We spent one glorious too-short weekend on the Isle of Skye. It is famous as the place to where Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped after the failed Jacobite rebellion in 1745, thus ending the dream of returning the House of Stuart to the British throne. A very famous song sings of his escape, “Over the Sea to Skye”. If you want to listen to a famous, classic version of the song, here is a link. Or you can listen to the Outlander version, though they take liberties with the lyrics (changing “he” (BP Charlie) to “she” (time-traveling Claire)). Also, “Over the Sea” takes a new meaning these days, since the island has been connected, since 1995, to the mainland by the Skye Bridge.
History aside, Skye is absolutely stunning. We were only there for two days, and with it raining in Scotland approximately every 2 days out of 3, were were SUPER lucky with the weather. It rained our entire drive up on Sunday, but by the time we arrived at our first hike, the rain has stopped and it held off for the rest of that day. The next day actually had SUNSHINE! (or as the Scots say, “what is that strange yellow orb in the sky?!”).
Each view was better than the last. Here are the hikes we did:
The Old Man of Storr
We spent the first day on the Trotternish peninsula, which is full of scenic hikes. I don’t think I researched this first hike well enough – I didn’t realize how tough it was. Luckily the boys were troopers! (let’s pretend we didn’t have to bribe them 😉 ) It was a steep climb up to see a famous rock feature called The Old Man of Storr. In addition to the views of the Old Man in front of us as we hiked up, it also provided amazing views of the coast and loch behind us. The views got more amazing the higher we climbed.
At the beginning of the hike, The Old Man of Storr was hard to pick out behind the clouds and other rock formations.
But as we got closer, it was easy to pick out the massive pinnacle.
As we got higher and higher, the crowds got smaller. We didn’t realize there were no other kids, until a hiker next to us said she felt like she couldn’t stop if the boys kept going!
In addition to views of the Old Man and the loch behind us, the views of the the sea were also getting more amazing.
We got fairly close to the actual stone, but then stopped for a snack. The picture below shows my final “close” shot of it. C wanted to carry on, but none of the rest of us were too bothered about it (and there was more of Skye to explore!)
We took a few more pictures.
Then we headed back down, where we got to enjoy the views of the sea and the loch in front of us.
This ended up being my favorite hike of all. After the tough hike up to The Old Man of Storr, the boys weren’t up for a super long and tough hike, but luckily, the views started immediately on starting out, so even the quarter-mile or so that we walked was A-MAZ-ING! I’d love to go back and hike more of it.
The path continues along the side of the of the cliff. Though we are typically not huge fans of cliffs and the associated cliff edges, my mom-radar really wasn’t going off on this hike (and L, who was deathly afraid of the fairly mild walk down into Carlsbad Caverns, wasn’t bothered at all – in fact, I had to yell at him to stop wrestling with his brother on the cliff edge! – my mom-radar was on high alert at that point!). This hike isn’t recommended during rainy or foggy days though.
I haven’t actually seen Lord of the Rings, but this is what I imagine the landscape to look like there. As always, pictures (especially mine!) don’t do this place justice.
We continued on, enjoying views in every direction!
After hiking for a quarter-mile or so, we came to a kind of tricky climbing on the side of a rock-type part of the trail. C got N across, but it was going to be tricky for everyone else, so we decided to turn around from there.
But I did get a picture of C and N on the other side of the rock-edge path.
Luckily, the walk back to the car was just as magical, thanks to the 360-degree views.
I think you can see why Quiraing was my favorite hike in Skye. Just looking at the pictures again now, I’m amazed by it! However, there was more to see on Skye, so off we went to…
The Fairy Glen
We told the boys we were going to the fairy glen, and speculated that maybe this is where the Tooth Fairy lives. Not sure they were convinced (at least not A & L, N was a believer). In reality, the landscape was made by a landslip (which doesn’t eliminate the possibility that fairies live there 🙂 ).
The boys loved this land of magical little hills, ranking it their favorite in a day of amazing hikes. I think I was too traumatized from this stop to rate it highly.
As soon as we got out of the car, N was excited, because there is nothing he likes more than making his own path, instead of following one that already exists (an insight into his character, perhaps?). On the climb on the fairy hills, if even a faint path existed, he insisted on going another (his own) way!
At the top of the tallest hill, we could see Castle Ewan, a rock formation that looks like a castle ruin. C insisted we climb to the top (do you see where this may start to go wrong?)
Up we climbed, on the hill, a nice, though slightly boggy walk.
It got a little bit steep, but we found some muddy footprints to use as stairs. I asked C if it seemed okay to climb with the boys and he said yes. When he got up on the ridge and said “uh oh”, I was a little concerned, but kept trudging on.
But – SUCCESS! We made it to the “castle”.
I thought the biggest challenge would be making it through the rock…
Then I looked down, and realized the way down was going to be a lot tougher!
Fortunately, at the top of the castle, we ran into two very nice men from Dundee (C’s accent got WAY stronger when he was talking to them – but he denies it!). The men helped us navigate our way back to safety.
So, I guess, all’s well that ends well. That wraps up a long day (and blog post), but we will be back the next day (a beautiful sunny one!) and the next blog post with another grand adventure on Skye, involving seals, hairy coos and a boat. Stay tuned…