Monday, 15 December 2014

Allan Wright - Skye at Last - 2

My approach to any given piece of landscape, at least for my paid professional work, generally requires a good deal of driving and map study. I will usually drive from end to end of the selected region making copious notes on aspects, points of interest and in particular how the main iconic features might best be approached. I often find the most northwesterly part of an island delivers a wildness and solitude that helps me settle in and on this recent trip to Skye I headed straight for The Vaternish Peninsula.

I often find myself getting under the skin of a place just by being receptive and engaging with locals and happily this time a chance encounter revealed a whole new dimension to landscape appreciation. Here I met Sheila Parnel, an energetic and knowledgeable lady farmer, working for the RSPB and managing pasture specifically for the benefit of the recently resident but iconic Corncrake, that famously shy and elusive symbol of Hebridean agricultural ecology. Today she and some volunteers were gathering & burning the poisonous Ragwort prior to late silage making for the local herd of Highland Cattle. I joined in for a while and shot the breeze on this balmy August day, I so love my job on such days.

The wide curve of Ardmore Bay below promised rich pickings as I noted the herd of peculiarly near-white Highland Cattle, a nicely positioned ruined farmhouse and a beckoning cliff top to boot. The cattle were amazing, appearing freshly shampooed and very content. Highlanders are snapped thousands of times in a tourist year but I still love to have a go myself, after all, good shots still sell consistently well and these near albino versions were lovely. Turns out the ruined farmhouse is used as a warehouse by the local wine club distributor, a gentleman in his 80's who, with his wife who has the cattle, moved here from down south 20 years ago - now that is a lifestyle choice if ever I saw one!

Over to the cliff top where I was promised a view of "The Dragon" drinking from the Atlantic, I saw it instantly but I am not sure how easily others see it?

Feeling energetic still I jumped on my bicycle, sometimes the best tool in the bag, and headed to the East side of Vaternish. Can't help but be fascinated by housing styles on the island from stunning new eco builds to vernacular "tumbledowns" sitting side by side it is clear Skye is having its own housing boom. Back to base camp(er) and a day spent reading whilst the rain hammered down. Next day a glance at the ferry timetables directed me to Armadale and the chance of a shot at the Mallaig-Skye Ferry. Planned a shot for later with specific conditions but caught the atmosphere with shot through the trees.

North on the Sleat Peninsula are the captivating hamlets of Tokavaig & Toskavaig, an archway to a ruined castle on a promontory,

a cute little rainbow and the Cuillins slipping in and out of view made the day, made a note also to return at my earliest convenience, mmh, Skye - I am starting to understand what all the fuss is about.

Allan Wright

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