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Getting to Skye at last: morning at Eilean Iarmain

November 26, 2011

I promised to show a little of our visit to the Isle of Skye last month, and I’ve been slow to get going on it. At the moment I am slow to get going with anything: continuing fallout from my head injury. The slow progress towards recovery seems to have taken a step backwards in the past month or two. That’s a dull and dreary subject, however, so I’d much rather share with you another brief look at magical Eilean Iarmain (it features in most of my posts about the island) on the south coast of Skye.

October is a beautiful time to drive through the Scottish hills and glens. By now the brighter colours have drained from the land, but a month ago they were reaching their peak. Our drive across the Highlands towards the west coast was characterised by the colour of the landscape, which was glowing, and the rain, which was unceasing. There were still streaks of snow on the hills from a fall earlier in the week, but warmer temperatures had brought rain to replace it and the hillsides were running with burns and waterfalls. Even in watercolour, though, I thought that the rich colours  – ochre, umber, burnt siena – were just beautiful.

The road to Skye

snow and white water on the hills near the Cluanie Inn

It's a little wet for taking photographs! Glen Shiel in the rain.

The morning after our arrival, I woke up to one of my favourite views in the world. This little piece of heaven can be found at Eilean Iarmain on the Sleat peninsula. From a harbour sheltered by smaller islands and skerries, you look out across the Sound of Sleat back towards the mainland and the mountains of Knoydart and Kintail.

I sat on the windowsill and watched the sun come up from behind the hills.

What a spot to live in!

The little stone pier and the natural harbour at Eilean Iarmain used to be an important landing place for the local fishing industry and, indeed, for visitors who found boats more convenient than rough roads, in the days before European Union money upgraded some of the routes through the Highlands and Islands. Lobster fishermen still land their catch here.

Today there is still plenty going on here, despite the collapse of the herring fleet. Thanks to the vision and determination of the late Sir Iain Noble, Eilean Iarmain boasts a warm-hearted, old-fashioned and entirely delightful hotel, a whisky company, a tweed shop, an art gallery and possibly the best pub in the island.

Behind the tweed shop is the turreted entrance to Am Praban, the pub.

We are not heading for the pub just yet, however. Today we are going to explore a little of the north side of the Sleat peninsula, retracing the perilous drive I made alone in January. It is a lot more fun with family and without sheet ice. I’ll show you some of what we saw in my next ‘chapter’ about Skye.

On the road to Tarskavaig, looking back to Knoydart and Loch Nevis (on the mainland).


You might also enjoy The Road to the Isles.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 26, 2011 8:46 pm

    What a ‘stroll’ I just took! Thank you for sharing!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 26, 2011 11:38 pm

      You’re most welcome – I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. November 26, 2011 11:20 pm

    Gorgeous – thank you! Those rich tawny tones were exactly what struck me in Torridon recently.
    Sorry to hear about your dreich period just now. I too have been absent from blogging through exhaustion. And this is the low ebb of the Scottish year, so everything is that bit more effort. But your Skye photos are full of light and air and brightness, a bulwark against the dark. Especially on a night when the gale is roaring in the trees outside, even here in the city.
    Eilean Iarmain sounds like something from Lord of the Rings

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      November 26, 2011 11:48 pm

      Ah, I’d been wondering if all was well, noticing your absence. I do hope that you manage to pull through before Christmas lands on us. (Christmas is wonderful, but you know what I mean I’m sure.) You’re so right: this is ‘the low ebb’, isn’t it. Advent might help to get us going – it’s Advent Sunday tomorrow, can you believe.

      I can’t believe that I’ve never noticed the gentle Elvish sound of ‘Eilean Iarmain’. My favourite place and my favourite books! Had he ever visited Skye, I think that Prof. Tolkien might have relished the soft Gaelic and flinty Norse of the island’s place-names.

  3. November 27, 2011 10:55 pm

    Oh, such wonderful photos of these glorious landscapes, DB. There is nowhere quite like the Highlands and Islands, is there? We were very aware of the colours this visit. They almost seemed to burn at times, especially against a grey sky.

    So sorry you’re still feeling the effects of your head injury. I truly don’t think this ebbtide of the year helps either, even when one is feeling reasonably fit in other ways. I do hope that the hopefyul expectation of Advent will help.

    PS Glad to meet another Tolkien fan. I lost an entire weekend of my life as a student at Oxford when I discovered and devoured the entire three volumes almost without stopping to eat or sleep. 🙂

  4. hmunro permalink
    November 28, 2011 5:17 am

    Your post is so beautiful I’ve come back for a second helping. As I sip my tea, I’m falling in love with Skye — and sending healing thoughts your way.

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