“O come with me where the sea-birds fly
Remote and far by the Isle of Skye–
Away with the winds a-sailing!
Where dreams are the gifts availing–
Will ye come with me?”
From ‘Come with me’ by Pittendrigh Macgillivray
On this year’s trip to Skye I stayed at Fir Chlis (Gaelic for Aurora Borealis), a self catering apartment in Ullinish, near Dunvegan. I highly recommend it, a wonderful studio space with fantastic views and very welcoming hosts. They gave me plenty of peace and privacy during my stay but were always happy to help if I needed anything. The perfect combination.
From my room I could enjoy views of Loch Bracadale, the Cullin Hills and Oronsay Island, as well as plenty of wildlife, all enticing me to go out and explore. Dun Beag and Oronsay Island were both within walking distance giving me plenty of interesting places to start with.
Dun Beag is one of a number of ruined forts (or ‘Picts’ houses’ as they are known to some) found around Loch Bracadale. Dun Beag is reputedly the best example of these, having yet to fall into complete ruin. Big finds of Stone Age and Bronze Age weapons have been found there, indicating that the Duns have been used since Neolithic times. Local tradition would have it that these places are the dwellings of the Little People, or ‘Sithichean’, fairy homesteads or entrances to fairy country. According to these beliefs there is danger in approaching places like Dun Beag, especially at night, with mortals, cattle and all sorts being carried away into the Dun.
I was unaware of these beliefs about this particular place during my visit. It was only a short walk up the hill, with fantastic views from its walls. It felt very welcoming. Perhaps the fairies liked me.
Oronsay Island is a small tidal island in easy walking distance of Ullinish (3.5km). On my way to the tidal causeway I saw Great Northern Diver, Ringed Plover and Oyster Catchers without much effort. When I reached the other side of Oronsay a flock of Great Black-Backed Gulls was drifting around the cliff along with a couple of Ravens. The scenery was stunning; I was blessed with calm blue skies that day and for most of my trip.
I walked back to Ullinish awash with the sound of Song Thrush and Blackbird singing, looking forward to the adventures to come.
Next: The Old Man of Storr