Thursday, September 5, 2013

Making the Most of Bad Weather on the Isle of Skye

We are no strangers to the moodiness of Scottish weather. There is a reason why plant life thrives here and everything is vibrantly green: It rains...a lot. Most of the time, in fact. Aberdeen is actually one of the driest areas in Scotland, but as you head West, the annual precipitation values go way up. 

We are familiar with the old Scottish adage, ‘There is no bad weather, only bad gear.’ But I am hear to tell you that sometimes there actually is bad weather. Sometimes the weather makes it physically impossible to enjoy yourself outdoors. And sometimes this weather makes an appearance during your 2 day stint of Scottish vacation on the Isle of Skye. 
When we arrived on Skye, the rain was pouring down, and the wind was blowing it sideways making it feel more like hail than rain.  This was different than the usual Scottish breed of rain which usually involves short periods of misting, followed by periods of sunshine which leads to plentiful rainbow sightings. That sort of rain would have made our 3 mile round trip hike to the fairy pools doable. 

As it was, we kept seeing walkers arrive back to the carpark soaking wet and looking absolutely miserable. Misery wasn’t what this baby-moon was about, and since Jonathan was taking it easy due to his bum foot and I was taking it easy due to the 4.5 lb human currently residing in my abdomen, hiking in the storming rain in a fog so dense it decreases your visibility to about 5 feet just didn’t sound like a fun time to us.
So we skipped it and decided we’d try again on Sunday. Flash forward to Sunday and, if possible, the weather was even worse. We had a few things on the itinerary that we wanted to see while on Skye, including a few ‘easy’ hikes. Since I’d already seen the Fairy Pools when I came to the Island last September with April, I decided to lessen the priority of that particular walk and instead set my sights on The Old Man or Storr and the Fairy Glens. The Old Man of Storr hike was closest to our B&B so we decided to start there. 

When we arrived at the carpark, there was a slacking in the rain so we grabbed our equipment and headed up the hill. I was under the impression that it was a fairly easy climb, and maybe in good conditions it is, but the conditions we had were pretty horrendous. The wind was the worst part, howling by us at at least 40 mph and only increasing in force as we got higher up the mountain. The path was slick and wet making both Jon and I nervous that we might slip and injure ourselves in our fragile states. 
I started feeling apprehensive when we came across a Ranger who pointed out the geological formation to us ahead. He warned, ‘It’s windy up there.’ and my apprehension grew that conditions were going to get worse before they got better. Still, he encouraged us to keep going and that the views would be worth it. 
About 2 minutes later the rain started pelting down and we scrambled to get our camera into it’s waterproof baggie before proceeding with the climb. 

We already decided we weren’t going to attempt the summit, but just wanted to get close enough to get a good photo and call it a day. Unfortunately, by the time we reached a good photo op elevation, the fog has rolled in and greatly diminished the view of The Old Man of Storr, but at this point we were so wet and cold and miserable from the pounding rain and wind that we just wanted to get down the hill and back into the car. 
You would think that going down would be easier than climbing up, but on such a slick day, it was much more treacherous to descend. I was worried about Jonathan the whole time due to his recovering foot fracture and he was worried about me slipping as well. We agreed to each just be careful and concerned with ourselves since it was way too dangerous to be focused on each other while getting down. 
Once we got down to the car we were both bad news bears. We instantly resolved that our hiking for the remainder of our time on the Isle of Skye was over and that we required a nice warm drink before we could continue with our sight seeing. We had a brochure for an Artist’s Café and gallery just a bit up the road in Ellishadder so decided to head there. 

Along the way, we saw signs for Kilt Rock so I pulled in to take some photos. Jonathan was still so grumpy that he decided that he’d wait in the car while I braved the elements to get the perfect shot. 

I even captured some video for him to get the full experience. Notice the bird struggling against the force of the wind.
After the detour we pulled into the Ellishadder Artists’ Café and warmed up by the fire with Peruvian Coffee and scrumptious hot cocoa. The main artists featured in the café are Maggie and Stuart Quigley. They were both present while we were there and were nice enough to chat with us a bit about their work. Jon and I both really love Stuart’s impressionistic landscape style, and though we didn’t buy any artwork while we were there, we have his info in case we want to order a particular piece down the line. 
'Trees and Moor 1', acrylic and pastel.
I did buy a necklace made with seaglass found on the beaches of Skye, so we didn’t leave souvenir- less. 
The warm hot cocoa and coffee were just what we needed to get us back into our good attitude/explorer mode and we spent the rest of the day pulling over to the side of the road to take photos and visiting artist’s galleries and shops.

We also swung by the Talisker Distillery for Jonathan to scoop up a souvenir of his own. Due to our experience on Skye, he choose the appropriately named Talisker 'Storm' edition.
The last stop of the day before dinner was SkyeSkyns which is a ‘wool-on’ leather tannery famous for their sheepskin rugs. My parents have some rugs from this very tannery and we’ve always loved them. I knew I couldn’t go to Skye without scooping up a few for myself. First we listened to a demonstration on how the rugs are made and then we were sent up to the shop for a looksee. 

We ended up buying one smaller rug for our downstairs bathroom. This will come in handy when I’m bathing baby or the dogs in the tub since it gives me a soft padded surface to kneel on. 
We also bought a larger super fancy and soft merino wool one for the baby’s nursery. I’ve been looking for a rug to place beside the crib and this will be the perfect fit. 
Like wearing Ugg slippers:)
Our dogs are already trying to claim both rugs for their own, so we have to be strict about letting them know that these are not dog beds. 

We said the same thing about our French Linen chairs… 

We finished out or last day on Skye with dinner at the famous Three Chimney’s Restaurant, but that experience deserves a post all its own. Stay tuned…


  1. Don't post this. Hopefully you will get no "fan mail" from PETA. Loved the blog.

  2. Ha! Sideways rain. Oh yes. This is very normal on the west of Scotland. It's so crazy isn't it?! You get totally soaked!

    Even though it wasn't the trip you expected it still looks amazing. A good drive in the rain is nice. My husband and I did a road trip all the way through the highlands up to Thurso. It was a lot of driving but the scenery was gorgeous and a great opportunity for us to talk.

    Love the rug!! I think I need one for my parents for Christmas! They'd love it!

  3. Love that necklace! Glad you made the most of the weather.