Isle of Skye
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These types of strange mountains rise up unexpectantly throughout the Isle of Skye, one of the islands of ‘Argyll and the Isles’ in north west Scotland. It’s a rugged landscape that presents a challenge for those on foot. Certainly in earlier days when the great dense pine forests (now sadly decimated by harvesting) covered the island, the combination of seemingly impassable forests and steep exposed mountains slit by gorges led to the inhabitants preferring to travel by boat around the island rather than across country.
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Like many Australians my family has roots in Scotland, certainly those Scots seem to have gotten about here in New South Wales given the number of small towns promoting the Scottish clans. All together I have four Scot clans I can lay heritage to, so in October ’16 I set off to check out some of my family’s old haunts, which in large part centered on Argyll and the Isles in the north west of Scotland. Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, is the oldest continually inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chefs of Clan MacLeod for over 800 years. While this isn’t one of my family clans, it was an immigration point for Scots heading OS back in the day, and my father’s family’s immigration papers show this as their point of departure. Its a beautiful place with a very large well maintained garden of woodlands, boarders and a walled garden that rivals the garden in the famous novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a book many love as a child and went on to become a wonderful film.
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I went to the UK last October on a trip associated with family ancestry , as a birder I couldn’t help but zoom in on any birds in my domain. This quintessentially English little bird was spotted flitting in an autumn garden, part of the grounds of the Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, a stepping off place for one line of my family who immigrated from there to Australia back in the day. Robins are tiny birds around 14 cm and its red-breast is a familiar sight in gardens and woodlands throughout Britain and Ireland. This one performed a little welcome dance in a splash of sun as I entered through the Castle walls, retreading the path of my forefathers. A sweet moment in time.