Thursday, June 16, 2016

16 June Dunvegan castle and Claigan Coral beach

16 June :

The plan -

Visit Dunvegan Castle ( opens 10 am - 5.30 pm, £12 pax )

Drive A850 westwards from chalet to Dunvegan Castle ( 21 min ). 3-4 hour excursion.

Seal boat trips from Dunvegan Castle pier £7.50 ( for Castle visitors only ), 25 mins ??

Coral Beach ( Maerl shores ) off Claigan. North of Dunvegan Castle. Turn left at T-junction towards 'Coral Beach'. 

We leave Claigan by 6 pm.


160616 Wed A castle at Dunvegan and a coral beach at Claigan

16 June was not anything like the evening before.

We woke up , greeted by an overcast sky and howling winds. There was not even a bit of light from the cloud diffused heavens. From the kitchen window, a thick blanket of fog hovered high above the ground, unmoving.

I made breakfast while LH prepared our packed ham and cheese sandwich lunch. H was the cook's understudy. We had a leisurely start to Dunvegan castle via highway A850. The 30 min ride was soon extended when we stopped for more Kodak moments at various points including the little town of Dunvegan ( for a convenience stop ). LH was fascinated with 'The oldest bakery in Isle of Skye' and it merited a photograph. That stop later proved useful as we got familiar with the wee place.

Dunvegan castle has a sprawling garden and an impressive bay where we also had our seal trips out to sea. Entrance to the gardens and castle wasn’t cheap at £12 but the £7.50 seal trip turned out to be the most fun. 

Contrary to the reviews of TA members, I found the various garden delightful though they were not big. Except for some shady spots, we were spared of midges.

The view across the bay was the most impressive and we spent lots of time there , first for picnic lunch and later to rest while waiting for the seal ride.

Weather was finicky and changed constantly, windy with sun or windy with rain. It was impossible to enjoy the outdoors without a scarf round the neck; it was way too cold.

The castle tour was short and not well documented but it provided shelter when it drizzled outside. It was just 2 floors of old rooms with rather new furnishings ( and modern Chinese vases ! ), it didn’t feel very authentic. Of special note was the room where there was a little display of Prince Charlie’s vest, a gift grom Flora Macdonald who helped the Prince with the escape to Isle of Skye.

It was 6 people to a seal boat ride and we were pleased that we had waited. There were lots of seals and pups on the rock islets, blanketed thick with wrack. The seal's demeanor delighted all of us, as they lie sideways winking at us void of expressions. It was a slow day for most of the seals.

We wrapped up our visit to Dunvegan castle with a short tea break at the McCleod Café before continuing north to Claigan beach. Many folks knew of this 'hidden gem' . At the little pebbly lane before the kissing gate we encountered a mini traffic jam. 

It was a very slow walk past 2 kissing gates which kept in the cows in the beach area. The 1.8km walk to the Coral beach had varied terrain. It started out grassy, then turned sandy and rocky before it became pebbly. We saw the sea from a high elevation, first amused by the cows that ambled by us and later by the many seals that did somersaults near the shore.

We were rewarded with a short stretch of beach at the end of the walk. This section was carpeted by maerl or calcified seaweed. Beyond the beach, the water turned from pale turquoise to deep blue. It was a lovely view to behold and we spend many moments taking photos. 

To add to the sight, many rabbit burrows opened out towards the beach and grey bunnies scrambled into the holes when excitement over me and I squealed. I have never thought cows and rabbits actually existed near the sea. It was quite a learning moment.

We walked back to the car, another 1.8km. Many folks came and went but the mood was one of respectful seriousness. Nature was well respected here and I was the only disturbing the peace with my oohs and ahhs.

We dropped by Dunvegan town for a convenience break and retraced our way back. Not exactly en-route, because we dropped by Co-op for more snacks.

Dinner was even more elaborate and clearly we had more food than we could handle. The fridge was out of skew and our fruits were frozen and mushy – which was very sad.

Were I to note what we ate, it would have been too many to write. Not everything was successfully done but the mains ( chilli con carne ) and fruity salads were quite popular.

The clouds hung over the mountains and plains like a dirty dishrag. There would be no sunset to be excited about and it felt more like winter in November than summer in June.

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