Wednesday 30 July 2014

Is Skye Busy In Summer?

The short answer to that question is, 'yes'. Most bed and breakfasts have 'no vacancies' signs outside, and the majority of self catering cottages are occupied. Visitors may have to queue for a table in eating places. Parking space at popular visitor locations can be difficult to find.

Unfortunately, we are beginning  to hear complaints from visitors that Skye is 'too crowded'. I have two solutions for people who prefer to have Skye to themselves...

Firstly - don't come in July or August. These are by far the busiest months. The weather is usually much the same in June or September, but everywhere is a little quieter. If you really want it quiet - come in winter - the scenery will still be here, though the summer greens will have been replaced by winter browns. One word of warning - don't expect all the eating places and paid-for attractions to be open if you come in the depths of winter (though some will be open) .

Secondly - if you have to come in peak season, don't go to the places where everyone else goes. Skye is not just beautiful in a few places, it is beautiful all over. Take a chance and explore, or do some research and seek out the quieter spots in advance of your visit. I'm always happy to pass on my suggestions of places I call 'Secret Skye'. I'm posting a just few 'Secret Skye' photos below, most taken in July and August. Can you spot any people...??...!

Camas a' Mhòr-bheòil - Braes Beach
Bharcasaig Beach, Orbost
Bearreraig Bay - sorry, a winter picture, but very few people go there in summer!
Glen Brittle Forest
Loch Losait, near Gillen
Biod Bàn, near Neist Point - yes, there is someone in this picture - it's Sue!

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Eerie morning call

It's 7.30am, and I'm taking Cupar for his morning walkies. There I am, sleepily wandering along the local traffic-free road taking in the fabulous morning, the wild flowers, the waving grasses and the occasional bleating sheep, when I suddenly hear this...

(sorry... Blogger no longer seems to allow i-frame sound clips! You can find the clip on Wikipedia, click here )

I am immediately rather more awake! I have never heard anything like it before. Is it a bird? Some kind of animal? Or a 'visitation' from some ghostly spirit...??? The sound continues, seeming to come from various different places, but I can't see anything moving. The twittering pipets, warblers and stonechats continue to flit about unperturbed. I stand still and hold my breath to listen more carefully. The sound continues every 20 seconds or so for several minutes, gradually getting further away.

I get back home and get onto Google. It's amazing how quickly answers can be found these days - just a few well chosen search terms later, and I discover my eerie sound is none other than part of the courtship display flight of a Snipe. The sound is made by the male, vibrating special tail feathers as it flies. It is generally referred to as 'drumming'. Fantastic!! I'd love to see one, as well as hear it. They apparently display in the very early mornings, so I will be paying more attention when I take Cupar out tomorrow!

Drumming Snipe - picture from the RSPB

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Forest walkies

Sue is currently away on one of her trips south to visit her Mum and friends, so I am left on my own to cope with all the holiday visitors and the cleaning and laundry... This is the last time I'll have quite such a daunting task, as we close the Barn's 'Bed and Breakfast With a Difference' in October prior to the start of the re-conversion of  the building. Not having visitors upstairs will reduce the workload considerably!

But it's not all 'nose to the grindstone'. I still get to walk Cupar, and with the weather being fine yesterday afternoon, I took the opportunity to take him up one of the tracks in nearby Greshornish Forest. There were footprints of red deer everywhere, and Cupar's nose and ears were in the air, so I was forced to keep him on his lead for most of the walk, but we still enjoyed a lengthy trek, and both slept well last night!

Here's a few of my pictures from the afternoon. Sorry - none include Cupar!

Ruins of a long-abandoned settlement (among the bracken)
Forest and view to Trotternish
The track
View to the distant Cuillin

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Garden Visitor

...actually, this chap may well be a garden resident. I disturbed him from his doze under the cover of the compost heap, and grabbed the opportunity to take his portrait before carefully returning him to his sleepy hollow. He is a common toad.