Bouldering faces of ancient men breathe deep swells of fog over the lands. Clouds of wispy wool whip from the backs of sheep, swimming and then catching amongst blades of grass, between the gates of wooden paddocks, embroidering stern iron gates in an ironically delicate lacing of white. The sea swells with repetitious moaning sighs ascending into crashes of waves that remain the lands constant anthem, heard more clearly when the winds die down and most acutely when you find yourself standing at the edge of the cliffs; where one can feel as small as they really are or as big as they believe themselves to be.
This was the Isle of Skye, Eilean a' Cheò. Directly translated, it was the Island of Mists. There was a forboding fog that we awoke to on our first full morning of the day, but what greeted us at the gates were impossibly glittering azure skies, already beginning to burn at the edges with an early sunset. Deep earthy smells of grass and sea, the mountain giants’ breaths becoming the measured ones of sleep as the Isle quickly deepened to dusk, and we steered our car North towards the farmstead that was to be our home for the next few days.
Looking at a map and measuring with thumb and forefinger the distance between Inverness and Isle of Skye was easy. Measuring the mileage, the anticipated travel time, approximate gas costs and the like were slightly more complicated tasks, but simple nevertheless. From Inverness it was a nearly straight shot West, where one of Scotland’s few highways trapeze over tiny spots of land reminiscent of the Hawaiian islands. Despite its apparent twists and turns, the directness of the route emboldened us with a confidence that not many first-time UK drivers should have felt. But more on the particular subject of driving another day.
Before crossing the great bridge towards the Northernmost stop of our journey, we passed through the low and unassuming town of Kyle of Lochalsh, and then over the Skye Bridge which was interjected only briefly by a squat Eilean Bàn. Then finally we were rolling into the island that had been at the forefront of my own mind ever since I’d begun to consider Scotland as the next great adventure.
We stopped only briefly along the way. While the drive itself took around the same amount of time that we’d thought it would, the taxing activity of keeping my entire focus on driving was exhausting. We drovethrough clusters of villages, spread far and wide apart by miles of emptiness, the lines of the mountains seemingly to change shape every time we looked away and then back again.
We’ll go more in depth of our travels to Skye another day. But we wanted to bring you here, first, to the very beginning. Every day, every hour of our time here was different then the ones bookending it. But the beginning to something is something very special, the title to an excellent adventure.
The next chapter of Skye another time. Until then, we hope you enjoyed your visit today to the Fourth Place. In hindsight we do regret not suggesting that you bring with you your wellies. Try to remember them the next time, lest you catch a cold. We'd hate for you to miss out on what comes next.