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The Isle of Skye: A Land of Rugged Beauty

Driving to the Isle of Skye from Edinburgh was incredibly refreshing. I watched this medieval urban area open up into lush, green farmland. The bucolic setting made me feel instantly at home. As we traveled northward, the land grew harsher and the wind more severe, the landscape becoming more foreign. Even in July, I found my fleece-lined coat was necessary.

Our first stop was a bed and breakfast in Edinbane, a place not large enough to even require a name. Our room was simple but comfortable, and after the long drive I was thrilled to curl up under a pile of blankets and admire the open fields through my window. After a nap, we traipsed off to the Edinbane Inn, which was highly recommended by our B&B hosts. In the middle of nowhere (which happens to be quite a beautiful somewhere) in a rustic country inn, I had one of the best meals of all my travels. We drank a local beer and talked of the beauty around us while dining on mussels in a delicate cream sauce, scallops with a lovely tomato ragout, salmon served atop beetroot and, lastly, a whiskey panna cotta with the smokiness of Talisker Scotch. Who would have thought that this incredibly refined meal would come from such a place? I was expecting haggis and I got Michelin. Traveling is always full of surprises!

We parted ways with our bed and breakfast and traveled north toward the magnificent Quiraing. On the way, we passed through the town of Uig. The road narrowed even more and we wound our way up a cliffside. Pulling over meant trying to avoid tumbling down the steep hillside while allowing a car or RV to squeeze by. At the top of the hill, we obligingly pulled over for these delightful sheep.

Coming to the end of a long road, we finally reached the Quiraing. Pillars of rock protrude skyward out of the greenest earth I've ever seen. Stepping onto it, I realized it was not grass at all but a spongy moss which would be fabulous to nap upon. I watched a family swinging their child in the air, landing back on the moss and I couldn't dream up a more idyllic family scene. We set out on the hiking trail, following along the raw, striking scenery.The dips and lifts in the land made it easy to image the earth's plates moving and creating such unusual, awe-inspring scenery. The trail was slippery from the ever-present mist, and we crossed a waterfall, raining down from the cliffs above. I frequently left the trail to admire the valley stretching out below and the way the clouds kissed the hilltops with rain.

After the strenuous hike, we drove along the coast and down toward Portree. Have you ever seen such an adorable little town? There's no architectural appeal, but something that derives from its charming name, the cheerful colors, and just the sheer improbability that anyone lives on this rugged Isle.

The scenery en route to the Fairy Pools was, like all of Skye, striking, but this field had a kind of magnetic appeal. I had to pull over to photograph it. The land was dotted with daisies and the soft, puffy clouds floated amidst a deep blue sky.

At last, I'd spotted the highland cow! Ascending into the hilly farm country very near the fairy pools, a herd of cattle, among them several of the hairy highland kind stood in front of a spectacular backdrop of mountains. I got out of the car to pet them and quickly made friends. This dark colored lady very much enjoyed the neck scratch that I provided, and she leaned into the rub with great appreciation. The highland cattle made me smile, and made me think that they must be the hippies of the animal kingdom. Aren't they just darling?

We arrived at the trailhead to the Fairy Pools. What a lovely name. What a Scottish name. This is, after all, the land where the national animal is the unicorn. How I love this whimsical country where I can believe such things are real.

Before leaving this magical isle and heading back to one of my favorite cities in the world, we stopped by The Old Inn in Carbost for dinner. This little inn and pub was everything you imagine a Scottish pub should be. A trio of men played fiddles in a corner and said rowdy songs of old. The tables were packed with folk laughing and smiling with mischievous twinkles in their eyes and haggis, neaps, and tatties were being readily consumed. Outside, I looked out over Loch Harport and felt that surely I was leaving a piece of my heart behind in Scotland.

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