Jul 27, 2019 - Lord of the Glens
The misty morning had a characteristic Scottish gloom as we headed from Inverie to the Skye port of Armadale. The sea, however, was absolutely flat – like a mirror reflecting the hazy sky. With fantastic conditions, those of us on the bow before and after breakfast managed to spot five harbor porpoise, Manx shearwaters, common guillemots, harbor seals, and hundreds of jelly fish – moon and lion’s mane – drifting in the water column.
Once at Armadale, we left the ship for a scenic walk to the Clan Donald Centre. The center has beautiful grounds that we explored before heading into the museum. Plant hunters from the Victorian period traveled out across the world and brought rare and beautiful plants back to Scottish estates, such as Californian cypress trees, rhododendrons from the Himalayas, and other exquisite and exotic flowers. We admired all of these before heading inside to learn about the true, rich history of the Donald clan and the people of the Hebrides.
The Hebrides is a sea kingdom, a marriage of Norse and Celtic cultures. It is historically a place of great poetry, song, and art as well as skilled craft and engineering. In representation of this, the center was hosting a poetry trail featuring some of the greatest Hebridean poets such as Jacobite warrior Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair.
After a delicious lunch back aboard ship, we headed out for some more history at Kyle of Lochalsh. A kyle is a rushing, narrow passage of water, and these rushing narrows pass the small town of Lochalsh. From our new berth, we joined a bus and traveled to Eilean Donan Castle, the ancestral seat of the Macreas. The castle was in ruins for 200 years before a reconstruction by Farquar Macrea was completed in 1932.
Then we traveled across the Skye Bridge, back to Skye to visit one last castle – Castle Maol at Kyleakin. In stark contrast to Eilean Donan, Castle Maol was hit by lightning several years ago and is now a ruin, yet beautiful and original in its design.
We wrapped up a fantastic week in Scotland at the farewell party and enjoyed one last meal, during which our hotel manager, Brian, gave an impassioned address to the haggis.
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