Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Skye High

Well, the Blogosphere survives to see another day, and I guess that means it's time to recount my trip to Skye for my friend's stag party.

As I previously explained, I'd never been to Skye before, and had no idea what to expect.

Though Skye is an island, it has been linked to the mainland for the past 12 years by a mile-long bridge, which has been toll-free since December 2004.

Anyway, Mrs Wife and I left Montrose around 6pm on Friday evening, with the intention of breaking my journey up with an overnight stay at her parents' home in Oban. The wind was ferocious as we drove through deepest, darkest Perthshire, and our journey wasn't helped when we were diverted along a single track road along the southern bank of Loch Earn. Nonetheless, we arrived in Oban in one piece, albeit tired and cold.

The next morning, I set off alone for Skye, driving through torrential rain most of the way. My only previous journey along a comparable route was on a visit to Fort William when I lived in Oban, so it was a part of the world I was seeing for the first time.

Sometimes, when whole days are spent on Scotland's dual carriageways and in its concrete and fibreglass office blocks, it is easy to forget that in many places, my home country is small but perfectly formed. Passing through Fort William presents a great view of the towering mass of Ben Nevis, its summit snowcapped and swathed in mist even as summer approaches.

The journey also took me across the Connel and Ballachulish bridges, alongside the South Shiel mountain range and past Eilean Donan castle.

Crossing the Skye Bridge, I arrived in Kyleakin just as my fellow stag party members were ready to leave on the minibus to Carbost in the north of the island.

Our 15-strong party began a day of solid drinking at around 11.30am, and continued until well after 3am. So, if I tell you that I can't recall the names of all of the pubs that we visited, or even the names of towns and villages, please don't be surprised.

I do know that as well as Carbost, we visited Broadford and Portree before returning to Kyleakin. We watched the first half of the terminally dull FA Cup Final in the clubhouse at Portree Shinty Club, where we were treated to cheese toasties, and the second half in the upstairs bar of a hotel.

We had dinner in another hotel in Portree's town square, and we heard a decent covers band in a pub in Broadford.

I also know that we finished the night in the King Haakon bar in Kyleakin, although I can't remember the name of the bar we visited before that.

And, having exhausted the possible options for drinking in Kyleakin, we were invited to an impromptu house party in a house looking out on Kyleakin pier and the Skye Bridge.

For those seeking details of the nefarious activities of the stag party, I'm afraid my lips are sealed. It is an offence punishable by death to reveal the secrets of the stag....
All I will say is that a tremendous night was had by all, and that I will definitely return to Skye in the future. It's sometimes difficult to believe that so small an island could support so many pubs, let alone so many good pubs where it would be easy to spend whole weeks or years, let alone hours.

The photographs on this post may look a bit rubbish for two reasons: I took them whilst drunk/and/or/hungover and they were taken on a mobile phone. The top one is of a mountain and Portree harbour, the middle one of Eilean Donan castle on the drive home, and the last is the Skye Bridge as seen from the bedroom window of the kind people who gave me a bed for the night in Kyleakin.


Philip said...

The description of the trip itself sounds wonderful. Glad you enjoyed the festivities - and you must never reveal what happened. Sub rosa . . .

mirk said...

Fort William... the mirksome bogle clans favorite place! There can still be snow on some parts of the Ben at the beginning of July.

Seeing Eilean Donan castle for the first time can be a surprise pictures, paintings, TV, never show the village next to it, for years I thought it was in the middle of nowhere.

Sounds like you had a great time! I am just surprised they let you out of jail so soon ;0)