Clan Donald Centre & Kyle of Lochalsh

Aug 24, 2019 - Lord of the Glens


We left last night’s mooring in Inverie shortly after breakfast and headed due west to the Isle of Skye and the Clan Donald Centre, the spiritual home of the worldwide Clan Donald. The crossing was smooth and sunny, and the short walk from our berth in southern Skye to the center was short and quiet. The gardens in this ancient place are huge in terms of acreage and the range of flora is extensive, with plants typically found in much warmer climes flourishing in profusion.

The Clan Donald, at one time, were known as Lords of the Isles due to the enormous sea kingdom they controlled, stretching from Orkney in the north to the Isle of Man in the south, encompassing almost the entire west coast of Scotland. The museum displaying and interpreting this lengthy and complex history was excellent and we could have spent so much more time there.

But we still had more to see and experience on our last full day. So, during lunch, we left Skye and sailed along the eastern coastline to arrive at our final mooring spot in Kyle of Lochalsh. There was a choice after lunch: a short coach ride to the famous, much-filmed and photographed Eilean Donan Castle or an equally short ride, but in a minivan, to Balmacara Crofting Estate, owned and run by the National Trust for Scotland. Our guide for Balmacara explained the complex (and very ancient) system of not just farming the land but truly maintaining and sustaining the whole landscape, which is what crofting is. We had a good two-hour walk through some of the most scenic views in western Scotland and learned a lot about the crofters, their crofts, and how it could be argued that crofting is the last remnant of the old Highland clan system of living and working.

However, all too soon, it was time to board the transportation and return to the ship for the unpleasant but necessary routine of packing for flights home! Dinner was, as always, excellent—and this time included that mysterious beastie known as haggis. We heard a passionate and humorous version of the poem Address to the Haggis, written by Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns.

Finally, two local musicians played a set of Scottish tunes and songs before we retired for the night and our last evening on board Lord of the Glens. As they say in Scotland, “Haste ye back!”

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About the Author

Steve Blamires

Expedition Leader

Steve Blamires is from Arran on the west of Scotland, where the Celtic and Gaelic cultures are still strong.  Steve has traveled extensively on all seven continents, has circumnavigated the globe, and visited over 50 countries.  He now lives in New York State with his wife Jennifer.

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