Kyle of Lochalsh

Jun 15, 2019 - Lord of the Glens

We sailed “over the sea to Skye” during breakfast, out of Loch Nevis, with the town of Mallaig on the mainland and the Isle of Eigg on our port quarter. An hour’s sailing brought us to the pierhead at Armadale on the Isle of Skye, the largest of the Hebridean islands, rich in history and with a varied landscape that has made it a mecca for hillwalkers. From our mooring, we could walk to the Clan Donald center where the excellent museum offered a revision course in some of the major themes in Scottish history covered on our voyage—the arrival of the Gaels from northern Ireland to the Hebrides in the middle of the first millennium, the coming of Christianity from Ireland, the establishment of the medieval thalassocracy known as the Lordship of the Isles. There was time to enjoy the gardens, filled with many specimens brought back to Scotland by the Scottish plant hunters of the early 19th century.

Over lunch we sailed between Skye and the mainland, navigating the treacherous tidal race of Kyle of Lochalsh, the narrowest point between Skye and the mainland where, before the Skye Bridge opened in 1992, a short ferry ride connected them. A railway was constructed from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness—quite an engineering feat, particularly in the latter stages when the railway had to be chiselled through hard rock. At Kyle we had two afternoon options. One group visited the much-photographed Eilean Donan castle, the ancestral home of the McCrae clan. The castle had been attacked from the sea during the short-lived Jacobite rebellion of 1719. A second group hiked on the trail in the direction of Plocton and enjoyed spectacular views of the Cuillin mountains.

We gathered in evening sunshine for our Farewell Dinner, enlivened by the piping in of the haggis and the traditional “Address to the Haggis” composed by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. After dinner, we were entertained by two traditional musicians playing the fiddle and concertina. An entrancing end to a wonderful voyage.

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About the Author

Eric Kruszewski

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

An editorial photographer and videographer based in Washington, D.C., Eric Kruszewski's multimedia work focuses on reportage and travel. His work is represented by National Geographic Creative, and he is a regular contributor to National Geographic's Image Collection.

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