Posts tagged 'Skye 2012'

Skye at Night

Posted by on September 26th 2012 in Astrostuff, Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

Some astro pics taken from the cottage's garden on Skye.

No filters, scopes or mounts, just a Nikon D50 with a 35mm prime lens, a fixed tripod, an IR shutter-release and a bit of processing know-how.

Cassiopeia (the big W) to the upper-left, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) to the lower-right

The Double Cluster and a fair chunk of Perseus.
OCD dot-to-dotters will have noticed that there are some stars that are common to this image and the first one.

Cygnus flying along the Milky Way

Skye 2012 – a final fling

Posted by on September 23rd 2012 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

After packing the car and saying our farewells to the cottage we headed south on a mission to find the fabled otters of Kylerhea. It was another fine day so we had a few photo-stops on the way:

Clouds over the Red Cuillin and Broadford Bay

The same view in a temperamental scrolly-thing

Looking down Kylerhea Glen

There were good views from the track between the car-park and the otter-hide:

Kyle Rhea meets Loch Alsh

The Far Side

Down at the hide there was much to see. For starters there was this elaborate seagull-perch:

Minor Light

There were seals and birds in abundance but the otters were nowhere to be seen:



 After an hour or so we gave up on the otters and went back up the track to the car. We got more pics:

Speckled Wood


How wind-power used to be

Another Speckled Wood

Glenelg Bay

As above but wider

Down at the ferry slipway:

This one's for Mr. Sloman



A tad nippy

The ferry


After the crossing we headed up the Old Military Road along Glen More towards Shiel Bridge, stopping at Bealach Ràtagain to admire the view around the head of Loch Duich:

The view from Bealach Ràtagain

The view of the view from Bealach Ràtagain

The rest of the journey was picture-worthy but we were pressed for time, needing to get to The Real Food Cafe for some sustin. We managed a couple of photo-stops:

The head of Loch Garry - a bit of Scotland that's shaped like Scotland

Anna at the Loch Garry viewpoint

You'll know where this is


After raiding The Real Food Cafe it was a non-stop drag to our overnight stop at the less-than-luxurious Dumbarton Travelodge, but we did appreciate the fine scenery around Loch Lomond.

The next day was a drudge day as expected... motorway > Penrith Little Chef > home.

It had been a great week, it's a shame there was so much time spent in the car.

Skye 2012 – a fair Friday

Posted by on September 6th 2012 in Fishing, Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

I was up and awake early on Friday morning - the previous evening the kids said that they wanted me to take them fishing. Ella managed to extract herself from her duvet but Anna was stuck fast to the bed, so it was just the two of us that went down to the rocks at An Laman.

Neither the tide nor the weather were favourable - high tide was three hours away and the water was almost flat-calm. Nevertheless we got tackled-up and were soon thrashing the water with our lures. As expected, we didn't get many takes and after a few hours our tally was just a single suicidal mackerel. The guys fly-fishing a few yards away were doing better, taking a fair few pollack. When we'd had enough and had packed away we went over for a chat and came away with the kind donation of a 4+ pounder for our evening meal. Thanks, guys!

We returned to the cottage just in time to meet Arthur, the gardener, with whom we had a delightful chat over a cup of tea while watching the birds soaring right above the cottage. One of the birds was bigger, tattier and less flappy than the others which were obviously buzzards, it's been suggested that the odd-one-out was an eagle but I'm not convinced. What say you?


For all you die-hard bird fans, here's a clickthrough subset of 16 more.


After all that excitement Arthur was on his way and Chris was eager to be out for some fresh air. We went for a short drive down the coast, stopping at a few places for short strolls to the cliffs to see if we could spot any whales. The first stop was at Bàgh nan Gunnaichean where there were fine views of Stacan Gobhlach and the mirror-flat waters northwards:




We didn't see any whales there, so we drove a bit further south to the cliffs above Loch Sheanta. Chris and Ella went down to the loch while I stayed up top with Anna. We still didn't see any whales but we did see about a dozen large shoals of fish at the surface:

Two of the shoals

A couple of opportunist anglers tried their luck over one of the other shoals:

From there we nipped into the garage/shop on the main road at Stenscholl near Staffin, in order to stock up on sweets, cake and other essentials. We almost made it to the beach at Staffin but the heavens opened as we pulled into the car-park so we bailed and headed back northwards. The weather was still fine at Bàgh nan Gunnaichean from where we could see the clouds building up over Harris and Lewis:

A long shot

After a fine meal of filleted donated pollack, served with whatever was left in the cupboard, we spent the rest of the evening packing so that we could be away on time the day after. We really didn't want to leave but we knew that there was interesting stuff to see on the way home.

To be continued...

Skye 2012 – a Thursday around the Quiraing

Posted by on September 5th 2012 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

After Wednesday's recce, an ass-assessment and a back-check we thought we'd see if I was up to carrying a daysack up and around The Quiraing. The day was forecast to be fair until late afternoon so we went for it. As usual, while waiting for the others I managed to get some pics from the front garden:



Here's a snap of the northern end of the Quiraing picking up a bit of morning sunlight:

The last post

Here's the route that we would take:



We were soon installed in the upper car-park and the walk-in to where we reached the day before was straightforward, I didn't take any pics during this stage. Beyond that, however, the scenery just kept getting better and better:


On the approach to the step

It's only when you're beyond the step that you really get a proper sense of the scale and proportions of the place. The further you go the smaller you feel, and without a distant horizon in sight it's hard to tell when you've got the camera level. It's a very disorientating place!

Approaching The Prison

Towers, spikes and buttresses

The Prison

The track to The Prison

Sheltering behind a dyke

Looking up

Here's a thing that'll play with your eyes... mouseover the following pic to see Ella on The Prison... twice:

Hide and seek


Beyond The Prison, looking across to Staffin


Those three allegedly-wise monkeys again

Camo Girl


Eventually the path climbs out of the trough and gains the ridge via some mild zig-zags near Fir Bhreugach. We had a breather here in the fresh breeze. Here's the view from there northwards towards Kilmaluag:

Looking northwards

The path follows the escarpment as it rises to the shoulder of Meall na Suiramach (543m), and the views over the edge are immense:

The view towards Dùn Mòr and Staffin

The Table, viewed from the north

Sròn Vourlinn and Leac nan Fionn

Chris on the edge!

The southern end of The Table

Humps and hollows


The southern end of The Table again

Anna forging on ahead


The final leg was down the steepening grassy slope of Maoladh Mòr to join with the outbound path above the upper car-park. From there it was a short drive back to the cottage.

The rest of the afternoon was spent winding-down. Showers out at sea provided some odd rainbows...


... and the hunting in the fields provided more opportunities for bird-watching:


The back and the butt had held up well to the outing, I felt that I might be on the mend but I knew that I'd need a few more days like that. I certainly slept well that night.

To be continued...

Skye 2012 – a wet Wednesday

Posted by on September 2nd 2012 in Fishing, Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

I must have slept well on Tuesday night because the next morning was awake at stupid o'clock. The kids were still snoring and Chris was dozing on the settee so I grabbed the fishing tackle, made my excuses and went down to the rocks at An Laman just in time to catch the turn of the tide after this overnighting boat had departed. I'm not sure but think it was the gaff cutter L208 Eda Frandsen:

Setting sail

I was chucking 28g Tobys out to about 50 yards (wind-assisted) and was dragging them back just above the bottom, I was getting takes every three or four casts for a couple of hours, some stayed on the hook but a lot didn't. Even so, after an hour I'd caught enough keepers to feed the family and I ended up doing catch-and-release. In all, I'd caught about a dozen and brought home only three - any more would have been greedy. The biggest keeper was a shade under 5lb, I'd lost two others about the same size and there were two huge feckers that I never got anywhere near landing, I've no idea what they were.

Anyway, here's me handling one of my three pollacks:

None of these fish answered to the name "Colin"


A while later a shower passed over and treated us to a fine rainbow:

Shame about the post

The afternoon got progressively wetter so we got in the car and hit the road. First stop was the farm on the road to Uig to pick up some logs and kindling from their roadside honesty-box, then we went on into Uig to see if we could find anywhere that sold fishing tackle. Amazingly,  the is no such place in Uig, we were told that the nearest place to buy tackle was Portree! This turned out to be untrue - a few days later (and too late for us) we found that the garage/shop on the main road at Stenscholl near Staffin sells the stuff.

Instead of heading to Portree again we crossed the peninsula using the mountain road from Uig to Brogaig, stopping off at the upper car-park for a brief recce of the bizarre landscape area of The Quiraing. We didn't explore far as we were inappropriately kitted-out for the drizzly conditions, but it was still an interesting place to see:

 The Quiraing

Bioda Budhie overlooking Cleat

The track across The Quiraing

Rainbow over Staffin

Back at the cottage the neighbours were having a get-together:

Soay sheep?

Choosing an evening meal wasn't difficult, we cut the largest pollack into three huge steaks and open-baked them, they went down well with some spuds and fresh veg.. The other fish were gutted and frozen to take back home.

To be continued...

Skye 2012 – a Tuesday trip to the beach

Posted by on September 1st 2012 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

Tuesday morning was looking a bit grim up north so we decided to head westwards in an effort to find more sunshine. As usual I was ready and waiting while the others were still faffing so I had a play with the camera trying to capture the ever-changing view from the cottage:

A million miles of space and fresh air
(Caption inspired by Alan Sloman)

Sunshine and shade

Soon we were on the road and heading for the area around Dunvegan. It doesn't look too far on the map, but distances are deceptive even when you allow for the twists and turns of the route.  Eventually we made it to our first objective - the small car-park at the end of the road to Claigan - where the weather was sunny and warm. We were lucky enough to nab the last available space and soon we were at the start of the easy track to the Coral Beaches. At the start of the track is a sign that reads differently every time I look at it:

Are they really thanking all of the dogs on leads?
Do they shoot the farm animals if a dog is caught worrying?
How serious is worrying? I worry about lots of things, will I be arrested? Or shot?


The short walk is a delight, there being many different grasses, colourful plants and butterflies:

Purple and blue

Soon enough we got our first look at the beaches:

On the approach to the Coral Beaches

Of course, it's not really a coral beach. The stuff underfoot consists of maerl (the calcified parts of coralline red algae) with some broken shells and worm-tubes thrown in for good measure:

It's sedimentary, my dear Watson

We spent more time there than we expected, and we ran out of time to visit the nearby Souterrain and Dunvegan Castle. No matter, it's a good excuse to go back another year. Here are some more pics:

Cnoc Mòr a' Ghrobain

Over Lampay towards Duirinish

Towards Macleod's Tables

Isay, Mingay and Clett from Cnoc Mòr a' Ghrobain

Gin-clear shallows

Chris atop Cnoc Mòr a' Ghrobain




Hooded Crows (Corvus cornix)

On the short drive back to Dunvegan we saw plenty of seals:

Seals near Gairbh Eilein


From Dunvegan we headed to Portree to pick up some supplies and some petrol, and then headed northwards past The Storr. Sadly, we didn't get a chance to walk in this area. If you're thinking of giving it a shot you could do worse than follow Jamie's route and advice here.

Anyway, here's a couple of pics:

The Storr from a distance

The Storr beyond Loch Fada

Back at the cottage all was overcast so we had a night in sitting in front of a compelling open log-fire and watching the telly.

To be continued...

Skye 2012 – a Monday motoring around Trotternish

Posted by on August 31st 2012 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

We had a late start on Monday, mainly due to having to wait for the kids to get out of bed. Seems that six miles of bracken-bashing and bog-trotting was far too much for them. Eventually we shoehorned them into the car and headed off for a drive around Trotternish.

The first stop was at Càrn Mor, where folk had been busy rearranging the shoreline. It reminded me of this:


More piles

From there we headed south towards Uig, with fine coastal views on the right, and then we went onwards to Portree to do some window-shopping. Sarnies were scoffed on the slipway:



United Colours of Portree

After picking up a polite parking-ticket from the local Feds we headed back up the eastern coast towards home, stopping at a few places to take in the wonderful scenery. A short stroll near Ellishadder led to the cliff-edge and some amazing views:

Looking southwards - Dùn Dearg and Rubha nam Brathairean

Looking northwards - Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock

From a distance the cliff-edge railings seem like just a safety feature, it's only when you get near them in a breeze that you realise that they're musical:

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From there we continued the leisurely drive back to the cottage, with a few more stops for sightseeing.

After another evening of chilling-out the others went to bed while I stayed up watching the stars again for a few hours - the skies were utterly cloudless, the air was warm and still, and the Milky Way was an amazing sight. I took more pics, I'll post them sometime soon.

To be continued...

Skye 2012 – a Sunday stroll

Posted by on August 30th 2012 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

Sunday morning was dry and calm, with the rest of the day forecast to be warm and sunny, so we decided that a gentle walk was a good idea. While the others got ready I sat outside watching the birds and the sea:

There were many of these things in and around the garden

Stac Lachlainn and Rubha Bheanachain

The decision was to head for Rubha Hunish, the northernmost tip of Skye, to see if we could spot any whales and/or otters. Here's the route:

The Rubha Hunish route


Suitably armed with navigation aids, Smidge, binoculars, cameras and very little else, we headed off towards the bay. Here's a shot of the view behind from a point halfway to the bay:

A look back

Another look back, from near the bay

We took a break at the small car-park/picnic area by the bay while the kids went down to the shoreline. There were many mackerel shoals in the bay, so we resolved to return later with the fishing tackle. There'll be more about that later, but for now here's a shot of the bay:

Kilmaluag Bay at low tide

We backtracked a few yards and bypassed the graveyard, taking a fair track that was heading in the right direction. There was a fair bit of wildlife on display:

Scotch Argus (Erebia aethiops)

This thing was over twice the size of the Buzzards that were common over the ground in front of the cottage. Judging by that and by the calls that it was sending out, we're fairly convinced that it was an Eagle of some sort

Yet another look back

After a short diversion to avoid climbing a barbed-wire fence we eventually arrived at the Lookout Bothy which is supposed to be the best place for spotting whales, basking sharks and other such beasties. Needless to say, we saw none despite giving it our best efforts. The view was to die for, my camera skills do it no justice whatsoever:

Rubha Hunish and the view towards Harris and Lewis

Looking up The Minch, Eilean Trodday on the right

The Lookout Bothy

270° panorama with dodgy stitch-work

270° view in a scrolly-thing that works when it feels like it

We decided that the clamber down to the headland wasn't for us so we picked out a route past the eerie deserted settlement of Erisco and headed towards Duntulm, being in need of sustenance. We kept watching the shoreline but saw none of the resident otters. On the way we found loads of these critters:

I'm fairly sure that this is a Fox Moth caterpillar

We decided that the best point of vantage for viewing Duntulm Castle was the garden of the Duntulm Castle Hotel, as it had obvious other attractions:

Duntulm Castle

The roadblock benches were remarkably comfortable, allegedly:

R & R

The intake of an appropriate amount of alcohol made the short road-walk to the cottage quite bearable... until the need for the loo kicked in. During the last few hundred yards there were many moans, funny walks and contorted facial expressions:

Strained relations


Back at the cottage we took some relief and had a relaxing evening. I was in surprisingly fine fettle considering how bad my back had been during the previous couple of weeks, I put the recovery down to having an excellent driver's seat.

Before bedtime we were treated to a fine sunset:

Blue and Orange

Later the clouds departed and after midnight the sky was alive with stars and a fair few meteors. I did take some pics but I'll leave them for a suitable post later on.

To be continued...

Skye 2012 – getting there

Posted by on August 28th 2012 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

There's not a lot to tell about the journey out. Because of the distance we'd decided to break the driving into sections, the first stop on Friday was at the Little Chef at Penrith for a decent meal, then we made our way towards Glasgow.

The overnight stay at Cumbernauld Travelodge wasn't as dull as we'd expected, as within 10 minutes of arrival we were all evacuated to the car-park because somebody had triggered the smoke alarms and we had to wait for the Fire Service to attend and deal with the situation. The kids enjoyed the free light-and-sound show provided by the fire appliances.

Next morning we were back on the road, heading for a superb breakfast at The Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum. From there it was a mad dash to Fort William to stock up on basic supplies and then onwards through magnificent but cloudy scenery to Dornie Bridge where we stopped for snacks and the obligatory photo of Eilean Donan Castle:

Eilean Donan Castle

After crossing Skye Bridge the last leg of the trip was the slow scenic drive up the eastern edge of Skye to Kilmaluag and our home for the week:


Three allegedly-wise monkeys

The view from the cottage

The same view in a scrolly-thing

After settling in and getting the wood-burner stoked we spent the evening watching buzzards quartering the fields and generally chilling-out before turning in for a well-deserved early night.

To be continued...

Back from Skye

Posted by on August 27th 2012 in Great Escapes, Summer Holidays

1333.3 miles on the clock, 31 gallons in the tank and 532 photos in the camera.

Expect pics and reports in due course.

Here's a spoiler:

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