On Day 2 of our 3-day Rabbie’s Skye Tour we headed north out of Portree along the northeast coast of Skye on Road A855, also known as Staffin Road. It goes all the way to the northern tip of Skye and then swings over to the island’s northwest coast, finally meeting up with the A87 road at the village of Uig. We would be spending most of the morning on the Trotternish Peninsula and then in the afternoon we would drive further west to Dunvegan Castle where we would have lunch. Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated as the day went on and I was unable to take any photos in the afternoon. I took a lot in the morning, though, often between the raindrops.
Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.
Our first stop of the day was to view the Old Man of Storr from a distance and then we stopped again when we were up closer. Storr is the highest hill in the Trotternish Ridge and the Old Man stands guarding its eastern slope.
We stopped a couple of more times just to view the islands of Rona and Raasay which lie between Skye and the Scottish mainland. At one of these stops John told us the story of a man named Calum MacLeod who campaigned for the government to build a road to connect the main road at Brochel Castle with his community of Arnish in north Raasay. No one listened and people began to leave the island because it was just too difficult to travel about. The main idea for the road was to allow the kids in Arnish to be able to take the ferry to Skye so that they could attend high school. Finally at the age of 56 Calum decided to build a road himself. And he did. It took him ten years and by the time he finished there were only two people left in the community of Arnish: Calum and his wife.
Roger Hutchinson wrote a book about Calum and his road and Capercaillie recorded a song in 1988 in their album called The Blood is Strong which commemorates his feat. You can listen to the song here.
Our next scenic spot was Kilt Rock and a nearby waterfall called Mealt Falls. Naturally, I had to take a picture of John and his kilt near Kilt Rock.
After Kilt Rock we drove to the village of Staffin where we stopped at the cafe at Columbia 1400 for some coffee / tea. Columbia 1400 is an organization that helps young people get going in life. Besides the cafe there is also a library, meeting rooms, Internet facility, a sports pitch and a lodge.
In the 1820s there were more than 24,000 people living in the Staffin area. They were mostly tenant farmers called crofters and their families. These people grew their own food — mostly oats, corn and barley — and they spoke mostly in Gaelic. Then the landlords decided that the highlands and islands should be used just for grazing sheep and thousands of farmers and their families were evicted from their homes. Some went to Glasgow and other places in the lowlands but most migrated to Canada, Australia and the US. And that’s one reason why there are so many people of Scottish heritage in these countries. For more information on the Clearances see this well-written BBC article here called The Cultural Impact on the Highland Clearances.
After our coffee break we drove up to the Quiraing viewpoint to see this very picturesque area.
Our last stop that morning was at the Museum of Island Life in the village of Kilmuir. I’ll cover that visit in my next posting.