Today we went to one of the northern parts of Skye we have never been to before: the Waternish Peninsular. The 14km walk in the book was a bit too far, but we saw some of the most interesting bits before heading back at halfway to the point. The weather was absolutely beautiful, with blue skies all day. The cool breeze meant that we did not get too hot walking along the farm track and the heather while avoiding some of the muddy bits.
The first point of interest on the walk was a cairn erected in memory of Roderick MacLeod, who died nearby in the second of the Waternish battles between the clans of MacLeod and MacDonald around 1830. Clan MacLeod and clan MacDonald of Trotternish fought many battles over a long period of time. One attempt at peacemaking involved arranged marriages between its members. That sometimes did not work. A year and a day after she had been sent to Donald Gorm Mor MacDonald, Margaret MacLeod had still not borne a child, male or female. Furthermore, at some point during this year, she had lost the sight in one eye. Donald MacDonald, having no further use for Margaret MacLeod, decided to send her back to her brother. He tied her, facing backwards, onto a one-eyed horse, led by a one-eyed servant and followed by a one-eyed mongrel dog, and sent all four back to Dunvegan Castle. Rory MacLeod, incensed by the insult to his sister, and ultimately to himself and his clan, once again declared war on the clan MacDonald. He devastated the Trotternish peninsula in the north of Skye, which prompted MacDonald to attack MacLeod land in Harris. These battles became known as the Wars of the One-Eyed Woman. This culminated in 1601 in a battle in Coire na Creiche (the corrie of the spoils), when both clans suffered heavy losses. It was the last battle fought between the two clans.
An unruly lot, in those times at least. I don’t think the Scottish Independence will give rise to such conflicts.
The other point of interest dated from much earlier: Dun Borrafiag is an Iron Age broch, or defensive tower.
Although it is not as intact as the broch that we saw last year on Rousay it is said to be one of the best preserved ones on Skye. To get to it involved leaving the easy track, finding the least boggy route and jumping across a couple of streams. I was rewarded with a great view across the Little Minch towards North Uist and Harris.
After a good lunch at the Stein Inn (crab sandwich and scottish plowman’s) and a visit to the Skyeskyns tannery, we headed back to our fantastic temporary home for Skye lamb chops with an excellent Rioja Reserva Viña Ardanza 2004.