Staffin, Isle of Skye, Scotland
After a quick breakfast at the Ramada, I set out for a daylight tour of the riverwalk. I really enjoyed it, and that I was alone added to the experience for me. I truly enjoy solitary walks, though I also enjoy the companionship of my wife or children -- they are two different experiences for me, equally valuable. The sights only added to the experience.
The Tollbooth Steeple
The view from the front of Inverness Castle
Another view from the Castle hill
The River Ness
Inverness Castle from the other side of the river
Row homes along the river
Another view of the Cathedral
My walk along the river was only about a mile one way, mostly because I took my time and enjoyed the views. Along the way, to my surprised delight, I found a home of my own...a local branch, maybe a ward, of the LDS church! Not what I expected to see, but welcome nonetheless. There were a few cars in the small parking lot, so I found an open door and went inside to see if there was anyone to talk to. Didn't see anyone, so I went on my way. At least now I know where I can go in future if I happen to be in Inverness on a Sunday.
It was a pretty little chapel on a pretty little piece of property. Much smaller than what I usually see, but beautiful. It felt good to be in a place where I could find brothers and sisters in the gospel! Some day I'd love to meet some of the Scottish saints.
The walk back was equally delightful, and until I neared the bridge back to town, it almost felt (and looked) like I was in the country. What a beautiful part of the world!
I returned at about 12:30 to board the bus for the Isle of Skye. Several of the group were gathered in the hotel collecting luggage and waiting for time to board.
Finally we set out. I was actually looking forward to the bus ride. It is quite comfortable (much more than an airplane seat) and I like having the uninterrupted time to read and think...I don't get that very often. The weather is cold and wet, but not so bad as last year. No snow or ice on the roads, though there was some on the trees and grass.
Since we had plenty of time, we stopped twice along the way to see a couple of castles. Eilean Donan Castle is built on a small island in Loch Duich, a sea loch on the coast of the western Highlands, close to the main A87 road to Kyle of Lochalsh and the Isle of Skye. The castle's name is derived from the the Gaelic word for "island" (Eilean) and St Donan, a martyred Celtic saint. A 13th century wall surrounds a courtyard and in a corner is a strong, 14th century keep (tower) rising to three storeys and a garret. The original castle was built in 1220 for King Alexander II as a defence against the Vikings. After lying in ruins for 200 years, it's restoration was completed in 1932.
While crossing the bridge to head back to the bus, this scene caught my eye...so beautiful, with an almost mysterious feel to it.
Four and a half hours after leaving Inverness we arrived at Staffin on the Isle of Skye, home of Columba 1400. We received the warm welcome that we have every year. What a joy to see an old friend, Guy Matthews. Lots of new members of the staff, but I'm sure they will be as committed and caring as those we have known in the past. Gary Daniell is the new Director of Program Development -- he's been at Columba for about six months. New facilitators include Kevin, Callum, Sue, and Kim, but Guy and Gary will be the most involved this week.
Dinner was delightful -- roast chicken, new potatoes, and apple crumble for dessert -- yummmm! After dinner, introductions, a review of the coming week, and finally the traditional passing of the "talking stick."
This old Native American tradition
is one I enjoy, and allows for everyone to speak their mind without interruption or disrespect. The talking stick was used by some Native American tribes as a way to ensure a respectful hearing of all views. When important issues were under discussion in the council, the medicine man, the chief, or a respected elder would take the talking stick and say his piece. Then he would pass it to the next member of the tribe who wished to contribute to the discussion, and so forth. Thus the talking stick was passed from one to another until everyone who wanted to talk had done so. At the conclusion of the discussion, the stick was given back to the leader until the next time it was needed. For us, it worked much the same way, allowing each of us the opportunity to say whatever we wanted. That will be our concluding activity each night of the week.