What a mixed bag of weather we had over the October half term. We were very lucky it was a two week break for us, so we saw the best of all worlds. Drove up in a mix of fog and light – trip through Rannoch Moor, Glencoe and down to Cluny Dam was incredibly dramatic. We used this time for No. 1 son to get plenty of driving practice in – he may not have met much traffic, but he had to deal with single track roads, sheep, tourists and pretty awful weather at times. Jeep was in its element on some of the lesser frequented roads, like this one to Moll off the A87.

The peace and quiet of the area was slightly disrupted by the arrival of more than 100 Whooper swans (apparently or the first time in 15 odd years) who greeted their mates noisily, gathered on the far side of the water, before taking off to further afield. Loads of geese around, also curlews, oystercatchers and herons as usual. Oh and daughter and husband rather smugly encountered a local otter on the road between the Bridge and Breakish when they joined us a few days into the holiday.

Loads of work done on the outside of the house. We discovered that unlike her mother and father, No 1 daughter is quite happy up a ladder outside the house, patch painting after we scraped off old paintwork – she has a job lined up at Easter when it will be warm enough to finish off the outside painting. She and her father got a lot of plating done in the top garden so as long as the water that cascaded through it during the occasional downpours that sadly marked the end of a fabulous Autumn hasn’t washed them away, there should be plenty of bulbs blooming in the Spring.

Kept up the experimentation of cottage cooking – used the little Cakes and Bakes book to make raspberry and blueberry muffins. Second attempt rather more successful, as I am getting more used to the oven – need to cook cakes at lower temperature than recipe states and for longer. Lemon drizzle cake even better!

We also managed some beautiful walks. About one hour’s drive (by slow jeep, driven by learner driver!) and mentioned in all the guide books are the Fairy Pools (head towards Portree, turn left at Sligachan and then left again to go behind the Cuillin. Absolutely stunning day – great walk – son and I did the triangle as described on the Walk Highlands site (copy printed in Cottage handbook), while daughter and father diverted towards Sligachan, where we all met up again in the Hotel for a well-earned drink. Path alongside the Fairy Pools and back down is well marked and of a hard surface; cross track which contours along the hill at the top was very wet underfoot, so proper walking boots are required if you want to do the round walk. Parking was OK, but could be pretty awkward in the Summer season as carpark is small and road is narrow.

As usual, then, we made the most of our time – got outside when weather allowed and stayed warm next to the log burner when it was dismal. You really have to make the most of your time on Skye or you could miss out!

Half Term Holidays (or Whoopers, Muffins and Fairy Pools)