The rain beating on the velux wakes me and the sky is a thick grey blanket that says ‘Stay in bed’ but there are guests who want their breakfast and this is their only chance to experience the beauty of Skye.
It’s one of those days that will be relentless; the gusts coming sideways and beating against your legs encouraging you to join in the dance. The wind and rain are having fun. The springs and burns and waterfalls are filling and there’s beauty in the glossy wet leaves and stones. This is a day when the burns will be brown and foaming as they churn up the peat in their game.
Talisker Bay will be wild. Open to the crashing waves of the Atlantic and its whims of what will be washed up and offered as sacrifices by the receding tide. The waterfalls here and at Kilt rock will perform magic tricks and appear to rise smoking into the air.
On the bridge at Sligachan you can crouch down and count the number of different wild flowers nestling in a few square feet of the bank. Heading south the loch will be cresting white above the heaving waves of turquoise grey that’s special to days like this.
Secretly the otters will be out – they love the swell and roll of the water, but you will count yourself blest if you manage to see them. Sometimes they play outside the kitchen window tumbling and chasing each other but those are rare days like wild flowers pressed and remembered in the pages of the year.
At Neist point you will have to hug each other to stay upright and laugh as the wind pounds your chest, eyes straining for signs of wildlife deep in the waters and high above.
There are many places to retreat and sit out a dance or two. The wonderful cafes at Ellishadder and Digg, the Red Roof at Glendale and Wee Tea Room at Eynort, Sandy’s in Struan a second-hand books shop with coffee, cakes and vintage clothes all offer a chance to be still, enjoy hot drinks and tasty morsels while you decide where to go next.
At Dunvegan the “two churches walk” is sheltered and, with Chris Mitchell’s book as guide, it’s the occasion not for views but looking carefully and noticing rare trees and lichens. Of course there is the castle to visit.
Waternish has a basket of good things for a rainy day. Push your fingers into the soft pile of the sheepskin rugs at Skye Skins, the last working tannery in Scotland and treat yourself to some gloves or slippers; visit Shilasdair where pots of vegetable dyes bubble to turn lush yarns into the colours of the landscape; pop down to Dandelion Designs in Stein home of Liz Myhill’s beautiful woodcuts and the Inn next door where you can hole up for a pub lunch by the fire.
Our guests have borrowed waterproof over trousers to keep them dry in the horizontal rain and are off out for an adventure then back to the Old Inn in Carbost for a dram.
Outside the wind is etching the surface of the loch – erasing it and trying again. Once I finish ironing I’ll get out there too, onto the shore. Perhaps there’ll be mussels for tea.