LehuaNet:  Journey to Plockton
The Chronicles
Part Five
The Gathering of the Clan
 
Contents
Isle of Skye Calum & the Seals
Farewell to the Hamishites The Highland Cattle in Duirinish
 
The Isle of Skye
& Balmacara

P. Hotel breakfast nookMy first morning in Plockton... I was the first down to breakfast, of course (Lehua The Walking Stomach), and gradually my companions straggled in.  Everything was lovely, mountains to eat, and Dorothy, the proprietor, had set us up with our own section to be together.

The clan with mapsAfter breakfast, we all decided to head for Skye, and I hummed "Caravan" to myself as we wended our way to the Kyle of Lochalsh.

Skye: boats in stone sheltersSkye looks small on the map, but seemed vast when we were actually there.  I could struggle to say how beautiful each spot was, but I will again let the pictures tell you.

We stopped for lunch at the Oystercatcher Cafe in Staffin.  It was their last day before closing for the season, so we all received a lovely packet of fancy chocolates with portraits and thumbnails of Bonnie Prince Charlie and those close to him.

While sipping dry blackthorn cider (lovely!) I took the opportunity to ask why the sheep had various colors painted on them.  To my surprise, it turns out Archie is a native islander and has his own sheep, and he explained that the paint spots serve the same purpose as cattle brands.Skye: sheep  His sheep, for example, use blue -- a spot on the back of the neck, and another on the left haunch.  There's also distinctive notching of their ears, but many herders have gone modern, and are using plastic clips.

Balmacara: Stag Bar exteriorI was seriously flagging, with sleep, meals, and medicine all aglee, so Donna & Tom kindly offered to take me back to Plockton.  Being Hamishites, we of course had to stop at the Balmacara Hotel, which had been the location for the Stag Bar.  It was exactly as it should be.  We had such fun finding the spots where Esme and Rory had cuddled up, and where Big Geordie had thumped the youngster.

Photos of Skye: Waterfalls & Sheep
Photos of Skye Boathouses & Balmacara
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Leisure Marine
[Now called Calulm's Plockton Seal Trips]
Calum & the Seal Trips

The next morning, our topic was Dilbert.  Scott Adams certainly has his finger on the pulse, to be popular on the other side of the planet.

P>We found out our group had some local celebrity in a small way, having gathered here via the internet -- the residents found that very interesting.


The clan at Calums dockAt last, we all got ready to go on our seal trip, top priority on my agenda.  We crossed the walkway to The Rhu, the north point of Plockton Harbour, and clambered down the rocks to the boat.

Our skipper CalumCalum MacKenzie, our host, is somewhat of a star in Hamish history, having done extra work in a few episodes (take a look at the Major's wedding), and having been the inspiration for the episode "In Search of a Rose".  Even his daughter, Sara, had a moment under the lights; that's not really Isobel hiding in the heather with her back to us, it's Sara.

108 yr old lighthouseCalum was a great source of insider information on the filming of Hamish, but we enjoyed him even more as our pilot thru Loch Carron.  Calum guarantees your money back if you don't see seals on any trip, but it's not likely he'll ever lose, since there are seals a'plenty.  But the seals were just a small part of the trip.  We passed islands, a lighthouse, Castle Duncraig, and learned about everything we saw.

Cormorants w/gull Keeping company with the seals were oystercatchers, herons, gulls, and cormorants.  I got some spectacular shots of all.

Leery sealsThe seals were quite unafraid, like those at Pier 39, fanning themselves lazily and watching us with much less interest than we had for them.

Brian & Calum w/a dramLater in the pub Brian & I had the good fortune to have a wee dram with Calum and hear a bit more (while listening to Luther Vandross!).  His favorite part of the filming was the great food catered for stars and extras alike.  We learned that T.V. John had come to Plockton a few weeks before to open the new post office (pictures soon), and that the 2nd McRae Senior was a friend of Calum's, who had married a local girl.

Hamish fans can also look for him in "In Search of a Rose".  He had been paid off to not run any trips for the day, to avoid any distractions, but look for a white yacht in the background -- that's our Calum.

Fans of the cult film "Wickerman" might be interested to know that he also has private films taken by his father of Edward Woodward during Wickerman's filming, singing in our hotel's bar.

Check out my photos of abundant wildlife and gorgeous vistas at
Calum's own website (which was featured on a BBC show called Webwise in '99).
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Farewell to the Hamishites
Philip waving goodbye

I was the only lucky one to stay the week; the rest of us had to leave Monday.  I was so sorry to see them go, we'd had a lot of fun together.  I wished we could have stayed together longer.

Photos of the Clan's departure
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The Highland Cattle in Duirinish
Brian was able to stay till early afternoon, so I got a chance to go to Duirinish with him, to see more of the red and hairy Highland cows.

Bad cows in street Cows, ordinary & Highland, run all over Plockton from time to time.  It's quite hilarious.  They have centuries-old "free range" rights, which means basically that they can do as they damn please, which includes blocking the one-lane street -- all day, if they wish -- and wandering into private gardens and eating the roses and geraniums.  Not so funny for the residents, I'm afraid, and Donna and I had watched an irate lady smacking them on heads and bottoms while we happily photographed them.

Photos of the bad cows

Red coos under treesDuirinish, just above Plockton, was an opportunity to see the true Highland cattle, up close.  They're much friendlier than ordinary cattle, even affectionate in some cases.  But there are worries these days about having them out around tourists since, with their great horns, they can cause some damage with a casual toss of their heads.  Calum told us the story of Heather, one of the red cows that had gotten too friendly, and had to be sold away -- she ended up chasing him through the backyards of Plockton.

SweetheartI found them irresistable, and took a thousand pictures.  There was one especially sweet girl cow, more taffy than red, who followed me about and had the most endearing eyes.

Photos of the Highland cattle

All too soon Brian, too, had to leave.  We are all deeply indebted to him, he did so much to get this going and make it fun for all of us.

So now I was on my own.


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