Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Week On Skye - Eilean Donan, Commando Memorial and Home

It was our last day on Skye and time to say goodbye to Fiskavaig and Allt Ribhein, our home for the last week. So, once we'd packed and cleared up, we hit the road.

We driven down to Portnalong earlier in the week for a quick look around but it wasn't that memorable. It does have a small harbour and jetty but it's not very picturesque so the only things we noticed were the hotel and a small art gallery. We'd eaten in the hotel on Sunday so we thought we'd better visit the gallery before heading off. It's called The Little Gallery and has a fair selection of prints and watercolours so if you like that kind of thing, it's worth a visit. Lorna bought a couple of prints, one of Talisker Bay and the other a Sunset from Glen Brittle. We also spotted a watercolour of MacLeod's Tables that we liked but, being an original, it was a bit pricier. Anyway, we asked about the artist and he was based in Broadford and, since we were heading that way, we thought we'd nip in there and see if there was a print of it.

Ken Bryan is a photographer and artist based in the Three Herons gallery in Broadford and he'd painted the watercolour we were interested in back in Portnalong. His main focus is landscape photography so we were out of luck with a print of the watercolour so we ummed and aaaaghed a bit and bought the original, which then had to be shipped back home to Glasgow from Portnalong. I also bought a nice photograph of the Black Cuillin taken from the north in Trotternish, looking down Loch Leathan. I'll get it framed back in Glasgow and it'll make a nice gift for my mum and dad.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan

Instead of stopping off in Fort William on the way down the road, as we did on the way up, we dropped into the car park at Eilean Donan Castle for a pack lunch and a rest in the sun. We've been in the castle before so, given the excellent weather, we didn't fancy getting out of the sun so we gave it a miss and just lazed around on the grass for a while.

The current castle was restored between 1912 ands 1932 but the original dates back to the 13th century and was the seat of the MacRae Clan. There's a fair bit of history tied up with the castle so if you've never been, it's worth a visit.

Commando Memorial

Next stop was at the Commando Memorial just north west of Spean Bridge. It's a nice spot, located in moorland beside the A82 and there's a fair sized car park so it's another good place for a break. The three soldiers look out over the Leanachan Forest to the peaks of Aonach Mòr and Ben Nevis as this is where they trained and there are some fine views to be had.

It commemorates the elite fighting force set up in 1940 known as the Commandos. The plinth of the memorial records the Commando's motto "United We Conquer" and a plaque reads "In Memory of the Officers and men of the Commandos who died in the Second World War 1939 - 1945. This Country was their Training Ground."

Lorna's dad Jim, who passed away in May this year, served in the Commandos so it was a bit of a sad moment for us. I expect we'll think of him every time we pass this place. I liked Jim, he was a quiet man who spoke his mind, didnae suffer fools and often regaled us with tales from his army days and from his life as a farm worker. An immensely strong man in both body and mind - a great character and he'll be sadly missed.

Back on the road again, we got home in time for tea! We'll definitely be heading back to Skye again.

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