Off the beaten path. That’s where I spent the day today, visiting the Waternish and Duirinish Peninsulas. The landscapes weren’t nearly as dramatic, and the rain was much more frequent and steady this morning, but I managed to make the best of it.
The Waternish Peninsula juts out into the Little Minch to the west of the Trotternish Peninsula and is much more remote. One single-track road cuts through most of the length of it, ending at Trumpan and the ruins of the Trumpan Church, where a feuding clan set fire to the church in May 1578 while the other clan was worshiping inside. I stopped briefly and wandered around the tiny village of Stein and then drove out to the ruins. It is about four miles inland from the tip of the peninsula, with sweeping views in every direction. I headed back to the car when the rain set in and backtracked to the main road and on to Dunvegan.
Dunvegan’s claim to fame is being the home of Dunvegan Castle (the seat of the chief of the Clan MacLeod for more than 800 years), which I skipped over entirely, instead heading for the Claigan Coral Beaches I had read about. I suppose living on the coast of New England has made me a bit jaded with regard to beaches, but after walking the mile or so to the beach, I was underwhelmed. The beach is made up of maerl, which gives it a white glow in the sun. Maybe I was tired, maybe it was the gray skies, who knows, but I didn’t love it. I headed back into town and had a scone and hot chocolate at the Dunvegan Bakery. The Scots seem to enjoy their scones with butter and jam, as opposed to the English clotted cream and jam. I don’t think it’s quite as good. I also tried blackcurrant jam on the scone, another first for me.
After lunch, it was off to Neist Point. You will also no doubt recognize pictures of this famous landmark, sitting at the headland of the Duirinish Peninsula. The lighthouse is actually tucked behind the headlands, with a steep trail leading a mile or so down to the lighthouse. Unfortunately, the iconic shots are taken from another trail leading to a viewpoint above the parking lot. Which I realized after I had trekked most of the way down to the lighthouse. I did get the iconic shot, but I also got quite the workout!
Today was also “moving day”. The Cuillin Hills Hotel only had a room for three of my four nights in Portree, so I had to pack up and head to the Portree Hotel for the night tonight. I’ve been spoiled the last few nights. Tonight’s room is up 57 stairs (I counted them) under the eaves in what could best be described as the attic, and rather cramped. I set out in search of dinner, and heard music playing on my way. It turns out, there was a “Skye Myths and Legends” show on at the hotel across the street at 6PM, and I decided “why not?”. The two guys who did most of the talking and who greeted everyone afterwards were fabulous. There were also two girls as part of the program. They performed a mixture of dramatic stories and songs about the legends surrounding the Isle of Skye. Definitely an enjoyable way to pass an hour. After that, the Isle of Skye Pipe Band put on a show in the streets around Somerled Square. I only stayed for a half hour or so, then off to dinner at the hotel restaurant followed by live music in the hotel bar. All in all, not a bad day in Scotland!