Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Week On Skye - The Storr and Portree

The Storr

Still with a bit of the hill walking bug from our adventure into The Cuillin yesterday, we headed up to the Trotternish peninsula in the north of the island with the intention of walking up into the The Sanctuary. That's the area also called Coire Faoin just beneath the cliffs of The Storr and we wanted to see the Old Man of Storr and the other ancient volcanic pinnacles that make the area seem like an almost alien landscape.

There's a good sized parking space on the A855, opposite the north end of Loch Leathan. This is just on the edge of the forest below The Storr and the normal route is by a reasonably good path leading off from to the north east end and which goes straight up through the trees and eventually on to the plateau itself.

However, we didn't fancy plodding up through trees on such a nice day. It's too hot and steamy and there's always the chance of cleg bites in that kind of environment and those can be pretty painful. Anyway, we opted to stay out on the hillside so we took the path leading off south-west which, as our little book suggested, skirted down round the edge of the forest but to be honest, it would have been much simpler just to have walked down the road before heading uphill as both routes enter the hillside at the same point. Once over a stile, there's a pretty good path leading up the western edge of the forest and all the way up into Coire Faoin, The Sanctuary itself, but it's a steep hike all the way up. It basically follows an old drystane dyke bounding the forest - sometime ouside it, sometimes inside.

Looking South From The Sanctuary

Once you get up there though, it's worth it for the views out to the west are stunning, looking out over the islands of Rona and Raasay to Wester Ross and the mountains of Torridon. Look south down Loch Leathan and you can clearly see The Cuillin as well, although the sun was reflecting off the clouds today and making it a bit too bright. Then there's Coire Faoin itself, surrounded by the high cliffs of The Storr and filled with the most amazing looking rock pinnacles. Walking along the path through these eventually leads to one of the island's most famous landmarks, The Old Man Of Storr, a 165 foot high spike of rock that appears in almost every postcard of Skye.

We didn't see the point of continuing on up the path and onto the summit of The Storr as the views wouldn't have been much better with the cloud so bright and the distance just too hazy. So we scrambled about a bit around the pinnacles and then lazed around on a grassy slope, having lunch and listening to someone playing a guitar. Yes, they'd hauled it all the way up the hill! If you're the fidgety kind and can't lie about for long, there's plenty of areas of Coire Faoin to poke around in but take notice of the signs warning you off on the path going around the back of the Old Man as it does look like a pretty unstable area, full of boulders that have fallen off of the cliffside.

The Storr

It was a nice place to just lie in the sun but all good things come to an end and we took the easier and much straighter route back to the car park going back down and it was surpisingly quick to descend.


On the way back down the road, we stopped in at Portree, the island's capital, for a look around and hoping for tea and a scone. It's a fairly bustling little place, full of tourists and with plenty of B&B and hotels.

It's an old place with plenty of history. It used to be known as Kiltraglen until it was invaded by King James V and his fleet of warships in 1540 in an effort to persuade the clans to his cause. Of course they had very little choice in the matter against such a force and henceforth the town was called Port an Righ or King's Port.

There's a nice wee harbour and I'm sure it's fairly photogenic if you're approaching it from the sea but I couldn't see a view I really liked from the shore side. We had a bit of stroll about and got lost trying to follow the signs for the public toilet around Somerled Square as they're completely misleading. Anyway, we eventually found them and then paid a visit to the local supermarket for some supplies. Needless to say, we found somewhere selling tea and scones as well so with those scoffed, we headed back down to Fiskavaig for the evening.

The weather report for tomorrow isn't looking so great so perhaps we'll do a troll round the tourist shops and galleries.

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