I planned to tour some of Sykes beauty spots as recommended to me by my friend Roger, but soon discovered it was not going to be a good day.
Ever the optimist, I set out for the west side of the island, and within a few minutes I was on a B road crossing the backbone of Skye. Again the scenery was superb - what I could see of it. These roads are mainly single track roads, but at 10.0am on a Sunday morning I did not except to see much traffic. In fact the first encounter with anything resembling traffic were several cows (see pics). The large horned beast stared at me as if to say ‘not another tourist’.
I was so determined to explore the island, I had taken my eye of the fuel gauge before leaving Portree. Being stranded in the middle of Skye with no mobile signal was a worrying prospect, no matter how beautiful the surroundings are.
I carefully made my way back onto the A863 to the next largest village, Dunvegan. Hallelujah, there was a petrol station, open on a Sunday. I soon realised why. It also served as a provisions store, post office and general meeting place for the local community, many of whom were there buying the Sunday papers.
I was so pleased to find this oasis, I had not seen the notice on the pumps saying ‘cash only’. I immediately stopped filling and checked my wallet. Just £25 and loose change. The pump counter read £24.76. At least enough to get me back to the mainland.
The rain was now heavy, and visibility very poor, so it made no sense driving around looking for places of interest I could not appreciate. I headed back on the Portree road and continued to the Skye bridge. Sorry Roger, I will have to come back in the Summer.
One activity I would have loved to have gone on was the Sea Eagle boat tour, but after a full cooked breakfast I was not taking any chances in those seas.
Just after the Kyle of Lochalsh, I took the A890 road across the heart of the Highlands, heading east to Dingwell and Inverness.
This route again would have been delightful in Summer, and would have taken me twice as long after stopping so often to take photographs and to admire the views.
I reached Strathpeffer, the Victorian Spa town, by 3.30 and checked in to my B&B, Heatherlie.
The Spa Pavilion for this evenings concert was literally five minutes walk, so I had plenty of time spare.
The weather by now was actually improving a little, so I took advantage and drove back to a well publicised tourist spot, Rogie Falls. This is a spectacular range of waterfalls/rapids which Salmon can be seen ‘jumping’ up through the raging currents to spawn. This takes place between June and October, but I was not to witness one of natures extraordinary rituals on this visit, but the walk through the surrounding woodland was bracing.
The Blas concert, as all the others, was amazing. The theme was ‘Roots and Shoots’. The Shoots being the youngsters playing everything; fiddles, pipes, accordion, guitar and harp, and singing. The final set saw over thirty musicians on stage all working together in the final crescendo climax of reels and jigs, and just mind blowing sounds.
These are not groups of kilt glad people playing old Kenneth McKellar numbers They are passionate about the music they play and are proud to be continuing what has been 25 years of the Blas Fiesh movement. They are world class musicians playing World Music.
Most of these concerts are held in small theatres or community centres, and such is the following and support for Gaelic music, the whole community turns out to support them.
I may well have been the only visitor from ‘South of the Boarder’, or certainly London, and that is a great shame.