A complete guide for the Isle of Skye

written by Julia 4. September 2018

Raising the curtain today on: The Isle of Skye

With approx. 50 miles length, The Island of Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides. The tiny city Portree with a total population of 2.100, also called the queen of Skye, is the official capital of the island and the best option to find various foods and tastes. As shopping and finding good food on Skye was quite a challenge (but part of the fun) Portree was the best place to grab all kinds of food.

The supermarket co-op, located in Portree, offers a huge variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and all kinds of groceries. If you are in search of local shops, you can find a butcher in Portree High Strees and a fish shop, directly located on the Pier. We preferred to buy stuff at the supermarket and eat in our camping cabin to make most out of the days.

Where to stay?

Speaking about the accommodation, we really wanted to try something different. Our friend told us about “Glamping” and from minute one, we really were into it. We booked a wigwam for three nights at Portree Wigwams. We decided to go for the luxury version and booked the Running Water Deluxe Wigwam®. The cabin is very spacious and offers beds up to four adults or a family of five. Its equipped with an en-suite toilet, kitchen sink and a shower. For our foodies, they also offer a mini kitchen with a fridge and a microwave. But, that I loved most about the cabins: the double-glazed patio doors for the ultra-panoramic views when waking up in the morning, just seeing wilderness. Focusing on price and performance, we were really happy with our decision as the accommodation options are all pricy over the island.

What to see?

The expectations for this trip were way too high – and Skye didn’t disappoint me. Not at all. Rather than this, this island beats everything. To be honest, I actually don’t know where to start: I loved the landscape (obviously), the quietness in combination with the rough climate and the variety of highlights. And, the fact that the cutest sheeps are all over (and when I say all over, I mean all over) the island made me the happiest girl. It’s true.

1. The old man of Storr

We start with the most famous hike on the island. And at the same time, this location is kind of crowded and busy (a very rare moment at Skye). To avoid peak times, you better come in the early morning or enjoy the sunset over the large pinnacle of rock. This place can be seen as the landmark of the island and is one of the most photographed landscapes in the world. To hike up and down the hill, there is just one path that can be used. It covers a total distance of 3,8 km and takes about 1 hour 30 minutes (with no stops.) Notice to bring good sneakers or hiking boots, as the heavy rains provoke muddy hiking trails. The Old Man of Storr is located in the northern part of Skye, near the area know as “Trotternish.” The hike up starts at the main road from Portree to Staffin. The carpark is also located by the main road, you can’t miss it. It its already full (can happen quickly during touristic seasons, you can find an extended layby to the main road which can be found at the carpark entrance.

2. Talisker Bay

The short walk to Talisker Bay was my absolute highlight. We were spoiled with sun shine and clear blue skies. The walk up to the beach takes 25 minutes with a total distance of 1.45 km. The bay is surrounded by rough cliffs and impressive wide, green fields. Sheeps and peacocks can be seen all around. If you are into surfing: This is your spot, as Skye does not offer many options. The walk starts at the parking area, which is located on the West Coast of Skye, near the village of Carbost where the famous Talisker is distilled. Notice to pre-check the tide predictions because on very high tides the whole beach will be covered by the sea.

3. Talisker Distillery

Talisker is the oldest working distillery on the Isle of Skye. The location on the shores of Loch Harport with its dramatic views and the sweet, full-bodied taste of the single malt is totally worth a visit. The Distillery itself offers different guided tours where you can discover the process of distillation, find out about the techniques, learn about different flavors and in the end taste one of the world’s best single-malts. What a pity we missed the tour because we didn’t pre-book – so better come prepared and get your ticket in advance.

4. Neistpoint Lighthouse

There is no doubt about the fact that Neist Point is one of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland. It is located on the most westerly end of Skye, near the town of Glendale.  The Neist Point is situated in the West Coast of Skye, known as are “Durinish.” While the walk down was really easy, as steep the way up again was. The concrete path really requires a good fitness level. From the path, you will see breathtaking views of the cliffs and the lighthouse itself. As you can imagine, during sunset the view is more than stunning and makes it the perfect destination for photographers from all over the world. There is only one path up and down. It covers a distance of 2.2km and the whole hike can be done in approx. 45 (it you are not stopping to admire the sea). We needed several stops when getting back to the car as the path was really, really steep.

There is only one bad thing about the Neist Point Lighthouse: The way to get there. The single-track road was more than challenging – especially when you are not used to drive on the left side. Our advice: Avoid the rush hour to arrive there!

5. The Fairy Glen

As mystic as the name sounds the landscape of the Fairy Glen looks like from outer space.

This feeling is boosted by the green, small round-topped grassy hills. Skye has a long history involving the Fairys. The Fairy Glen has no real legends or stories involving the fairy that can be traced back then. The location got its nickname from its unusual look.

The quiet atmosphere and the beauty of the green wilderness can really take your breath for a second. When you get used to the special superpowers of this location, walk around, discover and just breathe in: you will feel it, there is something special about this place. People in the town told us “Don’t go there, it’s just random, boring place.” How about no? I am sure the fairys don’t like stories like that. The actual highlight is the Castle Ewan: It looks like a ruin, but is actually a hill. It’s possible to climb up there and enjoy the views. The last years and the drastic increase of tourists left marks on the Fairy glen: They started to move the rocks to create spirals on the ground. The locals try to keep the Glen in its natural state and remove those spirals from time to time. Notice that parking is very limited in the Glen – we got there during the afternoon to snatch one of the last slots.

How to get around?

First things first: Yes, there are bus options on the island, but to be fair: A car is the must-have on this island to be as flexible as possible. We really enjoyed to get-around at any time to avoid tourist masses and rush hours.

What to avoid?

  • Forget to pre-book a tour at the Distillery – We arrived there and no free spot was left. Best way would be to call at the Distillery two days in advance to secure your tour ticket. Many people told me, that is really worth it and I was really disappointed that we did not make it. So, you better be safe.
  • Being afraid in driving on the left side is a bad thing on that island. If you are not a skilled and experienced driver, this majestic island can turn into a nightmare.

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