Spring & Summer 2018 – Includes our ‘top 10 things to do here when it rains’

20th September 2018
We had a beautiful start to the Summer here on Skye. The Cuckoo's arrived back earlier than usual and in Spring we saw high temperatures and lots of sunshine, giving the trees here a boost. We had a short period of drought lasting about 4 weeks which made the ducks utterly miserable. They didn't trust the paddling pool we filled for them when the pond dried up and resorted to sitting in their water buckets. The dry weather meant a lot of watering of the new fruit trees, and the baby trees still in their root trainers. We were so busy enjoying the sunshine, and never got around to writing a Spring blog...
We enjoyed a wee hike in May to Dalavil, exploring a new part of the peninsula for us. We were so lucky to have blue skies and the walk was wonderful; with beautiful woodland, waterfalls, a stunning beach, butterflies, caterpillars, all the migrant birds and the highlight... a huge female Adder at the start of the track. More details about this walk which we highly recommend can be found at Walk Highlands We only saw seven other people the whole day.
Since it rained here almost every day in August we thought we'd include our top 10 things to do here when the weather is rubbish, which will probably be useful to most visitors to Skye and Lochalsh.

What to do on Skye when its raining heavily (or the midges are out....)

Balnacra Pottery

We spent a very rainy Hogmanay here a couple of years ago making pots and coasters and enjoying hot drinks. Vicky is amazing and its such a cosy place to hang out when the weather is horrible outside. Kids are welcome too. As with everything on Skye its best to book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Lochalsh Leisure Centre

Across the bridge in Kyle of Lochalsh, we sometimes find we have the pool here to ourselves.

Beths Coffee Shop, Balmacara

If you go for a swim you could head to Beths Cafe in Balmacara Square after. We are looking forward to investigating the new Deli there too! Check opening times, especially out of season.

Hebridean Whisky Trail

Two new Distilleries have opened near to us this year, Torabhaig in Sleat and Raasay, both very different to each other, and we recommend visiting both. You can even be driven around all 3 distilleries by Skye Distillery Tours and enjoy a dram or two.

The Museum of the Isles, Armadale

I love going round here as I think the interpretation is great and they have activities for kids too. You can learn at lot about the history of the island, the clans, the Jacobites and the clearances. There is a very good cafe and beautiful gardens to explore too. Fairly sheltered with all the trees and so a good place if the wind is up a little .

Staying cosy at home

We love being at home best of all, with a fire on, just reading or cooking - these are some of the best days.

Isle Ornsay

The pub at the Eilean Iarmain, Am Praban, has a fire and is the home of the Gaelic whiskies. Find out more about at Praban na linne -. They are also distilling Gin here and I have heard that its very good but have yet to try it myself. There's a gallery and a shop selling tweed and woollen items. Its a very beautiful location to spend an hour or two.

Sligachan Hotel

Loads of whiskies in the bar to enjoy. Just watch the weather roll by, with views of the Cuillin ridge. They have a good park for kids too and are dog friendly. Decent food too and the home of the Cuillin Brewery.

Okay that's only 8. We just heard that two of our favourite cafes - Bog Myrtle and Skye Pie Cafe - are closing sadly, so we haven't included them. But there is so much more to see and do here - castles, local galleries, independent shops and cafes, exhibitions, craft fairs, entertainment and events. Just driving around you'll find road signs and posters everywhere. Have a look at Aros and SEALL for their program of events, workshops and entertainment and pick up the West Highland Free Press too.

Skye has had a lot of coverage in the media recently again about the impact of tourism. It is true that the infrastructure here struggles in the summer with the increased traffic and sheer number of people. Lack of safe places to park and the severe shortage of public toilets are some of the biggest issues and this leads to the inevitable damage and degradation of the landscape. We advise people to avoid the famous Skye attractions that have become popular in recent years due to the rise of Social Media such as the Fairy Pools, the Quirang, Neist Point, etc especially in the Summer months. There is so much more to see here and if you explore off the beaten track you can avoid the crowds. We try and promote responsible, slow tourism. Familiarise yourself with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code if you need to and try to leave no trace. Support small local businesses when you visit. By chatting to local people you will learn about the Island and the people here. We thought this article might be of interest to anyone planning a trip to Skye.
Sneezewort ponderings

Also known as Sneezeweed, Goose tongue or White tansy, we saw prolific flowering this year of Sneezewort on ground that last winter we cut and improved the drainage on and where the ducks had spent most of their time foraging. We don't think this area has been cut or grazed in the last 15 years. In other parts of the croft where the ducks hadn't ventured and no drainage improvements were carried out, Sneezewort appeared here too. Why did all this dormant seed suddenly germinate at once? What triggered it?

Answers on a postcard please 🙂

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