I love Scotland in all of it moods of weather but there is nothing like endless blue skies and 360 degree views when hiking some of the most famous spots on the Isle of Skye. I went with two visiting friends to hike the Quiraing on this gorgeous sunny day where we had just the right amount of breeze and the temperature was perfect. As you start from the parking lot you can head up to the highest point or straight ahead along a path which starts out fairly level which is what we decided to do. To the right there are steep drops from the very narrow path and you can see down to the road far below with tiny cars zooming along. Up ahead rock formations are jutting out of the lush green carpeted land which is dotted with grazing sheep. As we wind along the paths and take pause to look around my friend comments how the land looks like breaking waves rolling into the shore which we later researched the geology of to discover this has been caused by a series of landslips some of which are still active. After exploring the needle and posing for those all so necessary silly photographs for the friends and family back home we reached the top and stopped for lunch. Not often that you get lunch with such a stunning view! On the way back we held onto our hats, looking back down on the walk we just did, as strong gust of wind blew from the sea and straight up the cliff face below. An excellent day out that I would recommend to anyone with a basic skill level in hiking, it took us a very leisurely 4.5 hours.
We began our exploration of the Isle of Skye yesterday with a trip to Elgol, a steep little village on the far tip of one of the southern peninsulas of Skye. One thing you learn very quickly about Skye is that the weather is constantly changing. You will be driving in the sunshine and suddenly a hail storm seemingly out of nowhere will hit your car. When we got to Elgol we watched a weather front hammer the smaller island of Soay just of the coast and roll off in the direction of Sgurr Alasdair, one of Skye’s most famous peaks to walk.
As we headed back the weather began to clear just as we reached Bla Bheinn, which means blue mountain. The peaks were dusted with snow and there was finally some blue in the sky and the sun highlighted the rich shades of plum and mustard in the growth below the peak. We got some great shots and were tempted to do the hike as the summit was only 990 meters from the parking lot but we decided to save it for another day. The John Muir Trust, which manages the 12000 hectare area of land in which this peak lies, includes protected sites of geology, peatlands, woodlands and golden eagles, and a large part lies in the Cuillin Hills national science area. As we worked our way back home we searched for spots of interests and came across a church ruin with history dating back to 7AD, the gravestones surrounding it were scattered over an undulating terrain with stunning views.
As we approached the Skye bridge which would return us to our temporary home in Kyle of Lochalsh we were rewarded with a full rainbow as we pulled into Kyleakin to snap some shots of it I realised it was a double rainbow, the second part being fainter and not full but still a fabulous. It was a wonderful day out and there is so much more to explore on this magical island.
Despite waking to a dusting of snow on the ground over the past few days the weather cleared this afternoon and provided a glimpse of spring to come. I was out exploring the old golf course behind Kyle of Lochalsh where the local government has reinvented the area for walkers and for picnicking. There are meandering paths that will take you from the parking lot down to alcoves by the water or over to viewpoints where you can watch the big ships rolling in and out of Kyle with views spanning from the Isle of Skye and up towards Loch Carron and of course the famous Skye bridge. At the highest point in the park is another viewpoint and several picnic tables where you can watch the world from above while you enjoy your lunch. It is great to see improvements to public spaces and hopefully this will become a well known stopping point for travellers of this region.