THEBUS, PHOEBE & ME

or

The World is my Lobster........I never did like oysters

                                                                                     

 

 

ELGOL AND THE MISTY MOUNTAINS

 

We crossed over the ethereal Skye Bridge in the early morning mists and finally made it ‘over the sea to Skye’  

 

Before I had started on my travels, even before I had bought Thebus someone had told me that if I ever went to Skye I MUST go to Elgol.  It was THE most beautiful place and not to be missed on a tour of the Scottish islands, so I had done some research and today Elgol was our destination.  I knew it was a paradise for walkers, swimmers, divers, sailors, and really any kind of rugged, outdoorsy, sporty types.  But as my days of rugged outdoor activities are long gone I looked for something that I could do which would allow me to see something of the area without having to get too physical and settled on the idea of a boat trip

 

Because the mountains drop sheer down into the sea there is a sort of water taxi which takes the walkers/swimmers/fishers/divers etc to the various points, so I decided to just stay on the boat, which would allow me to see quite a lot without having to get involved with walking.  What I hadn’t quite counted on was the steepness of the road down to the actual harbour.

 

Arriving early we parked up at the high carpark overlooking the harbour and I tried all the phones and the internet without success, hoping that, had I made contact, someone may have been able to drive up and collect me, but eventually realizing there was nothing for it but to drive down, walking down being completely out of the question, and having only recently successfully negotiated the Bealach na Ba  off we went.  All I can say is that although the road is not as long as the Applecross Pass I would think it is steeper, narrower, and with sharper bends.  But we arrived at the bottom and fortunately the carpark was still empty as Thebus needed more space than seemed to be allowed.  

 

I had just finished getting him in as best I could when the Harbour Master arrived to ask me to move him higher up.  Again a very sharp, steep turn to the second tier of the carpark, but we did it, and were rewarded with a lovely view of the harbour and the mountains opposite plunging down to the sea.  The day was promising to turn out to be a beautiful one, even though the clouds were still caught in tangled in clumps over the tops of the Cuillins, making for fascinating watching as they threaded their way over and through the jagged mountain tops.  I think the island of Skye is sometimes known as The Misty Isle in Gaelic Eilean a’ Cheo`, and there is a lovely Gaelic song

 

If you click on the song title then the pink audio link on the page which opens up you can hear it sung in Gaelic

 

Farewell to the Misty Isle

 

Farewell to the place where I spent my youth

Island of the high mountains where the mist rests

On which rises early the rose coloured sun in the sky

Chasing away the clouds of night

Illuminating the Storr

 

Soraidh leis an ait' an d'fhuair mi m'àrach òg

Eilean nam beann àrda far an tàmh an ceò

Air a moch a dh'èireas grian nan speur fo ròs

A' fuadach a neul na h-oidhche

Soillseachadh an Stòrr

 

 

 

What occured to me over the last few days as I drew nearer and nearer to the Cuillins of Skye was somewhere at the back of my mind was a song I had learnt in childhood, which though I knew the words they had meant nothing to me until now.

 

My memory drags out the following

 

Its a far cooley that’s a'puttin love on me as step I with my cromlick to the isle

Its a far cooley that’s a'puttin love on me as step I with the sunshine for my load

 

But all of a sudden the peny dropped and I realised that the words stuck in my memory actually referred to the Cuillins of Skye so did a bit of googling and found the following

 

A far croonin' is pullin' me away

As take I wi' my cromack to the road.

The far Coolins are puttin' love on me

As step I wi' the sunlight for my load.

 

Chorus

Sure by Tummel and Loch Rannoch and Lochaber I will go

By heather tracks wi' heaven in their wiles.

If it's thinkin' in your inner heart the braggart's in my step

You've never smelled the tangle o' the Isles.

 

Oh the far Coolins are puttin' love on me

As step I wi' my cromack to the Isles.

It's by Shiel water the track is to the west

By Aillort and by Morar to the sea

 

The cool cresses I am thinkin' of for pluck

And bracken for a wink on Mother knee.

The blue islands are pullin' me away

Their laughter puts the leap upon the lame

 

The blue islands from the Skerries to the Lews

Wi' heather honey taste upon each name.

 

It was penned by the Celtic poet Kenneth Macleod and published in 1917 in 'Songs of the Hebrides'  This poem is headed by the statement 'Written for the lads in France during the Great War'

 

And so as I gradually drew nearer to the Cuillins the song’s refrain ran through my mind.

 

I had arranged to go out on the eleven o’clock trip, hoping by then it would be a nice blue day, and once again I was lucky, and rewarded with stunning views of the Cuillins and the small islands further off shore, we had an excellent skipper and crew who talked us through the various islands and I was even allowed to take the helm for part of the way back.  I thought this was to be just a cursory holding of the wheel for a few moments, but no, I took charge for nearly a quarter of an hour, until as we began approaching the harbour, I more than readily gave command back to more capable hands.  I have to say it was an exceptionally calm day, so the steering was quite easy, and I doubt I would have been allowed had the weather been at all challenging.  Still it was nice to think I have driven a boat as well as a bus!

 

Because of the narrowness of the approach roads and the steepness of the road leaving the harbour I intended to stay on until around seven thirty or eight in the evening in hopes of meeting less on-coming traffic, so after my exhilarating boat trip we sat in the sunshine enjoying the views, and later there was the most wonderful piping coming in from across the water and echoing off the hillside behind us.  I ‘like’ the bagpipes in a non-committed sort of way, and they have a certain eerie, haunting quality which makes the hairs stand on end, and heightens the emotions, but this was bagpiping like I couldn't imagine the bagpipes could sound

 

It turned out afterwards that the music was being played by a young bagpiper, still not yet seventeen, but the speed and fieriness which went into the performance was  something exceptional.  I wished I had been quick enough to realize and then could have recorded it on my camera, but sadly have nothing to put on the journal, though I am hoping he has perhaps put something up on u-tube.  Quite outstanding playing in my view, not that I am anything of an expert, but as they say - I know what I like!

 

I found out later his name is Malin Lewis and though I have nothing you can hear, I can include the photos he sent me later.