The steps throughout the castle are extremely narrow. The passages and rooms meander and include many interesting nooks and crannies. Some are only a little bigger than a window seat. We toured the bedrooms upstairs and the kitchens downstairs.
Here is the official website http://www.eileandonancastle.com/
Flora MacDonald is probably one of the most famous Scottish women in history for the role she played in helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after the Battle of Culloden. She dressed him up as her maid and smuggled him to safety. She was imprisoned for a short time then released. She moved to North Carolina where she and her husband played a part in the American Revolutionary War, but moved back to Skye before her death. Her grave is in Kilmuir Cemetery, a short walk from the crofters' village and we visited it. Her grave is marked by a tall Celtic cross. The whole area is beautiful and haunting. It is almost like a trip to the past. We saw a friendly bunny rabbit snuggled down in these flowers. Doesn't he look cold? (It was cold!)
The sun peeped out a few times on this day! It had been DAYS since we had seen the sun. Anyway, see how the sun makes the green more vibrant?
My last glimpse of Isle of Skye and Kyle of Lochalsh from the Skye Bridge the next morning.
Here we saw a dog earning his living herding sheep. This is the first time I'd seen this done in real life (not for show.) Very cool. I learned that the blackfaced sheep were the original ones traditionally raised by Highlanders. Isn't this one cute?!
A famous quote from Alexander Smith (1865) from "A Summer in Skye" captures the place perfectly: "Through the window I beheld the spectral castle, the sea upon which the light was dying…and seated here in the remotest corner of Skye…girt by walls of cliffs and the sounding sea…I confess to have been conscious of a pleasant feeling of strangeness, of removal from all customary conditions of thought and locality, which I like at times to recall and enjoy over again."
Here you can learn lots more history of Duntulm.
Our first stop on June 25 was the Talisker Whisky Distillery (the only whisky distillery on Skye). This whisky is known for its above average peat content, and "salty" (or "spicy") character. It sells well but the high phenol level and distinct taste may prove "challenging" for the casual whisky drinker. Additionally, the water used for production, from Cnoc nan Speireag, flows over peat which adds additional peatiness to the whisky. It's also dark in color. Both Johnnie Walker and Drambuie (a liqueur, not a whisky) use Talisker as a component of their blended drinks; its presence is most notable in Walker's Green Label 15 Year Old Pure Malt.
We spent the afternoon touring the Trotternish peninsula. This was my favorite part of the day because Skye is such a fantastically beautiful place, the perfect setting for myths and legends! One of our first stops was the Old Man of Storr (above). The area in front of the cliffs of The Storr is known as The Sanctuary. This has a number of weirdly shaped rock pinnacles, the remains of ancient volcanic plugs. One of the most famous of these is known as The Old Man of Storr. When we stopped, a fast mist was moving in front of and behind the rock formation. Here's one I took once the mist moved by. It seemed like the clouds had come down to earth for a visit.
The distillery was built in 1830 by Hugh & Kenneth MacAskill, and expanded in 1900. The distillery was nearly destroyed by fire in 1960, however five exact replicas of the original stills were constructed to preserve the original Talisker flavor. Talisker was a favorite whisky of writers Robert Louis Stevenson and Henry Vollam Morton.It was TOO early in the morning (9am) for me to partake of the free whisky sample, but several of the tour members enjoyed the drink. The tour was really interesting and we learned all about how whisky is made. It's a long complicated process. This lovely old three arched stone bridge is no longer used for traffic. It's located in Sligachan at the head of Loch Sligachan along the main road between Broadford and Portree. The Cuillin Mountains are in the background.
We had lunch in Portree (above) the capital of Skye. This is a nice historic town. I spent most of my time here in a restaurant and in the post office, where I waited in line to exchange money.
We stopped at Kilt Rock (above) during a gale, the first I've been in. The wind was blowing really hard and the rain was sideways. But dedicated sightseer and photographer that I am, I put my hood on tight and braved the storm. Because of the strong force of the wind blowing in off the sea from the Sound of Raasay and The Minch, I could hardly get close enough to the rail to take a photo of the waterfall and Kilt Rock. The wind kept blowing me back. It was almost like the tropical storm I was in once. On the way back to the bus, I thought the wind would literally blow me off my feet. It was a nice fun adventure!
We ate lunch at a restaurant at Inverewe then headed on toward Isle of Skye. We passed many lochs including Loch Maree. We traveled over the Skye Bridge and stopped for photos, then headed toward our hotel in Broadford. (See the lighthouse beneath the bridge?) The wind was blowing so hard out here and it was freezing cold. But we still went outside and explored around the hotel and took a walk down the street to a park and across a bridge. Broadford is a really small town and the scenery is gorgeous. With the wind, it was about the same temperature here as it was in Orkney and I needed 5 layers of sweaters/jackets. We stayed two nights on Isle of Skye.
After leaving Sango Bay and the Durness area in North West Sutherland, we traveled south that afternoon toward Ullapool in the Wester Ross region. We passed through some amazing and beautiful scenery in this part of the Highlands.
We saw the ruins of the 16th century Ardvreck Castle. If you squint you can see it. The driver wouldn't stop and I was on the opposite side fo the bus, sooo I was lucky to get this tiny glimpse.
The roads through this area were mostly one lane and very interesting. They have passing places here and there for vehicles to pull into if they meet another car. Sheep actually own the roads and control the traffic here (or at least they think they do.)
Below is a view out our hotel room window in Ullapool. It's a lovely small villiage and active fishing and ferry port that was built in 1788 by the British Fisheries Society.
The next morning, we left Ullapool for another scenic drive around Loch Broom and toward Gruinard Bay. Again lots of breathtaking views. The heavy mist added to the wonderful ambience.
I made a video slide show with music so you could see how beautiful this area is.
Or you can just look at a slideshow of the large photos if you want.