Day 12 |
Aug 30, 2012

Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland 

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 57°24´N, 06°10´W
Weather: sunny
Air Temperature: 13°C

Early in the morning the Silver Explorer approached the Isle of Skye and our next destination, Portree, the main town on this island of the Inner Hebrides. In contrast to the weather from yesterday, we had bright sun and a nearly cloudless sky. Nice and calm was the bay where this picturesque village is situated and the Silver Explorer was at anchor. Optimum conditions for our activities today.

The tour that was offered to our guests included a drive over the countryside of the Isle of Skye followed by a visit of the Dunvegan Castle. It was a simple but enjoyable tour that gave our guests an insight into Scottish history and Scottish nature at the same time. Today I was joining the tour together with my colleague Colleen and 30 guests. After a short Zodiac ride to the jetty we started from the pier making our way through Portree and his nice little houses. Soon afterwards we had left Portree the landscape became what one would call the Scottish Highlands. Undulating hills with heather and peat mosses characterized the landscape. One of the most impressive features was the Black and Red Cullin Hills, a hiking paradise for which the Isle of Skye is famous. After a little bit more than an hour drive and two photo stops we reached our destination.

The Dunvegan Castle is seat to the Clan MacLeod and is the only castle to have been continuously owned and occupied by the same family over a period of eight centuries. The castle itself lies in beautiful garden that goes right down to the shore side. Priceless heirloom treasures such as the Dunvegan Cup, the mysterious Fairy Flag or the Rory Mor’s Horn can be admired in the castle.

For me, as a botanist, the gardens were of course the focus of interest. In a beautifully designed water garden one could walk along paths with hydrangea, lilies, hostia and a lot of other beautiful flowers still in blossom and surrounded by small streams, ponds and waterfalls. The other highlights of the gardens were the Walled Garden and the Round Garden, both of them jewels of garden architecture. A nice coffee and a chat with some guests in the shop at the entrance finished our visit to this marvelous place.

A short but no less beautiful drive over the countryside of the island brought us back to the town of Portree. The afternoon was for leisure time and a lot of our guests went out to explore this beautiful part of the world on their own.

Around 19.00 the Silver Explorer set sail for our next destination: Iona and Staffa in the Inner Hebrides. But before the Captain heaved the anchor, the Hotel Department organized a cocktail reception out on deck during which the Expedition Team held a Recap & Briefing while everyone enjoyed the wonderful scenery of the Sound of Raasay.

Later, while sailing around the Isle of Skye onto our next destination and still following the routes of the Vikings, our guests enjoyed a delicious dinner in The Restaurant.