A planned detour on the trip was to visit the much-lauded Isle of Skye which is the largest and most northernmost of the islands that make up the Inner Hebrides. Incredibly, right up until 1995 the only method of actually setting foot (or tyre) on the island was by ferry, but in October 1995 the Skye Bridge was opened carrying the A87 from the Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland to Kyleakin on the island’s east coast.
Initially, the bridge was operated as a toll bridge but although the span is relatively short – around 500 metres – the tolls charged by the bridge operators made it the most expensive road in Europe and at one point it was fourteen times more expensive than the Forth Road Bridge in Edinburgh which is twice the length! Needless to say this caused some controversy with the islanders, particularly as when the bridge opened, the existing ferry service was stopped. Over time the toll system became open to abuse by both operators and islanders alike and after years of campaigning tolls were scrapped in 2004.
Today, visitors can choose between the (free) bridge or the picturesque Glenelg Ferry (skyeferry.co.uk) to transport themselves over Loch Alsh and onto the Island. Interestingly, in these times of local councils “twinning” with similar towns in foreign lands (no doubt mainly for an all-expenses-paid reconnaissance trip) Glenelg is twinned with the Curiosity Rover’s landing site on Mars! I’d like to have seen the expenses submission for that one!
Anyway, as ever, I digress. Crossing the bridge was as unexciting as expected and 500 metres later the island arrived so we turned north towards the campsite near Dunvegan.
I don’t know what we expected from Skye – we arrived with no preconceptions, little prior research or indeed any particular plan – but somehow it just didn’t “work” for us. The scenery, particularly in the southern part of the island was still spectacular, but no more so than we had just left on the mainland. Maybe the ever-present veil of cloud didn’t help but it was unanimously decided that a one night stay would be more than enough.
During the night and for all the following day we were troubled by incredible wind (of the meteorological rather than gastric variety) which constantly buffeted the van and led to a fairly sleepless night.
The plan for day two was to travel around the northern part of the island taking in Uig and then stopping in Portree for a look around this charming little town. On the way, we were enticed to stop off and marvel at the Kilt Rock waterfall. Possibly due to lack of rain in the area but I’ve seen more impressive outpourings from our overflow at home.
Portree at least was worth the visit and the smell from the local chippy down by the harbour was too much to resist, so that was lunch sorted then.