Monthly Archives: March 2014

First Walk

Having spent two days driving we left the car where it was this morning and explored our surroundings on foot. The obvious thing to do was to walk down to the shore, go along the coast to Dunscaith Castle and back along the road. After a few hundred yards we found the first of many little flag/indicators from an archeological survey that was carried out in 2010. It found remains of many houses and other structures dating from the Neolithic Period through to the Post-Medieval Period.

Inbhir Amhiabhaig

Inbhir Amhiabhaig

 

Our first goal was to get to the bay that we could see from the house, and in particular to the interesting looking tree that was visible from there. How to get there was not so straightforward because, even though the weather was dry and sunny, the rain of the preceding weeks had turned large parts of the fields in between us and our goal into a bog. We never sank more than ankle deep and our walking boots proved up to the task.

Fisherman's Cottage

Fisherman’s Cottage

When we got to the bay we found the tree and the remains of a fisherman’s cottage. In weather like today’s it may seem an idyllic spot to live the simple life, but it must have been tough in the winter. The fishermen who built the house must have been a foot shorter than me: I could not get through the door opening without bending down. The bay seems an ideal habitat for otters and some sightings have been made here. We were not lucky this time, but I have a feeling that I will come back here often. It is a beautiful place to sit on a rock and just observe what’s going on. The otter may well appear in my field of vision when the telelens is mounted.

Wall From The Cliff To The Sea

Wall From The Cliff To The Sea

 

After some beachcombing we headed southeast along the rocky and pebbly coast line for a mile or so. A shag, some oystercatchers, crows, robins and seagulls  provided some interest while we carefully negotiated our way on sometimes slippery rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After  a bit longer than anticipated we turned the corner and saw the bridge that connected Dunscaith Castle to the mainland. It’s only a gap of 20 feet or so, but for the defense of the castle that little gap was very important. Originally the castle belonged to the Clan MacDonald of Sleat. At some time in the 14th century it was taken from them by the Clan MacLeod. In the 15th century the castle was captured by King James I of Scotland. The MacDonalds were allowed to keep possession of the castle, but they abandoned the castle in the early 17th century. Now there are only some remains of the walls and the well inside the enclosure.

View From Dunscaith Castle

View From Dunscaith Castle

Getting into the castle was a bit tricky and required some careful balancing on a small ledge, while holding on to the wall. If Di had observed this manoeuvre it would no doubt have elicited anxious cries of “Ruudje, niet doen.” As it was I safely negotiated the gap and was rewarded with the vie above.

The entrance to the castle was once guarded by a wooden drawbridge, which covedred the big hole led to tvisible in the image below and led to the set of stairs that went into the castle. I think I would have felt pretty safe in my castle.

Dunscaith Castle Entrance

Dunscaith Castle Entrance

 


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The View

One of the things that attracted me to the idea of living in Alavik Lodge for six weeks was the view. When I saw the location on the map and a picture of the glass gable end that forms one end of the living room, I new that we would enjoy making this house our temporary home. Sitting on the couch I am now looking out on Loch Slapin and the snow capped Cuillin ridge. I have not seen the Cuillins this early before, so I cannot make a comparison, but going by some recent pictures from Ben Nevis and Glencoe on Flickr, I was expecting more snow on the tops.

View From Alavik Lodge

View From Alavik Lodge

Tricia & Hans, the owners of this house, said that the view from the living room would change all the time and we have experienced that already. When we arrived yesterday afternoon, the Cuillins were hardly visible and now at 9:30 the sun is playing on the ridge and on the top of Blaven.

 


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Arrived

I have not posted for a while, but that will all change.

This afternoon we arrived at Alavik Lodge, in Tokavaig, a small hamlet on the Sleat peninsular of Skye, which will be our home for the next six weeks. The owners of the property were waiting for us and made us feel very welcome with a bottle of bubbly and a packet of Scottish shortbread. They are a lovely couple: a Dutch guy married to an English woman. Had an interesting chat with Hans about the coming vote for Scottish independence. He genuinely feels that the YES vote has a very good chance of winning the day. Even though the current polls indicate the NO vote is ahead, Hans feels the momentum is swinging the other way. The vote is becoming the topic of discussion in the pub more and more, with emotions running high. We will be in Scotland when the die is cast, on the 18th of September. That will be a momentous day! We will be on Orkney, a part of Scotland that is, ironically, considering it’s own identity and there are people there who would prefer to separate from Scotland!

Sitting on the deck watching the sun go down and the Cuillin ridge disappear into darkness made me realize once again how fortunate we are.

Over the next six weeks you can look forward to some good photography from some of the most beautiful places in the world.
 


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