6/20 Roamin’ Solo Day Two: Hangin’ with the “Wee Folk”

I still had a big smile on my face when I woke up this morning, and was probably smiling the whole time I was asleep. The first thought that crossed my mind was how lucky I was to be where I was at that very moment, and wondering what adventures the day had in store for me. I stepped out into the crisp air and saw a sight that made me wonder if I was still dreaming.

It was bright and sunny, and even more beautiful than the night before. Because of the clearer weather, I could see more mountains further in the distance, and the sea was a deep blue, reflecting the sky, sun, mountains, and clouds.

After an amazing breakfast I went down to the travel center to discuss my plans for the next couple days with the clerk. He told me it was going to be very difficult for me to get around without a car, due to the crazy bus schedules on Skye that do not connect very well. He told me to memorize the timetable as best as I could because there were only going to be certain ways to get around.

The very nice lady at the Kyle Hotel booked me in another of their hotels in Broadford, which is a village about 10 miles onto the isle. I then caught a bus and made my journey over the Skye Bridge onto the Isle of Skye.

After a brief stop in Kyleakin on the other side of the bridge, I made my way over to Broadford to check into my hotel. This 10 mile ride was one I will hold dear for the rest of my life, as this was my first experience on my favorite place in the entire world. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous, as I knew it would be for the remainder of the trip. I know I keep going on and on about this but this isle put me in a state of shock and awe the whole time I was there. It is very difficult to put into words how astonishing this place is, and even the pictures don’t do it justice, so I am trying my best to explain what it actually feels like to be there.

After arriving in Broadford, I dropped my bag off at the Dunollie Hotel because it was too early to check in, and the very nice receptionist helped me make more sense of the bus timetable. It was very confusing and we were having quite a hard time trying to figure out how I was going to be able to get where I wanted to go and back and not get lost. We came up with a plan and I set off to catch a bus that was to arrive in 45 minutes up to Uig, my destination for the first day, which was a citylink bus coming from Glasgow.

After waiting over an hour for the bus that I needed to take, I never saw it, and I was there 20 minutes early. As to what happened to this bus I have no clue, but this definitely threw a monkey wrench in my plans for the day. I was determined I was not going to let this get in my way of doing the things I wanted to do however, so I took another bus to Portree where I could eventually make a connection to Uig, though I wasn’t sure how I was going to get back to Broadford.

On the bus ride to Portree, we twisted through several green mountain ranges, with several large waterfalls coming off of them down into little streams. On this bus trip I continued to examine the bus timetables and a new plan took shape. It was going to be impossible for me to get back down to Broadford that evening and have the amount of time I would need in Uig to hike to the Faerie Glen, which was what I planned on doing that first day. I also noticed that it was going to be near to impossible to make it to Dunvegan and back the next day as well, as there were only three buses going back and forth between Portree and Dunvegan. The only way to Dunvegan was through Portree, and there wasn’t a bus that could get me to Portree from Broadford in time for that first bus that I needed to be able to spend the day in Dunvegan. I decided I needed to stay the night in Portree instead, but the problem was my luggage was at the hotel in Broadford. I know this sounds confusing, and believe me, it was.

On the bus ride suddenly I saw a harbor town approaching in the distance and knew this was my destination on first sight. Portree is the largest town on the Isle of Skye, and is the central hub on the isle for all the buses. All the towns on the Isle of Skye are tiny, and make this wee town look enormous in comparison. It looks like a wee pirate town or fishing village with a large harbor and boats everywhere.

After arriving I had about an hour and a half before my bus to Uig, and I had some errands to do. First off, I located the post office to use the phone book and get the number for the Dunollie Hotel in Broadford. I then located a phone box and called them to see if it would be okay to cancel my reservation for that night and leave my luggage there. The nice lady playfully said, “I told you not to get lost,” and said she would keep my luggage safe in her office and that it was perfectly okay for me to cancel for that night and return the next day.

I then found a bed and breakfast for only 30 pounds, right next to the bus stops in the town square called the Tongadale Hotel. I booked a room there and then did some exploring around the town before my bus was to arrive. It was bright and sunny outside, and then all of the sudden it started pouring down raining with the wind whipping around. I pulled out my umbrella and the wind almost ripped it out of my hand and turned it inside out. I was getting drenched and my flimsy umbrella was not designed for this kind of punishment, so I had to duck into a doorway along with everyone else in the town. After about five minutes it was bright and sunny again, and everyone continued on about their business like it was perfectly normal.

This is one of the more peculiar occurrences on Skye, as there is both rain and sunshine every day. This is why there are so many rainbows on the isle, which could be one reason why people throughout history believed it to be such a magical place. It is interesting to see a monsoon right next to a crisp sunshiny day going on a few feet from each other.

Eventually I got on the bus to Uig, which was a breathtakingly beautiful journey as expected. On the bus I noticed a guy with an American accent and asked him where he was from. He turned out to be a high school history teacher from Michigan named Jaime who was also traveling Skye solo. He had just gotten to Skye as well and was just riding the bus around to look at the scenery. After I told him of my plan to hike to the Faerie Glen, he decided to tag along for the journey.

The bus driver asked me where I was planning on going in Uig, and when I told him I was going to the Faerie Glen, he smiled and said he would drop me off at the road leading up to it, which wasn’t a normal stop, but would save me some of the walk. The Faerie Glen is about a two mile hike from Uig. After he let Jaime and I out, he told us to follow the wee road a bit and we would come right to it.

There are no signs to get to the Faerie Glen, so to get there you need to know where to go beforehand. Jaime and I walked up the road a bit and asked a lady if we were going in the right direction. She smiled (this seemed to be a trend every time I mentioned the Faerie Glen) and told us to follow the road a wee bit until we reached a gate, which would take us to the upper part of the glen. After taking some pictures we realized we were standing right next to a gate, so we were thinking that it couldn’t be the gate we needed or she would have just said, “Go through that gate.”

After walking a long way we started to begin to think that we should have gone through that first gate because we weren’t seeing any more gates. We then saw some people walking toward us down the road with huge smiles on their faces. We asked them if we were headed in the right direction and they said to keep walking and we would see something more beautiful than anything we had ever seen. With my experience on Skye thus far, picturing something more beautiful than the scenery already surrounding me was near to impossible.

After walking further down the road we began to see more people walking back, and like the other people we had seen on the road, they were grinning from ear to ear. We asked how much farther it was and they said we were almost there and would absolutely know when we got there. Oh boy, were they correct.

We turned a corner and there it was. Strange looking rock formations that looked like some supernatural forces had created them, vivid green rolling hills, waterfalls, and lush vegetation abound, the Faerie Glen is the kind of place that most people only see in their thoughts and dreams, and never in real life. I can honestly say that I would not have been the least bit surprised to see some pixies fluttering out of a tree, or a little brownie poking its bushy head around the corner. Or even for that matter a hobbit, because this place reminded me of The Shire from Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. I can totally understand why people throughout history believed this to be a major gathering place of the island fairy folk.

Just wandering around was a surreal experience, as the tranquility of this glen overloaded the senses. When I said this was the most amazing place I had ever seen, Jaime agreed and said he has been all over the world and seen nothing that could compare to this. The blissful looks on everyone’s faces wandering around the glen were priceless as well, as everyone was in an ethereal state of fascination. The Faerie Glen had cast its spell of enchantment on us all.

In the middle of the glen was a huge rock formation called the Faerie Castle, with a little trail twisting up to the top. Though I am not a big fan of heights, and there were steep drop-offs on both sides with the wind blowing hard, my state of serenity overrode these feelings and I climbed to the top where I could see almost the entire glen. Man, it was worth it too.

After hanging out in the glen awhile, Jaime and I eventually began the walk back to Uig. Our bus was to pick us up at the police station bus stop in a couple hours, and we had no clue where it was at so we wanted to make sure we had enough time to walk back and find it. On the way we asked an old couple if they knew where the police station was. The look of horror on their faces was hilarious as they obviously thought there was some kind of trouble, until we told them we were trying to find the police station because the bus stop was there. They gave us a ride down to Uig but we couldn’t find it so we got out at the pier to ask for directions.

There we asked another lady where the police station was and got the same look again, then realized maybe we should frame our question a different way. She told us where it was, and then we found the Isle of Skye Brewery and drank some Skye ale while waiting for the bus to arrive. There was another bus that showed up earlier at the pier that wasn’t on my bus timetable, and they gave us a ride back down to Portree an hour early.

When back at Portree I felt the need to eat some fish to keep with the vibe of the fishing village. It was very tasty. I then set out to check out the Portree nightlife and went on a pub crawl throughout the town. It was a Friday night, and Portree was hopping.

The one thing that I had completely forgotten about was my wee little midge buddies, as I had not seen them all day. When the sun started to set however, it was as if someone sounded the midge horn and they came out in a swarm, particularly close to the harbor, and were even getting into some of the pubs. I met back up with Jaime at one of the pubs and we talked to several of the locals around different pubs throughout the night. We met a lot of people as many people seemed eager to talk to us because we were Americans.

One thing that I asked several people was if the isle ever gets normal to them being there all the time, as many people who live in beautiful places start to become desensitized to them after being there awhile. I just can’t imagine the Isle of Skye ever becoming “commonplace.” They said they love living there and take drives around the isle all the time to look at the scenery in the summer, but that it is a very different place to be in the winter as the weather is very harsh and cold.

My first day on the Isle of Skye was amazing. The greatest thing about it though, was that I knew I had another day on the isle the next day, and I was very glad I had decided to come a day early, because I would not have been able to do everything I wanted to do if I wouldn’t have.

 

 

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