Because it’s too beautiful to keep to myself, here are some more images from my recent visit to the Isle of Skye. These were all taken in the south of the island, mostly on the Sleat peninsula.
I notice that visitscotland.com, aka the Scottish tourist board, has been enthusiastically plugging the delights of a Scottish winter. And indeed it’s all true: everything looks especially beautiful under snow and blue skies, both of which we still have this week. At the risk of seeming disloyal, however, I have to note that what they don’t mention is the state of the roads. It took me six hours to drive the hundred and fifty miles home from Skye, almost every mile of which was on un-ploughed roads thick with ice and fresh snow. Even in a four-wheel drive car, it was slow and stressful going. I’m not complaining about the state of the road. It’s not realistic to expect the snow plough drivers to be everywhere at once, and anyway the snow was still falling heavily on parts of the journey. I’m just pointing out that bad road conditions are always a possibility at this time of year, and you have to plan accordingly (I had snow boots, blankets, thermos, a shovel and so on in the car and was very glad of them). So, for anyone who would like to visit the Highlands in winter but without the hassle of travel, Dancing Beastie is at your service. Settle back and enjoy some more photos of snowy Skye.
First light at Eilean Iarmain. The lighthouse guards the skerries: across the Sound, a pinprick of light answers from the mainland.
A snowy dawn, with another snow shower approaching from Kintail.
I could watch this view for days and never tire of it. Every moment, the changing light transforms the landscape.
Later in the day, needing some time to myself, I decided to revisit the north side of Sleat in search of a lovely beach I remembered. This may have been a mistake. I had forgotten how very steep and winding the single-track road was…
and had underestimated the amount of snow and sheet ice there would be on the road surface. Precipitous drops down icy slopes made for extremely testing conditions for both car and driver.
But I think - I think – that the view of the Cuillins from the beach at Achnacloich was worth the effort. It was strange to see the Black Cuillins turned white, and the once-golden beach black in the low cold light. I was the only soul there except for the birds. There was no sound other than the whisper of wind and tide, and the whirpling cries of a curlew on the shoreline.
It was quite a contrast to my last visit, on a sunny day in July 2008. Then it was eighty degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 C), if you can believe it, and we had spent the day sunbathing and swimming in the warm sea.
But the monochrome bleakness of the winter landscape has its own beauty. Here are the famous climbers’ mountains of the Cuillins and Blaven, photographed in fading light, looking north-west from the Tarskavaig road. You really have a feeling of being on the far edge of Europe here. (This photo needs to be seen full size to do the view justice – click on it to enlarge.)
Sunday dawned a perfect, crisp, blue-sky day on Sleat. I was sorry to be leaving. The clouds had vanished from the mountains and the Red Cuillins were so clear that, for the first time in many visits, I could clearly see the snow-covered cairn at the top of Beinn na Caillich from across the peaty moorland.
Well, maybe you can’t make it out in that photo, but it’s unmistakeable from Broadford, the small town in the lee of the hill:
The first time I saw the clouds lift right off the top of Beinn na Cailleach was on my first visit to Skye, about a minute after my husband had asked me to marry him, at the top of a hill facing the Red Cuillins. One day I think I’ll have to add my own stone to the cairn. I was envious of anyone climbing in Skye on a morning like this, but I needed to get home to my boys. So I set my face to the mainland and its snow clouds, and the long drive home.