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Skye - Reflections

It was with great anticipation that I steered my car over the Skye road bridge and into Kyleakin. The last time I’d visited I’d been a passenger and it had been easier to take in the sights. This time I had to focus more on the road. That said, as is typical for this part of the world the weather wasn’t particularly welcoming and low cloud reduced the sightseeing possibilities anyway.

I did an island tour and tried to get my bearings on the place again, pulling over now and then to take a few photos. There were things I instantly recognised but others that didn’t chime with my memories. It felt good to be back but the magic was holding out on me.

The Red Cuillins, from Sligachan

I noticed this phenomenon on my Spanish tour. Sometimes it would take a day or two before I got into the fabric of a place and really felt its essence. Some places, like Bilbao or Valencia, hit you straight between the eyes, but others demand more of your time before yielding up their charms. I’d felt an immediate love for Skye back in 1995 but the vibe wasn’t quite there now. Low cloud and general dankness weren’t helping and neither was a mounting frustration that things weren’t wholly as I’d remembered them.

It wasn’t really until the second day that it happened. The weather was brighter and I’d got my bearings on the place. An impromptu walk to the Old Man of Storr was the unlikely catalyst that finally broke the ice between me and the Isle of Skye. The rest of the day passed in a magical haze. Was it the reflected bliss of nostalgia? A little, perhaps, but there’s no doubt in my mind that there is something very special about this place too. I was an exhausted but happy traveller when I got back to the mainland and my hotel.

My first visit, 21 years previously, had been at a pivotal moment in the island’s history. The completion of the bridge has brought about a quantum leap in tourism. Everywhere I went was thronged by bus loads of visitors, from all corners of the world. A double edged sword I’m sure. It’s no longer possible to visit Skye’s wonderful places and find yourself there alone. That’s a shame of course but, for the time being at least, the charm remains. Yes, I still think Skye is my favourite place on Earth.

But I’m moving on again – and my drift northwards continues. Next stop, John O’Groats.



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