Isle of Skye: Day 2
Well, after a hell of a long day Friday and a late arrival under the cover of darkness we eventually got into our 6'6ft x 4ft bunks (i'm 6'3 and Royce is about 10 foot, see image 1).
It was soon time for the 04:10 alarm to wake us up. A bit bleary eyed and stiff we hobbled out to the car like we were 85, piled in, programmed the sat nav to head for the infamous Quiraing, it said 22 minutes, a nice short drive in the pitch black.
On parking up and getting ready for the walk, the pre dawn air was biting our skin, at this point we still hadn't seen a glimpse of Skye in the daylight and couldn't see much further than our toes, not even a street light in the distance. (Image 2)
Despite living in the lake district, what struck me most was the absolute silence. It was almost deafening. Excuse the awful quality of these phone shots but it gives you some idea how dark that path was.
I'd already had a shot in mind that i'd seen 100 or more times of the Quiraing, the problem was that it was so dark we couldn't see where we were, so by the time dusk arrived and we could make out some shapes in the distance we realised we were about 1/2 mile away from that spot ha, this led Daryl and Dan to do a mad dash back to where they wanted to be while the two ol' lads me and Royce made the best of it and got set up and waited for the light to come.
What an amazing sight we were treat to as our first glimpse of Skye. The Quiraing is without doubt the most magical, mystical place i've ever seen. It's almost other worldly. Here's the view we had as our welcome to this beautiful Island.
We were very fortunate with the conditions and aside from firing a few frames off we just sat and took in the beauty in front of us. Breathtaking is an understatement. We must've stayed there for around an hour just chilling out while the young 'uns ran around covering the entire mountain (a theme that continues in a bit ha), damn them with all their energy. We only seen one more person on the mountain, other than that we had it to ourselves until just after 10.
We set our sights on another iconic Skye location, The Needle. Now, from where we were i was hugely underwhelmed by this and wondered what all the fuss was about, you just have no idea of the scale of this place until you're actually there.
This is the view that greeted us as we headed off up to the Needle. Note the tiny little nipple sticking out of the first rock formation on the left of the path, thats the needle from where we stood, looks unremarkable at best. From here it literally looked a few hundred yards away, but that's another deceiving quality this place has, everything is way further than it looks.
Anyway at this point when this picture was taken we were just waiting for Daryl and Dan to meet up with us, so being the big child that i am, i dragged Royce into a little alcove (No, just don't even think about it, i know you were going to), and we hid and waited, although i found it hilarious jumping out on them and hearing Dan yelp i can't help but realise how ridiculous it would've looked to see two 6ft plus grown men hiding in some bushes jumping out on their friends. But that's just me and my brain in action ha.
Just after this we were to split again, as Daryl and Dan wanted to get on something affectionately termed 'The Prison' where Daryl was after one of his, (by now) infamous danger selfies. While up there they bumped into a couple of Irish guys, one of which we later learned to be Bernard Geraghty (https://www.bglandscapetours.ie) who loaned him a selfie friendly bright red jacket. We sat and watched from a good distance as Daryl put in what can only be described as a sensational amount of running up and down the slopes between his camera and the selfie spot he wanted, he must've done about 15 trips back and forth and the camera must've been a good hundred or so feet away. Here's what it looked like from our vantage point, you can just about make him out running in the middle. Once you've checked out my 'the making of' image, head over to Daryls website and check out the finished product, it's absolutely mesmerising. Note, Bernards Jacket is a bit big ha
The walk up to the Needle was absolutely gruelling to say the least, with 2.5 stone of camera gear on my back trying to walk up scree at ridiculous angles took it's toll on my legs, I couldn't understand how Royce had flew up so quick, this was until i got within ear shot of him and he shouted that there was a path running the entire way up and only 15 metres to my left, doh.
This next image shows just how huge the Needle actually is once you're up close to it. It's enormous. There's not many things that make me look small and dainty but this definitely managed, as you'll see in the image i'm more or less doubled over and blowing like a tugboat at this point.
Once we got to the top and fired off a couple of images of this spectacle we had a good 45 minutes waiting for Batman and Robin to return from their crusade so we sat and had a drink and bite to eat. Probably the best little picnic site i've had. Aside from us there was still only a couple of other people on the Quiraing and we were able to just relax and soak it all up. This was by far my favourite view from the top, this is looking back out towards the mainland of Scotland and such a stunning vista. Just after taking this i found out that there was a much simpler route up than i'd taken, namely, through this gap on a path all the way up, this is the way Daryl and Dan appeared because they use their brains.
I've got a bad habit of taking the most direct route, it often leads me to trouble.
Once we were altogether again we decided that was enough for the morning, we'd been here for around six hours now and were ready for a sit down and something to eat, so we made the hour long walk back to the car (image 8).
We were all ready for a break when we got back to the digs and Royce had apparently suffered beyond recovery from his 2 cans of Stella before bed so the old lad went for a nap for the afternoon while the rest of us went waterfall hunting in UIG.
On getting out of the car and having a wander around we had a strange encounter with a rather over excited dog and it's overly excited owner, they guy came out and i had to check it wasn't a researcher from this is your life, i'm sure he asked everything other than what colour socks we were wearing, friendly enough though. He eventually pointed us in the direction of the falls and off we headed.
This killed a few hours but definitely didn't work out as planned for me, the sun was right behind me so i was unable to get a shot without me and the tripod casting shadows right through the centre of the image, what i ended up with was yet another failure (there's always a few a day ha)
This trip was pretty relentless already, we'd only left home 30 hours ago and i'd drove for around 10 hours and we must've walked for another 10 in between taking pictures and eating.
No time for lazing around anyway, a quick bite to eat and it was time for our third stop of the day and the 50 minutes cross island drive to Neist Point lighthouse, we aimed to arrive a couple of hours before sunset to make sure we got set up and ready in plenty of time. Turns out we had the same idea as at least 60 other photographers, i've never seen as many togs in one place in my life. Generally because i like to get off the beaten path well before first light it's rare i see anyone else. But here we were lined out on the cliff edge like seagulls waiting for tea time.
For those of you who've never heard of Neist point it is absolutely stunning. It's a fair drive out right onto the west coast of Skye and off the beaten track a bit but what a place it is. Designed by David Allen Stevenson, was first lit on 1 November 1909. An aerial cableway is used to take supplies to the lighthouse and cottages.
Since 1990, the lighthouse has been operated remotely from the Northern Lighthouse Board headquarters in Edinburgh. The former keepers' cottages are now in private ownership. (Little bit of culture for you there, Cheers to Wikipedia)
Anyway, we got settled on the cliff top in a massive conga line waiting for the sunset. As sunsets go it wasn't great, lovely pastel skies and calm seas but not really a cloud in the sky, i think this place would be much better suited to some angry storm clouds and wild sea. It was still well worth a visit and i'm very pleased we decided to go. Here's the pick of my bunch anyway
On the way back home we missed what would've been the best shot of the weekend by a mile, as we were driving down one of the long, windy single track roads back to the main road to UIG i looked in the rear view mirror and seen 3 deer walking on a hill, silhouetted against the burning orange dusk sky it looked amazing, there was (i presume) a Daddy, Mammy and baby (those are the technical terms ha) all walking in a line on the crest of the hill, we dived out of the car to grab our gear and by the time we'd turned they'd gone. What a sight to end the day.
Back to the digs for a Pot Noodle, Pork pie and vodka sprite and back in my little coffin cabin for the night.
Thanks again for reading (if you've got this far) and thanks for your continued support.
Hopefully it won't take me three months to get on to writing about day 3 ha.
Until next time...................