I should, I guess, discuss the geography of what we're doing here. Skye is sort of like a big hand/claw sort of thing, with our point of entry being near the wrist, where the Skye Bridge connects it to the rest of Scotland. Off of the palm, there are a number of little peninsulas, with roads looping out to encircle them. There's a large-ish (in the sense that it was largely two-or-so lanes) road that connects most of the towns and much, much smaller roads that head off in other directions.
When we last left off, we were driving into Portree (going around the palm counter-clockwise), and I cannot overstate how exciting it was to be at something that's sort of like a destination. The roads in Portree were small, but for once, there were buildings and curbs to the far side of my car that I was so worried about, and not cliffs and rocks and the sea.
We managed to make it to a parking lot (A lot! Full of other cars! That weren't going ninety miles an hour on the side I don't expect them to be on!), learned that parking was free because we were still in the off season (as indicated by the ferry that didn't exist) and proceeded to tourist the hell out of the local shops.
What followed was a flurry of commemorative magnets (of the bridge that got us onto Skye, which for us had gone from "fun side-trip" to "mystical promised land" after the realities of trying to drive several hours in a strange country set in) and skeins of yarn (dyed nearby, and potentially made from some of the sheep that I'd learned to dodge, though no one would guarantee that) and langoustines, which I really think that if you're going to serve, "Norway Lobsters" is a more exciting name than "langoustines".
We had been advised to check out the western side of the Trotternish Peninsula, then circle back down, cutting across the road that bisected the landmass and continue on to Dunvegan, where we were staying. So we did that.
And I can't actually describe what it looked like. I thought about trying, and a better writer (or even someone who wrote about travel more than once every four years) could do it, but I can't.
It was silly. Let's go with that.
We were able to get out of the car in a few designated pull off spaces (which were every few hundred yards, because whoever made this tiny road realized that a bunch of tourists are going to do exactly that). Past the Old Man of Storr, stopping at the Lealt Gorge (where we may have gotten paranoid about some other tourists seemingly hanging out next to our car a little too much as we were out looking at things) and up through to Kilt Rock, which had the actual rock, a few big signs about a dinosaur they'd found near the rock and a Scottish Terrier because apparently we were in a tourism ad.
|The Lealt Gorge. Just off to the right, people looking at the things in our car.|
We're staying at a B&B, so after leaving Kilt Rock we thought it would be best to get to Dunvegan before it was too late, in part so that we were able to check in, and in part because while the 1.5 lanes of road were fine in the daylight, we were very nervous about driving around in the dark. So we took the advice of the tourism guy from Kyleakin. We took the cross-peninsula road.
This was a bad idea.
As it turns out, the road across the peninsula is a less-than-one-lane road that's more of an asphalt hiking trail where there's really no point in having a turn if it isn't a hairpin. We were on the Quiraing, a flat-out gorgeous hillside that a friend who we'd consulted about the trip before going had hiked around and which was bounded on either side either by very steep drop-offs, sizeable ditches and just a lot of sheep. More sheep than I'm usually comfortable driving through.
We made our way painfully slowly through the six miles of seriously narrower than most parking spaces terrain, looking up from time to time to take in the gorgeous views but for the most part terrified about what would happen if we hit a ditch, or that we'd continue to get lost and wind up on this dinner-table-width path in the dark. We made it, passing one other vehicle (a delivery truck for a brewery, which seemed to be doing fine), and wound up winding through a bunch of tiny mountainside roads that weren't on the map until we made it to the highway.
Unfortunately, it was late. We sped on to Dunvegan where we were greeted by our mildly-perturbed but really astonishingly pleasant considering we were showing up an hour after check-in B&B host, shown to our room and collapsed from the strain of actually having made it here alive.
I feel awful about showing up late, but we did it. We drove to Skye. And I didn't get us run over by a lumber truck. Or a swarm of sheep. Sheep travel in swarms, right?
Tomorrow, we get to do what took us two days in around six hours in order to not miss the flight to Dublin.