Skye 3: Watching Whales at Waternish

Mrs L is very happy, she has a great big tick on her list of things to see, her bucket list….call it what you will….I have seen a whale!

Stein jetty and our boat

Stein jetty and our boat

Once again we have had perfect weather and our planned boat trip with Diver’s Eye Boat Trips went ahead. I went dressed and prepared for an Arctic adventure and soon needed to shed many of my protective layers, the hat and gloves never even made it out of the rucksack! We motored off out of Stein across Loch Bay around various little islands in the Inner Hebrides and up out to Waternish Point. En route we saw seals swimming as well as basking on the rocks in the warm September sunshine. There were huge numbers of cormorants, the ubiquitous seagulls of course, gannets dive-bombing the water to catch fish (they trap air in their necks which apparently stops them smashing their skulls when they dive into the sea), we had a sighting of a white-tailed eagle which lives in these parts, and we saw grotesque looking jelly fish which grow tentacles up to 20 metres long.

It was when we were up at Waternish Point in the Little Minch that we had our first Minke whale sighting. There were seals swimming here in the Minch too and also porpoises – another first for Mrs L! Porpoises look like mini whales with the same type of diving movements and back fin that periodically appears. I need to look up more about them….something else to do for when we gave internet again. The boat trip was supposed to last 3.5 hours but none of the 6 of us on the trip were in a rush to get back so we stayed out in the Minch waiting to see more of the whale(s). We were not disappointed and had many more sightings of probably 2 whales, never very close to the boat but always very clear to see. What a big, graceful creature.

Gordon, our skipper, and his wife Aileen and filled us in on some of the brutal and barbaric history of the islands. The main clans in these parts are Clan MacDonald and Clan MacLeod and they have fought hard over the centuries to retain or reclaim land that was theirs or land they wanted. There is a strong historical link with the Vikings and battles between them and the Hebrideans. All fascinating stuff that we will read up on once we have access to internet again and can google and Wikipedia for facts.

A belated lunch was at the Stein Inn, Skye’s oldest inn, also home to 125 whiskies, where we sat outdoors looking out over Loch Bay.

The Stein Inn

The Stein Inn

It was then home to our cottage via the Skye Skins tannery where we had a tour of the process of dead sheep to sheepskin and a browse around the showroom.  The word tenterhooks comes from the stretching of skins on tenter hooks to dry!

Sheepskin on tenterhooks

Sheepskin on tenterhooks

A quiet evening was order of the day for Mr and Mrs L who were both feeling somewhat shattered after all that fresh sea air and excitement!

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