Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tour to Isle of Skye
Skye or the Isle of Skye, is the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The island's peninsulas radiate out from a mountainous centre dominated by the Cuillin hills. Although it has been suggested that the Gaelic name describes this shape there is no definitive agreement as to its origins. The island has been occupied since the Mesolithic and has a colourful history including a time of Norse rule and a long period of domination by clans Leod and Donald. The events of the 19th century had a devastating impact on the human population, which today numbers around 9,200. In contrast to many other Scottish islands this represents a 4% increase from the census of 1991. The residents are augmented in the summer by large numbers of tourists and visitors. The main industries are tourism, agriculture, fishing and whisky-distilling. The largest settlement is Portree, which is known for its picturesque harbour. Just over 30% of the residents on Skye speak Gaelic. Skye is part of the Highland Council local government area and is now linked to the mainland by a road bridge. The island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, vibrant culture and heritage, and there is plenty of wild animal including the Golden Eagle, Red Deer and Salmon.
Towns and villages
Category: Skye Villages Portree in the north at the base of Trotternish is the largest settlement, and main service centre on the island, with a population of 1,960. Broadford is on the east side of the island and Dunvegan in the west. Kyleakin is linked to Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland by the Skye Bridge that spans the narrows of Loch Alsh. Uig is on the west of the Trotternish peninsula and Edinbane is located between Dunvegan and Portree.
Skye brigde is the main brigde to link the mainland to the island, while ferries sail from Armadale on the island to Mallaig, and from Kylerhea to Glenelg. Ferries also run from Uig to Tarbert on Harris and Lochmaddy on North Uist, and from Sconser to Raasay.
The Skye Bridge, linking Skye with the mainland of Scotland, opened in 1995 under a private finance initiative. The high tolls charged (£5.70 each way for summer visitors) met with widespread opposition, spearheaded by the pressure group SKAT (Skye and Kyle Against Tolls). On 21 December 2004 it was announced that the Scottish Executive had purchased the bridge from its owners and the tolls were immediately removed. Bus services run to Inverness and Glasgow, and there are local services on the island, mainly starting from Portree or Broadford. Train services run from Kyle of Lochalsh at the mainland end of the Skye Bridge to Inverness, as well as from Glasgow to Mallaig from where the ferry can be caught to Armadale. There is also a small aerodrome at Ashaig near Broadford, which is used exclusively by private aircraft. The A87 trunk road traverses the island from the Skye Bridge to Uig, linking most of the major settlements. Many of the island's roads have been widened in the past forty years, but there are still substantial sections of single track road.
The new college buildings, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Students of Scottish Gaelic travel from all over the world to attend Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, a Scottish Gaelic college based in Sleat. In addition to members of the Church of Scotland and a smaller number of Roman Catholics many residents of Skye belong to the Free Church of Scotland, known for its strict observance of the Sabbath. Shinty is a highly popular sport and Portree based Skye Camanachd won the Camanachd Cup in 1990.
Media and the arts
Strong folk music is tradition of skye. However the rock and modern music is growing in the Skye popularity. Gaelic folk rock band Runrig started in Skye and former singer Donnie Munro still works on the island. Jethro Tull singer Ian Anderson owned an estate at Strathaird on Skye at one time. Several Tull songs are written about Skye, including Dun Ringil, Broadford Bazaar, and Acres Wild (which contains the lines "Come with me to the Winged Isle, / Northern father's western child" as a poetic reference to the island itself). The Isle of Skye Music Festival has been growing in recent years and has featured sets from The Fun Lovin' Criminals and Sparks. Electronic musician Mylo was born in Skye and frequently returns there to perform. The poet Sorley MacLean, a native of the Isle of Raasay which lies off the island's east coast, lived much of his life on Skye. The island has been immortalised in the traditional song The Skye Boat Song and is the notional setting for the novel To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, although the Skye of the novel bears little relation to the real island. John Buchan descriptions of the island, as featured in his Richard Hannay novel Mr Standfast, are more true to life. Skye has been used as a location for a number of feature films. The Ashaig aerodrome was used for the opening scenes of the 1980 film Flash Gordon. Stardust, released in 2007 and starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, featured scenes shot as Eilean Iarmain and the Quiraing. Another 2007 film, Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle, was shot almost entirely in various locations on the island (a small number of scenes being filmed on the mainland). The West Highland Free Press is published at Broadford. This weekly newspaper takes as its motto "An Tìr, an Cànan 's na Daoine" - "The Land, the Language and the People" which reflects its radical, campaigning priorities. The Free Press was founded in 1972 and circulates in Skye, Wester Ross and the Outer Hebrides.