The Isle of Skye in February??!!?? We must be mad....
We took the night sleeper from Euston to Inverness. Forget everything you've seen on the films - sleeper compartments are cramped.
Despite that, we got a good night's sleep. Anyway, it was snowing as we swept through Aviemore station, but was a fine day when we arrived early morning in Inverness. An hour or so to have breakfast and a quick walk around centre-ville, then onto the Highland Line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh.
Stunning scenery as we trundled across the centre of Scotland, through the Highlands. We saw superb vistas of snow-capped mountains, steep-sided valleys with forested hillsides, rushing rivers, red deer grazing by the single-track railway.... Past Lochs Garve, Luichart, Achanalt, Gowan, Dughaill, and finally Loch Carron, with picturesque Plockton nestling sheltered from the open sea just before the train rounded the headland and pulled into Kyle of Lochalsh station by the sea.
Off the train, round the corner onto the ferry, over the sea to Skye, with the controversial new road bridge, just finished but not yet opened, looming over us. The ferry had always been free, but they were going to charge a fiver on the toll bridge.
We stepped off the ferry onto the Isle of Skye, and picked up our hire car. We drove down to Ardvasar, on the southern tip of the island, then back round a picturesque narrow moorland road inland over to Ord, overlooking Loch Eishort, then back again to the main eastern road, and to the Cuillin Hills Hotel at Portree, where we stayed three nights, with a magnificent view from our room down onto the picturesque quayside and along the loch with the snow-covered Cuillin Hills beyond.
Over the next couple of days, we walked up to the Old Man of Storr, admired the waterfall pouring sheer over the high sea cliffs at Elishader, walked to the Coral Beach north of Dunvegan (on the way there we saw many seals on the rocks, Whooper swans on a lochan, and shaggy Highland cattle walking past us on the narrow road), had a brilliant tour round the Talisker distillery near Carbost (we were the only people who had turned up for weeks, and they looked at us as if we were mad - naturally we got to sample the produce at the end of the tour), saw a Hen Harrier quartering low over moorland by the road, walked up from the Sligachan Hotel into the snow-covered Cuillin Hills overlooking Glen Brittle (a dipper flew past us up the Allt Dearg Mor on the way), walked out to the lighthouse at Neist Point (with spectacular views to Waterstein Head and the sheer cliffs along Moonen bay and the falls from Loch Eishort - no, a different Loch Eishort from the previous one...).
Waterfall at Elishader
A glorious February day in the Cuillins - but we kept an eye on the weather every minute...
By the Allt Dearg Mor above Sligachan Hotel
The lochan at the col by Am Mam, looking south-west towards Sgurr Thuilm in the Cuillin Hills
Back the same way over the ferry to Kyle, the rail journey across the Highlands back to Inverness (we listened to a couple of fellow travellers who were divers returning from a trip to harvest scallops), and then the sleeper back to Euston.
Magic long weekend - of our three days on Skye, we had two good-weather ones - which is pretty good going for February!