Leaving Skye in 1996 we did a typically Australian thing to do: we drove to Aberdeen in a day! The locals all thought we were mad.
But before we go to Aberdeen we have to visit Plockton, the ancestral home of my husband’s family. My husband’s grandfather left home at the age of 14 to go to sea, and ended up in South Australia. Plockton was, historically, a fishing village. These days, apparently, there are few of the original descendants, but rather it has become popular with “incomers” such as artists and writers. We had afternoon tea with a local historian who turned out to be wintering in Plockton from his usual residence in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. Even the historian wasn’t local!
It is no wonder Plockton has become popular with artists; it is such a gorgeous place. Whitewashed cottages spread along the shore of Loch Carron with views out to the mountains of the Applecross Peninsula give it a charm you wouldn’t normally associate with a remote fishing village. In winter, the snow-capped mountains just add another dimension to the beauty. A walk up the hill overlooking the village allows a magnificent view of the village, loch and mountains. Truly breathtaking.
View from the hill above Plockton
View across Loch Carron towards Duncraig Castle, Plockton, Scotland
I have just discovered that you can go sea kayaking at Plockton – time for another trip!
“All age groups will be amazed at the breathtaking panoramic views of the Isle of Skye, Applecross and Torridon mountains and the adventure of reaching coral beaches only accessible by boat. Paddling over the clear waters around Plockton will enable young and old to appreciate the marine life below.” http://www.seakayakplockton.co.uk
For those of you who enjoyed the television series Hamish Macbeth, starring Robert Carlyle, you may be interested to know that the village of Loch Dubh in the series was actually Plockton. On one of our visits the side of the pub still had the sign ‘Loch Dubh’ painted on its wall.
“A far croonin’ is pullin’ me away
As take I wi’ my cromack to the road.
The far Coolins are puttin’ love on me
As step I wi’ the sunlight for my load.”
Road to the Isles, Songs of the Hebrides 1917
“Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be King
Over the sea to Skye”
Skye Boat Song, Songs of the North 1884
Traditionally the road to Skye has been a romantic one, but these days there is a large, modern bridge which opened in 1995 to take you quickly from the mainland. If you prefer something more romantic, scenic and adventurous there is another way. Head across to Fort William and then onto Mallaig where you can catch a car ferry to Armadale on Skye. The drive from Fort William is very pretty and the ferry trip is much more charismatic than the bridge. Just watching the crew manoeuvre the boat into the dock to allow the vehicles access is fascinating.
The road from Fort William.
The Skye ferry.
I have touched on Scotland with the seals, gannets, puffins and elusive otters. However Scotland is not just about the wildlife. My husband’s grandfather came from Scotland and it has always held a special allure for him.
Dunkeld,in Perthshire, is situated on the River Tay. We came here in July 2001; midsummer and peak tourist season, but the place was quiet. I just loved the cathedral, not for the cathedral itself, though, of course, it has its history and its merits, but for the location. The cathedral is separated from the River Tay by a verdant expanse of lawn. At this time of the year the grass was sprinkled with a carpet of exquisite tiny flowers. There was a bench down by the river and it was truly the most serene place I have ever encountered. The sun glistened on the water, and the Tay, which was quite shallow at this point, burbled away. A great spot just to relax, or to contemplate the meaning of ‘life, the universe and everything’.