Thursday, January 24, 2019

Oysters, Lobster, Talisker and Portree ~ The Last of the Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye


We only had two full days on Skye and we made the most of them. On our second day, after visiting Dunvegan Castle (in my previous post), we headed to the oldest working distillery on the Island, on the shores of Loch Harport. Talisker is one of my favorite Scotch's which you might have guessed by my happy expression. :)

More on the subject of Scotch later!

After a tour and a tasting of Talisker (say that 5 times fast) we headed a short distance, up a steep driveway behind the distillery, to the Oyster Shed. We heard it supplies some of the best restaurants on Skye. Apparently, it started with the owner just selling some oysters out of a bucket ...

Now the guys that work for him come straight from Loch Harport and over to the shed with these blue bins ...

Nice view out the back, eh?

And the oysters, lobster and whatever else they catch end up inside on ice and ready to eat!

They have a little covered patio on the side with a sink to wash your hands, paper towels and some Tabasco Sauce. What else could you need?!

I must admit, I have a fear of certain seafoods and getting sick, but unless you were actually ON the boat, it couldn't get any fresher! So, I indulged! Big time! We all did! 

First we got a dozen to share, and then another 1/2 dozen, and then another 1/2 dozen! Delicious, decadent and delectable! They could not have been more fabulous out of the cold Scottish waters!

Oh yeah, and there was also this ...

We meandered back on the winding roads, past more flocks of sheep, and even more charming white houses back to Portree. 

Our AirBnB was above the small village square and below it is this charming bay.

Portree began as a fishing village in the 1800's. Not very old, by Scotland's standards! It's a lovely little village and it's also the capital of the Isle of Skye.

We'd eaten in one of those sweet colored buildings the night before, at Sea Breezes, which was fantastic! After arriving on Skye, the night before that, we'd eaten Seafood at their sister restaurant on the square, Cuchullin Restaurant which was also great. But on our last night we ate upstairs at a small  hotel, on the water, called the Rosedale.

Just a reminder, that especially during the summer months, get your dinner reservations ahead! For Sea Breezes we got our reservations 3 or so days beforehand. It was this way everywhere during the summer (Edinburgh, Inverness) and especially Skye. When in doubt, call way ahead and get an idea of how far in advance to make reservations.

Check out the view from the Rosedale Restaurant!

The food was lovely and very gourmet. Each plate was a delicious little work of art. It was definitely a treat for our last night on the Isle. The evenings in late August were quite cool and I was very happy with my big, wool, tartan shawl I'd purchased in Edinburgh!

Below was our quant little AirBnB. The upstairs window was my room.

We never got a chance to use the deck but I'm guess May-July would be a better time to use it.

 The photo below was from the top of the stairs looking at the other little apartments and duplexes.

Leaving Skye was tough, especially because the sun broke through!

One last sweet version of The Skye Boat Song by Jo Burgess 


We headed south to catch the ferry from Skye across to Mallaig.  By the way, it's a good idea to reserve your car space at least the day before.

We queued up our Nissan and got coffees while we waited for our ferry to arrive. There was also a tiny little shop and of course my mom and I spotted some lovely goodies. Lovely embroidered cotton scarves and a small handmade woolen pouch for my sister Penny.

Below deck ...

As you can see on the map, below, we did a pretty good job of making it around Skye but there was so much more we could have taken in. There are endless beautiful walks and hikes, as well as sea views, and the Neist Point light house! 

I loved Skye and hope to return one day. My sweet friend Siri, who I work with at the Wizard of Art, has told me about the other beautiful Scottish islands! It's never ending! She loves Iona and Mull. I'm going to have to add those to my ever growing list!

Alas, it was time to head back to the Highlands to see where my matrilineal line of Camerons had come from and on to the weeping glen!


To read some beautiful Scottish Poetry about the Islands, click here

Blessings and light!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Isle of Skye Fairies ... Dunvagan Castle and The Fairy Glen

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

The Fairy Glen
Isle of Skye

There is much fairy lore in Scotland and on the Isle of Skye. And, though I've heard of no particular fairy sighting on this spot, it has become known as the Fairy Glen. With its otherworldly landscape it seems quite fitting!

Here's some music from 600 years ago on an old Scottish wire strung harp to listen to with the photos! Enjoy the journey!

The nearest town is Uig and the Fairy Glen is hidden in the hills above. I'd gone on a few websites for directions but I think we passed the road that leads there more than once!

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watchdogs,
All night awake.

The landscape feels mystical and maybe a bit enchanted ...

High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and grey
He’s nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with the music
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of fig-leaves,
Watching till she wake.

The locals spend the winter undoing the stone markers and spirals, returning it back it to it's natural state.

By the craggy hillside,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For my pleasure, here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Castle Ewan is a natural basalt rock formation that is said to be a home to the fairies.

One story I read said it was bad luck to enter the fairies' castle realm without an invitation. After listening to fairy folk stories in the car and hearing about their mischievous nature, I decided this was close enough! (Are you reading the poem on this post!? Dark stuff, those fairy stories!)

There is a theory that the ridges were created by landslides during the ice age but I'm not convinced that it hasn't been terraced and landscaped by a thousand wee fairy folk!

My parents and I loved this beautiful landscape that seemed to be Scotland in miniature! Pretty sure you can see that by the smiles on our faces!

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

William Allingham


If there are indeed wee fairies, in the Glen, I believe they must be friendly folk! We left lighthearted and agreed it was one of our favorite memories of beautiful Scotland.

This (below) is the road that leads you to and from the path up to the Fairy Glen. I think we were lucky with the drizzly weather. There were few people and we easily found a place to park that wouldn't block the road. (Definitely don't do that! You wouldn't want to piss off a fairy!)

We had a lovely drive back to our little AirBnB and a wonderful seafood dinner that night in Portree at Seabreezes! Delicious! Don't forget to get reservations a few days ahead, especially in summer!

The next morning we were off to another castle!

Dunvegan Castle
13th-19th Century
Clan MacLeod

"Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of clan MacLeod for 800 years."

The garden is beautiful! Our visit was at the end of August (early fall in Scotland) and it was filled with beautiful blooms. I can't imagine what it's like in the spring!

You can't take photos inside but it's still lived in, quite lovely, and even cozy! (In an old stone castle kind of way!)

There aren't specific stories about Fairies in the Fairy Glen, but there is a very important fairy story at Dunvegan Castle.

from their official website:
Am Bratach Sith (The Fairy Flag of Dunvegan) is one of the clan MacLeod’s most treasured possessions. Probably from Syria or Rhodes and woven of silk in the 4th century AD, legend has it that this sacred clan banner has miraculous powers. When unfurled in battle, the clan would invariably snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The traditional tales about its origin can be split into two distinct themes – Fairies and Crusaders. Fairy stories are difficult to relate to fact and often come about as a substitute for forgotten truth. The connection with the Crusades can be linked to the only scientific information we have about the Fairy Flag’s origin. When Sir Reginald MacLeod of MacLeod (27th Chief) had the Fairy Flag conserved and mounted in its sealed frame by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, he listened while Mr Wace (one of the V&A’s experts) set out his theory about its origins, including the historical evidence that the Norseman Harald Hardrada (one of the early ancestors of the Chiefs of MacLeod), while on an expedition to plunder the pilgrim routes of the Middle East had brought a famous banner back to Britain where he was killed in 1066. Reginald listened politely and then said: “Mr Wace, you may believe that, but I know that it was given to my ancestor by the fairies”, to which Mr Wace replied “Sir Reginald, I bow to your superior knowledge”.

I definitely thought it was worth a visit. It was nice to see a castle that is still lived in by the family and get a sense of the history of the island. There was also a room of wonderful museum worthy Jacobite relics. No photography aloud so I'm trying to remember.  I think their small collection included things owned by the Bonnie Prince and Flora MacDonald.

The garden was especially beautiful and we didn't even see the whole thing! We had a distillery tour to get to!

Clan Mccloud and Dunvegan Documentary! Lots of history of Scotland and views of Dunvegan and more. Each segment is a pretty short 9 1/2 minutes but you can always skip forward.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Hope you are enjoying the Isle of Skye! I think I have a post or two left before heading back into the highlands. 

Until then ...  
Happy New Year!!
SlĂ inte Mhath!
[SLANtchih va]
(Good Health in Gaelic!)