Sunday morning found us in lovely Armadale on the Isle of Skye. This was a very attractive area, not quite as remote as some of the previous stops we made on this cruise. Because Isle of Skye is a bit more populated, Princess guests had a couple of options on shore. We were offered a chance to visit the brand new Torabhaig Distillery or Armadale Castle. Or, as always, we could take walks. Naturally, Bill and I opted to visit Torabhaig Distillery. This distillery, like the two before it, is new. Investors bought a beautiful old farmstead called Torabhaig and spent four years restoring it to its present glory.
I think this distillery might have been my favorite. The architecture of the building is so beautiful. Also, I enjoyed hearing the story of how this new distillery came to fruition. Torabhaig is the second licensed distillery on the Isle of Skye. Owned by Mossburn Distillers, which previously had no official distillery of its own and had to use other facilities to make its whiskys, Torabhaig is not quite ready to roll out its own label yet. But visitors can try Mossburn whiskys, which are available in a variety of types.
Our tour guide, Hans, was a very charming Dutch man who speaks French, German, English, and, of course, Dutch. He presided over our tour like a college professor might. Of all of the tour guides, he was my favorite because he was genuinely interested in the product. I wore my new blue Isle of Raasay Distillery sweatshirt to the distillery, mainly because it was cold and rainy. I also wore my Isle of Aran sweater, which I hung up on a coathook because it was warm in the distillery.
After we walked through the distillery and learned its story, we sat down to taste a couple of drams of Mossburn’s whiskys. We had a Speyside and an Islay whisky. They came from different parts of Scotland because they were no doubt made at different distilleries. Now that Torbhaig exists, Mossburn can be made on its own site. The Danish guy, once again, was amused by my expression when I tasted the Speyside whisky. It kind of blew my brains out.
In fact, I was so distracted by the whisky and the new Harris Tweed purse and keyring I bought in the gift shop, I forgot to retrieve my sweater. We got all the way back to the pier before I remembered it. Fortunately, the minivan driver was a kindly sort of man and he willingly drove me back to get my sweater. His name was Kenny, and he was really nice to talk to. We ended up talking about Mormonism, of all things. I was explaining that Bill was a teetotaler when I met him, because he and his ex wife had converted to the LDS church. But when we started dating, Bill was happy to lose the Mormon church.
Kenny told me he had a friend who had been recruited into the church via the “baseball baptism” program the church used to run in the 70s. The church formed baseball teams and, oftentimes, people on the teams would wind up joining the church. Sadly, Kenny told me that his friend, the LDS convert, ended up committing suicide. I’m not sure the church had anything to do with the man’s suicide… but it sounds like it wasn’t much of a help, either. I ran into the distillery and got my sweater. On the way back to the pier, we commiserated about the strange state of U.S. and British politics these days.
Here are some photos of our trip to Torbhaig Distillery. It’s well worth a visit!
My ever faithful husband was waiting at the pier for me to return. He really looks after me, which is kind of a strange thing. I grew up with “underprotective” parents who pretty much let me do whatever I wanted and didn’t dote on me at all. Bill is, by contrast, living up to the meaning of his name, which is “determined protector”. That, he is.
After our distillery tour, it was time for the weekly church service offered by Hebridean Princess. Bill and I usually skip them because we’re not particularly religious as much as we are spiritual. However, this time we decided to attend, because one of the guests was a British Navy Chaplain and he struck up several conversations with Bill, whom he immediately recognized as a fellow Brother in Arms.
The chaplain also had his twin brother with him. They were clearly fraternal twins, though you could easily see a resemblance. The chaplain’s brother was decidedly un-military, but a nice enough fellow, just the same. The service only lasted about ten minutes, but it was pleasant and kind of interesting. I gave thought to taking communion afterwards, but decided not to when I saw that everyone was drinking out of the same cup. I might have been braver had I not gotten sick with norovirus after our first whisky cruise in 2016. That’s an experience I never want to repeat!
After lunch, guests were allowed to go for walks on the beach and/or visit the Old Forge, which is said to be Scotland’s most remote pub. I had every intention of at least visiting the pub, but it was raining and, you guessed it, a nap was calling. I started reading my latest trashy celebrity tell all and, before I knew it, was fast asleep. I don’t usually sleep this much on Hebridean Cruises, but it was rather wet and rainy and that kind of weather does make me want to hibernate. Bill did visit the pub. He said it wasn’t really “special” in terms of anything more than being in a remote area. It sounded like missing it wasn’t such a bad thing. If it had been sunny, I would have been up for a walk there.
All week, we looked for dolphins, puffins, orcas, and other wildlife. I did manage to catch a glimpse of several orcas playing in the mist early in the cruise. I didn’t have a camera ready at the time. Even if I had, it was foggy and I was sitting by a window that wasn’t very conducive to picture taking. However, on Sunday night, I got lucky. I was sitting near the front windows of the Princess when two dolphins suddenly started leaping right next to the ship. I had my iPad ready and managed to score these pictures!
It was a little sad to realize, Sunday night, that Monday would be our last full day on the Princess. On one hand, I was a bit ready to come home, do laundry, and see my dogs again. As much as I need breaks from the beagles, I do miss them after a couple of days. A week is almost torturous, especially as they get older and I read tragic stories about people who lose their dogs unexpectedly, such as those whose dogs were exposed to blue-green algae and died hours later. On the other hand, this time, our cruise was full of a great group of folks and a mostly fantastic staff. I mean, Hebridean’s staff is almost always perfect anyway, but some people mesh better with me than others do. We really had a good time on our trip.
Read about the last full day onboard in the next post.