“Still and untroubled sits the Kingly one
Yonder the eagle floats – there sleeps the snow
Against the pale green of the cloudless sky.”
From ‘King Blaabheinn’ by Robert Buchanan
The name Waternish is derived from the Norse vatnenes or “headland of the pond”. Legends and historic tales about this part of Skye are full of horror and gloom, with clan feuds, bloody massacres and de-population during the Highland Clearances, as well as tales of witches and great beasts of land and sea, predominating. It is a beautiful and foreboding place. Well worth visiting, even in foul weather, as it was when I arrived.
I enjoyed the stormy coastal views as I made my way to the ruins of Trumpan Church, site of one of the areas many massacres and also of a certain standing stone. I had come out this way primarily for the wildlife but I have always had a fondness for graveyards and had been entirely ignorant of the presence of a standing stone in this remote place. The ‘Heaven Stone’ is a monolith with a small round hole in it. It was long believed that anyone led up to the stone with their eyes covered who was able to put a finger through the hole on the first attempt was certain to attain Heaven. Whether that is still held to be true, it seems there is also a tradition of leaving coins in the cracks of the stone, though for this I have yet to find the reason. More fairy trinkets?
In the graveyard I also made a rather gruesome find, a sign of certain things to come: the stripped corpse of a Hare. I wondered what could have done this and the answer seemed as exciting as it did obvious. I soon received confirmation. As I walked along the cliffs I saw a White Tailed Eagle fly up and into view, mobbed by a Peregrine Falcon. I watched the chase for some time before both went their separate ways. Then, a little while later, my White Tail returned. This time I was blessed with a much longer sighting as he swooped and soared, hunting over the sea. What a sight.
I look forward to returning in sunshine. The Stein Inn, Skye’s oldest Inn, proved a cosy retreat before I made my way back to Ullinish.
Next: Coral Beach and Cake