Thursday, 30 October 2014

A Trip to Skye - Day Seven

Another wet day on Skye meant another day exploring. This time we headed for Waternish on the west coast. We finally ended up in Slein which has a few houses a restaurant and a pub. As we passed the pub I noticed the date above the door - 1720. 

From Slein we headed for Broadford. This is one of the larger villages on the island and has a couple of walks clearly signposted. Not being in the mood for a long walk we wandered around the village for a bit before heading off again.

Our final call of the day was Armadale where the ferry to Mallaig can be caught. A quick check on the ferry times as an option on the journey home resulted in us realising that it wasn't due to it now being the winter timetable.

The final purchase of the holiday was Skye Red a ruby ale brewed near Uig. The Skye Brewery produces an impressive twenty one beers/ales from it's premises which can be purchased online. 
From "Diary Cloud"

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Trip to Skye - Day Six

Thursday brought another fine day on Skye. First thing was a trip to Uig to visit the pottery. 

After a quick walk around we took the road via Staffin to Portree. When we travelled this road on Sunday the weather was bad but the scenery was lovely. However on a clearer day it was simply stunning.

The thing about this road is that there are several places to stop off and enjoy a short walk to a viewpoint. Most of these passed us by on Sunday!

One such place was Staffin beach where I was happily looking out to the islands in the distance when my husband asked if I was enjoying watching the wildlife. It turned out that on some rocks there were about four or five seals - none of which I had noticed!

Further along the road are the Kilt Rocks so named as they look like the pleats in a kilt.

After a few pleasant hours taking in these wonderful walks and views we returned to Portree and purchased a haggis as there is no way you can leave Scotland without one.

A Trip to Skye - Day Five

My husband's choice of trip on this holiday was the tasting tour at Talisker. We arrived in much kinder weather than we had on Monday and could appreciate the surroundings.

A few minutes after our arrival our tour guide collected us and one other couple for the tour. We're now approaching veteran stage of these tours having done several now but it is always interesting to hear about the slight differences. 

At the start of the tour Lesley, our guide, explained where the barley was grown and malted before arriving at Talisker for grinding. At that point the machine sprung into action making the floor vibrate. Considering the amount of barley that passes through at each time (about nine tons) it's not a huge machine.

The next room is the mash room which is the smelliest room in the place. It's a smell I quite like as the large tubs wash the barley in hot water to remove the sugar. 

Sadly we couldn't see the maturation tanks as the room they are kept in was having a new roof and was not accessible. Instead we went straight to the stills where the machine that splits the spirit was in full flow - the first time we'd seen one working.

Next was a look at some of the barrels sitting around while the whisky matures and picks up some of the notes of the barrel. Talisker use predominately bourbon casks with some sherry. The barrels on view had been there since 1979 and we were told that once the contents were bottled they would be the oldest Talisker to be sold.

Finally we headed for the tasting room. Not knowing what strength the whisky would be I had opted out of tasting but has happy to nose them. The options were the first cut, Talisker 10 yr, 18 yr, 25 yr, 57 North and Distillers Choice.

The first cut was the clear spirit that comes out of the stills before it goes into the barrel. It smelt very sweet but with hardly a hint of peat. Those who tasted it said it was surprisingly sweet. Next a few drops of water were added which brought the smokiness out.

These steps were repeated for the five whiskies which my husband enjoyed tasting. At the end I decided to smell the first cut again. It now smelt incredibly peaty but you wouldn't want to taste it!

Having finished the tour we headed back to Portree for a late lunch. In Portree harbour is a fab fish & chip shop. Well worth a visit as they do the best chips I've had in a long time.

The downside of visiting Skye at this time of year is that is gets dark early and so sightseeing finishes early. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

A Trip to Skye - Day Four

Monday and more horizontal rain and wind! Again it was forecast but it's not the sort of weather you can really do anything in (unless you're very hardy)

Another day of exploring Skye by car beckoned. First we headed for Dunvegan Castle and discovered it was shut (seems to be a theme!). So we headed south to see how far we could go. The answer was Kyleaken which was just south of the Skye Bridge. As seemed to be typical as soon as we stopped for photos the rain came down! A quick walk round just to stretch our legs and it was back in the car and heading north. This time we turned off towards Carbost and the Talisker Distillery. As my husband is fond of single malt whisky we wanted to check what tours were available. It turned out that the taster tour was to take place the following day. When we mentioned that I wouldn't be tasting as I would be driving they explained that I would still get the two hour tour but pay the basic tour rate. 

Having booked up for that we headed back towards Dunvegan as we had spotted a turn-off to Portree. This nine mile, mostly single track, road went through some of the most spectacular scenery I have seen. The heathers are different shades of autumnal golds set against the background of mountains. Sadly due to the nature of the road it wasn't possible to take photos.

A Trip to Skye - Day Three

Our first full day on Skye and it was raining. The wonderful rain I have only experienced in Scotland - horizontal rain. To be fair it was forecast and so we weren't too surprised.

Knowing that previously in the Highlands we've come across whole towns shut on a Sunday we set out to have a bit of an exploration by car. First stop was Uig about six miles away. Uig is the ferry point for the Isles of Lewis & Harris so we thought something may be open. Nothing. So we turned round and headed for the town of Portree about fifteen miles south. 

Portree was slightly more open in that the cafes and bars were open as was the Co-Op but nothing else. We had a brief walk around before getting lunch in The Granary. This is a cafe/restaurant which sells everything from breakfast to a Sunday roast. A cheese & ham toastie & a decent coffee set us up for the afternoon. 

Now there are not many roads on Skye. And not all of them join up so we were pleasantly surprised to discover we could drive from Portree to Staffin and back round to Uig. 

This is essentially a coast road and on a clearer day must have some spectacular views. As it was we enjoyed what we could see. What can be a bit hair-raising is the single track roads and not knowing what might we round the next bend. Luckily the sheep stayed off the road!

A Trip to Skye - Day Two

Saturday morning meant being woken by geese on the lake behind the services. Luckily not too early! A quick look outside showed that this Days Inn is set in one of the more picturesque motorway services.

Once breakfast was over we set off North again heading for the village of Uig. South of Glasgow the scenery is nice but not spectacular. Once past Glasgow however that changes.

The road bends around Loch Lomond before heading off towards the magnificence of Glencoe. If you've never been but have seen the film Highlander then the scenes of Conor MacLeod & his wife are filmed in Glencoe. It is simply one of my favourite places in these isles.

Once through Glencoe Fort William beckoned where a quick stop for lunch and a supermarket shop gave us a break. Fort William is the nearest town to the Nevis range and is a haven for tourists and walkers/mountaineers alike. I have previously spent the odd day there quite happily including having an unexpected private tour of the distillery.

Supplies for the week collected we drove past the turn off for the Nevis range and headed towards the Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge. Until fairly recently the only way to reach Skye was by ferry. Then the bridge was built which originally was tolled. A campaign by the locals has resulted in the toll being dropped.

Once across the bridge we carried on northwards past Portree until a few miles short of Uig where our home for the week was situated. It only had 3 rooms but was spacious and comfortable enough for the two of us.

A Trip to Skye - Day One

Our holiday to the Isle of Skye started on Friday evening. Knowing that it was a long drive, about nine hours, we decided to leave and head for the Days Inn at Annandale Water on the M74.

Personally I rate Days Inn hotels above Travelodge but below Premier Inn. Functional and useful for the odd night but not for a long stay. This one suited our purposes perfectly for a night. The downside is using the motorway services for breakfast. Thank heavens for Costa Coffee!

I have to say the room was comfortable and clean with added bonus of a balcony. Sadly the view had to wait until Saturday morning.