Scotland 2016 – Day 5

Scotland 2016 480
Isle of Skye waterfall

Happy 4th of July! I only did two things today, and one of them was kind of a bust, so I’ll focus on what took up the majority of the day: a boat trip from Elgol to Loch Coruisk.

It was rainy and misty this morning, so I debated whether it was even worth trying to take a boat trip. But I reasoned that tomorrow’s forecast wasn’t much better, so if I was going to do it, I might as well go today. Besides, the drive from Broadford to Elgol is supposed to be one of the best on Skye. Both companies strongly suggest reservations, but I couldn’t be bothered with locking in a specific time.

So off I went to Elgol. There is a beautiful waterfall just next to the A87 that I stopped at along the way. Once you turn off the main road in Broadford, it is 15 miles of winding, twisting, climbing single-track road all the way to Elgol. And it is absolutely breathtaking! The road was covered with sheep in several places, making it even more slow-going. The mountains here (The Cuillin Hills) remind me of some of the mountain ranges in the western U.S. The final mile or so into Elgol is pretty much straight downhill to the pier (with an abundance of cows and sheep sharing the road).

Scotland 2016 502
The road into Elgol

I decided to try to get a ticket for the Bella Jane boat, which had a trip out at 10:45, and I was in luck! Time for a quick pit stop, and then we were boarding the boat. There were about a dozen people in all. The clouds were still hanging over the mountains, but it was not raining very hard. I don’t think any pictures can possibly do justice to how incredible the whole experience was. The boat ride takes about 45 minutes and travels across Loch Scavaig to the mouth of Loch Coruisk, which is an inland loch surrounded by the Cuillin Hills. On the way, there was some commentary about the surrounding islands and we passed by several seal colonies on the small rocky outcrops dotting the shoreline close to Loch Coruisk. Close to the “dock”, the Cuillin mountains rise directly out of the sea. At one point, I counted no fewer than six waterfalls cascading down from the same mountain. The boat docks alongside a precariously perched staircase which is attached to a rock. Nobody seems to think of safety as much here as they do at home (I noticed the same thing in Ireland last summer).

Scotland 2016 503
Loch Scavaig

Once on shore, I had about 1.5 hours until the return boat. There are no real marked trails, so you’re pretty much on your own to pick out a route. As you round the first bend, Loch Coruisk comes into view, with the mountains surrounding it. I was immediately reminded of the morning I spent a few years ago at Moraine Lake (“The Valley of the Ten Peaks”; near Banff in Alberta, Canada) watching the fog burn off. The clouds hanging over the mountains at Loch Coruisk were very similar. The rocks were pretty slick, and the ground quite muddy, but I managed to make it to a rock overlooking the Loch and a waterfall on the opposite side. I sat there for about 20 minutes, just drinking in the scenery. I’m making more of a concerted effort to just stop for a few minutes and appreciate where I am when I’m traveling these days, and this was a perfect place to do just that. On the way back to the boat “ladder”, I managed to step right onto a mud puddle. Since my socks and jeans were now completely wet, I figured I might as well take off my shoes and socks and dip my feet into the cold water!

Scotland 2016 561
Loch Coruisk

By the time the boat made its way back into Elgol, it was raining pretty steadily. I stopped at the Elgol Shop and picked up a piece of Ginger Cake to eat in the car. Then it was off to the Fairy Pools. I stopped several times along the road back to Broadford since the clouds had begun to clear.

Scotland 2016 619
The road to Elgol

The Fairy Pools were more or less a bust. They were pretty, but I left my tripod mount in the car (nothing like lugging my tripod back and forth for nothing!), and the falls weren’t overly photogenic in the sun. I headed back to Portree to get dinner. After trying two restaurants that were closed, I ended up back at No. 1 Bosville Terrace for a repeat of my dinner two nights ago. It was excellent (again) and gave me a chance to have another Thistly Cross Cider!

Scotland 2016 630
The Cuillin Hills and River Sligachan