Sunday, 27 July 2014

Dunvegan Castle, Skye

Dunvegan Castle is built on a rocky outcrop which was once entirely encircled by the sea. It has commanding views down the Loch and is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. The castle has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for over 800 years.

There are no photos allowed in the castle

but it has many fine paintings and clan treasures. One of the most famous being the Fairy Flag which according to legend states that when unfurled in battle the clan MacLeod would invariably defeat their enemies. The flag is said to have originated as a gift from the fairies to an infant chieftain; a gift to a chief from a departing fairy-lover; a reward for defeating an evil spirit. Clan chieftains and fairies! - what a strange and curious juxtaposition?
In contrast to the austere appearance of the castle the gardens were overflowing with intense colours and a huge variety of flowers both rare and exotic. This is due to the warmth from the Gulf Stream running down the western side of Scotland and the purity of the air and water.
lilium Pardalinum - Tiger Lily
We have several different Turk's cap lilies in our garden, pink, orange, yellow and white. If I can locate a Pardalinum bulb then this beauty will be joining them
Portree is the largest town on Skye - the pretty harbour has a pier designed by Thomas Telford. The Royal Hotel is the site of MacNab's Inn which was the last meeting place of Flora MacDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746. 
Flora by Allan Ramsay

This portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie was discovered in the last few months and is also by Allan Ramsay
The Cullins
Road to the Isles
The far Cuillins are pullin' me away
As take I wi' my cromack to the road.
The far Cullins are puttin' love on me 
As step I wi' the sunlight for my load.

A cromack is a shepherd's crook or stick
A final backward glance at the Cuillins and then 
 onwards to catch the ferry from Skye to the outer Western Isles of North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, and Eriskay

48 comments:

  1. Absolutely loved this post Rosemary, it's brought back such happy memories of a couple of trips to Skye. You've got me yearning to go back. The gardens at Dunvegan are just fantastic and it would be difficult to beat the setting.

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    1. Dear Jessica - the gardens were a complete surprise to me, I had not imagined that they would be so colourful or interesting - the setting was lovely with the rocky sheltered cliffs and natural waterfalls.

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  2. Hello Dear Rosemary,
    What a stunningly beautiful post of the gardens of Dunvegan.
    I have never been to Scotland.
    Its very much in the limelight at the moment, with the commonwealth games.
    I have one tiger lily. Am so proud of it. I hope to plant more for the next coming season.
    Enjoy the rest of the Western Isles.
    I am singing the song to myself , while I write.. 'Over the sea to skye'..
    Happy travels.
    val xxx

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    1. There is something about the colouring in Scotland that you get nowhere else in the world. The intensity of the colouring probably has something to do with its remoteness from the industrial world.
      I am singing that song now Val - happy days to you.

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  3. More Scottish loveliness to tempt me. Pray tell dear lady did you go on an organised tour? And what are your hotel recommendations please.

    Jean x

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    1. Dear Jean - we did go on a tour, but now that I know how simple it is to do you could easily do it yourself, especially if you look at my map. The ferries do not need booking unless you are travelling in the school holidays - most of the hotels tend to be rather old fashioned although clean and with the usual facilities, and the food is not haute cuisine. The best hotel that we stayed in which I could recommend is the Cabarfeidh in Stornoway. Why don't you look at this page from Lonely Planet -
      http://www.lonelyplanet.com/scotland/highlands-and-northern-islands/outer-hebrides/hotels/guesthouses
      We flew up to Edinburgh from Bristol on Easyjet, but I suspect that you would want to take your car to travel around in.
      The best route is over to Skye, stay a couple of nights, then ferry from Uig, Skye, to North Uist, Lochmaddy, stay 2 nights so that you can visit South Uist and Ereskay, and may be pop over to Barra, there is a ferry from Ereskay. If you do that you may need 3 nights, then North Uist across the causeway to Bernaray to catch a ferry over to Harris, stay 2 nights there to do all of the ancient sites in Lewis, then travel up to Stornoway for may be a night, then catch the ferry back from there to the mainland at Ullapool.

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  4. I had forgotten all about that song, Road to the Isles, until I read your lovely post, Rosemary! We used to sing it at school, and I just discovered I remember most of the words of all the verses (quick check on Google to confirm). Now that will go through my mind all night :) The castle is serious and stately, and the garden so joyful and full of colour, such a contrast. I would so love to go Over the Sea to Skye... Beautiful photos, I hope I go one day too.

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    1. It is not a song that I think about either, but travelling on the roads in the isles it is a tune that just automatically pops into your head for some reason. One of the things I found most interesting was how individual each island tends to be.
      Hope you manage to make the journey one day Patricia.

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  5. What a beautiful garden - so fresh and colourful. Your reminder of Road to the Isles started me humming some of the other lovely songs of the islands like Eriskay Love Lilt and Uist Tramping Song. I once owned a wonderful LP of Kenneth McKellar and your posts have brought back those songs in my memory.
    Thank you for this great post.. I'm looking forward to your sharing of rest of your journeying.

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    1. Hello Betty - it was lovely to hear from you. I am so pleased that you enjoyed the post, I do remember that you visited the Shetlands last year, which I have yet to get to. A few more posts to go which I hope you will like seeing.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,

    I will be sure to share the images of Dunvegan Castle with my good friend and neighbor Allan MacLeod, who is very proud of his Scottish heritage. I can well imagine that a castle that's been continuously inhabited for 800 years would have quite a few treasures! I'll also have to share that story of the Fairie Flag — maybe Allan knows of it and can add some information — I'll ask.

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    1. Dear Mark - that is interesting that your neighbour is a MacLeod - the flag is made of silk from the Middle East (Syria or Rhodes) and experts have dated it to around the 4th - 7th centuries AD. Initially it was thought that it might have been from the Crusades but the first Crusade was 400 years later. There is a question mark as to whether it might have been a fragment from the garment of an early christian saint, or the war banner of Harold Hardrada, King of Norway - there are many theories, but romantically it is known as the fairy flag!!!

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing them Amy.

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  8. Rosemary, It´s a pleasure to follow you on your journeys and this was really magnificent, Skye. So beautiful!
    Take care and have a sunny week...
    Love, Titti

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    1. Dear Titti - we enjoyed our trip to the Scottish islands, made all the more perfect by the lovely weather we are all enjoying at the moment.

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  9. Hello Rosemary
    Dunvegan Castle is a beauty and those gardens. I can just imagine the peace and the air and light.
    Chieftains and faeries also add to the romance. What a trip. You will have a store of beautiful memories to sustain you during the winter months.

    Helen xx

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    1. Hello Helen - it is a trip we have been intending to do for ages which on the face of it appeared complicated. However, we now know that it is easy to do with just a little forward planning, but well worth taking. I wonder if the Irish wee folk had anything to do with the flag?

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  10. Funny I have only been to Skye once but it has really stayed with me and I often think about it. Thanks for your excellent photos which really conjure it up. Do you think you will get to take any photos of Raasay? One of my favourite islands in the world.

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    1. Raasay was visible from our hotel window but that is as far as we got to it.

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  11. What spectacular scenery - I have never been up there but would love to one day. Those gardens are to die for and as you say such a contrast to the castle. Thanks for the history lesson most interesting.

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    1. You must try and visit sometime Elaine, there is something about the colouring in Scotland that is unique.

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  12. What a wonderful place! The garden is sublime!
    Marian

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    1. When we wandered down the path to the garden it was a total surprise - such a splash of brilliant colours in a beautiful setting.

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  13. I can imagine your surprise! Looking from the bare gray castle to this wonderful colourful garden. One day I hope to visit Skye, I love the sceneries.

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    1. I do hope that you can visit one day, I am sure that you would enjoy all that the island of Skye has to offer.

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  14. Truly amazing that the Castle has remained in the same family for so many years. I do like the town by the water. What a pretty show of flowers....

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    1. Portree does look pretty with its colour washed houses reflected in the water - the gardens at the castle were wonderful, such lovely colours in the borders.

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  15. Och aye, ma wee hen has returned to the nest! Welcome back Rosemary, so nice to see such a tantalising view of Dunvegan Castle.
    The gardens are so lush and fluffy when many of the gardens I have seen this past week have been on the crispy side to say the least! Love the image of the candy coloured house in Portree harbour, so pretty.
    By the way, the Clan Chieftains & the Fairies do indeed have a bond that goes back centuries. It is a well known fact in magical circles, just last night the pixies were telling me so...

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    1. Thank you Mr. Magic for that affirmation straight from the horse's mouth so to speak. Yes, my garden is looking a bit crispy and could do with a dose of rain.

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  16. Ohhh, those gardens!!!!!! Sooooo lovely!!! Now that we live in an area where we get a proper amount of rain, I feel so happy when I see these lush places. It used to just make me envious : )
    Have a wonderful week,
    Marica

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    1. I do like the idea of your new business Marica and hope that it is going well for you - you deserve that following all your hard work.

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  17. Such a lush and beautiful garden of flowers Interesting folklore about the fairies and battle success. Oh to see Scotland once more.

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    1. Once you have been to Scotland it gets under your skin, there is something about the colours that you do not get anywhere else.

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  18. Hello Rosemary, Such vivid colors in those gardens, yet they seem to instinctively preserve the right proportion of color to green. The water views are also lovely, although I don't think that pink was the happiest color choice for those houses.

    The castle seems fascinating. Its stark exterior reminds us of the bitter struggles that took place in these remote islands that seem disconnected from the real world.
    --Jim

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    1. I find it remarkable the way people got travelled all around that area hundreds of years ago when the islands were isolated from one another - no causeways, bridges or ferries then.
      You are right about the pink of that house - bright bubblegum pink is not terribly in keeping.

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  19. The gardens of Dunvegan Castle look fantastic. What a shame we didn't have time to visit them on our tour. We did pass the castle and went down to the foreshore close by to admire the views of the castle and watch a colony of seals. I am looking forward to seeing the next part of your holiday soon! Sarah x

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    1. It is always impossible to do everything Sarah, but you can always return again sometime. I hope to visit again and do the islands on the east coast at some stage.

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  20. Hi Rosemary - The walled garden is lovely! The layered plantings around the pool is very well done. Tom and I have never been to Scotland - someday we'd like to tour it by train.

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    1. I did highland rail journeys last year, and it was good fun - a very relaxed why of travelling. The advantage is that you can wander around and stretch your legs then visit the buffet car.

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  21. Scotland looks a perfect place for hiking.

    Greetings,
    Fliip

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    1. It is a perfect place for all kinds outdoor sports and recreations.

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  22. Welcome back, Rosemary. The vibrant flowers of different colors are the things different from what I had seen in Scottish landscape, but its contrast to the austere look of the castle is exciting. When I step into the garden in person without knowing the effect caused by the sea current, I might feel fairies’ magical spell to the garden.

    Yoko

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    1. Thank you for your welcome Yoko - these gardens make me think of the song "there are fairies at the bottom of our garden."

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  23. Such a lovely and colorful little port town, Rosemary. And that gorgeous garden - wow! Thanks again for these posts on this magical Scottish island.

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  24. The gardens were a total surprise to us, we had not expected them to be so colourful or lush - Skye is the only island that can be reached from the mainland via a bridge, all the rest require a trip on a ferryboat but some of the small islands that are close together can be accessed from one another via road causeways.

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  25. An imposing castle in a stunning location and a garden after your own heart, Rosemary. What a treat.

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    1. If ever you visit Skye the castle and gardens are well worth visiting - the stunning gardens really wowed us.

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