After our spectacular views of the Quiraing on Skye’s northern tip, John, our Rabbie’s Tour Guide, thought it would be best to take us to a museum. He must have noticed that the weather had taken a turn for the worse. So he drove us over to the northwest side of the Trotternish Peninsula to the village of Kilmuir where on a clear day you get a nice view of the strait called The Minch that separates Skye from the islands of the Outer Hebrides. But this was not a clear day. In fact, the wind was rather fierce and the rain was often horizontal as we dashed between one thatched croft house and another at John’s museum. We discovered quickly that John’s museum was not an ordinary museum. Yes, we found some roofs over our heads. But also a lot of space between the roofs!
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It’s called the Museum of Island Life and it is basically a bunch of old houses. There are seven cottages in all and all have stone walls and thatched roofs. Newly painted farming implements are scattered on lawns between the cottages. The oldest cottage dates from the middle of the 19th century. There is a bedroom at one end and the kitchen with fireplace at the other. Granny rests in her rocking chair on one side of the fireplace while Granddaigh smokes his pipe on the other side. Several types of musical instruments hang on the wall behind Granny. Wooden kitchen implements adorn Grandfather’s wall. Another cottage displays a blacksmith’s workplace and yet another that of a weaver. One of the remaining cottages was converted to look like a barn.
The Kilmuir cemetery is located on a slight incline not far from the museum. There is one tall monument in the center of the cemetery. All of the other tombstones are relatively small. The tall monument marks the grave of Flora MacDonald, a native of Skye who is credited with saving the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie after the disastrous Battle of Culloden in 1746. Flora dressed the prince in woman’s clothes and passed him off as her maid and whisked him over to Skye. After a few days in hiding on Skye he boarded a boat for the life of an exile in France. Dr Samuel Johnson wrote Flora’s epitaph: “…a name that will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour.”
It was raining when we left Kilmuir and it rained all afternoon on our way to and from Dunvegan Castle where we had lunch. I took no more pictures that day until we arrived back in Portree for dinner.
The weather was much better the next day and John drove us to a couple of viewpoints in the Cuillins before we headed back to Glasgow. That will be the subject of my next posting.