Last weekend, my friend Cara and I boarded a bus for the Isle of Skye. Those outside Scotland might not know what or where the Isle of Skye is. Don’t worry, neither did I. Before I arrived in Edinburgh, all I knew was that “if you don’t go to the Isle of Skye, you’ve wasted your study abroad” (according to past Pomona-program students). Woah man, woah. That’s a little serious. I’m sure your term isn’t completely wasted….
But no. I was wrong. It is completely wasted. Skye is an island off the northwestern coast of Scotland, the northern most island of the inner Hebrides (if that means anything to you). It is one of the (dwindling) remaining areas of Scotland where at least half the population can speak Gaelic, but there are probably more sheep on the island than people. Legitimately. So many cute sheepie baas!
Day 1: Drive up from Edinburgh. We stopped at the William Wallace Monument (funny story, there used to be a Mel Gibson statue outside) and Glencoe, a beautiful valley where tons of movie scenes have been filmed, including Hagrid’s hut! It was a classically Scottish rainy, misty day, so the valley looks like an eerie fantasy. Once we reached the edge of Skye, we crossed the whimsical Skye Bridge and settled in Portree for the night.
Day 2: A day on the island. We explored the northern peninsulas and the western coast, including the wee ‘town’ of Uig (about 20 houses with plots of land grouped together). We visited the Fairy Glen, the Quiraing landslip, Kilt Rock, Neist Point (the most westerly point on the island), and my personal favorite: the Old Man of Storr. The Old Man was one of those iconic places I recognized in pictures even before I left for Scotland. I wasn’t really sure what I expected…. the photos online are so striking. Imagine how big those rocks might be. And then multiply that by ten. Then do it a couple more times. They’re so big. The hike up wasn’t exactly a cake-walk, but it was so worth it at the end. When I finally dragged myself up the rocky slope, shakily stood up, and looked around me, (I know this might sound corny – deal with it) I truly felt the massive-ness of nature, and the smallness of man. On Skye, the island is in charge.
Day 3: On our way home. With the intention of waking up for the sunrise, Cara and I turned in early the night before. However, once we realized the sunrise wasn’t until 8:15am (and it’s only October, guys), we couldn’t help sleeping in. But we did indeed see in the sunrise (or at least the pink skies – too many goddamned mountains!) in the morning while we searched for the sole coffee shop actually open on a Sunday. Although we were on our last legs after two days of packed travel, we rallied for the last day! We first stopped by the Eilean Donan Castle, an iconic castle on Loch Duich just on the mainland across from Skye. As we drove up, an adorable old woman on our tour, said that in the twenty years she’s done these tours, she’d never seen the castle as beautiful as it was just then, with the sun shining through the sparse clouds. Can’t really top that. But we tried, with a cruise on Loch Ness (yes I bonded with Nessie – we have matching auras), a view of Ben Nevis (the highest point in the UK), and even more highland coos!
All in all, Skye was one of the most beautiful, tranquil, rural, magical places I’ve ever seen. I left wanting more, and I can’t wait to go back. Our tour guide started off by saying that Skye will try and steal your heart. It definitely stole mine!