Britain 2011 - Day 17
We had planned to drive to Mallaig and take a Calmac ferry around the "small isles" for the day before crossing over to the Isle of Skye. But the weather was indifferent and the sea was rough, so we decided against that idea and went straight over the sea to Skye (I had to get that in somewhere!). So the day was spent roaming around the southern parts of Skye, before ending up at the Hebridean Hotel that we had booked earlier, expecting to get there in the later evening. We had some fine spells in the weather, and some dense dark clouds - overall it was probably a better day than being tossed around in a ferry.
On the way to Mallaig we passed several sites related to the exploits of Bonny Prince Charlie. The first of these was Glenfinnan, where Charles raised his standard at the start of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Today it is managed by the National Trust for Scotland.. A little further along the coast of Loch Shiel is another location where the Prince later returned to Scotland and landed here.
Mallaig is a small port on the west coast of the mainland. It has a small fishing fleet, but most of its traffic is a fleet of Calmac ferries that service the small isles and the trade with Skye. Before the road bridge was built across to Skye, Mallaig would have been the main access to the island. We arrived early for the Skye boat, so sat in the queue and watched the birds and the other boats before boarding our ferry and taking the short crossing to Skye.
The road on Skye: Armadale to Sligachan to Bracadale
Once off the ferry and onto Skye we drove east (well there really is only one way to go), past the stone pile (castle) and tourist centre of the Donald family, and into some sunshine and rain showers.
Dun Beag Broch
At Bracadale the road follows around the edge of a small harbour then heads inland onto higher ground. Here is a small carpark and a sign pointing to Dun Beag Broch. Brochs are Stone Age circular stone buildings, perhaps fortfied. Their exact internal structure is contentious but they must have been multi-storeyed. We had seen some of these on the outer Hebrides on Barra and Lewis. They are remarkably alike in construction with double stone walls with internal stairs. There is not much left of Dun Beag apart from the lower foundation, but the ring structure is clear. This broch is a short walk up the hill, where the view is superb, helped by a clear spell of fine weather. Later in this trip we visited the best preserved brochs hidden on a valley just beyond Glenelg.
Bracadale across to Portree and back to Broadford
Back at Bracadale a side road heads northeast across Skye to the main town of Portree. The weather was still fine so we took this road. It was an interesting road, narrow and winding and only one lane most of the way. It had the usual Scottish idea of passing bays instead of two lanes.
We stayed the night at the Hebridean Hotel. A rather quaint place, small room looking out over the road, but the food was good. The sky remained clear so we had high hopes for a good day tomorrow. We would be driving around the top part of Skye and we needed fine weather for the views of the mountains and the sea.
Last updated: 19/06/2017