paradise island

As should be obvious from the pictures posted here in the past days, I have been away on vacations on the Scottish island of Skye, part of the Inner Hebrides. This is a place that had stood very high in my dream vacation places, mostly because of the mountain range that stands at the bottom of the island, called the Cuillins. There are 13 Munroes (tops above 3,000 feet) in that range and its entire traverse takes a very long day, including several belays. As I was there for a family vacation, we [alas!] only went up the easiest group, made of Sgùrr nan Gillean, Am Basteir, and Bruach na Frìthe, and did not climb Sgùrr nan Gillean. This was a fairly easy hike with a 900m differential, the only difficulty being in route finding. Which was made harder than needed by me first confusing a group of three hills with these Cuillins for the first third of the hike! And relating to instructions in our guidebook that covered the opposite side of the mountains. It was however a most pleasant walk, quite dry by Scottish standards (where it is often hard to separate water and soil) and with sun part of the way (it actually did not start to rain until the final half-hour). And not too many people on the path.
The other days saw easier walks at lower elevations, from a grassy and pleasant route to the top of MacLeod’s North Table [with terrific views of Western Skye and the Outer Hebrides], to a tour of the Gresornish peninsula under a pouring rain but with an amazing light (and an exciting crossing of a definitely web bog where even sheep did not do]. Overall, this was a great week in a secluded location, keeping mostly away from the few tourist traps [except for a trip to the Isle of Skye Brewery and to the compulsory Neist Point lighthouse] and I hope I can get back there one day. Although other Northern paradise islands like Mull, Harris, and the Faeroe are also beguiling..!
An unsolved puzzle about this visit to Skye is that, while there are sheep all over the island, which makes spotting any form of wildlife but midges impossible!, lamb meat is curiously absent from restaurant menus [except from the offal parts used in haggis]. The few persons we asked seemed perplexed by our question and had no convincing explanation to this absence!

4 Responses to “paradise island”

  1. Georges Henry Says:

    Que du haggis? le reste pour l’exportation, le legendaire esprit d’economie de cette partie du monde.

    • It’s true. A lot of UK lamb is exported for economic reasons. People in the UK only like to eat the expensive cuts of meat (legs, chops) so we import these from New Zealand and export whole lamb carcasses to other markets. Another factor is that peak seasonal demand in the UK (Easter) does not coincide with peak domestic production.

      Scallops (coquilles saint jacques) are another example. They are farmed in Scotland but almost all are exported. Try looking for them in a UK supermarket.

      • Thanks Martyn. I still miss the reason why I saw no lamb on the menu of local restaurants… Like The Old School or Scorrybreac.

    • Ou alors une persistance du ressentiment des Écossais envers les moutons, qui les ont chassé lors des Clearances aux 18ième et 19ième siècles…

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