Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012 – Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland – Mostly Sunny – 51F

Holyhead, Wales to Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland: 348 Nautical Miles


Portree from Journey (Small)

Portree, Isle of Skye

Skye is the second largest island in the Hebrides and has a population of 9500 people.  The locals just call it Skye.

The name - “Portree” means “Royal Port”.

Scenery near Portree (Small)

View from Portree

Journey from Portree (Small)

Azamara Journey from Portree

Portree Pier (Small)

Portree Waterfront

We are both on tour today – I am going to Dunvegan Castle and Ellen is off to the countryside to visit a Museum and other sites.

Ready to Escort Portree (Small)

Escort Bags in hand – Ready to Go

Before we met our tour buses, we walked around Portree for a while.  The most interesting thing was all of the kids (mostly Asian – crew maybe) eating “take-away” Fish and Chips while sitting on stairs or curbs.  Clearly, the Fish and Chips must have been really really good.

Both tours departed pretty much on time.

Rosie Summerville – Tour guide

The countryside consisted early on of rolling green hills, sheep, and an occasional cemetery located on a hillside (no church or other building associated with the graves).

Skye landscape and sheep (Small)

On our way – Skye Landscape

Cemetery on the hill (Small)

Cemetery on the distant hill

Wind turbines supply some of the energy to the island – some communities are trying to get their own wind turbines as a local source of electricity.  Any excess power is sold to the National Grid.

Wind turbines on Skye (Small)

Wind Turbines dot the countryside

There is a massive tidal difference in the various inlets on Skye – some 10 meters differences.  When the tide is low, the sea bottom is dramatic (below).

Nearing Dunvegan Castle Receding tide (Small)

After a reasonable ride, we arrive at Dunvegan Castle.  This castle has been In the MacCleod Family for 29 generations (the current 29th chief) or 750 years of MacLeod rule.  Dunvegan is the oldest castle in the Scottish Highlands.

The name Dunvegan contains the term “Dun”, which means a small rock fort.  The castle is more than that but retains the “Dun” root. 

“Brochs” are Iron Age dry stone towers found only in Scotland.  We saw them but could not get any pictures from our zooming bus.

It’s a decent walk from the Bus Park to the Castle Entrance – we had about an hour to visit the Castle on our own – unfortunately, the current Chief does not like to have his “stuff” photographed so no pictures.

Circular garden from entrance walkway Dunvegan (Small) 

On the path to the Castle

 Dunvegan Castle 1 (Small)     

Dunvegan Castle – Front Entrance

Dunvegan Castle 2 (Small)

Dunvegan Castle – Side View

The castle has at least four levels but only the ground level and second level are accessible.  The artwork is almost exclusively of the past Chiefs of the MacCleod clan and their many wives.  Several of the Chiefs share the name, Norman.  The rooms are spacious especially the bedrooms, which are as large as contemporary bedrooms.

Although it might not be allowed, I climbed down the hill along the side of the Castle.  I got some nice shots from that vantage point.  One especially nice shot was of the receding water of Dunvegan Loch.  The dark earth is the loch bottom at low tide.

Receding tide Dunvegan Loch (Small) 

I walked around the other side of the castle – the dock where the “seal boats” launch.  Yes, there are seals on the Loch.  From here, you get a different view of the Dunvegan Castle. 

Dunvegan Castle from across bog (Small) 

Dunvegan Castle from across the Loch

The grounds have at least two Gardens.  The first is the Walled Garden seen in the pictures below.

Walled Garden Dunvegan Castle (Small) Walled Garden Dunvegan Castle 1 (Small)

The second Garden is the aptly named “Circular Garden”.  During our visit, several gardeners were working on both gardens.

Circular Garden Dunvegan Castle (Small)

After our visit, we set out for Portree.  Skye is a volcanic island complete with a volcanic mountain range, the Cullins (“Coolins”).  The range consists of 15-18 peaks, the tallest of which is about 3000 ft.

The Cullin Mountains (Small) 

Along our route, the guide pointed out an ancient burial mound, a Barrow in England (below).

Burial Mound Barrow (Small)

As we moved along the coastline, we were just barely able to see the other islands of the Western Coast (below).

View to the Western Islands (Small)

Islands off to the west of Skye

In a valley below, an ancient farmhouse stood along side more modern buildings.

Ancient Farmhouse (Small)

Ancient Farmhouse

The Cullins 1 (Small)

Valley with Cullins in the background

Cullins Up Close (Small)

The Cullins up Close

The volcanic origin of the Cullin Mountain Range is clear when you get close to one of the peaks – it is almost a perfect cone (below).

Volcanic Cone Cullins (Small)

Ellen’s Tour stopped to admire Dinosaur Tracks – yes, there were dinosaurs in Scotland.

Dinosaur Land in Scotland (Small)

Dino tracks at Dinoland (Small) 

The original lecture schedule had to be modified due to problems with Eric’s voice and the late arrival of one of the performers.  I was told that my next lecture would actually be at night and would have to be only 45 minutes long.  I decided to cut Columbus out of the “Mysteries of the Sea”.  The lecture was now the “Mystery of the Unknown Titanic Child”. 

The lecture went well – had a good turnout (40) – and ended on time so the Orchestra could start its pre-show dancing.

During the show (starring Mandy Muden filling in for the scheduled performer), Eric sang a song with Mac Frampton.  Although not yet in perfect voice, he really belted out the song.

Pedometer: 4490 steps; 2.13 miles; 220 calories

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