The Isle of Skye, or Eilean a’ Cheò (the misty isle) is a key part of the Malts Cruise 2013 itinerary. Skye is known for its romantic history, natural beauty and wildlife. It is also the home of Talisker whisky!
During the Malts Cruise 2013 boats will be in the area of Skye between 10 and 13 July, and will be able to set their own itinerary. There will be a cruise rendezvous in Loch Harport on 11July with an informal supper at the Old Inn in Carbost, and visits to the Talisker distillery are arranged for both days.
If you are interested in wildlife, then Skye is a must. The island is large enough to provide a varied habitat for a range of flora and fauna, including golden eagles and white-tailed eagles. Budding ornithologists can spot mergansers, divers and eider ducks, as well as more common shore and garden birds. Visit www.skye-birds.com for details of the most recent avian visitors.
The fields beside Loch Pooltiel are renowned for the carpets of wild flowers between spring and autumn, including summer orchids, vetches and heathers.
Otters eat fish and sea urchins along the shore, and summer is the peak time for the big yet benign basking sharks. You can also see the common Atlantic grey seals, dolphins and perhaps Minke whales.
Skye has long been a favoured destination for walkers and climbers, with the dramatic and forbidding Cuillin mountains the main draw. There are lots of different routes on the island, suitable for all abilities and ambitions. You can download walking routes at www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/
Tours of the Talisker distillery will be available on 12 and 13 July, during the Loch Harport rendezvous. Talisker is the only whisky distilled on Skye. The whisky matches the rugged nature of the island, being peaty with a slight saltiness and a hint of citrus.
Skye has been inhabited since Mesolithic times and has a rich and turbulent history. The Vikings ruled the island from the 9th until the 13th century, when the Treaty of Perth ceded control to Scotland.
The island was then controlled by clans, primarily Clan MacLeod and Clan MacDonald, and there were many bloody skirmishes between the two. Skye is probably most famous for the flight of Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Stuart) during the 17th century Jacobite rebellion. The Prince was spirited away to safety on Skye by local woman Flora MacDonald, leading to the romantic Skye Boat Song.
The harvesting of kelp seaweed to make soap was the main industry on Skye until the 1820s, with the clan chiefs encouraging subsistence farmers to leave the inland areas to work on the shore. The industry collapsed in the face of cheaper imports from Spain, and sheep became the new money spinner. More farmers were forced from their land to allow sheep to graze, and the potato blights of 1845 encouraged thousands to leave the land for a new life in North America. You can visit the haunting cleared villages in Lorgill and Boreraig.
Modern islanders make their living from tourism, agriculture, fishing and whisky distilling.