Katy and I spent last week on an enjoyable holiday in Skye. Since Skye is very mountainous and since you're always near the sea on Skye (it's an island), it's very scenic. It also has lots of interesting wildlife. All of these things make Skye a great place for walking. I tried to take lots of photographs to convince friends and family of this.
We enjoyed staying at Braes Retreat in Peinchorran. We were well looked after by the owners Rob and Hayley. It's in a quiet and beautiful location and the apartment is warm, bright, clean and comfortable with awesome views all around. I can certainly recommend it.
Benn Tíanabhaig is nearby and is well worth walking up. There are good views from the summit over the sound of Raasay and to Portree, however the most interesting thing about Benn Tíanabhaig is that you can walk along and beneath its sea cliffs on your way back to Camustianavaig and have the chance to see many golden eagles and sea eagles. We saw several eagles, I was even lucky enough to see one launch itself from the cliff from close by.
The walk along the cliffs was made even more exciting by encountering a group of shepherds and their sheepdogs herding pregnant ewes back along the cliffs to Camustianavaig. I was amazed at how well trained the dogs were, following their masters commands to run up almost vertical cliff faces, accurately picking up straggling sheep. We spoke to one of the herders briefly, he seemed pleased that we were interested in the eagles and he told us about some fox dens which were down near the shore. He kept the dogs from bothering the foxes. He was resigned to the fact that because the terrain was so difficult, they were bound to miss a few sheep, who would lamb on the mountain and the lambs would probably be lost to foxes. I was amazed at that really, as any sheep farmers I'd encountered before would go miles out of their way to kill foxes or eagles in order to protect their lambs. This man struck me as a proper custodian of the land we were on.
Another highlight was a trip to the Quiraing in the North of Skye, which is an incredible path through a valley with many extremely unusual geological features. The morning we went there we had woken up to see that it had snowed fairly heavily overnight. However, it was a sunny day, so off we went. It was quite cold and extremely windy, but very clear. At the farthest point from the car it snowed on us for about 15 minutes, but apart from that (and nearly getting blown off a few exposed sections of the path!) the weather was beautiful, we were very lucky.
One morning, the weather was terrible, but it cleared for a few hours in the afternoon, so we just headed out, in between showers, for a short walk to An Áird a nearby headland, featuring Loch an Amadáin (loch of the eejit). To our complete surprise, we discovered caves, accessible sea cliffs with a large colony of shags and, most excitingly, a pair of otters playing on the rocks a few metres from us!
Finally, we went on a day trip sea kayaking from Ord to Boreraig and back with Skyak adventures. Four of us paddled out to a seal colony in the middle of Loch Eishort. When the seals spotted us they jumped into the water, but then came over to have a look at us. It was very cool to see about 10 seal heads poking out of the water checking us out for 5 or 10 minutes. I had been sea kayaking before several times in New Zealand, but I was surprised to discover that the kayaks used in Britain are of a very different design, and feel very different in the water (they are a lot less stable, but lighter and more manoeuvrable). Our instructor Nick taught us some skills and lead us off to see the seals and out to tour the loch, it was very enjoyable.