Why vis­i­tors love Scot­land’s Misty Isle of Skye

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Bonny Prince Char­lie saw Scot­land’s isle of Skye on the run. He was flee­ing gov­ern­ment troops af­ter his High­land re­bel­lion ended dis­as­trously at the 18th cen­tury Bat­tle of Cul­lo­den. My visit was hur­ried, too, al­though due to noth­ing more ex­cit­ing than a tight sched­ule-no red­coats on my tail. Luck­ily, even a short stay is long enough to glimpse why the Misty Isle of Skye is one of Scot­land’s most pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tions. Here are a few rea­sons.

Dream scenes

Rain or shine, most likely both in the same day, Skye is a stun­ner, from the stark grandeur of the Black Cuillin, the jagged moun­tain range loom­ing over the is­land, to the cheer­fully pas­tel houses of Portree har­bor. You can take in the views by driv­ing Skye’s wind­ing roads, get out for a shore­line am­ble or, if you’ve got the skills, go moun­taineer­ing. Guides can be hired for more chal­leng­ing itin­er­ar­ies.

Rec­om­mended spots in­clude the Trot­ternish ridge, known for rock for­ma­tions like the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing pin­na­cles. Also a must-see, the Fairy Pools, a se­ries of crys­tal clear and flow­ing pools on the River Brit­tle.

High­land his­tory

Are you a fan of the Starz TV se­ries “Out­lander”? You should al­ready be fa­mil­iar with the beauty of the High­lands, the set­ting for that time-trav­el­ing drama. The se­ries hasn’t got­ten into Prince Charles’ flight yet; Sea­son 2 ended just as the Bat­tle of Cul­lo­den started. The show’s been re­newed for two more sea­sons, but we don’t know a lot of de­tails on what’s com­ing. In real life, the prince, Charles Ed­ward Stu­art, who was the grand­son of the de­posed James II and was try­ing to win back the Bri­tish throne for the Stu­arts, es­caped gov­ern­ment troops aided by sev­eral High­landers in­clud­ing the brave Flora MacDon­ald who got him to Skye dressed as her maid.

If you are headed into the High­lands by way of In­ver­ness, you’re close to the Cul­lo­den Bat­tle­field and Vis­i­tor Cen­ter, which does a good job of ex­plain­ing the rise and fall of the doomed cam­paign. You can’t go far in Scot­land with­out find­ing a cas­tle, and Skye’s Dun­ve­gan Cas­tle is billed as the old­est con­tin­u­ously in­hab­ited cas­tle in Scot­land, home to the chiefs of Clan MacLeod for eight cen­turies. Open daily 10 am-5:30 pm. March 25-Oc­to­ber 15, ad­mis­sion to cas­tle and gar­dens about $16. For more is­land his­tory visit the Skye Mu­seum of Is­land Life in Kil­muir, which fea­tures a recre­ation of a High­land vil­lage. Open daily Easter-late Septem­ber. 9:30 am-5 pm Ad­mis­sion about $3.25.

Think Scot­tish cui­sine be­gins and ends with broth and hag­gis? You’re in for a sur­prise (not that there’s any­thing wrong with broth and hag­gis).

Skye boasts a va­ri­ety of din­ing choices in­clud­ing the Miche­lin-starred Kin­loch Lodge and The Three Chim­neys, which lost its Miche­lin star af­ter a change in chefs in 2015 but con­tin­ues to put out ex­cel­lent food. If you’re there for lunch, look for the Crispy Croft Egg starter, a per­fect mix of rich, dense egg and crisp crust.

On the drinks side, Skye has one drink dis­tillery, Talisker in Car­bost. And it’s the home of an­other Scots li­ba­tion, Dram­buie, now made in Glas­gow but first de­vel­oped and served at Skye’s Broad­ford Ho­tel in the 1870s. The liqueur, a blend of aged scotch, spices, heather honey and herbs, is said to be based on a recipe of the bonny prince him­self, who gave is­landers the se­cret to his pri­vate elixir in grat­i­tude for their help.

Get­ting there and get­ting around: A bridge con­nects Skye to the main­land, so the eas­i­est way to get to, and around, Skye is by car, ei­ther your own or on booked tours. Some is­land roads are sin­gle-track with places where you can pull over to let others pass.

Lodg­ing: B&B’s, ho­tels and self-cater­ing cot­tages. Rooms fill up quickly at high sea­son (spring and sum­mer) so book ahead.

Portree and boat trips: Skye’s largest town, Portree, has a su­per­mar­ket and other shops. It also has a vis­i­tor cen­ter (Bay­field House, Bay­field Road) with in­for­ma­tion on walks, at­trac­tions and boat trips. You can even ar­range a boat tour to the coast­line of El­gol, on the south­ern end of the is­land, home to a cave where the prince is said to have hid­den. No telling whether you’ll feel the pres­ence of High­landers gone. But keep an eye out for men in red coats. — AP

Photo shows the rocky south­ern coast­line of the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scot­land where Bonny Prince Char­lie is said to have found shel­ter in a cave dur­ing his flight from gov­ern­ment troops in 1746.

Din­ing & drams If you go...

A woman walks past a cairn com­mem­o­rat­ing the High­landers who died at the Bat­tle of Cul­lo­den in 1746 on Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scot­land. — AP pho­tos

This un­dated photo pro­vided by Visit Scot­land/Scot­tish View­point, shows Allt Dearg cot­tage, a unique old shep­herd’s cot­tage which is in an iso­lated po­si­tion un­der the Black Cuillin ridge on the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scot­land.

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