This past weekend took me to the spectacular Isle of Skye on the west coast of Scotland with my Cross Country team. Every year we do a little weekend trip somewhere farther away from our East Fife home to experience some of Scotland’s natural wonders. The three days we spent on the usually stormy Hebridean Isle were, instead, blessed with golden sunshine and puffy clouds drifting lazily across the sky.

This extinct volcano is an iconic attraction, affording visitors a brilliant view across to Torridon on the mainland.
This extinct volcano is an iconic attraction, affording visitors a brilliant view across to Torridon on the mainland.

We arrived on Friday night after a long drive from St. Andrews; after dropping our stuff off at the hostel in Kyleakin we headed over to a local pub which was doing live music. The band was excellent, and we had a wonderful time dancing and singing with the locals and visitors alike.

We woke up on Saturday to the warm rays of a bright sun in an almost cloudless sky and headed out for a run on some Forestry Commission Trails around Glenbrittle. On a side note, if you are living in Scotland (or visiting for that matter) and are looking for a place to run or walk, I highly recommend checking out the Forestry Commission’s website if you haven’t already. They do an excellent job maintaining trails in woodland areas all across the country which are suitable for walking, running, and mountain biking, and details on these great locations can be easily found through their Find a Forest feature.

After finishing our run, we went over to swim in the Fairy Pools located just down the valley. These deep circular pools have been carved in the rock by the crystal clear (if freezing cold) waters that flow down from the Cuillin Ridge. After jumping into the frigid waters and languishing in the sun to dry off for a while, we returned to the cars to head north to see the Old Man of Storr and walk along the Trotternish Ridge. The steep walk up the the Old Man rewarded us with incredible views across to the mainland, where we could see the prominent mountains of Torridon rising up against a crystal blue sky. We finished the day with a scenic drive around the northern end of the island before returning home.

A magnificent waterfall which flows from a small body of water over a steep cliff to join the sea.
A magnificent waterfall which flows from a small body of water over a steep cliff to join the sea.
Driving home as the sun sets on the Cuillin (right) and Red Hills (left) of Skye.
Driving home as the sun sets on the Cuillin (right) and Red Hills (left) of Skye.

Sunday brought us another beautiful day. We went for a shorter run on the roads and hills surrounding our hostel in Kyleakin. Our objective for the day was to visit a neat cave on the coast near Elgol. Spar Cave is only accessible around low tide, unless you have a boat, so we had to keep to a rather tight schedule. After a wonderful, if misguided drive around the coast we eventually found the location of the cave, walking through a field and scrambling down a muddy path the to shoreline where we found the entrance to the cave tucked away at the end of a narrow canyon between two steeply rising cliff faces. The interior was absolutely stunning! As our eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness we began to make out the incredible rock formations illuminated by our lights. The twisted shadows of delicate stalactites and stalagmites dances around the corners of our eyes as we climbed up a steeply sloping mountain of ghostly white flowstone. The accessible part of the cave ended in a small lake at the base of the mountain of flowstone.

Approaching the cave through the narrow breaks in the coastal cliffs.
Approaching the cave through the narrow breaks in the coastal cliffs.
Neat rock formations surround the entrance to the cave, but they pale in comparison to the interior. Sadly my lights and camera were not sufficient to capture any adequate pictures.
Neat rock formations surround the entrance to the cave, but they pale in comparison to the interior. Sadly my lights and camera were not sufficient to capture any adequate pictures.

Satisfied with our brief speleological expedition, we rested in the sun an the bluffs and watched the tide come in before beginning the long journey home.

Team picture with the Cuillin in the background. (Yes it is a
Team picture with the Cuillin in the background. (Yes it is a “selfie stick”, please don’t judge me.)

Tune in next week for Skye-wards Part 2. when I return to the island with the Mountaineering club, and much less pleasant weather.

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