Skye, Edinburgh, London, Dover, Belguim and Holland
14 September 1999

first off i wanted to fill in some details i left out about Isle of Skye, like where it is. Skye is a not huge but not small island off the west coast of mainland Scotland (there i go calling an island 'mainland' again!) it is a mountainous island that is known for being part of the Hebrides, the last of the celts in Scotland. in the outer Hebrides all signs are only in gaelic. on Skye they are in gaelic and english. other than the hike i told you all about, we didn't spend time on Skye. We went to the Isle of Raasay to spend the rest of our time there.

Raasay is a very small island snuggled in between northern Skye and the mainland. the hostel there is about three miles from the ferry terminal, with a good bit of elevation gain. the view out of the hostel window is of the hike i described in my last update, with the Strait of Raasay (or something) between the two. Raasay has only 120 residents, so we were in the boonies. our first full day there it poured rain all day so hard we could hardly see the Strait itself. our big adventure that day was walking the 1.5 miles to the grocery store and then back. the next day was our grand day out on Raasay. we covered most of the island in our walk. we started northbound on the west coast of the island and evantually crossed over to the east coast where there are ruins of an old castle. from there we headed south through a forest which had moss covering every bit of ground and rocks, up to a half meter thick! it was so beautiful as we walked because the sun was just getting places for the first time since the rain the previous day and plumes of steam were rising aound us. it was quite magical in appearance. when we got out of the forest we headed upward past ruins of a village (about 700? years old) to get to the ridge which is the spine of the island. it took us a bit of time to get there and when we did we had to go along it for another hour or two to get to Dunn Caan, the highest peak on the island. it was not an easy stroll through the heather and peat bogs. there were many turned ankles (or was it just my left one over and over?) and no existence of dry feet. it was beautiful and fun though! we reached Dunn Caan with only one of us falling into a bog (not me this time!) and though it was too late to go up to the top we were not disappointed because we found our trail to the hostel. at this point mrk.'s long-legged friend, who had been keeping pace with us all day, decided to go along without us and start dinner (and we didn't complain.) mrk. and i got back after dark but safe and mostly sound. let's just say the hike down to the ferry terminal the next day with my backpack was not the most fun i've had on this trip. (i don't know that i had ever had blisters on the bottom of my foot before!)

that next day we headed for Edinburgh. we originally weren't overly excited about spending time there, but it turned out to be a very necessary stopping point. (i don't think i could describe the culture shock that would have occurred had we gone strait from Raasay to London) mrk. and i went from Raasay to Skye and then hitched a ride with a very nice, elderly couple from Australia to get to the mainland. from there we caught our train that would get us to Edinburgh. we only spent 24 hours in Edinburgh but we loved it! it is a beautiful city. maybe it was just the first time we had good indian food since leaving london, but i think it was more. =)

from Edinburgh it took us 4 nights and more than 3 days to get to Makkum, the meeting place for our weeklong boat trip. we spent the first night with our friend in London. then we lollygagged around London until the afternoon and spent the next night in Dover. Dover is a very depressed little tourist town that i would recommend not visiting. there is a very nice looking castle that sits atop the white cliffs overlooking the English Channel, but you can see that passing through. we left the next morning on the boat for Oostende, Belgium. when we arrived we discovered that the trains weren't running due to a strike. the train adventure we experienced at this point wasn't as dramatic as many stories i have heard from other travellers, but i felt initiated nonetheless. it took some running around but we did finally get our trains to Brussells and, eventually, Amsterdam. that night we stayed in the noisy but otherwise nice hostel in Amsterdam and left for Sneek midday the next day. Sneek (pronounced 'snake') is a little town in Friesland (nothern Netherlands.) we got the impression pretty quickly that they don't get many backpackers. i don't think many americans get out there either. the people at the hostel did speak engish though so we got settled in for the night. the next day we got on a bus and made it to Makkum by 10 in the morning.

© Copyright Cheryln Crowl 1999