After a brief New Year break, it was back up to the Outer Hebrides again. The journey up through England might be long and a bit tedious at times, but once you get to Scotland, it’s never dull! Even though I’m getting used to the route, at different times of the year, the scenery just changes spectacularly!
Just after New Year, there were not so many people on the roads. Driving up I did notice the temperature was unsurprisingly gradually getting colder the further north I got. Winter was in effect. Nothing that a good sleeping bag couldn’t handle.
Bright, frosty and crunchy underfoot first thing in the morning. Now I’m not saying it was cold, but the nearby stream was pretty frozen up first thing! I was definitely looking forward to a hearty and warming Glencoe Moutain Resort big breakfast to start my day off.
I wanted to make an early start as I had a ferry to catch to get back to the Outer Hebrides. Also, I wanted to stop at a famous old bridge at Sligachan on the Isle of Skye. It’s a very popular spot for tourists, so often it’s really busy. Too busy for me normally, but I had always wanted to visit so was hoping that in the more wintery conditions, there shouldn’t be too many people around at this time of the year,
I do love a good bridge (like the Millau Viaduct in France) and this didn’t disappoint either. Less modern and a totally different scale of course, but a beautiful hand-built bridge all the same. The setting of course is stunning with the famous Cuillin Hills in the background. It is also famed for its magical waters and fairies. Yeah, there seem to be a few of them in most stories about mythical legends in these parts!
There were however some real legends of the area. I remember watching a brief program that was talking about mountaineering legends John Mackenzie (sitting) and Professor Norman Collie (standing) and the impact they had on alpine mountaineering. Collie was a leading scientist but also a well-travelled mountaineer. John Mackenzie was a local Gaelic speaker man from nearby Sconser. He was the first British mountain guide qualified to Alpine standard which is quite a remarkable achievement. Two very different men from very different backgrounds who formed a climbing friendship/partnership that lasted for over fifty years. There had been a ten-year fundraising project to commission and erect a bronze statue as a memorial to them designed by local sculptor, Stephen Tinney.
I was right, it was nice to visit a quieter time of the year and be able to see the bridge in the beautiful winter sunlight.
The transformation of the colours and textures of the mountainous landscape was just mesmerising and inspiring. I may have done this part of the journey before, but it just never gets boring and never fails to bring a smile to my face.
With shorter daylight hours, the changes in colours took effect just that bit earlier on the return ferry journey. Nothing is more calming and beautiful than a golden hour sunset as you make a smooth crossing of the Minch to the Outer Hebrides. Maybe except for when you see a pod of dolphins seemingly jumping for joy as they swim alongside you for part of the journey. A magical experience right there.
Getting back to the Small Mission Hall, the landscape transformed once again with a brilliant blanket of snow. Yeah, looks great, but in a building without any really services, its going to be a tad chilly for a while!
That said, the morning doorstep view is worth waking up for!