Today we made our only stop in Scotland at Portree on the Isle of Skye. Portree is the largest town in and the capital of Skye.
We boarded our bus and headed out to visit the “Eilean Donan” castle. Eilean Donan, which means simply “island of Donnán”, is named after Donnán of Eigg, a Celtic saint martyred in 617.
Along the way we saw some beautiful coastal scenery and hills covered with heather (the brown scrub in the picture below). Sadly the heather isn’t in bloom until August or the hills would’ve been covered in shades of blue and purple.
During this time of the year the hills are covered with a yellow flowering plant called “gorse” which is a thorny evergreen shrub. The flowers are said to smell like coconut. It’s normally used as a natural fencing for marking fields and animal control.
Shortly we reached the castle. The castle was previously the fortress of clan Mackenzie and their allies clan Macrae. Over the years it’s been destroyed and rebuilt several times, the last rebuilding was by Lt. Col. Johan Macrae-Gilstrap. We visited several of the rooms in the castle including the largest room, “The Great Hall”. This room was used for dining and entertainment. In one corner of the room was a small area for the musicians. Bagpipes were usually played. We also saw the kitchen which was much larger than expected depicting a cooking scene from the Macrae-Gilstrap era. The castle has appeared in several movies.
After completing our tour of the castle it was back to the ship. At the village of Kyleakin we saw “Saucy Mary’s Restaurant & Lodge”. Our guide told us that Saucy Mary got her name because she would stand on the nearby wharf and raise her skirt to show her legs to all sailors who paid their ship’s toll as they passed through the waterway bordering the village.
By the time we got back to Portree we were pretty hungry and decided to eat lunch at “The Isles Inn”. We both had a lunch of beef and ale pie, mashed potatoes, and peas! We washed this down with a pint of the local brew, Skye Ale. Very tasty. We did a little shopping then it was back to the ship.
At dinner on the ship they served some typical Scottish dishes including “Haggis”. Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck; minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach. Paul ordered it and seemed to like it.
Tomorrow we arrive in our first Irish port, Belfast, Northern Ireland.