Thursday, August 21st, 2014

On a Skye High in Scotland

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The Isle of Skye has long held a place in my imagination.  Off the west coast, it’s been known as one of the most beautiful places in all of Scotland.  It’s home to countless legends.  My cousin, who adores Scotland, even dreams of getting married on Skye!

So you can understand that I had high expectations for the island — perhaps Skye High expectations, you could say?

I wasn’t disappointed.  This island was so incredibly beautiful.

One of the advantages of visiting Scotland in the winter is that you can see the sunrise without rising at an ungodly hour.  We captured this beautiful pink sunrise off a lake just outside our base of Fort Augustus at about 9:00 AM.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

On the way to Skye, we stopped at Eilean Donan Castle — one of Scotland’s most beautiful (and most photographed!) castles.  Our group of travel bloggers gawked at its quintessential Scottish beauty and immediately set out to photograph it from as many angles as possible.

Chances are you recognize it from a film — Eilean Donan was the castle featured in Highlander, served as Sean Connery’s home in Entrapment, and was the Scottish Headquarters of MI6 in The World Is Not Enough.

Sligachan

After crossing the bridge to Skye, our first stop (and my favorite stop on the island) was Sligachan — a tiny village home to magical healing waters.

Highlanders say that if you immerse your head in the freezing water of Sligachan for seven seconds, you’ll be blessed with the gift of eternal youth.

Peter went hardcore, dipping his full head in while leaning off the edge.  Nadine, however wasn’t so lucky — she fell right in!

Does it work?  Well, let’s just say that a perpetually youthful friend of mine once dipped his face in the river.  I just gently sprinkled the water on my face, paying close attention to the regions most likely to wrinkle.

This is one of my favorite photos ever of Scotland — the water of Sligachan in the foreground, the Black Cuillin mountains in the background.  It almost looks like it could be in Alaska or New Zealand!

With Sligachan being one of the popular tour spots in the Scottish Highlands, our guide Kay once hosted a BBC TV crew here.  What she didn’t expect was to have a major wardrobe function in the process.  The story is hilarious — check it out on Someone Once Told Me!

Kilt Rock and Waterfall

See that cliff in the background?  That’s Kilt Rock.  It’s named that because it’s folded like the pleats of a kilt.

Our guide Chris told us the legend of Kilt Rock in his trademark storytelling style — dramatic, lilting, profane, and very Scottish.  I recommend that you find the nearest Scot and have him or her tell you all about the giant Finn MacCool — yes, the Irish Finn MacCool — and how he was duped by a cunning woman on the Isle of Skye.

Cairns

Along the way, we stopped to see some stone cairns along the coast — a common site throughout the Highlands — and I captured this perfectly balanced stone.

Kilmuir Cemetery

Our final stop on Skye was Kilmuir Cemetery — home to the grave of folk hero Flora McDonald.  And, with my family roots pointing back to Skye, there’s a good chance that one or more of my ancestors was buried here.  Just like the difficult sites of the Scottish Highlands, I felt a deep connection as I walked among the graves.

As I headed back to the bus, I crossed paths with Kay.  “Alexander McQueen’s grave is here, if you want to see it,” she told me.

I stopped in my tracks.  “THE Alexander McQueen?”

“Yes!  His grave is back there.”

Alexander McQueen, my favorite designer, committed suicide in 2010 at the age of 40.  I was incredibly surprised that such a famous person would be buried in a tiny, nondescript graveyard on a misty, rainy Scottish island.  But at the same time, I couldn’t imagine a better headstone for McQueen.  This is perfect — it’s quietly avant-garde.

After doing some research, I learned that McQueen technically isn’t buried here — his ashes were scattered off the Skye coast.  This headstone was designed by sculptor Andrew Tansor with the cooperation of his family.

Sligachan

Though it seems like we got to see so much of Skye, this was only the briefest taste of the island’s north coast.  There is so much more to see — more landscapes, more natural wonders, more towns.  Chris pointed out that a day tour of Skye from our departure point of Fort Augustus is good but not ideal — you should try to spend much more time on Skye if you can.

I’d love to come back for more. 

Essential Info: Our trip to Skye was the second day of Haggis Adventures‘ three-day Skye High tour. Rates start at £119 ($192) for adults and £115 ($185) for students and include guides and transport but not accommodation or food.

This campaign is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is sponsored by Visit ScotlandETAGEdinburgh FestivalsHaggis Adventures and Skyscanner. The campaign bloggers were sourced and managed by iambassador.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

Comments

36 Responses to “On a Skye High in Scotland”
  1. Oh, great shots Kate! Loves em. Wish we could have stayed longer on Skye, and here’s hoping that dip in the Sligachan river will do the trick… :)

  2. Wow. Every photo in this post is just gorgeous!!

  3. Julika says:

    The Isle of Skye looks stunning! I always loved Scottish history and literature – and the island looks exactly like I imaged old Scotland! Breathtakingly beautiful nature, castles, graveyards… gorgeous! I can’t wait to go!

  4. Mikeachim says:

    Gorgeous photos, lass.

    I *cannot stress* just how lucky we were with the weather. I’ve been on Skye in late November and it was like driving through a vertical sea with slots in it.

    Nicely done with spotting Alexander McQueen’s grave. I had no idea. Blimey.

  5. Erica says:

    These colors are freaking amazing girlie. WOW.

    I’ll take some of that water. Turning 30 added quite a few white hairs.

  6. Amanda says:

    Looooove the Isle of Skye! Seriously, I think it’s my favorite part of Scotland.

  7. Kristy says:

    I cant wait to visit here, its on my bucket list! looks so beautiful!!

  8. Liz says:

    Great photos as always, Kate!

  9. Debbie says:

    Absolutely gorgeous photos Kate, This Isle of my ancestors is definitely on my list. Mama

  10. I love that shot of Kilt Rock! all very stunning. Interesting that there is a place called Cairns too :)

  11. Michelle says:

    I love Skye…I went there in the summer one year and it was amazing…sunset at 10 is awesome; sunrise at 4:30am not so much…Your photos are awesome

  12. Melanie says:

    Stunning! I love the Scottish landscape. I was there only once, but would love to go back. By the way, Kate, I was just wondering why you like to put you photos ABOVE your paragraph headlines. Personally I find it a bit confusing as it goes against common practice. I don’t mean you should do what everyone else does, so please don’t understand this as criticism. It’s just a suggestion – I think placing them underneath would increase usability. :) Enjoy your trip further – I look forward to your next post already!

    • Hmm — I wouldn’t go so far as saying it goes against common practice. I know many people who do above, and many who do below. Above has been my standard for a few years now. Thanks for the comment.

  13. Wow, it looks like a magical place!

  14. Kathryn says:

    Love your photographs, especially the one of the Black Cuillin mountains. I’ve yet to make it to Scotland but hope I get there one day!

  15. Leslie says:

    I have heritage in Scotland as well, I now understand why my ancestors loved it so much. Great photography. Definitely on my travel list. Thank you.

  16. Nea says:

    Love your pics Kate! My grandparents used to live on Skye so I spent many a rainy holiday there as a child. It’s beautiful, keep up the good work!

  17. Scotland looks amazing! Hope I can visit it sometimes :D

  18. kle says:

    Arggg so disappointed that in many times i went to Scotland for work i never had the possibility to visit this fantastic area! i even bought a small book about the must see parts of scotland (basically everything in my eyes! :)
    Skye looks amazing as i imagined… even if i love the beach life and warm climate, when in Scotland it looks like you are in some sort of fairy tale! Plus, when u metioned the sun rise at 9… i still remember when i went out of the hotel i was staying in at 11:30 pm and i was WOW!!! it was still bright as it was 6 pm! i was a bit shocked :) what a magic place !!! i wanna go back one day!

  19. Great pics! I really need to get back to Scotland. This Haggis tour was the best guided trip I’ve taken. Very fun guides with some amazing scenery.

  20. Hi Kate!
    Pictures are just gorgeous! Can I ask you what brand and model of camera do you have?
    Thanks for the inspiration! I can’t wait to leave in 2 months.

    Karine

  21. Nico says:

    Some great photos of bleak landscapes. Looks amazing!

    Nico recently posted top 150 Travel Blogs Using Comment Luv

  22. Sofie says:

    I’d love to visit the Isle of Skye some day.
    Looks like the tour was really interesting.
    Do you think I could do all of the things you did equally well on my own?

    • You could definitely cover the same route, Sofie, but you’d need a car for sure. I’m fairly sure that none of these places required admission (at least from where we shot them), with the exception of the bridge to Skye, which is something low and reasonable.

  23. Connie says:

    A couple friends told me about the Isle of Skye a few years ago and I’ve been wanting to go ever since. This post cements that wish for me even more! Thanks for sharing and great photos!

  24. You have been to such beautiful northernly places in the past few months!

  25. chinamatt says:

    I missed out on seeing a lot in Skye (way back when I was in college). Guess that’s a good enough reason to go back to Scotland…well, that and the Scotch.

  26. Gina says:

    Skye is one of my favorite places on the planet. I fell in love with it immediately. There is something magical, like you should see fae dancing around. It’s a place I would love to go back to and explore.

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