Saturday, 2 July 2011


We left Aviemore on Saturday morning and took a very leisurely drive via Inverness, Strathpeffer and Achnasheen to the Kyle of Lochalsh and crossed to Skye over the bridge.  We had not actually booked any accommodation in Skye but were reassured by many guest house signs showing "Vacancies" on the road from Kyeleakin up to Portree and did not doubt that we would find somewhere to sleep for the next four nights.  I had previously established that Portree has a municipal swimming pool and it seemed to be the only one on the island so I wanted to stay in Portree in order to keep up my early morning swim.  We found a twin en suite room at The Portree Hotel in the main square just a ten minute walk to the pool and it was excellent value.   Basic, but clean and with comfortable beds and a good full breakfast.  We just pottered around Portree on the Saturday afternoon and had a very good fish and chip lunch on the harbour. 

Someone obviously had vandalised the parking meters in Portree so we ended up with free parking for our entire stay.  All the ticket machines had signs on them saying "Out of Order" so we parked right outside our hotel within view of the Police Station without problems. 

On the Sunday I booked a boat trip out into Raasay Sound to see some wildlife and it was absolutely brilliant.  We saw both sea and golden eagles, seals and a porpoise.  We went past some salmon farm pens and the salmon were leaping in them, they were round pens instead of the early rectangular ones and it seems this enables the fish to swim better and results in more exercise and therefore less flabby flesh.  Apparently the fish are not fed for the last seven days which ensures a lot of the fat is lost naturally.  We went to The Prince of India for supper and had excellent popadums followed by decent curries and rather nice Peshwari naan bread.  The portions were much smaller than our local Indian restaurant, but adequate, and on reflection we could probably have managed a starter too. 

Monday dawned bright and sunny and we went off early to visit Dunvegan Castle which has the chattiest guides I have ever come across.  Every single one wanted to be my new best friend and it was one of the most interesting castle tours I have ever done (being married to Onslow who is a castle nut means I have done hundreds) and gave a really good insight into the Maclean clan and Scottish history generally.  We left and went off to do what for me was to be the highlight of the trip, lunch at The Three Chimneys.  The last five miles or so are done on a single track road with passing places, truly destination dining, you don't pass it on the way to anywhere else.  We started with the most fantastic bread, I chose rosemary and sea salt which tasted superb.  The texture of the bread was almost cake like, very soft and dense but light as a feather.  Questioning revealed that the rosemary is pounded in a pestle and mortar and olive oil added, this is then left to steep before being strained into the bread dough so you get all the flavour and none of the woody bits.  Malden type salt was evident on the crust.  It was worth going there for the bread alone and I did an Oliver Twist and requested more.  The waitress proudly told us that the butter was churned on the premises - the implication being that it was local produce.  However, I had not seen any cows on Skye so being awkward I asked where the cream came from.  She returned from the kitchen and said "Scotland" so that was that.  I felt it a bit unnecessary and the butter was not that good, certainly not on a par with Lescure or Echire.  I had braised blade of beef as a starter which was served with a side dish of very finely sliced cauliflower (I suspect with a mandoline) mixed with pickled onion.  The pickled onion was not the usual small onions we see but about the size of an apple - it had been sliced into long thin shards and mixed with the califlower, it was lovely.  Onslow had what was described as fish soup which was more like a stew with a deliciously flavoured broth with huge chunks of monkfish and langoustine in there.  We both had the seafood platter which was in the main lovely but neither of us was very keen on the mussels which had been marinated in a tomatoey vinegary oniony cold sauce.  The potted crab was fabulous, the oysters and scallops fantastic, the winkles superb but the langoustine had not been deveined - quite a failing in my eyes.  Mind you, it did not stop me eating them, I just deveined at the table.  I ordered the cheese board which was excellent, my first crowdie but I knew the Dunsyre Blue, the Mull cheddar and the camembert type .  The oatcakes were made in the kitchen and were the best I have ever tasted.  Onslow was driving but I had a glass of Chilean Rose with the starter, a French Sancerre with the main and a Banyuls with the cheese.  All perfect.  Onslow had a coffee and was brought with it a plate of petits fours which neither of us had room for.  They were put into a little box for us to take away and eat later.   At £109 for the two of I did not think it bad value at all. 

On Tuesday we had a nice drive around the rest of the island, some fantastic views and I quite see why Onslow wanted to go there.  We ate that night at the Bosville and had really gorgeous mussels in a cream and garlic sauce with good bread.

And the following morning was dull and dreich and we did not mind leaving for our next stop at Helensburgh.

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