“Lay down on the road. It will be cool.”
“Come on, there’s nobody around. We’re all alone out here.”
“Fine, just make it quick.”
Lest you get the wrong idea, I was propositioning Steph to pose for a (fully clothed) photo with the Old Man of Storr looming in the background. Dirty bastards!
“You should move now, there’s a car coming.”
We’re pleased to see only one other car in the trailhead parking lot for what must be one of Scotland’s – the UK’s even – most iconic natural features. The trail is short but steep and muddy in places, especially where we cross over an area of active forestry operations.
Unlike yesterday at Loch Ness, the weather around the Old Man is cooperating beautifully. That is to say there are the usual low clouds loitering over the assorted pinnacles, with the occasional ray or two of sunshine breaking through for a nice theatrical lighting effect on the whole scene. At times like this I’m still very much a kid, and right now this is the best candy store I can imagine.
Steph carries on up the path to the Old Man while I take a slight detour up an adjacent hill for a better photographic perspective on the scene. I end up on all fours, using my tripod ice axe style to grind my way up the muddy slope. At the top, catching my breath and wiping my hands off, I notice the comparatively gentle, winding path which leads to this very spot. My way was way funner.
I do, however, choose the gentle path for the descent, not wanting to risk the slog down with all my camera equipment strapped to my back. Steph has been hanging out at the base of the Old Man, snapping away with her iPhone while patiently waiting for me.
We sit back for a while and take it all in before finally having a wander around the spire, both of us half expecting the thing to topple over at any minute.
“So, people actually climb this thing?”
I’m looking at Steph now, waiting for the ah-ha moment, the epiphany. Come on baby, you want to climb this thing.
“Hmm. Sack that! You getting hungry?”
“Of course I’m hungry. I burned off that bagel just tying my shoes.”
The crowds are coming up as we make our way down, which is just the way we like it. On the notice board at the trailhead we spot a flyer for the Ellishadder Art Café.
“Says it’s just up the road. Shall we check it out?”
“Sounds good to me.”
We pull into the driveway and there are no other cars around. The café is obviously a home converted into a business, and both the building and the grounds are immaculate.
“Front door is closed and no other cars here…..wonder if it’s open?”
Just then a guy in a cooking apron emerges from the garden carrying a basket of fresh picked produce and flowers. He spots us and throws a big smile and a wave our way.
“Sweet, time to eat!”
Let me preface what I’m about to say by assuring everyone that I’m not in the least bit prone to bestowing false praise on unworthy establishments. My usual meal out review goes something like “Eh, it was fine.”
This place, the Ellishadder Art Café, is far from fine; it’s perfect. The soup, the bread, the coffee and the atmosphere are all spot on perfect. Where the hell has this place been all my life?
It’s a struggle but we manage to get back in the car for the short drive to the Brothers Point trailhead. The path gently meanders down through pasture fields full of grazing sheep before curving right alongside the coast. With the sun shining bright and warm as it, and ample patches of soft grass overlooking the water, we’ve decided our best – nay, our only – option is to lay down for a power nap. Trust me people, it’s not every day this is a feasible thing to do on Skye, or anywhere else in Scotland for that matter.
“How long was I asleep?”
“15 minutes or so.”
“Is my face sun burned?”
Sometimes my lovely wife is the most unintentionally funny person ever.
Having gently calmed Steph’s sunburn fears by rationally explaining latitude and the angular relationship between the Earth and Sun and its effect on UV radiation strength – in a totally un-pretentious, non-condescending matter I might add – we’ve now made our way around to the west coast of Skye for a visit to Dunvegan Castle.
The clouds have settled in but it’s still plenty warm – muggy even. Unfortunately, the mugginess has also brought out the midges. My fortitude is being greatly tested as I attempt to hand-hold some macro pics of flowers (beautiful gardens here) while being feasted upon by the little bastards.
“Have I told you that it’s only the female midges which swarm and attack us?”
“Yeah. What’s your point?”
“Nothing honey, just saying.”
It’s been a long, amazing day on Skye. With any luck Steph won’t murder me in my sleep tonight – justifiable as she might be in doing so. We’ll pack up and head back to Aberdeen in the morning, but first we have one more big stop to make on Skye. Ah, I can already smell the malted barley and peat smoke.