As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I work two days a week at the Skyeworks Gallery down in Portree.
There’s a lot of things I enjoy about working there but one of the things I least expected was the commute.
Originally I had looked at living only just outside of Portree; I didn’t know if the roads on Skye would be treacherous in winter so I thought that was the sensible option.
Of course, falling in love with my funny little house sent the sensible option flying out of the window (although I’ve since found out that the warm, salty sea air here prevents it from getting too icy here anyway)
So, twice a week I drive 45 minutes down the Trotternish Peninsula to work and 45 mins back
…And I love it.
No journey is ever the same.
Morning rush hour on the A855 is when the young farmer walks his characterfully shaggy ‘coos’ down the middle of the road.
Stubborn, wild-eyed sheep threaten to make me late most mornings. Once in a while my journey is blocked by the solid figure of Charlie the bull.
Sometimes I’m greeted by the collie at the end of my road who runs alongside the car as far as it can. At other times I find myself swerving around the chickens, turkeys, ducks and bunnies who congregate at the bottom of my hill.
I usually see a couple of birds of prey perched on posts as I pass the croft cottages and if I’m lucky I’ll spot a sea eagle or two circling over the clifftops just past Staffin.
On a particularly busy day I might even see some people too.
I like the way the other drivers thank you here, not just a finger lifted from the steering wheel or a solemn nod, you’re more likely to get a proper wave and a grin. Of course, you get the grumpy ones too, and the bewildered tourists, but I enjoy sharing a “Good Morning” smile with the postman, the bus driver, the farmers on their quad bikes…
If it sounds a little like living in an unusually cheery children’s TV show, Postman Pat or Balamory, you’d pretty much be right.
Whilst all this is lovely the really incredible thing about my commute is the landscape.
My journey takes me past some of the most famous sights of Skye; the Quiraing, Kilt Rock and the Old Man Of Storr. The spectacular views seem to look brand new every day under different lights and weathers.
Sometimes the tops of the hills are spookily encased in mist with a dark, stormy background. At other times the jagged rocks look like they’re on fire from the neon-red sun setting behind them. When the light has been soft, almost misty, I’ve felt as if I’m driving through an old painting come to life, like that bit in Mary Poppins where the jump into the chalk drawings.
Even something as basic as the road itself is fun. There’s a straight-ish bit over little hills where I like to put my foot down and you can feel your stomach lurch over every drop, fairground-style. Then there’s the flat, open bit along the cliff where you feel like you’re flying along the top of the world.
My favourite part of the journey is where, from going parallel to the coast, the road bends to the right so you face straight out towards the open sea. At the same time the tarmac also curves downwards, disappearing from sight. It gives the impression that you’re about to drive off a cliff and plummet straight into the water hundreds of feet below, Thelma and Louise-style.
The first time I drove it it made my pulse quicken like at the top of a roller coaster before the drop. Even though I pass this way every day I still get that little buzz of exhiliration as I speed towards the waves.
Could I ever had imagined that I’d enjoy a commute enough to be inspired to write over 600 words about it? Not likely.
Yet with my favourite music on I’m reminded why I moved to Skye every time I make this journey; here’s something that should be ordinary but instead it’s extraordinary. 45 distracting minutes to ease me in or out of the working day.
As Graham, one of my new friends, put it, “If you ever get bored of that drive then it’s probably time to move on from here.”
Enjoying reading about Skye and seeing your photos as I have family who live in that part of the island!
Thanks Caroline, I’m chuffed that you enjoy my rambles! Where does your family live?
They stay at Balmaqueen.
Ah, on the other side of the bay. I’ll give them a wave across the water!
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Hi. Liza at the gallery has shared your blog on facebook and have just had a look. If the cows you meet are on the road from Staffin heading towards Storr Loch then they probably belong to Callie (think that’s spelt right). Welcome to the north end. Vx (Vicki – wife of Nick who makes the heather rings etc at the gallery).
Yes, I think those must be the ones. They’re often near the big green shed where the road bends to the right as you get nearer to Storr, there’s usually a young guy wandering with them. Gorgeous beasts -they always make me smile, they seem to have a lot of character!
I recognised your surname. I love Nick’s work, I’ve worn a heather ring every day since I first visited Skye last year (I’m not sure if you’ve seen it but I mention it in one of my first posts as it played a part in bringing me back)
You live in a beautiful place, I’m pleased to have joined you up here!
It’s a journey rather than a commute…the ever-changing familiar on Skye has given me a new appreciation for series painting, especially Monet.
Stunning scenery. Sounds very peaceful. Definitely not the M25, which I briefly join on my commute.
Those are the kind of views that make your heart sing, especially the last photo.
Looking forward to more instalments!