Thursday, 13 September 2012

Exploring the Isles of Raasay and Fladday

An awesome rainbow off Raasay

So after the disappointment of not getting to the Alps I have been trying to salvage something from my holiday, a task not being made easy by the September weather. Something that usually does the trick in cheering me up is to go and explore somewhere totally new.

And for a country so small, Scotland is brilliant for that….as it has the Hebrides.

Almost every single time I've driven to the Isle of Skye, the only thing on my mind has been the dry rock and adventures promised by the Cuillin. It felt odd yesterday, to be making that familiar drive in the dark towards Skye without any thoughts of climbing in my head.

The beautiful East coast of Raasay

Off the East coast of Skye are a group of wild and sparsely populated islands, usually overlooked by visitors due to their proximity to the famous natural wonders of the Cuillin and Trottenish. But after studying a map I could see the potential for lonely and rewarding exploration was massive. 

Within 2 minutes of getting off the ferry on Raasay I was treated to one of the most startling rainbows I've ever seen. Fairly drenched, but happy, I set off to Raasay's NE coast, walked an overgrown path for a while and waded through ankle deep water over to the Isle of Fladday.

The coast of Fladday with Skye in the distance

I spent the morning wandering over Fladday's boggy ground and rocky coastline, enjoying occasional downpours and watching gannets fishing in the distance, breathing deep in the salty air and smiling inside at total solitude.

To avoid being marooned on Fladday by the tide I didn't linger too long and instead walked out to Creag na Bruaich on Raasay, possibly the weirdest cliffs I've ever seen. Although the cliffs of the Quirang on Skye are famously bizarre, they certainly look at home in the landscape. Creag na Bruaich however looks a bit like it belongs in a different country.

The bizarre cliffs of Creag na Bruaich

Massive and intriguing in equal measure, the cliffs of Creag na Bruaich would be a memorable place to visit at any time. But I was hugely privileged to spend my afternoon watching three white-tailed eagles soaring amongst the buttresses and calling to one another. A truly wonderful sight to see in such impressive surroundings, and something I'll remember for a while for sure.

A close-by pair of white-tailed eagles.

It was topped off by seeing a dolphin jumping through the waves on the ferry journey back to Skye. I already can't wait for the next island.


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