Skye 6: Dunvegan Castle and the Two Churches Walk

I got out of bed this morning to make the morning cuppa for Mr L and myself and…..oh dear, Mrs L suddenly had the legs of a 90 year old! The summit experience of yesterday had taken its toll, my poor quads were somewhat stiff on first movement!

Today was our Dunvegan day. We planned to start with the Two Churches Walk but had a false start as we parked too early at what are 2 cemeteries which also contain Commonwealth War Graves.

Commonwealth War Graves

Commonwealth War Graves

We took the opportunity to walk around these 2 very well maintained cemeteries and discovered an interesting fact (well to us anyway) – in Skye, women are buried using their maiden names and have their husband named on their gravestone. Is this a Scottish thing or is it specific to Skye? Certainly makes family tree research easier. We drove on and parked in the correct lay-by for St Mary’s Church, the church at the start of the walk. This derelict church is the burial place of the Clan MacLeod.

The derelict St Mary's Church

The derelict St Mary’s Church

We picked up the trail to the millennium Diurinish Stone on top of a hill with a ‘yes’ attached to it.

Diurinish Stone

Diurinish Stone

The walk was gentle and pleasant through an abandoned plantation and up through a heavily wooded area which had fascinating varieties of ferns, lichens and fungi growing in the damp and less sunlit areas. We also saw a dolorite dyke that has protruded through the basalt rock parallel with the path.

Dolorite dyke

Dolorite dyke

The walk exited at the Diurinish Parish Church back in Dunvegan. Check out the windows of this church, they are not all what they seem…..some are not real, but are very effective murals of the real thing!

Diurinish Parish Church

Diurinish Parish Church

Dunvegan Castle and gardens were our next stop just 3/4 mile up the road. Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and is the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. The MacLeods are descendants from a 13th century Viking chieftain, Leod, who sailed from the Isle of Man to take over Dunvegan Castle. It was Leod’s sons who founded the MacLeod clan. Today’s clan chief is the 30th MacLeod chief, Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod.

Dunvegan Castle

Dunvegan Castle

The history of the clans is fascinating and I would like understand it more. Skye, Lewes, Harris and parts of Western Scotland seem to have been either Clan MacLeod or Clan MacDonald for ever. Then in 1745 the Clan system broke down – without internet and the ability to google we can’t get more detail on any of this. Certainly severe deprivation and the impact of the potato famine meant that 400 families (2000 people) volunteered to leave Skye on boats for destinations in Australia, New Zealand and America.

The castle has been changed, added to and made more suitable for modern day living over the years. The view is fantastic as you look up Loch Dunvegan.

Loch Dunvegan

Loch Dunvegan

The gardens range from walked gardens, a round garden, woodland walk and waterfalls – they are varied, colourful and well done.

As Mr L is wont we set off for a drive across country…….we picked up a single track route, a B road with passing places, that took us from Struan back to Portree……there really is nothing in the middle of Skye away from the coastline other than a continuation of the amazing scenery and sheep!

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