Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 13 Leverburgh to Fort William

I always think a fine way to leave a place that has had a profound affect on you is to walk. So as I walked from Rodel Hotel to the Leverburgh ferry dock, the photos opening this day's blog bid me farewell to the Isle of Harris for another year. The hub bub over Sunday ferries to and from the Outer Hebridean isles has dissipated now two years after this service started.

And we were blessed with smooth water on our Sunday morning crossing from Lewis to North Uist to Skye. You really have to hustle on the drive between ferries from Berneray on North Uist, to Lochmaddy. Our driver showed off his expert driving skills and we made it 3 minutes before the ferry started loading.
Skye welcomed us with typical style and rained but still the green rolling hills and lush vegetation greeted us to this peaceful island. As we left the outer Hebridian’s behind, we all sang "Waulking Song from the Misty Isle of Skye" and "Skye Boat Song." With the only oil refinery in northern Scotland on strike, signs like this were common at fuel stations. The price you see in the pump is the cost per liter.

Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie was our destination. The castle sits on a small little island, making a picturesque view from every angle. Pat stands at the entrance gate. Castles have stood on this site for 800 years. The site was a monestary until the 8th century. Vikings ruled here for 450 years. Alexander the 3rd evicted the Vikings and the MacRaes owned this castle from the 1300’s until today. In 1719 the building was destroyed as the castle was a stronghold of support for the Jacobites. The castle stood in ruins for 200 years. In 1912 they started rebuilding the castle and completed the present building in 1932. The renovation was based on the 16th century version of the castle.

As we continued into the heart of the highlands, the clouds dissipated, the sun came out and the veiws beckoned us to stop. Here is a shrine of cairns, right along the roadway, no double added to by each traveler who stops. We also saw Ben Nevis. At 4480 feet, it is the tallest mountain in Scotland. Typically, only 52 days of the year is Ben Nevis visable.

We lodged in Fort William and enjoyed a fine meal at The Lime Tree restaurant. This B&B has an unusal feature in that as a former church, one part has been converted to a private gallery space that has exhibitions of highland artists and also shows work from the National Art Collections.

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