Monday, January 7, 2013
You have to be a wee bit crazy to go to Scotland in January. It’s cold, it’s dark, and it’s empty. Except if it’s unseasonably warm, the sun rises late enough to see the sky glowing orange and pink at nine in the morning, and you like visiting beautiful places free of crowds. In that case, you’re pretty wise. Or really lucky, like I was this week when I traveled to the Isle of Skye.
Skye is one of the most popular islands to visit in Scotland, and for good reason. The cliffs on the coast, the varied landscapes, and the picturesque towns make it one of the most quintessentially Scottish places in the country.
Not to mention a nice retreat from the city. After an exciting but intensely urban Hogmanay in Edinburgh, I was in the mood for a rural retreat. Thankfully, the organizers of my trip had thought of that, and my fellow travel bloggers and I were whisked away to the Highlands on a three-day tour of Scotland with Haggis Adventures.
One of those days was spent exploring the Isle of Skye (more on the other two coming soon). After crossing the bridge from the mainland, we wound around inlets and up hills while Chris and Kay, our tour guides, introduced us to the island.
Soon we reached Portree, a small town with a harbor fronted by colorful houses that were said to ward off angry sea spirits that sought revenge when fishermen took their share from the surrounding waters. The sea spirits’ loss was our gain as we enjoyed hearty meals of fish and chips before continuing our journey.
It took us to the north of the Isle of Skye, where the scenery grew more stunning with each curve in the road. From old stone bridges to historic graveyards and mountains dusted with powder sugar snow, the island enchanted.
That’s to say nothing of the powerful waterfalls rushing off cliffs and mysterious geological formations like Kilt Rock, which gave rise to ancient legends.
By the time we returned to the mainland, the light of day was dying. But my enthusiasm for the Highlands was just beginning its renaissance. Even in the dead of winter, when the weather was cool and the light was low, the Isle of Skye revealed its charms and whet my appetite for further travels in Scotland.