Skye: Dunvegan Castle, Portree, and the Interior (Day 13)

We awoke to a lovely view of the water from our camper.  After a porridge breakfast (a huge hit with the kids!), we were off to Dunvegan Castle, home to the chief of the Clan McLeod for several hundred years.  It was a cloudy day with no breeze — perfect midge weather.  Despite the midges we chose to visit the castle gardens first, as it seemed preferable to mingling with the loud Italian tour group going into the castle.  We walked briskly through the lovely, extensive gardens trying to keep ahead of the insects.  There was a round formal garden, a lovely walled garden with many sections, some vegetable patches, some perennial gardens, roses, vines, fruit trees, etc.  There was also a really beautiful water garden, with shade-loving plants spread throughout a little wooded glen with a burn trickling through.  The kids enjoyed leading us over the many wooden bridges.  We even braved the woodland walk that took us up and down and around through the woods, with rhododendrons blooming all around (and midges circling).

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Then, the castle.  Parts were very old and parts quite new, with some of the oldest walls dating back to the 12th century.  It was a very proud place.  The MacLeod heritage was spelled out loud and clear throughout.  We saw the lock of hair supposedly given Flora MacDonald from Bonnie Prince Charlie as well as her corset and other personal items belonging to her.  We also saw the famous(?) “fairy flag”, and a genuine medieval claymore.  They had lovely scenes set up for us to explore in many rooms, the most interesting of which was the huge kitchen.  (Sadly, they didn’t allow photography inside the castle, so we can’t prove any of it.)  After visiting the castle, we ate lunch at the charming bakery in Dunvegan — “Skye’s oldest bakery”.  Brad tried a “Scotch pie”, which has spiced lamb mince in a shortcrust pastry shell.  I thought it was delish!

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We all enjoyed lunch and then headed on to Portree to explore the town and make plans for our Outer Hebrides adventure to come.  While there, we found the playground and let the kids blow off some steam.  Then we booked passage from Uig to Tarbert (on the Isle of Harris) on CalMac ferries at the tourist info center.  They were so very helpful!  Before leaving town, we walked out to the end of the quay in the cute little harbor and bought some fresh mackerel and herring to BBQ at our next campsite.

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From Portree we drove up toward Uig, gassed up there and familiarized ourselves with the ferry terminal, then drove up and over the Quairaing, part of the Trotternish Ridge.  We’d become accustomed to dodging sheep in the road, but it reached epic levels on parts of this drive!

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On the other side, we found a quiet, small campsite at Staffin with views from the top of the hill overlooking the Little Minch back to Wester Ross on the mainland.  We were once again treated to a sunny evening and even had a rainbow to enjoy for about an hour!  We savored our fresh fish (especially the mackerel) with both children eating hefty portions, and had a lazy evening.  The breeze kept the midges at bay and it didn’t start to get cold until very late when the sun finally disappeared from the sky.

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