Day 4 |
May 28, 2011

Armadale, Skye and Rum

By Imogen Corrigan, Medieval Historian

Co-ordinates: 54, 59, 57 N, 6, 14, 46 W
Weather: windy, rain, occasionally heavy
Air Temperature: 9C, 49F
Pressure: 998
Wind 62 km, 71.0 degrees

We arrived at Armadale Bay off the south corner of Skye at 0700 and were on stand-by half an hour later. There was a lot of interest in this visit because it was the first time they had had a visit from a cruise ship and they certainly made us welcome. Armadale Castle is the home of the Clan Donald (a.k.a. the MacDonalds), the most famous daughter of which was Flora who was the lady who had helped Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape in the C18th Jacobite Risings.

The day had begun gloriously as it so often does in these parts (no indication of what will later occur!) so about 90 guests disembarked by Zodiac. It was the first Zodiac ride for this group of guests so it was excellent that they had such good conditions for it, even though many had disembarked by Zodiac a number of times on other cruises.

Buses took the guests up to the castle entrance where they could visit the house, the museum or wander in the typically British, rambling gardens (or do all three). A number of the guests commented on the high quality of the museum displays, which, I must say, surprised me, too – money had definitely been spent on it! They were also featuring a History of Skye in 50 Objects, which worked very well.

Back on board, I was delighted to be given the chance to fit in my lecture on the Second or Third Coming, as it’s so helpful for the guests to understand the significance of Iona before they get there.

After lunch we went to Rum, one of the more charming Hebridean islands surrounded by others with impressive silhouettes, such as Eigg. The weather changed. The wind picked up as the forecast had said it would, so we anchored out a little way, giving the guests a slightly longer Zodiac ride in. None of them seemed to mind this, not least because the main squall passed whilst we, the Expedition Staff, were out in the scout boat. C’est la vie!

However, choppy Zodiac rides and threatening weather apart, everyone loved Kinlock House on Rum and many of the guests said it was well worth the trip. There is a walk of about 15 to 20 minutes to get to it, which was delightful — walking by the water’s edge. A bright yellow bus was provided for those who didn’t fancy stretching their legs and we all met up outside the red-stoned façade over-looking the loch.

The guided tour lasted almost an hour but it seemed like 10 minutes. We loved the eccentricities of both house and owners, the bizarre collections ranging from animal heads to a dentist’s chair and an orchestrion, one of only 6 left anywhere in the world (apparently) and still pumping out Sousa’s marches as though there was a 40-piece orchestra under the stairs. The house is opulent to the extreme but also lived in – it’s almost as though the last party guests had only just left.

The wind had increased so we had a fun ride back to the ship, spotting a couple of seals on the way. Once all were aboard we had recaps and a briefing for tomorrow and then progressed to the dining room where the evening ended in the usual way, eating far too much good food, but that’s not a complaint.