Saturday, July 14, 2001

07/14/01: Oh la la. It's been a long time. We left Paris nearly a week ago, and had a very long travel day (6am to 11pm) to get to the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Got to take the Eurostar in the Chunnel, that was exciting. At Waterloo Station in London, Sara was unfortunate to be the victim of theft. Her bag, with many possessions and souvenirs, not to mention passport, was taken at some point. It was very sad. However, we had to continue our journey, to Luton airport, and flew to Inverness (which is a great word, with an accent). Rented a car and drove for almost three hours. Drove along Loch Ness for a bit, which was fun. No sightings, though. Saw several ruins of castles along the way. Visited with the Molly and Crispin branch of MacLeod's at their hotel, then continued to our bed and breakfast in Carbost, on a westerly peninsula of Skye. The isle is practically waterlogged, there are streams, lakes, rivers everywhere. Thus it's very green and full of plant life. They've had to begin reforesting in many places, but mostly the countryside is green rolling hills. In the 1800s I think, after they began clearances of the island, they imported sheep. And they are still there, in large numbers. They wander all over the place, pastures and roads alike. Oh, keep in mind we're driving on the left side of the road too, and many are single-track roads with passing places. It was an interesting experience, especially with Mom at the wheel, who is good friends with speedy driving.

So the highlights of those four days, let's see. The first full day we began by visiting Dunvegan Castle, ancestral seat of the Clan MacLeod for many centuries, continuing to this day. The current Clan Chief, John, lives there. The MacLeods were quite the bigwig muckety mucks around there for a long time. Sometime around the 14th century, they acquired the Fairy Flag. According to John's video narration, three things are known about the Fairy Flag. It dates from the 4th to 7th centuries. It is from the East, the Holy Land (Syria?). It wins battles. So it's quite the prized possession of the Clan.

We also visited Portree a couple times, the biggest town of Skye. On the map, everything was listed that we saw on the roads, but most of the 'towns' consisted of a few houses. We're talking seriously small populations here. But it was a lovely place. Oh, and Portree was enjoyable. All the road signs on Skye have both English and Gaelic. Some of those Gaelic names are impossible, but all are beautiful. Portree was Port Righ, and other names were Drynoch and Drumnadrochit. Fabulous.

Also went to Armadale, the estate of the Clan MacDonald. The castle has not been kept up and now is just a few walls. However, it was also much newer than some others, built in 1815. The estate is 20.000 acres! Wow. These Clans remain pretty powerful, if only in property holdings. Armadale is in the south of the island. One day we went up north, all the way round the top peninsula. Visited a town called Uig, and went to Kilmuir for the Skye Museum of Island Life, which was fascinating. Went to the nearby cemetary to see the gravestone monument to Flora MacDonald, who helped save Bonnie Prince Charlie from the English.

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