It’s November, but don’t let that fool you. Earlier this week the sun shone, giving us fabulous sunrises, glorious vistas of the Cuillin and balmy weather after the frost had melted away – more like spring than late autumn really. Wednesday however, the temperature plummeted and by nighttime the wind was howling, the rain was pouring and we lit a fire. Yesterday – was a typical “Skye day”. We awoke to high cloud, so the Cuillin were once again magnificently visible, but within hours – by lunchtime to be precise – a stiff southerly wind blew up and everything was thoroughly drenched in cold, heavy rain. Come teatime though, it was all change again. The clouds miraculously cleared and the sunset was spectacular, fiery yellow and orange clouds with turquoise skies so deep you could almost believe they had been painted by some giants’ paintbrush.
Then, later there was not a cloud to be seen in the night skies, just a myriad of stars and a hint of frost. Totally unpredictable! You couldn’t make it up if you tried but that is the nature of weather that sweeps across all the Inner and Outer Hebrides; Islands that lie scattered along the western shores of Scotland, open since time began to the foibles of the great Atlantic Ocean.
Yet for the past three years, whilst living here on Skye and running our B&B, I have been regaled by the woes of guests who have pronounced the weather as “awful” or “dreadful” or even “foul” when previously dry, sunny days had morphed into gales accompanied by needle sharp rain, hiding views and shrouding the glens with low lying clouds and mist. I ask myself, ‘do they imagine that because the brochures depict the Highlands in all their bright and sunny glory, that it never rains here?’ Possibly! Do they think that this far north in the northern hemisphere that the weather is as predictable as the mediterranean? Apparently! My response to their wish for dryer, sunny, warmer days is ‘well, you can’t have green grass and glorious waterfalls without a bit of rain’.
Sunshine is a bonus, it makes us smile.
This reminds me, someone wrote on Facebook the other day “embrace the dreich”. You simply have to – well it’s that or be just plain miserable for a goodly chunk of the year!
You see, if you think about it, if we didn’t have rain, the Fairy Pools would be pitiful, if we didn’t have dreich, misty days, the heather wouldn’t flower and there wouldn’t be raindrops clinging to the Sundews in the glens in July, if there was little precipitation the hills would be a miserable brown, the rivers would be a pathetic trickle and as for the waterfall across the other side of Glen Drynoch, well… that simply wouldn’t be.
So when I write at the bottom of my emails to guests who are arriving within the next four weeks “Please note, the weather can change dramatically at any time of the year on Skye, so we always advise our guests to bring good waterproof clothing, waterproof walking boots and layers of clothing,” I’m not kidding!
I hate water running down my neck and I am not a fan of wet legs encased in soggy jeans, and as for wet feet – well don’t even go there. So here’s a couple of hints and tips for a “dry” holiday in The Highlands:
Waterproof walking boots are essential. So if you’re like me, here’s what you do if you’re travelling to the Hebrides. Pack your waterproof jackets, and waterproof trousers (’cause there’s nothing worse than water running off your jacket and down your trouser legs when it rains) along with layers of clothing ready for whatever our weather chucks at you.
Good walking boots are heavy so here’s an idea, why not wear them on the plane (if you’re coming by plane that is), you can take them off once you’ve boarded and shove them under your seat, they don’t add to your weight limit that way, and you then have suitable, waterproof footwear for your time in the Highlands. You can pack your lighter shoes in your baggage. Simples!!
We want you to have a wonderful time on Skye, we want you to embrace the wet and windy days because they make you notice things you might normally miss, such as the smell of rain soaked peaty soil, the vanilla perfume of the gorse which is intensified when it’s been raining. We want you to hear the sounds of the Curlews, Oyster Catchers and Stonechats and the sound of crashing waves in our beautiful bays and beaches. The heady aromas of coffee and freshly baked cakes, the warmth and hospitality of the many cafe’s and Inns around Skye can be so much more appreciated when the weather is damp and soggy. Then on the sunny days – and we do have a great many believe it or not – when the skies turn deep blue, the hills golden or in August deep lilac as the Ling and Heather bursts into flower – you’ll love and appreciate them all the more, especially if you come prepared!