Scotland, Europe, the world
Surrounded by the Cuillin:
'.'.".'.".".’ HIGHI AND? RE i [)OM (10M
he Isle of Skye is not exactly close. as the RAC route planner rightly pointed out: approximately six and half hours
drive from lidinburgh to our destination of
Portrce. And just a weekend to do it in. So at 5.30am. bags packed. we set off to enjoy what we hoped would be a relaxing break.
With Edinburgh‘s cityscape soon disappearing from view. the drive up north was an experience in itself. From the pretty villages of Doune and Callander to the awesome blue/black silhouetted mountain peaks of the Ben Nevis Range. any thoughts of sleep deprivation quickly waned as the sheer beauty of the landscape unfolded. The further north we travelled. the more dramatic the views. Approaching Shiel Bridge. the Five Sisters mountains of Kintail dominated the horizon. And just before reaching the Skye Bridge. we passed one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. liilean Donan Castle at Dornie.
()ur early morning start paid off as we reached our hotel in time for lunch. A chance to unwind and take in the stunning views overlooking The Cuillins and the harbour where the pink. blue and white fronted houses glistened in the sunlight. Portree. just a short
walk from our hotel. has the usual array of
shops and bars as well as the Aros lixperiencc. a heritage centre and venue for traditional music concerts. arts events and weekly films. The An Tuircann Arts Centre is also well worth a visit. Along with a selection of applied
124 THE LIST 4 -18 Oct 2001
The thought of a quiet, relaxing, romantic weekend away makes most people head for the nearest airport but staying closer to home is pleasantly surprising. Words: Helen Monaghan
arts. the centre houses two light and airy exhibition spaces for contemporary art.
Feeling suitably relaxed and refreshed after a good night‘s sleep. next on our agenda was a tour of the Trotternish Peninsula in the north of the island. Described as Skye‘s finest coastal scenery. it's not hard to see why. Ahead
The further north we travelled, the more dramatic the views
of us. the impressive rocky spike of the Old Man of Storr and to the right. the Isle of Raasay providing the perfect place for a photo- stop. It is also a great place to spot Skye's population of golden eagles — keep a watchful eye over the ridge of the hills — although we only managed to spot its fellow predator the buzzard. The route then takes you to the pleated rock formations of Kilt Rock and Mcalt Falls. the spectacular Quirang offering dramatic hill walking for the more adventurous. and to the castle ruins of Duntulm. At Kilmuir is the linal resting place of Flora Macdonald and the Museum of Island Life. a collection of thatched cottages recreating crofting life.
Making our way back to Portree. we stopped off for lunch at the Skeabost Country House Hotel. This l9th century secluded
house set in beautiful grounds complete with golf course and trout and salmon river is currently being restored by its new owners. The transformation is already in evidence with the individually styled rooms. billiard room and grandiose oak-panelled dining room. Employing the same attention to detail. the buffet lunch of local. fresh and organic produce was creative and beautifully presented in the soon-to-be-converted conservatory. And if that was anything to go by. we could only imagine what the six—course evening meal would have to offer.
We then headed south for a glass bottomed boat trip in Broadford Bay. Apart from the grey seals and cormorants. the sea’s hidden depths only revealed a couple of starfish and plant life. And as one fellow passenger told me about her trip to the Barrier Reef last year. it wasn‘t hard to feel disappointed. Back on dry
land. we then set off to our final destination of the weekend. In the small bay of the Isle of ()rnsay sits the l9th century Hotel Eilean larmain with expansive views of the Sound of Sleat and the hills of Knoydart on the mainland. It is also the hub of this small community with its adjoining bar the venue for locals and tourists alike.
Gazing up at the red-tinged sky. we felt completely rid of the stresses of city life. Skye's unrushed and friendly atmosphere has almost certainly rubbed off. Who needs Paris'.’
The List visited The Cuillin Hills Hotel, Portree, 01478 612003, www.cuiIlinhills.demon.co.uk;
Hotel Eilean larmain, 01471 833332, www.eileaniarmain.co.uk;
Skeabost House Hotel, 01470 532 202. Boat trip was with the Family’s Pride II, 01471 822037.
I For more details of/mlirluys in Smlluml (‘()lll(l('l g)‘t’g./111I‘I(ﬂ‘/1().vt.('().Mk or (‘u// ()I‘)‘)7 4230/5: ti'u‘u‘.(’M'upt’IUI/It'r'r/gr'.tmil/v