It’s the ruggedly handsome island I’ve always daydreamed about. With a couple of days leave still left to take before Christmas, I decided to fulfil my romantic little reveries and book a long weekend over the sea to Skye.

I’m far from unique in my idealised vision of the island, which explains its brimming population every summer, when domestic and international visitors alike descend upon Skye to see its surrounding beau idéal for themselves.

High season runs from April to October, so our late November/early December trip was very off-peak – something people didn’t hesitate to warn me about before we went. Since my plans consisted of walks and seeing some iconic landscapes- while staying in a self-catered cottage – I wasn’t too bothered about this.

However, people were not over exaggerating when they said the island closes down over winter. Anywhere really outside of Portree or Uig (the main two towns) is completely dead – something we discovered on our last night when we thought we’d venture out for dinner, only to discover the only place open for miles (including back over the bridge to the mainland!) was ‘Taste of India’ in Kyleakin. It was lovely but didn’t necessarily fulfil my vision of a cosy, island restaurant experience!

Unfortunately for us our wee visit coincided with Storm Diana, so a lot of our outdoor adventures were accompanied by wind, rain and hail. To be fair, it’s Scotland in November so it’s to be expected, though obviously a visit during the dryer months might suit people who aren’t necessarily used to such meteorological factors. 

Here are some of the things we got up to during our two full days on Skye…

Fairy Pools

Through my incessant Instagram scrolling (no, you have a problem..) I’d seen so many amazing photographs of the Fairy Pools that I insisted they were the first thing we saw on Skye. Luckily the weather stayed clear enough for long enough that we were able to actually walk around them properly and enjoy them.

Even while experiencing the authentic Scottish weather of four seasons in one day (or rather, hour), these naturally-formed pools and waterfalls are so magical. In between the hail when the sun shone, the water was so clear and turquoise and I felt I could sit and watch them for hours. 

TOP TIP: if you’re visiting here in winter, do not be extremely optimistic like us – wear actual proper hiking boots or wellies. I had normal boots on while Dave had trainers, so we (yes, two man effort) had to squeeze his size 9 feet into my size 6 wellies I’d left stashed in the boot of the car. Prepare yo’ feet, readers. Also, the car park opposite was a fiver to get in to so remember cash!

                                                               The Quiraing

The weather was at its worst when we went to see The Quiraing on the north of the island, so even though we couldn’t do the walk (which is a loop of around 7km), it still looked pretty epic with the low hanging mist and cloud. 

The site is widely compared to Lord of the Rings scenery, and when we visited it definitely had a touch of Mordor. I’d love to come back in Spring/Summer and do the full loop. We only did the first kilometre maybe, but even then I was blown away by it  (metaphorically as well as almost physically.) 

                                                                Portree

We made a little pit stop here on our way back from The Quiraing. We only wandered around the centre a bit but we ate by the fire at The Antlers Bar and Grill (haggis bon bons: the best) we wandered down the main street (mostly gift shops!) and got some cake at Cafe Arriba which is a cute little upstairs cafe overlooking the sea. 

                                                      Eilean Donan castle

OK, so it’s not technically on Skye but it’s close enough…

As far as castles go, Eilean Donan in my (I suspect very mainstream) opinion is the king of them. Standing above the water about a 15 minute drive from the Skye bridge, it was lit up as we passed in the darkness and the sight gave me instant goosebumps. 

The castle itself is closed in the low season but you can still walk around it. I will certainly be back one summer to go inside!  

                                                                       Mhor 84

‘Cos you can’t have a North-West road trip without stopping here! My absolute favourite little spot just off the A84. This time we visited “Store 84” (the shop right next to the restaurant) for the first time, and it was filled with some amazing things so definitely worth popping your head in. 

                                         And finally, where we stayed… 

As an Air Bnb stalwart, we of course stayed in a little Air Bnb cottage. It was in Lower Breakish, which is about 15 minute drive from the bridge. It was right on the sea front and the space was just so gorgeous and secluded.

If you want to be closer to the ‘action’ (which is somewhat limited during winter on Skye but you get my drift) this was quite a long drive from most places (45 minutes to Portree and over an hour to The Quiraing on the north of the island.)

From what I hear from others who have visited, Uig and Portree seem to be the most popular places to stay, as you’re slightly more central/nearer to the big attractions. Since there wasn’t much going on while we were there anyway (and it was also mad weather) we were more than happy to make dinners in our wee cottage, drink mulled wine and sit by the fire! 

Skye, I’ll see you again soon! 

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Whatever did happen to Madeleine McCann? Who took her? Why did they do it? Is she still alive? The answers to all of these questions remain as mysterious as ever, yet they are still very much at the forefront of the western psyche. I don’t think there’s a British person alive today who doesn’t want to know what happened to the wide-eyed toddler with the halo of blonde hair.

But does anyone lend a thought any more to the 276 Nigerian girls who vanished into the abyss a mere six months ago, 219 of whom are still missing? And what about their parents, seven of whom have been killed by explosions organised by the very group their daughters are being held under? They died before learning of the schoolgirls’ fate and increasingly, it seems, so will we.

In the weeks following the girls’ kidnapping by terrorist organisation Boko Haram, Twitter was awash with celebrities and politicians wielding signs demonstrating their support in the search for the missing girls. Media coverage was rife, and Facebook groups campaigning for the girls unending. But when the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag died, it seems that our concern was buried alongside it.

There has been frenzied outrage about female circumcision in Africa, incessant speculation about the missing plane in the Indian Ocean, and in the wake of the widely documented Ebola crisis, Britain has taken the informed decision to send over 700 troops and medics to Africa to help fight the spread of the disease.

Yet still nobody has been sent to find the missing schoolgirls. Britain sent out a plane to help look for the girls, but it broke down en route. This unfortunate event has proven an ironic yet effective metaphor for the west’s approach to the cause itself. It seems, in fact, that nobody much cares whether or not ‘our girls’ are brought back. The reason for this could be a simple one; that they are, in fact, not ‘ours’ to bring back.

‘Missing white girl syndrome’ is a well-known affliction of western media. White, middle to upper class females who have disappeared from their homes are given a disproportionate amount of media coverage when compared to that of their missing black counterparts. Even less coverage is given to citizens of countries that are distant from the west, geographically and of course culturally.

A human life is worth more, it seems, if you are white and western, than if you are the comparatively less fortunate combination of black, female, and poor, like the schoolgirls currently in the hands of dangerous Islamic extremists. To even be considered page space, you must have been at the centre of something dramatic. Malala, the Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban because she fought for female education, has become a heroine in western media –partly because of her feminist efforts but more so because she survived. The situation of the girls held in the African jungle has so far remained static and thus their story has drifted into the obscure. In this particular case it seems that no news is, well, exactly that.

This is just another example of the enduring misaligned morals of the media. Why is there such a longstanding preoccupation with missing white females?  Why does one person’s skin colour and background deem them more important than another’s? It seems western culture has taught us to be interested only in those we can associate with aesthetically. This makes them more familiar to us and therefore more worthy of our attention. Their cases impact us more directly than a couple of hundred kidnapped girls in Africa.

As a result, headline space is given to stories less serious, less urgent, less horrific yet apparently more important because of their geographical and cultural proximity: in other words, we only want to know about the things that more directly affect us, the western elite, and how we can protect that. Did anyone really know what Ebola was until a westerner contracted it? Exactly.

However, we must also take into account the ever prevalent game of cat and mouse between the media and its audience. Does the fact that the girls have disappeared from our newspapers, screens and radios reflect the media’s belief that their western audiences are not interested, or is it us who think that the media don’t care?

Either way, the media has a staggering ability to rouse, or eliminate, public interest, and not enough is being done to maintain the awareness of these girls and the horror of their situation. Where broadcast platforms have an overriding power in capturing public interest, instead we read stories about benefit fraudsters, celebrity weight fluctuation and TV  bake-offs, none of which matter to anyone, yet we are spoon fed this nonsense because it is, depressingly, what appeals the most to western audiences.

The media has now ceased to broadcast any coverage whatsoever relating to the plight of the Nigerian schoolgirls and their captors, and as a result the situation is deemed unimportant. This is wrong. It is time we utilised our power as an audience, and stopped allowing the media such a strong influence over what is and is not important on an earth we all walk, in a world where every human life should matter, whether it sells newspapers or not.

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