From the very first time I crossed the Skye Bridge I was captivated! In fact, if I’m honest, from the very first time I saw that bridge, with its sweeping curves – all concrete drama and smooth attitude as it spanned the swirling waters of Loch Ailse from Kyle of Lochailse skimming Eilean Bàn to land eventually on Skye – with those mountains in the distance, I was beyond saving! With the majestic Cuillin punching the clouds that scud across their tops most days, deep cliffs of Trotternish, raised beaches and breathtaking drama – who wouldn’t be seduced?
To my mind, in winter, the Skye Bridge is the only way to arrive on Skye. If the mountains are capped with snow the experience is breathtaking. And, as you rise high above the swirling waters of Loch Alsh you are struck by the sheer task that was undertaken to build such a structure in the rigged and challenging North West Highlands.
However, winter also brings the threat of gale force winds, forcing the powers that be, to take action. More often than not “action” results in this impressive yet graceful structure being closed to high sided vehicles – rarely to all traffic – but on the odd occasion, when wind speeds (mostly gusts) reach the 75mph stage, then you can forget going over that bridge in a vehicle, its considered too dangerous. When all said and done, I can’t imagine they sailed between Kyle of Lochalsh and Kylakin in really stormy weather either.
With so much ‘history’ to this bridge, is it any surprise that a book has been written about it? Goodness NO! The Skye Bridge Story compiled by Andy Anderson – is an account of the long protest against the tolls by inhabitants of Kyle and Skye. That the UK Government in Westminster thought they could levy such a toll is a mystery, but it failed as is evident today. This book is worth a read if you wish to understand the persistence of a group of communities to a certain injustice.
Beyond the bridge is an Island, wholly separate from the mainland in every way possible, despite the bridge. Compressed into 1,656 square kilometres, Skye’s beauty is blatantly impressive. From the grandeur of the Cuillin to the secrets of the glens, from the sheer drama of the many cascading waterfalls to the breathtaking vistas around each and every corner, bay and clifftop – Skye is a force to be reckoned with. In Part II, I continue my extraordinary love affair with Skye by exploring my first impressions of this fabulous Island.