" Skye 3. ~ The Braes and Oronsay "

Date & Time: Wed/Thursday 26/27th June 2013

Locations : Scotland ~ Isle of Skye ~ Carbost to Glendale.

Places visited : The Braes, the An Aird Peninsular, Oronsay tidal walk.

Accommodation : Blà Bhein moving on to Six Willows in Glendale.

With : Ann and the dogs, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Overcast with drizzle on the second walk.

3. Skye ~ The Braes and Oronsay ~ at EveryTrail

[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map, use Everytrail to download the Gps route ]


Well settled into holiday mode and not wanting to climb the high hills (as we do a lot of that back home)

we look to lowland walks and in particular seashore walks to enjoy a change of scenery and a change of wildlife.

Recommended literature . . .
. . . recommended route signposts.

The walk through Coille Iosal (low woods) and The Braes starts at the village hall.

The flat top summit behind is not Skye mainland but Beinn a' Chapuill on Raasay Island, the other side of Raasay Sound.

We climb up through the woods and alongside the small river, hidden here by the last of the trees.

Close to the river now where we see several nice waterfalls.
Fancy those ferns getting in the way of the waterfall picture.

After the short ascent we emerge on the top of the moorland

to the point where Farquhar MacLean used to enjoy the view in days past.

Many thanks to the villagers for donating a seat so that we can do the same.

Looking over Raasay Sound to the Five Sisters of Kinsail in the distance.

Looking across to Clachan Pier . . . where the Raasay Ferry is unloading cars onto the island.

To our left, the fine, angled strata of the Ben Tianavaig headland.

The bigger picture . . . the view across the Sound of Raasay from the seat.

Click here or on the photo above for a larger Loweswatercam annotated panorama.

On the second section of the walk photographs were more of the birds than the scenery.

Hopefully a female Stonechat . . . the bird call was right . . . like the sound of two stones being struck together.

* Nigel reckons that birdie is a Female Wheatear even if it sounded like a Stonechat ...  Jill B.    

* Great photos you have now put on your site. Just to say the Stonechat is actually a Wheatear, probably a female.

It has a call ‘chack, chack’ or ‘weet, chack, chack’ ... Cheers, Richard.

* Your Stonechat  will be a female wheatear Roger ... private correspondent.

Thanks all ... I stand corrected ... but then I may only put it in to see if you were paying attention ;o)   ... Rmh

Yes . . . high in the sky . . . but definitely a Golden Eagle.
Low to the ground . . . definitely a Blackbird.

Not forgetting the veritable army of sparrows and smaller birds.

Abandoned history . . .
. . . and abandoned houses.

What was never far away on Skye was the evidence of old crofting and ancient houses.

The era of "The Clearances" caused major strife here and in Ireland with people being thrown off traditional farming land

and forced to live on the poorer marginal areas. Many emigrated to places like America or Australia

but many stayed and eventually fought against the uncaring landlords.

One of the significant local battles were between the people of Braes

and the militia sent over from the mainland to quell the riot.

Following this event, the tide turned

and legislation was placed before Parliament that saw the start

of the end of this barbaric treatment of crofters.


[ Gaeldom refers to areas in which the Gaelic languages,

namely Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaelic, are spoken ]

Many of the old croft houses survive to this day, many modernised of course and many re-built on the sites of the old "Black Houses".

The large number of densely packed homes in some areas is also a throw back to crofting times

where each family was allocated a small plot of land, closely packed in between neighbours plots.

This old house suffered roof damage during the storms of recent years, and is in the process of being repaired.

It is still being lived in as the local postman testified.

- - - o o o - - -

Our little walks book suggested we could combine the Braes walk with a visit to the Aird Peninsular

so parking on the roadside we set off to the beach.

The headland is joined to  rocky island by grass covered tombolo, a narrow neck of land built up by the action of the waves.

This is marginal grazing land but the area has much evidence of old buildings and agricultural 'lazy beds' where potatoes would have been grown.

It also has a tiny fresh water loch which we walked around.

Beach masters . . . watching Harry and Bethan not me !

At the northern end of the rocky peninsular is a flat raised area which holds the remains of an old fort.

All that remains of Dunan an Aidilidh is a ring of scattered stones . . .

. . . but the view is worth sitting down to enjoy.

The view north includes Ben Tianavaig, the cliffs of Portree Harbour and The Storr.

The west side is grassy . . . the east has fine cliffs
Home to a colony of Shags

An elegant bird, size of a goose and generally smaller than the cormorant.

The way to tell them apart on the water is that the Shag jumps before he dives, the cormorant just dives directly from the surface.

This one wasn't jumping or diving anywhere.

Mid-breeding season.

The parent stands guard over his (her) chicks on what is quite a wide nest site.

This one has an extra task of keeping them a rather narrow shelf.

Drying off after a recent fishing expedition.

Also taking time out, this mature Herring Gull.

- - - o o o - - -

Ann and I have been keeping our eyes peeled for Otters everywhere we go.

Suddenly I saw an animal emerge from the kelp beds with a fish in its mouth.

Moving quickly, in my first picture it was already above the tide line.

A second quick photo.

He emerged a few feet higher up the rocks and paused . . . then he was gone.

The smaller size and lack of strong tail meant  this was a wild mink not an otter, but it was still great to see.

Late Thrift on the headland.

Sound of Raasay and natural rock sculptures.

[ Raasay Sound is between Raasay and Skye, the Inner Sound being the stretch of water between Raasay and the mainland]

Who would think that all of that was going on . . . on a stretch of coastline just that long !

Watch out there's pirates about . . .
. . . they seem to be friendly and the other boat can sail safely away.

Heading back onto the 'mainland' again.

Across the way the hills of the Red Cuillin, and in the background the higher Black Cuillin (different geology).

- - - o o o - - -

We drove down to the end of the road at Braes . . .

Looking across at Glamaig and the Raasay ferry pier at Sconser.

The last few houses have very interesting gardens . . . lovingly cared for and full of features.

Check out the black bears by the fence, owls, otters, pixies and even a donkey in the stable . . . all carved from wood.

Before we left, the ferry sailed in, negotiating the narrow channel left by the low tide.

- - - o o o - - -

Time to move on and we say goodbye to Carbost and Talisker and head slightly north to the Duirinish Peninsular.

Along the way our little book suggested another local walk that would be worth doing.

Out there in the mist is Oronsay Island, connected by a tidal causeway

The tide is out at present and it has stopped raining so we set out across the damp headland . . . 2.5km to go.

Ullinish Point and presumably Ullinish Bay.

Did I say it has just stopped raining ?

If you venture far from the path to take pictures of flowers then expect to get wet boots and trousers.

Delicate white Orchids
Pink  flowers, the Common Lousewort.    (Thanks again Jill)

Cotton Grass . . . that's an easy one.

Over the next brow was the tidal causeway to Oronsay Island.

Technically Oronsay is a Norse word meaning tidal island and there are about twenty Oronsays or Ornsays in the Hebrides, including two on Skye.

The low cloud is lifting on this one now . . . and the high ground mentioned in the 'write up' is starting to appear.

Worn casts down on the beach . . .
. . . and two colour sand, patterned by movement of water.

Looking down on the first rocky beach.

The island is over 200 ft at its highest point and the cliffs on the north side are very dramatic.

A reverse of the last photo, the cloud swirling up and past the point where I had been standing.

Looking west out to sea to the cliffs of Rubha nan Clach . . . Talisker bay is a few miles further south, round the corner.

What looks like the last rock offshore is in fact a local fishing boat which has appeared out of the mist.

Looking across at Wiay Island in the sea Loch Bracadale and west to The Minch and distant Hebrides.

The cloud is clearing fast and we even have some blue sky.

A change of lens allows me to look down on the little lobster fishing boat.

The gulls are hoping for any tit-bits left over from bailing the creels.

A close up of Rubha nan Clach Point as the low cloud clears.

On the southern side of the island the cliffs are lower but still have their drama.

Here there is a tunnel-like rock arch carved out by the action of the sea.

Back along the southern coast and we find ourselves back at the causeway.

We re-trace our steps but by the time we neared the car at Ullinish the cloud had rolled in again

but the interest was held by the dancing flight of the Plovers as they twist and turn over the moorland grass.

The bird is instantly recognisable by the broad, slow flapping wings which give them great low speed versatility.

They are often twisting and turning in tight circles as they presumably search for food.

- - - o o o - - -

Heading now for Dunvegan and our next accommodation

we saw a rare spotted Caroy River dragonfly . . . not many have been seen and we found no reference to it in the insect books.

Similarly the Caroy River Lobster shows remarkably similar colourings.

Must be something found in the water locally !

Over to Glendale now and the instructions are out in order to find our B&B for the next three nights.

This is another classic crofting valley steeped in history.

We could see not only the old crofts, many of which had been modernised like this one,

but looking across the valley the sheer number of small cottages and small linear plots told of regimented land allocations of old.

Glendale leads down to another sea loch and small pier.

We are looking for a house with six willow trees in the garden . . .

Here they were, mixed in with other trees, to form a protective windbreak to the lovely house and garden

belonging to Ocean and Scottie Graham of Six Willows

They moved here in the 1980's and have set up a vegetarian B&B and grow much of their own salads and herbs in the garden.

In the days to come we would talk about their electrical and hot water solar panels and their low impact lifestyle.

The guests dining room and lounge reflects their varied interests and their life . . . like every good home should do.

We chose the 'Red Room' for our bedroom . . . which would be home for the next few days.


- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220 or my Canon 1100D Digital SLR.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . . vegetarian dinner bed and breakfast.

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