Thursday, 24 October 2019

Am Meall. (The Lump.) Portree Gallery. Skye.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
On the descent off the hill in the last post I noticed this little hill and stone tower, seen above, yet I'd never visited it despite being in Portree half a dozen times over the years, but only with other hill-walkers. There are always pros and cons in any group and you have to compromise at times. The up sides are good company, laughs, shared adventures, shared petrol money, useful exchange of info, and a common purpose- downsides in my case are a love of everything scenic- not just climbing hills, but low level stuff and urban walking as well. I would never have enjoyed so many walking and back-packing trips around Europe with friends in the past if we had not shared travel costs, safety in numbers going to remote areas where English speaking locals are thin on the ground, and a heightened level of adventure, knowing someone has your back when rock climbing/caving/mountaineering/ exploring. And just for companionship/security/ mutual support in strange unfamiliar lands with different customs, especially if you have an accident or fall ill abroad.. I have howled in silent protest however when we have raced through interesting foreign cities to get to the hills, usually spending just a day or a brief night in alluring places like Nice, Berlin, Rimini, Milan,Geneva, Turin, Paris, or Toulouse when a week was required to see them all individually in full. It has to be that way though on holiday trips when we always have limited time to cram it all in before returning to work or other commitments. Two to three weeks maximum on any holiday.
Back down off the hill and lunchtime in Portree... down by the harbour at this waterfront Fish and Chip shop. In past decades getting takeaways in the Scottish Highlands  has always been a mixed affair with some pretty dire offerings encountered. I've made my own chips and fish and pies in the house over the last fifty years via deep frying, microwave, or oven chips- and never made a meal I didn't like that way with these few ingredients. You can't really go wrong as you are only heating stuff up yet I've lost count of the number of times, some covering decades of disappointment, when food has been very substandard in certain areas. And I do not have particularly high standards, happy with mince pie and beans, oven chips, steak pie or smoked sausage- just basic tasty cheap grub really. So I'm pleased to report this particular fish and chip shop on the waterfront in cream and blue in the above photo, is a belter. 10 out of 10 for beautiful crisp, light, soft, and perfect chips and frying methods. As good as the Lake District chippies and that's high praise indeed. If you are in Portree this is the place to visit if in need of hot take away grub.

A second highlight occurred when hill-walking companions Alex and John decided to go to the supermarket for some supplies... and I didn't need anything. Seizing my chance for 20 to 30 minutes of free  time in Portree I shot off up this little hill. It has a pleasant halfway up balcony trail running right around it, on a narrow path, seen here, which now has a wooden safety rail, but apparently this is a recent addition looking at old photos. The vertical drop is only 20 to 30 feet straight down from this ledge but not a happy prospect if you toppled over, hence the railing.
For such a small hill views over the town are impressive and I highly recommend this short walk. Am Meall. ( The Lump.) is apparently the traditional home of the Skye Highland Games and also the hilltop location for the Skye Live Festival, hosting various music bands and events. It's only a small venue but would be very scenic and unusual. Popular I'd imagine. Link and photo gallery below. The Waterboys headlining this year. Great band. Catchy crowd pleasing songs known worldwide.

Although a natural landscape feature in origin the summit of Am Meall has been smoothed and sculpted into a flat grassy amphitheater, perfect for open air events.
Am Meall. Central grass circle. Only a few folk were around the summit slopes so a perfect time for a visit.

Cracking views over Portree Harbour. The nearest boat is a tourist one offering sightseeing tours around this large, semi enclosed, bay, ringed with cliffs. The orange and blue faraway boat is the local lifeboat covering this seaboard region of scattered islands and distant remote communities.
Autumn colours in Portree. The small yellow house is a cracker, even down to tiny details like the blue chimney pots. Although Portree sits in a lovely hilly location, a natural bowl beside a harbour, many more towns and villages in Scotland that want a lift and more tourists could easily follow this example.
A splash of colour really lifts the mood and puts a smile on your face, for tourists and locals alike. Even in ex- mining communities or deprived but scenic areas a coat of paint can make a big difference. Popular tourist places like Tobermory, Tarbert, and Portree are not any better or more vibrant than a lot of other interesting Highland, Lowland, or Central Belt towns and villages I visit on my travels- the only difference really is a few coats of paint applied in an effective manner. As I've said before now I really do think many Scottish towns and villages are missing a trick. It doesn't need to be a direct primary colour copy either or a transformation into Disneyland- the various patterns can be as wide as your own imagination. Subtle soft pastels and distinctive subdued elegance where appropriate, black and white picture stencils on buildings, vivid ferns, butterflies and flowers on gable walls.... people, places, and animal silhouettes dotted here and there, or depicting past local history through the ages in an area -so effective in East Coast Prestonpans, ('The Mural Town') and an ex- industrial community/location so not exactly your normal tourist destination. Even in large cities it can work to good effect... for industrial Glasgow cannot complete with Edinburgh for cobbled winding lanes, ancient picturesque castles, and dormant volcanoes in its heart but it does have a wonderful, ever changing tapestry of recently developed colourful murals- likewise neighbouring Paisley. It doesn't have to be expensive either for smaller communities as I've seen loads of teenage artistic talent and impressive imagination just in neighbourhood graffiti walls.

                                            A shy tunnel maiden in deepest Renfrewshire.
 I'm sure loads of local youngsters in communities would be keen as long as they got some small reward, recognition of skills, and kept the subject matter appropriate. Or there's plenty of adult unemployed or underused local artists out there in every location. Scotland has always had high levels of suicide, drug addiction, and mental health issues in all its communities and while long walks outdoors, positive upbeat visual stimulation, and a genuine sense of purpose/hobby/obsession in your life is not a complete answer for everyone it does help a great deal- especially during the long, grey, damp winters northern communities often experience. If you live in a miserable, grey damp town or village- this could be your chance to turn it around with artistic endeavour.

The natural talent, fun, and energy is always out there just waiting for a suitable opportunity to express itself. A recent walk past the Erskine Bridge that made me laugh, looking for autumn tree colours. But maybe not like this in town centres to attract discerning tourists :o)

Clifftop houses in Portree.

Boats in Portree Bay.
The view from Am Meall.
Another Wild Wabbit. Highly trained to keep the grass short. Low cost lawnmowers and tasty too in a nice hot roll or soft buttered bap. Bunny in a bun....Legs, ears, and fluffy tail sticking out the edges, an optional choice. Yum Yum. Loads of them on Skye.
And a zoom of The Storr rock pinnacles.
The stone tower, a 19th century folly with a metal spiral staircase inside, offering excellent panoramic parapet views.
Skye suburbia. Portree.
The Storr summit from Am Meall Tower. A distant view.
Uptown Portree. A cracking wee walk my hill-walking orientated companions sadly missed out on.... as they would have liked it as well.  Worth a visit if you are in this vicinity... and the day was still young..... to be continued....


Carol said...

Poor bunny! I hope it didn't know what you were thinking when you snapped that shot!

That yellow building is ridiculous! I love yellow but that's way over the top. Still, it'll get them noticed, that's for sure!

Didn't know about Am Meall but we do know about the fish and chip shop on the waterfront there - it is good. I'll have a look for Am Meall next time I'm there...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Am Meall is worth fitting in for the views alone on a good day if you visit Portree again. A few years since my last trip to Skye, also with Alex, bagging hills.

Kay G. said...

What lovely photos! The photo of the boats in the water could be a painting! I just can't stand graffiti, I know there are many who admire just looks unattractive to me, I can't see it as art. Beauty is so important to me and I have high standards, I guess!😄

Kay G. said...

Wait, not that you don't have high standards for beauty...heck, I can't write a thing unless I sound like an old fashioned schoolmarm.

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Kay,
Like a lot of people I would like to think my life up to this point has been a hopeful,fairly enjoyable search for beauty, wisdom and truth but of course everyone has different ideas of what that entails. One of the reasons I keep doing the blog, apart from motivating me out the house instead of gathering dust in an armchair eating crisps and burgers is that I think I am capturing beauty and special moments through photography :o) Others might disagree...

Anabel Marsh said...

That’s gorgeous. I do like the coloured houses and street art. Have you seen the new murals on the railway arches between Riverside Museum and the Distillery? Coming soon to a Glasgow Gallivanter post.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
Seen them from the bus today and they were not there last time I passed so they must be very recent. They look good. I've went from having no backlog at all to a massive backlog of photos over this last month. Take until Xmas to sort them all out.