It was a day like any other on the Isle of Skye. A slight drizzle, moody skies, and narrow winding roads. Sheep dotted the roadways and the fields along the way. It was a day like any other day besides the fact that it was the day following our elopement and we were riding high on the wave of that excitement and the fairytale we had just created for ourselves. The feelings of elation and magic could not have found a better canvas as their backdrop, as we headed west from the Quiraing where pictures are worth a thousand words. Having just exchanged our vows on the edge of a cliff taking that lifelong leap into holy matrimony, vowing to spend the rest of our days exploring the world together, and embarking on the most remarkable adventures… We made our way over to a place where we would relax and reflect on what all of this meant for us. The special place we made our way to is called The Three Chimneys and the House Over-by. When calling to make our reservations we had the glorious opportunity of speaking to the general manager himself, KD. When making the booking his description of getting to this quaint hotel with a nearly Michelin-starred restaurant whet my appetite for what lay in store. He was more than a person on the other end of the line trying to get us a confirmation number and take a credit card; he immediately became a part of the adventure and an integral part of the story. We chatted about not wanting to arrive too late at night because getting there was an adventure of its own. Getting there would inform the story behind our meals at night, something every guest should take in as it’s an integral part of the experience and creates an even deeper connection to this place. Our arrival was intertwined with our final destination and we’re glad that we listened. It may also have been because there are no street lights getting to and through this part of the Isle of Skye. The roads are narrow, the sheep plentiful, and the views are jaw-dropping. Getting around the island after dark would be doing it a disservice anyway. KD was giving us Insight from the moment we made our booking. He also hinted at the possibility, based on weather conditions, availability of goods, and how we felt, that we may be able to partake in some really cool activities. He offered to be as involved as we wanted him to be. I’m not sure if this is the service offered to each and every one of his guests but we were delighted to have him as our guide and companion. As soon as we checked in to The House Over-by which is right next door to the restaurant, we were hooked! The split-level rooms housed in this quaintly named set of six luxury suites had glass doors that lead out to a lawn that was edged by a balling brook. Can we say every inch of it screamed fairytale?
The House Over-by is so fitting as the restaurant has had notoriety its entire existence, and staying on as a guest was a natural progression. The ethos of these establishments is bound to its surroundings. With this evident connection to the community and everything that sustains this hotel and restaurant, we inherently became one with it as well. Only moments after checking in we were in KD’s vehicle then headed out with fishing rods and sandwiches in tow. As we wound our way across the island to what he tells us is his very favorite fishing hole, the sights of rugged countryside framed by stone walls, some only thigh high and others crumbling gently into the landscape, captured my attention. The men were chatting about the history, the lochs, and the terrain while I remained deeply ensconced in the mist blurring the lines between the hilltops and sky. The hum of their conversation took a back seat to the narrative that played out in my head and the smile that was sprawled across my face. Once in the car park with rods and reels in hand we set out to walk down a hill. We could see the sea on both sides of the peninsula that we were about to descend as a few families milled about. When we were about a half of a mile down the path I noticed an elevation ahead of us which we were to ascend. Finally, atop that part of our trek, breathless as I was, I could see a rather large lighthouse down another hill to our right and the rugged outcropping of stones to our left. We made our way over to the lighthouse where KD gave us yet another brilliant lesson on the history of the seemingly abandoned building that lay before us called Neist Point Lighthouse. Since 1909 this famous Scottish lighthouse has sat 142 feet above sea level with its tower a proud 62 feet high. Neist Point being the most westerly viewpoint on the Isle of Skye the vistas were spectacular. As David and KD set their minds to catching fish, and I to stepping gingerly, I had plans of keeping my eyes on craggy rocks beneath me and the raging seas ahead. The need for a lighthouse out here was evident. Having the general manager of the hotel as our partner was the icing on the cake. When we finally made It out to the spot where the boys were meant to throw their bait onto their hooks and cast their lines into the roaring seas, I was extremely surprised to see another solo fisherman standing on the precipice of these rocks, happily casting and catching. I nestled my bum in-between two of the boulders and leaned back as I watched them all go after what can only be called the strongest fish in the sea. Any fish that could brave those waves and the turbulent seas had to be a strong swimmer. I couldn’t imagine any life under what I could see on the surface. The waves were so high and so rough that many of them splashed us and got a few things wet.
Let’s just leave it at that because no fish were caught but the adrenaline was pumping, the daydreams were being lived, and that deep connection to the community, the land, and the sea that surrounds The Three Chimneys was calling. KD received a call from the local fishing boat that was coming in with a catch of langoustines. They pride themselves on sourcing the highest quality produce and seafood from Skye and here it was on full display. We were going to meet the boat that had just brought in part of this evening’s dinner. We were going to be seated at the kitchen table which some restaurants refer to as the chef’s table, in the kitchen itself. Watching the chefs at each of their stations prepare this five-star dinner for us, showcasing the relationships that the team at this hotel and restaurant have built, were going to be laid before us later that evening. Backing the Sprinter van up on the dock and having the fisherman disembark “My Amber” to hand us these crates of moving pinkish crustaceans sent another rush through our bodies. I mean, who gets to do this? Dream vacations for us consist of unique experiences and adventures and here we were living it beyond every expectation. More miles and smiles along the way back home to bathe and get dressed for dinner…this story was writing itself. Having seen the dramatic landscapes and seascapes that day I could not wait for the evening’s culinary experience. David and I enjoyed recounting the day as we sat in the sitting room of our suite sipping on the hotel’s namesake gin, before heading out the door and walking across the gravel driveway to The Three Chimneys restaurant. This wasn’t meant to be our honeymoon but it was shaping up to be something quite special. The Kitchen Table held only six and we were joined by a family of four from a town close to Edinburgh to the south of us. This place is such a treat that even for Scottish people it is seen as a magnificent place to dine and stay. We really couldn’t agree more. The connection to the community and the welcoming spirit of everyone on property would keep you coming back time and time again and we will. We took in every morsel of dinner and watched the chefs perform their duties with precision, like members of a marching band, all moving to the beat of the very same drum. Each course of our meal was paired with a wine that tied everything together very much like this community, very much like this meal. The quaintest of towns and the most quaint restaurant ever have made us the most satiated we have been in a very long time. It’s a full circle moment when you can meet the men who caught your food and be sat in the kitchen and watch that food be prepared and then placed in front of you to be savored. It’s a completely new level of dining and enjoying your food, and it’s a new way of staying connected to those around you and what nourishes you.
The next day we went to Dunvegan Castle Where history surrounded us and knowledge poured out of KD as well as the docents throughout the castle. We were walking through history and reliving it at the same time. Even with the brutality we did hear about at one of the dinners that took place in this castle, the history lesson was not lost on us.The richness of the Scottish people in spirit and spirits are something to be treasured and looked back upon with wonderment. You can see how they lived off of the land, the sea surrounding them, and the spirit from within. With that in mind we headed to Talisker Distillery. Speaking of history, this is the oldest legal distillery on the Isle of Skye. It is right on the sea and if you are actually sipping the whiskey you can taste the sea. The history of this distillery dates back to 1830. Today, they produce over 5 million liters a year, all made right here on the island.The stills for Talisker are made by coppersmiths who draw dimensions specifically for the distillery. These dimensions and differing sizes are what help make the unique flavors of this whiskey. In addition to having it be made by the seashore, the water source for Talisker whiskey comes from underground springs which are very sustainable. To show yet another connection to the land; cattle and sheep are fed with the draff which is a byproduct of whiskey making. The connection is evident throughout the island. When you live on an island, sustainability, respect for the land, sea, and each other is paramount. Skye is a beautiful example of that.
By the time we were to be headed south to Edinburgh, we had made more than friends. David and I will never forget that we were married on this beautiful isle. The backdrops, the photographs, and the vistas are second to none but the people and the places are what we will come back to year after year. We like to keep things that are precious to us close to us and we will keep The House Over-by and The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye in our hearts forever.
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