The plan for day two of the Isle of Skye road trip was to explore the northwest and central regions. First up would be to Neist Point Lighthouse followed by The Fairly Pools in Glenbrittle and then back to to Dunvegan to explore the Coral Beaches in the early evening evening. I had woken up feeling a little rough from a bad nights sleep. I had a dorm bunk booked at the Dunvegan Pub booked for three nights and it would turn out I’d have the entire room for myself the whole time. However, the combination of the 11pm sunsets, the extended twilight hour due to the Summer Solstice as well as a few pints and whiskey with the locals didn’t help much with boosting my spirits. That coupled with the fact that the shops opened till 10pm meant that there was no fresh food for breakfast. Luckily I had some supplies I bought the previous day to get me through.
The western side of the island is scattered with lochs, sheltered from the winds in the morning that act as a reflective surface for the distant mountains and puffy clouds. It’s difficult to take your eyes off them whilst driving; it was so captivating that I actually missed the turnoff to Neist Point Lighthouse and didn’t realise it until I had already passed it by 10 kilometres. Rather than turning back, I decided to head straight to the Fairy Pools further south.
Most arterial roads here are single laned, with a shoulder for oncoming traffic to stop or overtake every 200 metres or so. This makes driving much more interesting with a high probability of running off the road or colliding with oncoming traffic if you’re not paying attention, or even worse, hitting one of the thousands of baby lambs that linger by the roadside grazing on the summer grass. Luckily none of that happened to me.
The fairy pools are a few kilometres from the carpark and seeing them isn’t difficult at all with a moderate descent at first and then a hike along the stream and a steady incline towards the base of mountains. Along the way the water cascades down into waterfalls into smaller pools of water and feeds into the River Brittle.
After a thirty minute hike, I arrived at the main series of waterfalls, all of varying height. The water is perfectly clear and pristine and there were people even brave and prepared enough to bring wetsuits to swim in it. It was a perfect location to bust out a ham and cheese sandwich I made for breakfast and enjoy the views. I wanted to get some cracking photos of the area but the sun was straight up in the sky, casting too many shadows which is great for everyday outdoor adventuring but too contrasty for photographs so I decided to pack the camera after a few shots and just enjoy it as a enthusiast.
Back in my little diesel powered chariot and after a forty minute drive alongside a few sleepy coastal village towns set on the western side of Loch Dunvegan, I arrive at the Neist Point where I had intended on going to first. Situated at the point is a lighthouse had been in operation since 1909 and was manually operated up until 1990. Nowadays, most of the lighthouse property has been sold off and converted into self catered cottages for rent to those who want to experience a piece of life on the lighthouse.
Everywhere I looked there were sheep everywhere and their cute little baby lambs. They’re quite docile, free to roam around and not scared of humans so you can get fairly close to them. I can’t help but think how nice they’d taste though. Maybe over a fire pit and roasting?
Some of the locals said don’t bother walking down the steep pathway to the lighthouse but I decided to give it a go anyway. God knows I could do with the extra exercise from the lack of walking around in Hanoi, even though I now had with crook guts, possibly from the ham and cheese that did spend the night in the car.
Once I got around the towering hill, I traversed across the steep hill face for a while and found a location for some relaxation time, listened to a podcast and take in the ocean scenery. The clouds were rolling through intermittently and it was pretty cool seeing the colours and light being cast over the ocean, constantly change the colours everywhere. It goes to show that with some patience and preparation, you can get a series of varying and great images. I took about twenty photos from the same location and they all look different from each other.
After a cheeky nap, I head off to the Coral Beach at the northern end of Dunvegan. My brother in law recommended it to me so I thought it would be a great spot to enjoy a bit of a picnic dinner and enjoy the evening sun. Getting there requires a bit of a twenty minute hike from the end of the road but it’s fairly flat and easy; just avoid getting in the way of the cows along the way. It’s fairly windy by now as it’s well into the evening (8pm) but the sun is still a couple of hours at least before setting. It’s a long way from the Galapagos but a lot of the coastline here reminds me of the islands there. There’s significant evidence of volcanic activity with the porous rocks lining the coast, sea lions frolicking around in the water nearby and the sand is also made from crushed up coral over millions of years.
It wasn’t quite like the white sands of Tulum but the it was a nice contrast with the rest of the rocky coastal terrain and the lush greenery that blanket the landscape. I spent about an hour there on the top of the clifftop listening to more downloaded podcasts and enjoying a dinner of…yes you guessed it, ham and cheese sandwiches! This time though I had some wine to wash it down with a £3 bottle of California’s finest Cabernet Merlot.
On the way back, I pulled over to get a shot of Dunvegan Castle which is owned by the McCleod clan for over 800 years and who are wealthy landowners in the region. Seeing the castle grounds costs £10 so I opted for just the shot alongside Loch Dunvegan. I’m glad I stayed on this end of the island because there are so many sheltered coves in the loch to explore. Reading this blog post, it doesn’t seem like I went to too many places but the vast distances required to drive and walk is immense. For me though, the time spent in each place, seeing the conditions change, for is where and the magic is. Did I also tell you that I loved ham and cheese sandwiches?
I’ve always enjoyed a beer at the end of a day that involves lots of driving. It’s like a reward for the hard work getting from A to B; In my case, a gigantic loop. It was the first time for me staying at a pub and something I’d always wanted to do but never did. Here, you truly get a local experience, especially when it is only one of two pubs in town.
The locals here seemed quite friendly, loved a joke or two as well as a few whiskeys. I met an American girl who was travelling around who was asking the folk at the pub if they had a yard she could camp in and one of the fisherman took her in and gave her a spare room. I also met his son and had a chat about the styles of whiskey, whilst he was happily drinking a bourbon and coke.
Stay tuned for part three in the Isle of Skye Road Tripping Series.
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