When Talyn was told he was going to Scotland on holiday, he was Rover the moon! And who can blame him? A trip to the majestic Isle of Skye is probably on the bucket list of most dogs, with its rugged mountainous landscape, meandering coastline and narrow lochs providing ample exploring opportunities for inquisitive pups. These wide-open spaces were made all the more enticing for Talyn, as he has six toes and can cover more ground. I bet that gave you paws for thought, didn’t it?
Talyn, a beautiful Norwegian Lundehund, was the winner in ‘The Rarity’ category of the 2020 Canine Critics’ Awards and therefore was treated to a lovely week away in a homely dog-friendly cottage. Find his review below.
“Scotland is a long way”: that’s what my hoomums kept saying. And boy was it! We set off on the 29th of April and took two days to get all the way from Norfolk to the Isle of Skye, staying over at some B&Bs to break up the journey. I didn’t mind as I love sitting in the car, and better even, whenever we stopped there were new sniffs! Why Scotland? Because it has a special meaning for my hoomums. It was their first holiday as a couple.
The drive to the Isle of Skye is, as my mums kept saying, spectacular. I might be a Norwegian breed, but I had never seen mountains. I came from the Netherlands (just like my Dutch mum) and that country is flatter than a Dutch pancake. So, to be able to climb on a real mountain was great, even though my mums kept laughing at me because I wasn’t sure where to put my feet.
You try climbing a mountain when you have this many toes!
When we finally arrived at our cottage, we were welcomed by the most amazing sunset. I had been in the car for a while, so I went off to explore the fenced garden. It was huge - and I mean huge! We had some funny looking neighbours. They had strange fur and kept saying “baaaaah”. (Is that Scottish for woof? I am not sure).
Once I had investigated every corner of the garden, it was time to go inside. The cottage is big enough for a whole family and two dogs! I am only little, so it was a palace for me. There were plenty of rooms to explore and a room with a huge window that looked out onto the sea.
My mums called it the ‘’viewing room” and it was our favourite, with two large sofas so you could sit comfortably and just take in all the scenery. There were three bedrooms in total: the master double bedroom, a twin room and one with a bunk bed. The living room had the TV, two comfortable sitting chairs and a big sofa, and for the cold days and nights, a lovely open fireplace. My mums were also very excited to find the cottage had a small dishwasher! I said I didn’t mind washing the plates for them with my tongue, but they insisted on putting them in the machine. Sometimes they can be very mean.
The cottage was well placed on a hillside, so the viewing room gave us a stunning view across Loch Pooltiel and the 'Little Minch' to the Outer Hebrides. We truly felt far away from civilisation, although there were some other little cottages around, so you didn’t feel too isolated and alone.
Milovaig is the nearest village and was about a 15-minute drive away. It had a small community shop which was surprisingly well stocked. English mum kept moaning that she wanted to visit all the little craft shops, cafes and museums that we drove past, but they were all closed because of what they call “the plague”. We did find a few places open, but we mostly went to outside places like mountains and beaches, because it was MY holiday and I wanted to find all the sniffs.
The nearest big town with a decent-sized supermarket was Portree, which was just under an hour away. If you are not used to being that far away from shops, some planning ahead is necessary! Luckily the cottage had a big full kitchen, including a proper freezer in the pantry, so we could stock up for the week and not worry too much about food.
First things first: the ‘local’ area is not as local as you might be used to! Scotland is vast and wild, but so worth exploring. Everywhere we went was super dog friendly. I was allowed to sit inside pubs, cafes and even hotels when we found somewhere open for lunch, and everyone gave me water and sometimes even treats.
About 10 minutes from Portree, there is a place called the Fairy Glen, and that’s really what it is! It looks as if fairies have made their palaces there. It’s a lovely walk, although like in other places I did have to be on the lead as those strange Scottish geep... no… sheep (?) were all over the place. They are literally everywhere! Once I had to shout at them very loudly as we were driving through a village and about eleventy million of them were running down the road! Don’t they know it’s dangerous to run in the road? My mums said they were being hurtled but I don’t think the man was hurting them, he was just shouting things and trying to get them to go in one direction. I tried to help with my shouting, but mum said it wasn’t helpful and to stop hurting their ears.
We also saw some very strange big creatures. They had antlers! I love antlers, but Dutch mum said it was best to not try and chew these ones. My mums are SO MEAN.
We were extremely lucky with the weather. Considering it was April/May, there was only one day when it was too nasty to do anything outside. But that was ok, we needed a rest day anyway. I played loads of games in the viewing room, as there was plenty of room for a good play in there. And I didn’t mind curling up in my bed while they watched TV in the living room later. Nearly every night you could find my mum in that viewing room watching the sunset and taking lots of pictures of it!
Dutch mum has some mobility issues so we couldn’t do much hiking. Saying that though, that didn’t stop her from trying to reach the Old Man of Storr. I was excited, because I LOVE people, but they once again were being mean. It’s not an old man at all, it’s just a bunch of rocks! But there were loads of sniffs on the way up so that made up for it. Luckily, Dutch mum has something called a “drone”, or as I call it “the angry bee” because it sounds like one. So Dutch mum could still enjoy the scenery and see spots she couldn’t get to herself, while English mum took me up the hill to search for sniffs.
We explored almost every corner of the island from Neist Point Lighthouse all the way to the Cuillin Hills (they are mountains really). We found several cosy pubs where there was water for me and amazing local food for the people.
Even on holiday, my mums never stop looking at history stuff. We found an old Neolithic site called Dun Beag. My mum took a photo from above with her angry bee.
We even found a dinosaur footprint: a place called Brothers' Point (Rubha nam Brathairean) where dinosaurs had left footprints on the beach millions of years ago and they were still there! When I leave footprints, my mums get all grumpy and clean them up but apparently, dinosaurs don’t have to clean theirs up. SO unfair. Look how big the print is compared to my little foot! If you want to see the dino footprint yourself, you must go when the tide is out. We were there just in time, or we would have missed it. It’s quite fun as you need to find it yourself. We found three!
I think the beach was my favourite place. I got to sniff ALL the things, and I liked picking up the big seaweed plants and dragging them around. The sand there is black because there used to be volcanoes there, but luckily there aren’t any more.
There are so many beautiful places on Skye, and we would visit again in a heartbeat. We want to come back when mum can walk a bit better.
Why dogs will love it (written by my mum)
The pure wilderness and open spaces for dogs to run, sniff and explore are just breathtaking. If you find a pub, there is always a dog bowl outside. Or inside. You have everything you want on Skye. Beach, forests and mountains!
The only thing to watch out for is the wildlife and of course the sheep. If your dog is a chaser, then a longline is essential as the sheep (and cattle) are often free-roaming and wander about all over the road.
Even though there are plenty of small villages and crofts dotted all over the island, there is an amazing array of wildlife from wild boar and sea otters to red deer and sea birds. Luckily, our cottage had a huge garden that was more like a field, and it was all fenced, but outside the fence, the sheep were just bumbling along the road. So, if you have a breed with a high prey drive, be prepared to have them on-lead all the time!
Why humans will love it (written by my mum)
Brilliantly fresh, local food available everywhere. We didn’t have a single bad meal throughout our whole stay: salmon and Highland steak, tattie scones and haggis, local ice cream, Cullen skink, and homemade pizza, and all at very reasonable prices.
The landscape is stunning. Clean air and sea breezes, and weather that’s random enough to keep you guessing! We had hot sun and snow showers on the same day, but every day was good enough to go out and do something.
The history goes back quite literally to the dinosaurs, and humans have been occupying the island since at least the Neolithic. From tiny crofts to iconic castles and manor houses, austere chapels to busy fishing villages, the places and people who lived there run the full gamut of Scottish history.
The view never gets boring; no matter where you look you will always find something that is just out of this world. Photos really don’t do it justice. If you like hiking, wildlife, peaceful views or exploring, Skye offers it all.
Now, I have 6 toes, so I give my Skye holiday a 6 out of 6.
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