Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Cruel Cuillin

Graham Paterson, 1952 - 2012

The awesome beauty of Skye's Cuillin mountain range attracts walkers and climbers from the world over. Many visitors employ a mountain guide to take them safely into the hills.

One of the best was Graham Paterson.

Graham was renowned for his patience and encouragement. He was also very conscious of the need for caution and safety. A Client Comment on the website I created for him reads: This man knows every rock, every path, every place to escape from and hide from weather and wind... he builds confidence and helps guys like me achieve stuff I could never dream of... he is an absolute star in my eyes and made my week on Skye the most terrific, fabulous, enthralling, exciting... and most of all FUN time ever...

Last Thursday, Graham was booked to lead a novice walker for a walk in the Cuillin. The detail of what actually happened, we will probably never know, but somehow, Graham fell and was injured. His client came back down from the hills to raise the alarm, but by then it was night. Search teams, including Search and Rescue Association dogs and an RAF helicopter, did their best in the appalling wintry conditions that overcame the hills that night. By the time Graham was found, his injuries and the weather had taken their toll, and Graham was dead.

We just cant believe this has happened, and are struggling to cope with such dreadful news. We send our fondest love and hugs to Graham's wife, Annie. We are thinking of you Annie!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Mid-Winter Visitor and Great Skye Photos

We have just had the enormous pleasure of welcoming a first-time-on-Skye family member for a five-night stay at the Barn. Our visitor was Jeremy, my nephew-by-marriage. He came for a much-needed break from his pressurised and stressful job as a Project Developer for the HM Govt. Met Office. (Yes, the Met Office needs to make a profit, and people like Jeremy help to achieve that profit...)

Unfortunately, Jeremy's visit coincided with me being unusually busy doing stuff for us, so he spent his days wandering Skye on his own, having been pointed in what we thought to be the best direction. Jeremy had been advised to bring a camera, and he did just that, using it to especially good effect. I post below (with Jeremy's full permission) just a few of his fantastic photos.

He left here this morning saying that he will be back - I hope that Jeremy's next visit will coincide with a time when I can also get my boots on and join him on some of his walks!

Jeremy's walk beyond Glen Brittle was thwarted by a burn which was too deep to ford, but he took these stunning photos at his 'turn back' point... (As ever in this blog - click on any picture to view it full-size)

The next day was wet and misty, but we suggested Jeremy should explore Trotternish and The Storr. He certainly captured the atmosphere... 

However, the next day, the Skye weather-switch had been clicked, and for his last full day on Skye, Jeremy enjoyed wall-to-wall sunshine. He returned to the Storr, and came back with...

Jeremy also took many photos from the Barn and it's immediate surroundings.  Of course, we have hundreds of our own pictures taken here, but  it is a delight to see where visitors point their cameras. Jeremy took this picture late in the evening  just a couple of miles from the Barn. It is a long exposure, so not sharply focussed, but I like the 'painterly' quality of the image. 

Jeremy has said he would like to return to Skye to explore further when the daylight hours are longer. I can confirm that he will be most welcome, as will any other of the Devon-dwelling Dorrell/Bonnett/Tandy family!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Work to Retirement Diary

A long-time friend of mine has just reached 'that' age when giving up full time employment begins to look like a very good idea. To be honest  I reached that age when I was about 30, but one needs an income from somewhere...

And it is that need of income that keeps most of us in paid employment longer than maybe we need to. We like to be sure that we will have 'enough' for the rest of our lives, and it's not easy to estimate what 'enough' might be.

But, having finally made the decision to retire, we then look ahead at a life without the daily routine of going to work, and some find that scary, and even use it as a reason for keeping on working.

For me, I had no trouble at all shifting from one life to another, but then I sometimes wonder if I am retired at all after a day with a double turn-round, 5 beds to change, two bathrooms and kitchens to clean and a lawn or two to mow...

For my friend, Sara, making the decision to retire exercised her mind more than somewhat  and now she is just on the edge of discovering that there are so many things she at last has time to do, that she wonders how she ever had time to go to work...

Sara started a blog a few weeks before she retired, and I think anyone who has recently retired, or who is coming-up to do so, will find her blog to be interesting reading. You will find it here.

Happy retirement Sara!

Friday, 30 November 2012

In the news - but not the way we would want to be...

Item copied from the Oban Times, 22.11.2012.

The accident happened two weeks ago. The 'Skye Woman' is Sue. She is absolutely fine - completely unhurt, though she was lucky the car didn't turn over. The insurance company is still pondering over whether to pay to repair the car or write it off.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Skye Tradesmen

There I was in my last post, all optimistic that the refurbishment work at Loch View was well underway, and then the guys who did the knock-through of the wall decided that they no longer wanted to undertake the refitting of the bathroom.

This was after providing a quote for the job, and suggesting to me where I should obtain the new bathroom suite and wetwall for the shower.

However, there are a number of other tradesmen on Skye, and one of them is going to Loch View tomorrow to look at the bathroom job. So I am hopeful we will soon be back on track, and I look forward to posting some more pictures shortly!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Work is Underway at Loch View Cottage

We have every intention that our recent purchase - Loch View Cottage, Carbost  - will be refurbished and ready for holiday letting from early 2013, so work in underway now.

We have local tradesmen, Nick and Alistair, at work opening up an archway between the kitchen/dining room and the lounge. This will give the impression of a much bigger living space, and will also enable people in the kitchen to see the view, and communicate with people in the lounge. We'll be blocking off the door from the hall into the lounge too as it will no longer be needed.

I have started work on stripping out the bathroom. It's a small room, so we are not going to replace the bath, going for a large shower cubicle instead. There's new bathroom furniture on order too, then the room will be re-tiled and a new floor laid.

We have a few new items of furniture to source, and together with a few of our own 'little touches' the rest will stay as it was for 2013. Maybe next winter, the kitchen will get re-fitted and we will go for new carpets throughout  - that all depends a bit on finances!

Monday, 12 November 2012


Well, here we are again!
Looking through the rest of my photographs, it was noticeable just how many wonderful beaches we visited whilst touring the Melvaig area....
Below is a shot of Big Sands en route to The Croft where we were staying.  A deserted beach with a beautiful evening sky, - what more could you want!
(Don't forget to click on each photograph to get a better view!)

On Saturday 27th we spent a lovely few hours at Flowerdale waterfalls (featured earlier in this blog) and then went down to the Pier.   Following a footpath from there, we discovered this lovely view of another deserted beach with Gairloch in the distance.

The following day we went on a drive encompassing Poolewe, Aultbea and Laide.  Driving further northwards we ended up at this fabulous sandy beach at Mellon Udrigle which has vast expanses of white sand, rock pools and the most fabulous sandstone rock deposits. Wonderful!

Our long walk along the beach encompassed rock pools, huge mountains of bladderwrack and often vast formations of sandstone rocks.......

Saturday involved a much longer walk out to the deserted housing remains of Slaggan.  Just past it we came across another wonderful, empty sandy beach..

Later that day and back at our cosy, comfortable base, The Croft, Cupar the Collie relaxes in the lounge after his long - eight mile or so - walkies!   

A great day and a fabulous mini holiday in all! :)

Friday, 9 November 2012

Pageview counter

Hello to all our many readers!

I have just decided to change the pageview counter (located top right of every page) to show page hits per week rather than per month, as it then shows a more 'up to date' status.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Well here I am - finally getting round to putting photographs to blog at last!     We had a wonderful three days at Melvaig and ensured that our time was not wasted with various walks along beaches and through woods, the latter of which were attired with some fabulous autumnal colours.   Below is a path at Flowerdale which we took on our way up to the waterfalls. 

Below is a photograph of Richard and Cupar on our way up to the falls.  We got absolutely drenched when it rained but enjoyed our trek there all the same.....:)   

Despite the rain, the sun finally managed to peep through the trees for a few minutes casting wonderful shadows and brightening the already beautiful autumnal colours.  It was glorious!

Our path often followed the river which was in full speight as a result of all the rain that had fallen recently.  The noise was quite deafening at times.  

Afterwards we moved across the road down onto the pier and had a leisurely stroll about looking at all the small boats in the harbour......

.. and then it was back to our temporary home - at The Croft in Melvaig, - where we later planned our next walkabout for the next day!   And where did we go?  Well watch this space and you'll find out very soon!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

SkyeHolidays on Facebook and Twitter

I've never been much good at Facebook. I have created a few accounts, and dabbled with posting stuff, but then I leave it a while, and my 'notifications' soon go quiet.

As for Twitter - I don't really get it... though I do have an account...

BUT, I am aware that FB and Tw are valuable free marketing tools for a business such as SkyeHolidays...So, if you are Facebooked or Twittered, please do try to find me. I'm variously called SkyeHolidays and HolidaySkye and even Richard Dorrell. I am currently trying to post something sensible at least once a day in each account.

And if anyone can point me to a really useful website which explains what these sites are all about...?? No, I guess that's a bit too much to hope for...

Monday, 5 November 2012

Tweaks to this blog

Google provides Blogger authors with statistics about their blogs, so I have been aware for a while that this blog has become pretty popular. I've just added a hit-counter at the top right of the page, which is showing page-views per month (I think each post counts as a 'page').

I've also added a search box, which is powered by Google, so it is very efficient, providing you enter reasonably intelligent search terms!

Maybe I need to be careful what I write - who knows who is reading this...???!!!

New website for Skye Holidays

I've been struggling with this one for a few weeks, but have now decided it's ready enough to launch, so the all-new Skye Holidays website is now live on the old address -
I think it is all working and displaying correctly, but being an amateur web designer, I am sure I have problems with issues that an expert would solve in seconds (or never create in the first place). My biggest problem is my failure to understand Cascading Style Sheets... maybe one day...

I have now created individual stand-alone websites for each of our cottages, so that we can advertise them individually, which will have the effect of broadening our advertising (and our presence on the internet). There are links to all the websites from skyeholidays, and each should open in a new tab or window.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Melvaig Holiday Pictures

Here's just a few of the couple of hundred pictures we took on our wonderful little holiday to Melvaig...

I'm here - can you see me? (Red deer hind in Melvaig)

The crash-site memorial to 15 people who died when a USAF Liberator hit the hillside, lost in fog, June 13 1945. Wreckage remains scattered to this day. A tough walk to a very moving place.

This is MY beach!

Sue photographs the autumn colour. Note the full wet weather gear... wear the right clothes, and who cares if it rains...?!!!

Flowerdale, Gairloch. Another tough walk, but I'll bet this waterfall looks best at this time of year!

Flowerdale again. Just wonderful!

On our way to Slaggan... (Wet weather gear again...) (Our path goes off the picture upper left).

Slaggan beach - 3 miles from the nearest road. There is a ruined settlement of some 20 or more houses just behind the photographer.  Words can't describe the emotions we felt here.

Gairloch harbour - bathed in autumn sunshine.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

End of Season Holiday

After a busy summer season, Sue and I treated ourselves to a little holiday. We rented a cottage in Melvaig, just north of Gairloch - that's on the mainland a couple of hour's drive north from Skye. The landscape becomes more wild the further north you go, but there are some fantastic sandy beaches - and dogs love sandy beaches.... more pictures to follow very soon....

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Allotment News - Raspberries gone

The previous owner of the allotment planted about ten raspberry canes shortly before I began to garden the plot. I tried to look after the canes, but although they produced a few good size berries, they seemed to do it a few at a time, rather than producing a large crop all at once. Is that normal?

Anyway, when we bought the allotment  the previous owners said they didn't want the raspberries transplanted into their garden, so I left them untouched all this year.

Today, I decided it was time for action, so I have dug them all out. This was not an easy task - in the three years they have been growing there, they had produced dense roots which all tangled together and made pulling up each plant a case of digging all round it and pulling out bits as and when I could. Phew. Come the spring, I will discover just how much of the root I have left in the ground which has sufficient will to live that it sprouts into a new plant...

Friday, 12 October 2012

Allotment news

I might have had a bit of a disaster with the brassicas (though I think a couple of cabbages and some of the sprouts will still be OK). Then the runner beans suffered from a late spring frost and an early autumn one, so we didn't get a lot to eat from them, but the carrots have made a good size, and there's no sign of root fly, and the potatoes are excellent, if a little scabby, due to the dry summer, But after a light peeling, they cook really well. These are the First Earlies which should eat as 'new' - the Second Earlies are actually better, but we'll get through them all eventually! The swedes are good too.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

I'm back home, now Sue's away!

No sooner do I get home from my trip to Devon and Hampshire, than Sue departs for a trip to Kent to visit her Mum and friends. *sigh* Here she is, giving Cupar a farewell snuggle this morning...

I took Sue down to the railway station at Kyle of Lochalsh this afternoon. She takes the scenic railway trip to Inverness, and then boards the overnight sleeper to London. It's a comfortable way to travel, and certainly costs a lot less than my two-day trips in the van. But of course, Sue can't bring back furniture, a cooker and a pile of shopping, as I did on my trip last week.

Here's the wee train at Kyle station, about to depart...

It has been another stunning autumn day here on Skye, so when I paused at the Co-op in Broadford on my drive back from Kyle to Roskhill, I walked to the end of the car park and took this view over the Old Pier and Broadford Bay. This has to be the most scenic supermarket car park in the UK...!

A little further down the road, I stopped again to catch this classic view of the Cuillin...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

East, West, Skye's Best!

Here's the view over Loch Bracadale that greeted me as I drove across Skye back to Roskhill last night, on my way home from my trip to the South of England...

It was great to see family and friends, but it's good to be home!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Now I'm in Southampton....

.... actually, not quite. I am in Hedge End, which is just east of the city. I'm here to visit long-time friends Sara and Rod. Today, the weather was beautiful, so we had a very pleasant walk in nearby Farley Mount Country Park near Winchester...

The park is home to a hilltop monument to mark the burial place of a racehorse named 'Beware Chalk Pit'

The walk ended conveniently close to Hursley, where the excellent Kings Head provided us with a pub lunch which we enjoyed sitting in the sunny garden. 

The pub serves several real ales - I tried the Doom Bar, while Sara had Squirrels Delight. Both were very palatable! Rod was driving, so stayed with Coke. Tomorrow lunchtime, I set off back to Skye, with an overnight stop booked at a country B&B near Preston.

Monday, 1 October 2012

I'm in Torquay...

...and just to prove it, here's three pictures I took this afternoon. It's not quite the same as the harbour at Portree...!!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Travelling south again

On Friday morning, I'm setting out for another trip to visit my friends and family in the south of England. I do these trips three times a year, but always set out with mixed feelings. I really enjoy catching up with people in person, as opposed to on the phone or email, and it is also always a 'reminder' experience to visit the south again - it is just so different to here!

But... the 700 mile drive is something of a trial. I used to do it non-stop (apart from 'comfort breaks'..!!) but these days I take two days over the journey and have an overnight stop in a B&B. It is interesting to see other B&Bs, but it is clear that the Scottish  Borders B&B market is a different one to that on Skye - which I guess is not unreasonable, as the requirements of the visitor will be different. (Skye is more up-market, but more expensive).

And... I sigh with feelings of loss as I cross the Skye Bridge travelling I'm most relieved to see the familiar hills and the Skye Bridge as they loom into view as I make my return. Skye has a peculiarly magnetic attraction!

On Friday night, I will be staying near Ayr, on the west coast of Scotland, south of Glasgow. I'll post pictures and comments here if it seems appropriate to do-so.

Back soon!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Colour of the Skye

It's now the time of year when the heather flowers are just fading from pastel purple to soft brown. The summer grasses are beginning to die back and the bracken is taking on its autumn gold. Such deciduous trees as we have are putting on their autumn coats. When the sun shines, it's a great time to be outside with a camera - but winter brown can be just as spectacular as summer green. The colour of the landscape here changes so quickly and so completely.

I'll post a selection of Sue's wonderful photos below to illustrate just a few of the multiple Colours of Skye... (As with any pictures in this blog - click on any picture to view it bigger)