The Isle of Skye possesses a natural beauty and presence that stays with you long after you’ve left. The castles; rolling, green hills; mountains; and ancient, rocky towers cling tight to the memory of a time long since passed.
On one particular hike, we gingerly descended wet, wooden steps, picking our way across temporary flat terrain until we reached a steep climb. We started up. The higher we climbed, the denser the fog appeared to be. When we finally reached the top, this fog was so thick, we appeared to be standing on a floating, mountainous tip; the rest of the hill as well as the sea below seemed to disappear amid the cover of white. It was a fantastical adventure.
Our Highlands tour guide was pleasant and very knowledgeable, albeit a wee bit eccentric (we’ll come back to the eccentric bit in future posts). An American expat of Irish descent, he spent the first two-thirds of the trip trying to convince us that he was Scottish and that his accent had vanished due to a devastating and mysterious throat condition. It was only on the last leg of the tour when he divulged to us the (not very shocking) truth.
We were driving through a dense patch of forest when our guide announced that we were crossing over from the Lowlands into the Highlands. He told us that the people on his tours can often sense the moment they’ve crossed that boundary—there was an aura to the Highlands that was unique and unmistakable.
As we drove down the long roads, Gaelic music playing over the radio, our guide announced that we would be playing several rounds of James Bond trivia. My dad and I have watched all 26 movies well over five times each; I got nearly all of the trivia answers correct. Little did I know, however, what prize would be awarded to the winner. A glass of whisky (paid for by our guide) when we reached the Isle of Skye Brewery. This was a very generous prize indeed and, I suspect, a coveted one too. So, as luck would have it, not one, but two glasses were awarded to me…the only one in the group (aside from one teenager) who did not drink. Thankfully, my friend and one of the men in the group were only too happy to take the burden of victory off my shoulders. The whisky was thoroughly enjoyed in the end.
Useful Words & Phrases
- Whisky: uisge-beatha (oosh-ka bay-ah)
- (uisge=”water;” beatha= “life”)
- Cheers: Sláinte (slon-je)
- Ben (beinn in Gaelic): mountain
- i.e. Ben Lomond, a mountain in the Scottish Highlands
- Loch: lake or other body of water that is surrounded by land—either completely or nearly completely*
- i.e. Loch Ness