My phone blew up this morning over Britain leaving the European Union. Or rather, the referendum vote to leave. Like most Londoners, if you look at the map, I would also have voted to stay. As did Scotland. After all, they just voted two years ago to stay in the United Kingdom, and now the ungrateful Britons do this to them?
You know what I say, Scotland? Get thee to the beach!
If you are visiting Castle Dunvegan, you would be doing yourselves a disservice to not pop up to the beautiful little beach at the tip of the peninsula in Claigan aptly named Coral Beach. It’s just a 10 minute drive. We came across a family who walked from the castle – and being the good samaritans we are, we shoved the family of four in our rental and drove them back to the Dunvegan car park. After all, it was 30F and no shade. Living in Los Angeles, I know what that’s like. The sunburn alone…
Here’s how you get to Coral Beach.
From the Dunvegan Castle car park, take a right and keep going. The single track road will take you to, well, the end of the single track road. There’s a car park there. Shove your vehicle up against the hedges and be ready. There are flies a plenty ready to become your very best friend.
It’ll then be a nice 1 mile stroll to the beach. Takes about 25 minutes. In the hot, burning sun? Feels like forever. Don’t forget your water! Hydration is key.
Speaking of, there’s a little stream that needs crossing. I can imagine this being an issue if there has been recent rain.
Like most of the Isle of Skye, this is crofting land. Crofting, if you haven’t seen me define it for you before, dear reader, is the traditional social system in Scotland for farming. A croft is a farm. So on that croft you might find either cows or sheep. And on this out and back trail you may run in to either.
The sheep on this croft were smart. They found whatever shade they could, I imagine, in order to avoid the blinding sun. Which for us made a beautiful beach day and stunning clear blue skies almost unheard of in Scotland.
Turning back to look where we came from, you can see that the trail is really quite pronounced thanks to the sheep tracks. Loch Dunvegan in the background.
You come to the top of a little hill and voila – ahead you can see the beach as it sits at the mouth of Loch Dunvegan. The far island is Isay, one of many uninhabited islands off of the Isle of Skye.
In fact, right next to Isay is a small island called Clett. Apparently legend (and the BBC) has it that singer Donovan owned it and sold it off foot by foot to tourists. You couldn’t make any changes, couldn’t build, stay overnight or alter the island in any way. I imagine it’s a lot like owning a star.
Note the animal tracks. They also like going to the Coral Beaches.
A brief look back at the track and the tourists who decided to climb the hill. Better they stay there and not clutter the beach, I say.
There were a fair amount of people on the beach. Some who’d climbed up the rocky outcrop behind. Locally this outcrop is known as Ghrobain.
The little island out in the Loch in direct view of the beach is called Lampay. Only 150m or so offshore, it could be an ideal swim. Apparently at low tide a causeway is revealed so you can walk across.
I have this thing with sticking my toes in water. You may have seen me do this at Loch Lommond. The water there was pretty chilly. Here? Downright icey despite the afternoon sun.
It even turned my toes blue!
With the skies so blue reflecting in the sun drenched waters, you’d almost mistake this place for a tropical locale. Or perhaps more Mediterranean. Maybe even Spain.
The Coral Beach gets its name for being made of coral. No, that’s not true. It’s actually made of little bleached skeletons of Red Coralline seaweed and bits of little colorful shells.
A panoramic view almost shows how beautiful it is here. LA’s beaches wishes they were this stunning.
Being so unbelievably hot for Scotland, we’d noticed a distinct lack of something incredibly important to hot weather.
Where are the pubs?
You’re in the countryside. On an island. Off the Highlands. Of course there isn’t a pub on every corner, no local in which to bide your time. And to get to the nearest one? You have to drive. I didn’t rate our chances on single track roads against drunk drivers. Though oddly you never see a car in a ditch on the side of the road.
So we decided to chance it at the Stein Inn, the oldest Inn on the Isle of Skye, says its website. And I believe it. To get there is a 20-30 minute drive (depending on the sheep in the road) from Dunvegan Castle on the A850, then the delightfully tiny B886. Mind the cattle grates in the road.
The Stein Inn is quaintly perched on the shores of aptly named Loch Bay on the Waternish Peninsula. The B886 will drop you directly in front of the pub. Car park is behind.
Proof of the age of the Inn hung over the doorway. 1790, not too shabby.
The pub is a small, cozy wood paneled affair, everything you’d expect a pub in the far reaches of Scotland to be. And today, on this heat wave day of days, it was bloody hot. The publican was not happy, practically dripping in sweat, using bar towels to wipe down his face each chance he got. I doubt he’s usually this grumpy. Tolerance of heat is likely something Scotts don’t usually have in spades.
I knew there was only one tipple that could take away the woes of a summer day by the shore of Loch Bay.
Glorious cool and refreshing lager. Stella, you charmer.
This fair haired lass was taking a well deserved nap – I hope she was wearing sunscreen!
If there were any doubts of the tropical nature of this quiet corner of Skye, this palm tree proved it.
To give you an idea of where we now are, the hilly land jutting out across the bay is the Dunvegan Peninsula. Just over that hill? Claigan and the Coral Beach.
Kids play on the boat ramp, enjoying a cool off in the Loch.
You can barely see it, but there are a couple of seals out in the calm Loch enjoying the sun. And despite the grumble on the barkeep’s face, he had to have been enjoying it too.
Maybe just a little?