthouse, we had to walk down a million steps before climbing back up another steep slope to reach the lighthouse (which we then discovered offered bed and breakfast - It's a beautiful location but you'd need to be seriously fit to haul your luggage all that way just to stay overnight!!) 

Lighthouse at Neist
Anyway, I digress. As we were walking along the bottom of a steep cliff face I heard this pathetic bleating and discovered a poor sheep had managed to get itself lodged on a very small ledge about halfway down the cliff.  We couldn't work out if it had climbed up or fallen down but either way it was well and truly stuck there.  S dismissed my suggestion that we tell it to jump and we'd catch it! I worried about that sheep the whole rest of the walk and nothing would do until we found someone to alert to the sheep's plight! 

We found a man working on the road way not far from the cliff and he said he knew the farmer who owned the flock and would let him know to go and rescue it.  I can only trust that he did and the poor sheep was hoisted to safety (at least until it ends up on some carnivore's dinner plate).

These are the steps we climbed down (and back up).
 If squint, I'm sure you can just make out the sheep at the right
edge of the photo halfway down the cliff!

Brodie at the Quairaing

Mountain Dogs
My favourite picture which S got framed
and gave to me on Valentine's day

The lovely S

The Quairaing

As far as painting went, well, I didn't do any, I'm afraid to say.  It turns out I am a rubbish artist who can find distraction in the simplest things.  I wanted to put brush to paper, but I just couldn't manage to stay awake long enough!  I did manage one sketch which I started in the conservatory but it was so cold out there and the fire was roaring inside so I only did the barest outline.  After all the fresh air when out walking, we inevitably came home and promptly fell asleep in front of the fire.  I did take loads of photos though and I will endeavour to paint my favourite scenes.

All those walks in the fresh air were exhausting!

Anyway, that was our week on Skye.  Wonderful, wet, windy, yet dry and sunny and simultaneously snowy, beautiful, contrary Skye!

Sunset on Skye


  1. Thank you so very much for sharing the incredible photos! What a lucky girl (ahem, woman you're 40 now, afterall!)you are, and what an amazing way to celebrate!

    I almost cried when I saw the pic of Reuben - he looks so much like Scottie, my best pal and companion, from the time I was 1 til when I was 15...

    Thanks again for sharing! (can you feel the good-natured jealousy from across the pond?)

  2. Your trip sounds and looks incredible. I love your photos! What a great collection of reference you created! I imagine many wonderful paintings coming out of this. Good to see you online again :)!

  3. A lovely blog! Your description is spot on too! You take Skye exactly as you find it, absolutely stunning in such a natural way! We spent my hubby's 40th birthday there too and he described it as his best birthday to date! Happy belated birthday! Jo x

  4. Your pictures and post are so incredible i don't know where to start. I WILL SAY though that Skye is now on my list of places to visit.

    Loved your descriptions and that picture of your dog resting so comfortable on the sofa made me laugh out loud.

    Congratulations on turning 40. And Remember...Birthdays are good for you. The more you have the longer you live. So keep celebrating and enjoying.

  5. Drama Mama, it's so weird you saying that about Reuben as a man came up to S today too and showed him a photo of his own two dogs and S said they were the absolute spit of ours right down to the boy dog's ears being floppy! They're the light of my life!

    Thanks Alex, hopefully if I can ever get my art hat on again (I've become very lazy since the pressure of the sketchbook project ended!) I will try to pointy up some of these scenes!

    Jo, I can see why people go back there again and again - S's brother and friend's have been going every year for the last 6!!

    Carol, thanks so much and I love that take on birthday's being good for you - I never thought of it like that but it's so very true - I hope we all have plenty more of them, in that case!!

  6. It's like a fairy tale. Absolutely stunning views. ...and your pups are so adorable. Love the frolicking mountain dogs!

    Happy Birthday to you!

  7. Wow I really enjoyed reading this entire post. Great descriptions. I love how you describe mother nature and Skye in the beginning. These photos and views are stunning, I get a real good feeling and energy from the place. I've mentioned before but Ireland is on my bucket list and Skye will now be added. And that lone phone booth is hilarious lol!

    Great post and a belated birthday to you. :)

  8. Your description of the Isle of Skye would be a great advertisement for the Scottish Tourist Board. I loved the photos of Brodie and Rueben. Can't wait to see them again. mum

  9. S.E and paper squid thank you both so much. Skye is definitely a good place to put on your wish list!

    Bowling mama- love the name! X

  10. Oh wow oh wow oh wow! That trip looks simply amazing. I swear I can smell the air as you wrote the descriptions. Could your dogs get any cuter? No. I don't think so. Bumping 10 on the cute - O - meter.

    Oh! And your new profile pic ? Gorgeous!


  11. What a gorgeous place! Never seen anything like it. So dreamy and peaceful. I need to put this in my list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos!


Your comments always colour me happy! Thank you for popping by.


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