Friday, June 17, 2016

17 June Staffin Bay, The Falls, Rubha nam Braithrean

17 June :

The plan -

Staffin Bay - search for dinosaur footprints. By A855, turn left along shore at sign " To The Beach / Staffin Slipway ". Park at carpark at end of road. Prints located at right side of slipway.

Check Staffin Tide table to locate dino prints.
Mealt Falls. A855 south from Staffin Slipway. Turn left at 'Valtos'.


What actually happened :

170616 Duntulm lookout, Staffin, Mealt Falls, Lealt Falls, Rubha nam Braitrean walk

If we thought yesterday was great, today was even better. Fantastic was insufficient to describe all that we took in with our eyes today.

After a simple breakfast, we set off to Uig to check out its most unhappening brewery. Businessmen have a special ability to make the place sound more exciting than it actually is and we fell into its trap.

After a couple of simple gifts and keepsakes, we hugged the northern coast of Skye. Our first stop was the Skye museum of island life. Its many boothies with thatched roofs stood overlooking the sea and offered the first of many great sights.

The weather was clear but very cold and very windy. My 2 layers of clothing and windbreaker provided little protection against the elements and I had to fight hard to ignore the biting cold.

We wondered around the working cemetery that interned Flora MacDonald, who helped  the Jacobite runaway Prince Charlie hide incognito in Isle of Skye for almost a year. Clearly there was lots of admiration of the lady from the epitaph.

We paid £2.50 each to check out the little museum. It provided respite from the wind as we darted from crofting house to crofting house. Displays were reasonably labeled with interesting anecdotes. I had earlier acquired a woolen  scarf  from the gift shop and kept smelling sheep poo, only to realize it came from near my neck! I fought hard to ignore the smell.

A short way down the road, we stopped by the Duntulm Castle lookout point. It was a popular spot, judging from the number of cars parked there. The walk was near a steep slope, terribly windswept and at points the high winds was so strong I had difficulty proceeding. Our ‘rigorous’ walk offered us views of the seas and rocky beaches with waves crashing on thousands of slabs of rocks . I suppose the difficulty was worth it.  

Now past noon, we pressed on to Staffin Slipway ,where we hoped to spot fossil dino footprints. The drive on A855 was challenging at some section because it was a single carriage way, cliff on our right and coast on our left.  Many times we had to give way on oncoming traffic , drive our way past blind corners or roads with hidden drops. 

After the post office, we made a sharp left at the sign that pointed to Staffin beach/ slipway  (gps 57.63115,-6.21844 ).  It was a windy ride past a cattle grid and bridge when the slipway ( on left ) greeted us. Of importance was that the location of the dino prints were a couple of meters before the slipway with a road sign bearing witness of its presence.

Huge boulders of compressed rock with a steep drop formed a forboding wall in front of the slipway, where it opened out to the sea. Green sea grass of all shades of brown and green carpeted the slabs of stones partially submerged in sea water ( at high tide ), some big and some enormous. A couple was exercising their dog by loping a ball into the sea. It was a scene that was repeated at every beach and the dogs seemed to enjoy it.

Everything was superlative in scale. We did not get to see the footprints and consoled ourselves with a picnic lunch. The intrepid three ate, perched on a huge boulder looking out at sea. It was an impossible feat to climb up the boulder so I ate on a very low rock that was part of a natural rock wall fronting part of the sea. It must have been just me, because I was the only person who complained of the bitter cold.

After making our own footprints in the black sand for laughs, we retraced our way to continue south to the Mealt Falls. It was a short ride down and carloads of visitors announced our destination.

The wind nearest the waterfalls was so strong it made the railings ‘sing’. The Falls made a crashing drop onto the rocks below. It merged with the sea forming swirling pools of green and blue and turquiose. Waves crashing, water hitting rocks, bars ringing in the wind - it was very deafening at the edge of the visitor bay. It was Kodak moments until a busload of noisy Chinese tourists made us leave. 

Now many hours since our convenience break, we stopped by Glenview Hotel where we had our pies and coffees in Pie in the Skye Café. What can I say but, the food was good, came in generous portions, the décor cute ( ceilings come with themes - hanging cups or bike wheels etc ) and the place was cozy.

Before we headed south to the Lealt Falls, we followed a little public footpath that was opposite Pie in the Skye. It was one of the most delightful walks of this trip, totally secluded and void of tourists. The walk all 0.8km of it , was a decent descend to Rubha nam Braithrean, a stony bay with crashing waves and azure skies and mountain ranges in the distant. We tromped through sheep and ewes, avoiding sheep poo that littered the path and beyond. No amount of words could describe the beauty of the place, the sea that opened up as we made our downward walk to the shores.

And in true Asian style, we took wefies and selfies and did jump shots to celebrate the majesty of the place.

The reverse trip back to the car at the hotel was tough on my old knees but it was a small price to pay to see the wonder of God’s hands.

Onward to our final destination, the Lealt Falls, we followed the folks before us and traced the narrow footpath to a clearing and a lookout point where the sea and land kissed each other, turquoise waves made whirlpools and sprayed sea breezes to the nearby diatomite ruins. That scene was totally unexpected. Had it not been for my extreme fear for heights and the high winds, we would have pushed on a further hundred meters to the ruins down at the ‘cliff’.

Now already 5.30pm, we had already been out for almost 7 hours in the open with short respite from the elements in a museum and a café.  So off we go, to wrap up the day in the style of the Chow family at the Co-op off Portree.

On the way, we had a foretaste of the mighty Quirang and the Old Man of Storr at our right. A tidy line of cars indicated that lots have not completed their walk in the mountain for the day.

A frentic shopping trip for grocery and we were soon back at the chalet. By 7.15pm, a hefty piece of lamb shoulder and lots of veg were in the oven, baking in full blast.

What a glorious day! The sun remained high in the sky way past dinner ( did I mention the meal was sumptuous?s). Summer solstice comes next week and we are enjoying the approaching of the longest day of the year with clear skies and bright sunshine.

More than thankful, I hope the next day will be just as wonderful. Majestic doesn’t quite describe the views we saw and the works of God’s hands are incomprehensible with our tiny minds. I believe that feeling will remain like that for a while, a sense of awe and an overwhelming respect at the product of God’s hands.

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