Friday, November 17, 2017

Destination – Isle of Skye

We moved a bit south in Western Scotland with our final destination for the day being the Isle of Skye, the biggest island in this near shore chain of islands.

This placid sheep posed nicely for Laurie…perhaps even with a little bit of a smile…

This is the old burial ground at the village of Lochcarron with the ruins of the former parish church in the background.  It was known as ‘the great church of Lochcarron and it dates back to 1751.   It was abandoned in 1845 when the ‘new’ church was built.  These ruins are believed to occupy the site of a much earlier building…the medieval church of St. Maolrubha’s. 

The Strathcarron Railway Station is a remote station on the Kyle of Lochalsh Line.  It serves the small hamlet of Strathcarron and the nearby village of Lochcarron.  That lattice girder footbridge across the tracks was built in 1900.

The depot itself was built by the Dingwall and Skye Railroad and it opened to passengers back in 1870.  The terrain in this area is problematic, with the section of the rail line along Loch Carron being prone to landslides that close the line from time to time.  

One of the Kyle rail line’s 3 segments of passing track/sidings is located at this station.  Four trains per day each way serve the Strathcarron depot Monday through Saturday with reduced service on Sundays.  In the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year, 8,162 passengers utilized this station. 

This is a view of Loch Carron, which is a sea loch, as taken from along A890 along the south shore.  We’d looped around the end of the loch and this is actually a view of the village of Lochcarron…where we’d photographed the burial ground and church ruins.

This is another overview of Loch Carron from our first trip to Scotland.  We took it from a viewpoint above the loch 31 years before our latest visit.

Whoa!  …back to this year's trip!  We had to stop so Laurie could take a photo of these 2 handsome but rugged looking horses along the road…

This isn’t a great photo but I’ve included it just to show what one of the challenging Scottish roads looked like.  You didn’t want to meet another car or truck coming the other way!

Yes, it is another railroad station!  This one was just outside the village of Plockton and, like the one at Strathcarron, it serves the Kyle of Lochalsh line.  In recent years, the depot had been occupied by a restaurant called ‘Off the Rails’ but now it’s been converted into a privately owned self-catering holiday cottage. 

This station was built by the Highland Railroad and it was first opened for service in 1897.  To learn more about the Highland Railway, you can go to

I just missed seeing the train stop here where it picked up 3 or 4 passengers!   Bummer!  In the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year, the Plockton Station handled 11,574 passengers. 

This is a view of Duncraig Castle as seen from the nearby village of Plockton on the seaside reaches of Loch Carron. 

Duncraig Castle was built in 1866 by Sir Alexander Matheson.  He’d acquired a fortune as a trader in the Far East.  He was a nephew of the founder and partner of the Jardine Matheson and Company.  Sir Alexander retired at 36 years of age, served as a Member of Parliament and was created a baronet in 1882.  He was also a railroad entrepreneur.  He bought large tracts of land in the Highlands…at one point owning 122,000 acres!  The castle was built to entertain friends and acquaintances and he even arranged for the castle to have its own private railway station!

Jardine Matheson Holdings, which was founded in 1834, continues to operate today and Matheson descendants still control this 185 year old company.  Revenues in 2016 were $42,100,000,000!  To learn more about the Sir Alexander, go to,_1st_Baronet.

In the 1920’s Sir Daniel and Lady Hamilton owned the castle.  He died right at the beginning of World War II and during the war the castle was used as a naval hospital.  Then, until 1989 this beautiful building served as a ‘domestic science’ college for girls.  In the late 1990’s it was used as the set for BBC’s series, ‘Hamish Macbeth’.  It is currently undergoing renovation as a luxury hotel which will open in 2018.  To learn about this upscale facility, you can go to

This is the village of Plockton.  It has a population of about 400.  Laurie and I first visited Plockton back in 1986…and it was very quiet with little going on.  Today the village is a popular tourist town and it’s served as the backdrop for at least one movie and a television series.  The town has also been a popular haven for artists for many years…


·        The above photo shows a fairly typical “2-way street” in a small Scottish village.

This photo shows a local resident walking down the main street of Plockton.  We took this photo back in 1986…talk about a quiet little village!  I’d originally titled this photo “Village Streetwalker”.

Plockton is the home of “Sqoil Chiuil na Gaidhealtachd”, the National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music at Plockton High School.  The school also hosts the “Am Bata” project which teaches pupils the art of boat building.

Plockton enjoys the mild temperate climate that is common along the west coast of Scotland and Ireland. 

Beginning in 1991, the Plockton Primary School has featured a Gaelic-medium education unit, providing instruction in the Gaelic language.  Over 24% of the area’s population are able to speak Gaelic, the highest percentage of Gaelic speaking Scots on the Scottish mainland.  Wikipedia states that there are about 60,000 native speakers of Scottish Gaelic remaining in Scotland.  We certainly heard several people speaking Gaelic while in the western part of the country…

This picture of Plockton is also from our 1986 photo album.  I’d always described that tropical looking tree as a palm tree but I’ve since learned that it’s not a true palm but rather a ‘Cordyline Australis’, commonly referred to as a cabbage tree.   

By Scottish standards, Plockton isn’t an old town.  Most of the houses date from the 19th and 20th century.  It was a planned community that was focused on fishing…with the goal of slowing the tide of emigration from the Highlands.

This isn’t the best photo…taken from the moving car…but it is the bridge from the Scottish mainland to the Isle of Skye.  The ‘Skye Bridge’ was completed in 1995.  While technically it could have been built much sooner, the low population on Skye provided an argument that the cost of construction couldn’t be justified.  Tourism and increased prosperity on Skye itself led to the bridge construction.

Laurie and I much preferred the ‘old way’ to cross over to the Isle of Skye.  It was almost our turn to board!  Note the snow in the mountains on Skye.  It was early October in 1986 when we visited the island.  This was one of the two 28-car ferries then in service across Loch Alsh.  As early as 1971, these 2 ferries carried more than 300,000 vehicles each year! 

While we missed the ‘romance’ of the ferry crossing and the feeling of being in a more remote place, I’m sure that the bridge has been a huge boost for the economy…especially for tourism…on the Isle of Skye.  

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for joining us on another segment of our Scottish adventure!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. Lovely photos and comments, friend David ... smiles ... Reminds me when I was young and we were travelling ... People, livestock and all ... anyway, much love, hmmm? ... cat.