The weeks are flying by up here on the Isle of Skye already, days mixed with cleaning, hiking and my love of taking hundreds of pictures.
Whilst the hostel is quiet during the weekdays, the past weekend was fully booked with groups of friends and families who made the space their own and somewhat forgot that a hostel is actually a shared space.
Luckily, our dorm beds have a curtain to pull across and I retreated for some peace and quiet in the evenings. I am fascinated by the constant ebb and flow of meeting new people in hostels, hearing the journeys people are on, but sometimes you reach a limit and just need a quiet space.
The winds blew and the rain whipped in an angry way last week, meaning my planned trip to the Outer Hebrides has been put on hold as the ferries are liable to cancellation in high winds.
Instead, a bought a weeks bus ticket (a little steep at £33.30) and set about journeying around the island.
This week’s highlights have included:
Catching the sunrise over Portree
This is one of those happy accidental travel fails. I had misread the bus timetable, hoping to get the bus from Portree to the Old Man of Storr car park at 7.35am.
Said bus actually only runs on a Saturday, so I had an hour and a half to kill before the next bus. I wandered down to the harbour, just in time to see this blaze of orange across the morning sky.
I wandered down to the harbour, just in time to see this blaze of orange across the morning sky.
Hiking up to The Old Man of Storr – and getting a Skye soaking on the way down
As you drive north from Portree, the pinnacle rock of the Old Man of Storr is a striking rock formation dominating the skyline. The Old Man forms part of The Storr, one of the longest landslips in Great Britain from thousands of years ago.
A fairly easy gravel path leads to ‘The Sanctuary’, the area just below The Storr, with a slightly steeper and muddy climb to reach the mighty base.
I went on a hunt for a geocache before the biting wind and rain swept in, suddenly making The Old Man disappear into a blanket of eerie cloud.
Part of the path was pretty waterlogged, and in classic Anderson style, I lost my footing at one point and did a comedy fall, bum first into the mud!
I thankfully had my fetching red waterproof trousers to put on, hiding the mud when hitchhiking back to Portree with a Swiss couple.
Exploring Staffin Bay
I took the bus from Portree back up the Trotternish peninsula and jumped off at Staffin, on the east side, to warm up with a hot chocolate. Re-fulled, I took a walk down to An Corran, famed for having fossilised dinosaur footprints set amongst the rocks next to a sandy beach.
I only had a short time before the next bus came so didn’t have time to search for many fossils, so hopefully, this will be another spot I’ll pop back to.
The way travel connects people on different journeys in life
One of the things I have missed about my ‘real life back home’ was the lack of opportunities for meeting like-minded people; namely those who also have a passion for travel.
From the Swiss girl who had quit her job in insurance to travel Scotland by bike and set up her own freelance graphic design business; to the English lady in her 50’s cycling the coast of Scotland; to the French head chef on a culinary tour of Scotland.
Everyone has a story, everyone is on a journey.
But it was an American lady in her 50’s who I got chatting to on the bus from Portree to Broadford who left the deepest memory for me this week. As the bus passed the mighty, towering Red Cullins mountains she confessed this trip a reaction to closure in her life: death of her parents, the break down of her marriage and an increasingly difficult work situation.
As the bus passed the mighty, towering Red Cullin mountain range, she confessed this trip was a reaction to closure in her life: the death of a parent, the break down of her marriage and an increasingly difficult work situation.
It was a touching moment, and she moved on to discuss how this trip had given her confidence, clarity and the space to work out what she liked in life and how she could move forward.
The bus ride was only 45mins, and we parted company in Broadford, but I sensed we were both a touch lighter and more positive having shared our story on the journey.
Photographing the power of the Sligachan River
After a brief stop in Broadford, I headed north again and jumped off the bus for an hour to photograph the mighty Sligachan river, the towering Cullin mountain range providing a back drop.
I had intended to do a hike out to the Fairy Pools, but the wind was so strong and the clouds hung over the mountains, I abandoned the idea. Instead, I caught the bus back up to Portree and on to Dunvegan, where the sun came out to play….
An afternoon walk from Dunvegan Castle
I have previously visited Dunvegan Castle as a child, and whilst the restored castle is pleasant, I was keen to stay outside in the sunshine and opted to go for a walk along Loch Dunvegan.
I continued down the road to the peaceful Loch Surdal on another geocaching mission.
With this important message inside, which summed up my day quite nicely:
It was a lovely low-level afternoon walk, which my weary bones appreciated after yesterdays hike up the Old Man of Storr.
Skye Pie takeway with the hostel team
Skye Pie Cafe is on the east side of the Trotternish Peninsula, famous for making handmade seasonal pies.
Due to close for the season, one of the team made the drive over to stock up and brought back 15 pies for the hungry team.
It was lovely to sit down as a whole team after a morning cleaning to chill and chat.
I had the Pie of the Month for October which was Wild Boar and Apple. And wow, this was a SERIOUS pie, packed full of meat, no messing about with tiny chunks here. I completely forgot to take any photos in the excitement. I’ve also got two for the freezer as well, for those impending cold winter nights.
In happy news, I have managed to extend my stay here until mid-November which I’m thrilled about as my Skye ‘to-do’ list is pretty sizeable!
A little video from the Week 2 highlights:
Do you have any tips on off the beaten track Skye adventures?
For more on my workaway adventure on Skye: