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.

The memorial
The memorial in a shaft of sunshine
Looking across to the railway at Glenfinnan
A patch of heather beside the memorial
Loch Shiel
The site where Charles landed back in Scotland


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 port of Mallaig
Fishing boats in the dock...
and in the harbour.
Local transport
Panorama view of the rugged hillside behind the port.
Islay crabs!
I wonder if anybody tries this???
In the queue - the bikes jumpedahead
Down the ramp and onto the ferry.
Looking over the bow before the false front is lowered.
Lines of houses above the port
Who's he?
Old man of the sea, anchored in place with small child.
Mallaig from the water....
and further out.
Skye in the distance.
Getting closer to Armadale on Skye
It's not all barren rock.
Driving off onto 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.

Looking back at Armadale
and across to Scotland under a rain cloud
East into sun.
and rainbows.
We could have driven, but the new bridge is not quite the same as a Calmac ferry.
The new bridge from a distance. We never did get to cross it.
Across the water to the Kyle of Lochalsh
On the Skye side - Kyleakin and another ruined castle
This was a nice place for lunch in Kyleakin
Then onwards past Broadford
and Loch Ainort
Rock screes - suggesting high rainfall and frosty winters
Stream and waterfall flowing into Loch Ainort.
The road into Sligachan
and the road north towards Bracadale.
Looking down onto the road to Carbost
and the Talisker Whiskey Distillery..
North of Bracadale the road winds around the coast
And small bays.

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.

The broch of Dun Beag on the crest of the hill.
The sign with one view of the internal structure.
The broch in the distance, past the heather...
and rocky outcrops.
The walls are remarkably smooth and vertical
The original doorway into the broch.
One of the internal staris
The main internal stair
The double line of stone wall
Panorama taken from the highest part of the wall.
Vertical air photo showing the double wall circular structure.
The large stones forming the outer wall
Very neat stonework
The wall is smooth and near-vertical
Again showing the neat stonemasonry.
A rock outcrop in the distance, perhaps the source of the stone.
The view down to the coast, with the road in the foreground.
Looking north..
Panorama of the whole view

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.

You have been warned about the road.
But this part was straight and clear.
Most of Skye is barren, but a small plantation is growing here
The road goes on...
and on with a few houses.
But the rain returned,
hanging around the higher mountains
giving patches of light and dark.
Back to Loch Sligachan with the island of Scalpay in the distance,
More of Loch Sligachan
then back towards Broadford.
Loch Ainort and fish pens
Seen closer up..
Shaun the Sheep by the roadside....
just before the village of Luib.
Then past the Dunollie Hotel and finally....
to the small Hebridean Hotel for dinner and a bed for the night.

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.

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Last updated: 19/06/2017