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Skye’s The Limit

Yesterday was an entire day just on the Isle of Skye. The weather was decent, not perfect but good. Some occasional mist but really there was some sun, and it is Scotland in winter, so will not complain.

Since we were spending another night on Skye in Kyleakin (think I spelled that right), the morning was easy not having to pack and load the bus. So, easy start to the day and we were up to a couple of stops before lunch. Did a little sight seeing before stopping in Portree, the largest place on Skye. Portree has a pop around 4,500, so like Montezuma back home. Really nice place. Had this fantastically nice bakery. Couldn’t tell you WHAT I had, but was something lemon and another strawberry, my two favorite flavors.

That held me over quite well until lunch when we stopped at this little Hotel elsewhere on the isle. Quite nice place, but I had steak dish. Should have known better from my past visits to Britain. It was the best I’ve had here as far as steak dishes, but still not something I’d intentionally try again.

The afternoon was more wandering. You just had to see the scenery to believe it. I can’t do it justice with words. You’ll have to wait for the pictures. Everywhere you look in the north of Scotland are dramatic cliffs, water tumbling down everywhere. The last stop was some high crag in the middle of the island. Sun was setting, mist falling. Really incredible scenery. Some of us scared the guide to death by climbing up higher than he had expected. I wasn’t one of the dare devils way up the mountain side but I too had wandered off just a bit. I thought he was going to have a heart attack when he realized where everyone had gotten off to. His main concern was the mist that was coming down the mountains and the possibility that the mist would descend before we got back to the bus. Well, we’re all still here!

Last night was Indian for dinner again, followed by the excitement of …dum duhm duhhhmmm… laundry! The nice thing was that most everyone was gathered at the pub next door, so I go back and forth between the laundry and the pub to spend time with the group.

Skye to Ullapool

Today we bid farewell to Skye and headed up here to Ullapool. Along the way, really great sun. The stops today were scenic but didn’t compare to anything on Skye at all. Still, northern Scotland is beautiful and the sun was fully out today. Some stray clouds, but nothing wet falling from the sky! Yaay!! Granted, the ground is soggy with every step, but really nice.

Lunch in another small town, which included a bakery. In fact, I just got a sandwich and dessert there and so cheap. And quite good. I’m impressed with how nice everyone is up here. Not that I had any bad experiences with Edinburgh, but it is a larger city. Up here, everyone is just so genuinely nice and glad to see you. A lot of the roads up here are one lane, and I mean, just one paved lane, for both directions of traffic. That’s no problem because you so rarely meet oncoming traffic. There are little periodic sections of pavement where one of the cars can pull over to avoid oncoming traffic or to let overtaking traffic pass you. And every time a car pulls over into those areas, the drivers wave politely at you. It’s really so unlike anything I’ve seen in America where the other driver would drive like mad to force you into that turn-out in order to avoid having to stop.

I guess you have to understand how few people live up here. Roughly 1700’s, the Scots had been doing subsistence farming on the land up here. The Highland farmers lived on land that belonged to Lairds. Eventually, it came to be that there was more money in sheep, so the Lairds cleared out the highland farmers and forced them off. This is referred to as the Highland Clearance. It was also intended to get rid of the troublesome clans that had been rebelling against the regime in power at the time. Isle of Skye before the clearances had a population over 30,000 people. Today, it has just over 12,000… You can see some of the old villages that no longer exist even today on Skye.

I’m having a great time. Tomorrow we head off again to Inverness. The next night will find us back in Edinburgh. Can’t believe how close this part of the trip is to being over. Still have to figure out what I’m doing with my last two days afterwards.

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