Isle of Skye
September 17, 1996
We landed at the Glasgow airport and, a bit jet-lagged, got to our rental car, a red VW station wagon. After buckling in, we proceeded to drive to our first destination, the town of Portree. It took some getting used to, driving on the opposite side of the road, as well as the roads themselves being extremely narrow in places. Soon enough we were travelling over the recently-completed Skye Bridge, which traverses Loch Alsh and links Skye with the mainland.We eventually made it to the Bosville Hotel in time to join the rest of the Clan for dinner.
We had a spot of good weather while we were there, so we were able to explore Portree a bit. The area is notorious for heavy rain, but we were spared that, and we wandered the streets, taking in the water views and breathing the clean sea air.
September 22, 1996
Drum Castle, ancestral seat of the Irwin Clan. The castle is currently owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is open to the public during certain times of the year.
September 27, 1996
After driving for a time past hilly green fields, we topped a rise and were looking down at a stunning little town with a beautiful bay. This was Oban, and it turned out to be a most pleasant resort town, full of holiday-seekers enjoying a festive atmosphere and some much-appreciated sunshine. After checking in to the hotel, with a great view of the bay out the windows, we headed out to join the promenade of people sauntering along the main walkway along the water.
In the town itself we wandered about the streets, having lunch in a pub, and then strolling along the harbour and admiring the many boats. We also took in the Caithness Glass paperweight factory, where some great bargains were to be had for exquisitely crafted glasswork. Dinner was at a local restaurant, which offered medallions of venison as one of the specials. It was great.
September 28, 1996
The following morning we met down at the harbor, where we boarded a ferry that would take us on the first of a several-stage journey across the water, where we would ultimately end up on the small island of Iona. It was windy, grey and a bit cold as we pulled away from the harbor and out into the bay. A few straggling seagulls hovered near the ferry as we made our way toward the island of Mull, where we traded the boat for a bus. We were whisked across the island, from one side to the other, and found another ferry was waiting for us. Among the fishing boats and nets and the smell of fish in the receding tide, we walked up the gangplank and pulled away from the land, toward the considerably smaller island of Iona.
Iona's main attraction was an old church, Iona Abbey, with an accompanying cemetary with many old and elaborately carved headstones, including the 9th century St Martin's Cross, one of the best-preserved Celtic crosses in the British Isles. A number of prominent early Scottish kings are buried here. After exploring the Abbey we checked out the village bookstore, where I found a copy of The Luck of Roaring Camp by Bret Harte, of all things, and bought it for a pound as a souvenir. Then it was time to return to the first ferry, then the bus, then the next ferry, to be brought back to Oban as the sun was setting.
September 29, 1996
The trip came to its conclusion as we all boarded our various flights to our various homes.
“For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.”
― Robert Burns