Rainbow Skye

The Isle of Skye.  Even the name sounds mythical.   It’s reputation, what little I knew of it, was of a place with spectacular views around every corner.   Thus my excitement when, while researching a trip to Scotland, I found a tour option that included this potential feast for the eyes.   This stop could be the highlight of the trip.

But how did it measure up?

It had already been a long day of travel before we even boarded the ferry to the island. We’d started in Glasgow,  made a stop for a cruise on Loch Lomond, checked out Glen Coe and heard about a black mark in its history, lunched on meat pies in Fort William before taking in a museum and talking over the experience with a quietly solid Scot, got disappointed by our crappy vantage point for the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and motored through the highlands to the coast.  The Isle of Skye lay ahead and our guide was ruminating on when to do the island tour: that same evening or the next morning.

Ferry to the Isle of Skye

This was her quandary.  The weather had been deteriorating as the day went on, but it was expected to improve.  Eventually.  A local guide would lead the tour, presumably he’d have an opinion too.

For me, it was a no-brainer.   The forecast I saw didn’t have clearing until late in the day, and I was already bushed from this day’s travels on top of those of prior days.  I was all for resting up and waiting for the better weather expected the next morning.

But it wasn’t a democracy, the passengers didn’t get a vote.  Once we got to the island, the guides put their heads together and chose to run the island tour that evening, with the hope the weather would clear.

So after checking into the hotel, I took my grouchy self to the bus for the island tour and prayed for no rain.   It didn’t look promising.  As the ferry picture hints, it had been raining and blustery for the entire crossing, and although we’d see the occasional break in the clouds, rainy and blustery it remained.

Once on the island tour, there were several impediments to good photography.

It rained so much the bus windows became a water besmeared mess that was hard to see through for both human and camera.  The human view through the window was akin to waking up at some ungodly hour with crud encrusted eyes, blearily trying to make sense of a fuzzy world.  The camera was also confused.  Autofocus wanted to focus on the besmeared window rather than the landscape, leaving smears and streaks of rain in relative focus and the landscape an indistinct blur.  Switching to manual focus on the landscape was the only option, with the occasional hazard of my thumb’s autopilot kicking in and triggering autofocus anyway.

When the rain eased enough for at least part of the window to clear, the landscape peering through was none too clear from all the water in the air.  The view went beyond a moody, misty look and into a distance obscuring haze.

But what of stops? What of viewpoints, places to disembark, places where under cover of hood or umbrella, free of bleary windows, at least some specter of drama or mood might be sussed out?

Nope.  Not a one.   I don’t know if it was the inclement weather or the schedule relative to dinner, but the most we could do when promising points came up, and there were a few despite the conditions, was wave at them as we drove past.

So, I shot very little, and have but one picture to share from the evening tour.


And even this one took a bunch of editing to clear up smear and reflections.

What there was of the tour followed the main road north, with a turnaround point partway up at some spot I could not identify.  This limited run, combined with the poor visibility, barely gave the island a sense of place. Even in good weather, there would not have been enough time to give it a fair shake.   But at least there were rainbows.

Unicorns not included.

By the next morning the weather was changing.  Blue sections of sky jousted with grey, bright sun with rain showers. After breakfast I walked to a jetty near the hotel, and with cell phone in hand fired off a few shots.





Although we arrived at the island via ferry, there was an alternative route out.

Here in the USA, if someone mentions a sky bridge it refers to an enclosed bridge over a street, connecting two buildings.  In Scotland, it’s something else.   Beginning in 1995, the Scots opened a bridge connecting the Isle of Skye with the Scottish mainland.  The Skye Bridge crosses a main span of about 1500 feet, then runs on the small island of Eilean Bàn for 1700 feet, followed by a shorter 650 foot span to the mainland.   For us, it provided two things: a quicker way off the island, and a raised point that gave the most dramatic views of our excursion to Skye.




(Click on any picture for a larger view)

So was our trip to Skye a boon or a bust?  The simple answer is both. It was a boon we could make the excursion at all.   The short time we had and the weather blanketing that time was a bust.  The rainbows, the morning harbor, and the drama of the clearing stormy skies upon our exit was a boon.  The conclusion?

This place deserves a longer revisit.  The Skyes the limit.

49 thoughts on “Rainbow Skye

  1. Well Dave, seems it was worth all that rain and the wait, as the shots you finally got are really spectacular. That last shot is particularly dramatic with the light shining through the dark. WOW! Good thing you are a patient guy ahaha….

    Beautiful rainbow too.


    Liked by 2 people

  2. The shots from the bridge are spectacular, and the final b&w scene is just great. When the sun breaks through, it looks like a beautiful area. And even if the weather was bleary, the writing is clear and I really enjoy seeing “jousted” and “fired off a few shots” in the same paragraph.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to Skye and thought it worth a longer visit. Do forgive me but when I read the description of your itinerary I realised you were American straight away as it seemed you were trying to see everything in too short a time, a habit I believe the Americans are well known for. The old joke of the coach trip round Europe goes, ” if you look out of the window to your left you will see Paris and now on your right we see Berlin.” In the Victorian and Edwardian era a Grand Tour of Europe would take months and months, admittedly this may be a tad expensive in current times. For future reference it rains a lot in Scotland, however if it’s not raining you will be bitten alive by midges, or you could visit sunny England where it’s always lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, if only those English tour companies would stop packing so much into their itineraries! 😉 It’s not just Americans, we had plenty of Canadians and Aussies with us as well. Europeans, on the other hand come to America and wonder why they can’t see Yosemite one day and the Grand Canyon the next.

      Seriously though, I’d prefer to do longer, slower, more in depth trips. Trouble is, my wife doesn’t really like the “longer” part. This particular day was one of the more excessive ones in my travel history, and the next one ended up being much the same.

      I’m sure I’ll make it back to England one of these years. So much world, so little time…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Life is full of chance. It was by chance the rain drowned the excursion into what should have been spectacular. But it was also by chance that amazing dramatic sky revealed itself the next morning, and that we crossed the bridge at the right time to get its full effect, and that I happened to be sitting on the correct side of the bus, camera in hand, ready to capture it. (Ok, maybe the camera in hand, ready to capture wasn’t by chance…)

      Life has plenty of good and bad. I guess the trick is to not get too hung up on one side or the other, so you can recognize both and keep them in perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the rainbow pics! Our apartment view is open. We live in one of the tallest buildings in the area (6-7 story height limits in Bay Ridge). When it rains and the sun comes out sometimes we get to see a double rainbow! Sorry you had mixed feelings about your trip, that always stinks.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. When we moved in Vic wished we were at the front of the building. I was happy with our place. We look over the row houses but at least we have open sky and it’s quieter. The bad part about living in a place thats really old. It’s not insulated well and we bake in summer. When its humid its worse. It’s always 10-15 degrees hotter in here than outside. Summer can be brutal. We have to leave the AC on for the cats because it’s so hot they pant and even vomit. Even with the AC on, you have to sit in front of it. We can’t complain at all, we have a rent stablized place. We didn’t even know about rent stabilization when we moved in. We also live on the less leaky side. We can describe our place as very quirky but for NYC we pay inexpensive rent.

        On my trips if things don’t go as planned I tell myself things happen for a reason. Really does too. A hike got canceled because our guide was sick. Turned out there was going to be a bit of climbing. Worked out for me, I have weak wrists! Our guide was very surprised I didn’t yell at her for canceling that morning. We were upset but I chanted to myself – everything happens for a reason. Another trip we wanted to travel 2 weeks earlier and Vic’s coworker last minute wanted to take off so we switched plans. We were mad but it worked out. If we flew 2 weeks earlier we would have been snowed at our layover destination.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Despite the inclement weather, you captured some great scenes, Dave. Rainbows, water, boats, terrific photos. I enjoyed reading the narrative a lot, you got me chuckling a few times, Dave, as you took your “grouchy self” on the adventure. Traveling has its ups and downs, always. Great post, thanks for taking us with you to the Isle of Skye.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Here’s what I remember of the Isle of Skye:

    I don’t even remember crossing to it or any photos I took. It might as well have been covered with a giant gray flannel blanket. As a result, I now think of Skye in an even more mythical way than I did when I was anticipating seeing it; its elusiveness became its aura to me! Your morning shots are really nice, and I’m glad you at least got that little sliver of sun and blue skies (and those amazing rays).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m also glad I got at least some shots from that trip. I guess it’s better to get a few really good shots rather than a bunch of ho-hum ones. Maybe we both need a return trip (unless you enjoy the mythos 😉 )


  7. The wet and changing weather is just how I have always imagined Scotland. Now, I will have to amend my imagination to include sunbeams and rainbows. If I am fortunate to see it for myself someday, I will surely have to carry a raincoat.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. J.D. Riso

    Scotland wouldn’t be Scotland without that gloom, which somehow makes rainbows and sun rays so much more magnificent. I’ve got a photo of a double rainbow over Loch Lomond. Hopefully you can make it back to Skye for a longer stay.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I well remember standing at a Skye crossroads in 1970 trying to hitch a ride (as we did in those days) in pouring rain. I was wearing a tweed jacket. Eventually a van that had transported pigs turned up and I was grateful for the ride!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Closest I’ve come to that is standing at a crossroads outside Belfast in 1980, trying to hitch a ride in a steady rain. Someone finally decided I wasn’t a terrorist and took pity on me. I have no idea what I was wearing, but I did have a backpack.

        And they hadn’t even been transporting pigs!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I imagine the roads would have been brutal; muddy rutted messes with the potential to take a wheel off at each pothole. Having a place to stay at days end in those wilds would have been iffy. Traveling in those days would take true dedication – they’d have looked upon my complaints with a sneer.


    1. The place we stayed was just ok. Tiny room, adequate food (included in the tour package). We stayed in Broadford, there might be more options in Portree. I understand everyone and their brother tries to go there in the summer, so I wouldn’t wait too long to make reservations.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The Isle of Skye is actually in Scotland, and I suspect it may rain there even more than it does in Ireland. I think I found the pot of gold, the memories of the trip are a treasure, and better yet when shared the treasure only grows.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Those are such gorgeous photos…it’s funny, how our memories are so strong….you could have told us anything I suppose, and we’d be happy with these photographs. Too bad things didn’t go as well as you wanted, but every day of every trip won’t live up to expectations, and you made the most of it, according to the visual evidence!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy that the lighting cooperated the next morning, and that I noticed it, and had enough time to get the harbor shots. And that I was sitting on the correct side of the bus, camera in hand, ready to get the dramatic loch pictures that popped up. Amazing how being open to the little things can make such a difference.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Well, you certainly managed to get some great photos after all that! I’ve been to Scotland a couple of times (in May), and I was blessed with good weather. Not that I’ve seen all that much of it – I tend to like slow travel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our weather was variable but not bad as a whole, but I think we had the worst of it on Isle of Skye. There’s definitely something to be said for slower travel. You get to see things in more depth and it’s probably not as exhausting.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hopefully, if you do make it, you’ll give yourself a little more time than we had. We had such a small window. Given the notorious Scottish weather, I guess we pushed our luck.


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