Visit Isle of Skye
After more than a month of hiatus, My Saturday Drive is back on your screens with a fresh new blog! Making no promises, I will try to write more often. My original schedule was once every 2 weeks and I will try to stick to that. Otherwise, there are daily updates on Instagram and Facebook where I post photos I capture from various drives so do make sure to follow like and message. We’re starting to build a little community on those social pages and it is great to talk to you all and hear your stories.
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Anyways, with housekeeping out of the way, let’s focus on today’s topic, Isle of Skye! In my previous blog, Top 5 Places to Visit in Scotland, Isle of Skye was depicted as my number one place to visit. We went over a few points of interest on the island that we thought were really nice, places that we visited and left a wee mark on our hearts and our souls. I will go over these places once more, this time in more detail, hoping to give you more information about these landmarks on Isle of Skye so that you won’t have to worry about anything when you visit. I also hope that when you finish reading this, you will want to visit Skye even more!
Getting to the Isle of Skye
Like mentioned in my previous article, (and correct me if I am wrong) Isle of Skye is the only island in Scotland accessible from mainland by a bridge! The bridge was built in 1992 (there are some nice pictures of it being built here) and connects the village of Kyle of Lochalsh to the village of Kyleakin on Skye. Built by the Scottish company Miller, but with German engineering and design, the Skye Bridge was initially subject to some political controversy. Because it was built with private funds, the bridge initially had a toll of £11.40, a whopping £19.03 in today’s money! Ouch! Forth Road Bridge, for example, a bridge twice as long, charged 14 times less!
Eventually, after a lot of protest from the locals who claimed it was the most expensive toll bridge in Europe, the Scottish Government bought the bridge for £27 million and made it toll free!
If you want to admire this bridge and contemplate its history and what it means for the locals of Isle of Skye, stop over in Kyle of Lochalsh and walk up to the viewpoint which is called The Plock. On a quiet day, you can drive all the way up it and enjoy the views. It’s a nice place for a break and you get to see amazing views from the Skye Bridge and Isle of Skye all the way across to the Applecross Peninsula!
Points of Interest
Neist Point Lighthouse
This is my number one spot on the island. Until we first visited Skye in the winter of 2017, I had never been on a Scottish island, nor had I ever been close to a lighthouse. I recommend visiting this place late in the evening, just before sunset, as most people will have scattered off by this time and you will have the entire place to yourself. Also, if you are lucky with the weather, you can catch some stunning sunsets since the lighthouse is on the west side of the isle.
Getting to it is a short 20-30 minute walk from the car park. It will probably take you a wee bit longer if you are more photography inclined, because you will want to climb up the wee hill, right after the long downhill stretch of the path from the car park. If you want to get similar shots to the one above, you have to go up this hill!
The reason why Maryanne and I love it so much is because we got there right as the sun was setting. We just looked over the wall, into the abyss of the ocean, with a very small hint of South Uist. As it got darker, we could see other lighthouses on Uist. It was just magical having the complete serenity of the night surround us, all while being a good hundred feet above the ocean. It felt like the whole world was hushed and we were the only ones on the island! I cannot recommend this experience enough!
Fairy Pools is a popular spot on Isle of Skye and it attracts many tourists throughout the year. They are also popular among wild swimmers! They are on the River Brittle, at the foot of the Cuillins.
Up until recently, you could park across the road and head over towards the Cuillins to see the pools but now be weary there are parking charges. We went in February 2019 and it cost us £5 to leave our car there BUT, when we came back, at around 4 in the afternoon, the person collecting the toll was no longer there and people were still coming. They were lucky enough to not need to pay for parking so if you are thinking of visiting, try to head later on in the day, maybe the evening. You will avoid the crowds and you might end up not paying. This can change though, as the parking lot was still being built and I presume they will install parking meters eventually.
Anyways, car out the way, getting to the pools is about half an hour of walking. Some caution should be taken when getting to the Fairy Pools as you will be crossing a moor and a river. After heavy rainfall, especially the first crossing can be a bit difficult if you don’t have appropriate footwear, i.e. you will get your socks wet! How do I know? Ask Maryanne! The second crossing is wider but there are stepping stones. Go over carefully, especially if it’s wet because the rock can be slippery. These little obstacles out of the way now, you are facing the first waterfall, which marks the beginning of the first pool. Keep going up the path and enjoy them.
I wasn’t really into whiskey, until I tasted Talisker, well, more like smelled it!
We were approaching the end of our last day on Isle of Skye. It was a Sunday. After looking up what we could do, I managed to find a coupon for a free tour of Talisker Distillery and we went for it. It was a nice little tour and we learned quite a bit about how they make the stuff and how it gets its famous flavour. After some tasting, well, just sniffing on the glass for me as I was driving, we went up and over the hill towards Talisker Bay.
You can park up right before the first farm and then walk through the main Talisker farm and then all the way to the beach. This should take you about 20 minutes, or about an hour, if you are lucky enough to meet the Talisker resident cat! We found this wee guy at the gates and when we went through he kept following us. I just went and picked him up and he was a happy lad, purring away while we walked him in our arms all the way to the other side of the farm when we parted our ways. He had to be the friendliest cat I had ever met and if he is still kicking about and you are visiting, I highly encourage you to give him some love!
The beach itself is gorgeous and I highly recommend visiting it at sunset! Once again, this means fewer visitors hanging around and also you might get to witness a stunning sunset if you are lucky enough with the weather.
Sensing a bit of a theme going on here on Isle of Skye: Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen.. Where are all the fairies? Well there are no actual fairies I’m afraid. It’s just the way locals decided to name them! Fairy Pools for instance are just made of vivid blues and greens, so they might suggest unnatural origin. Same goes for Fairy Glen. It’s simply called that way because the location is unusual.
The main attraction here is one of the hills which still has the main basalt toping intact, making it look like a ruin of some sorts from a distance. This ruin looking hill top is called Castle Ewan (I could not find why) and you can get all the way to the top if you wanted to enjoy some good views. Be careful though, as the path is very tight and for a small distance it’s right on top of a ridge with no support on either side and quite a drop!
What you see on the internet a lot of the time is tourists moving rocks to create spirals on the ground making it look like some weird crop circles. Allegedly, bus tour guides even encourage people to do so and to walk in the spiral so that the fairies grant them good luck. Please don’t do this! There is nothing wrong with enjoying a natural landscape or what it is. The whole reason we love Isle of Skye is because it’s raw, untouched and wild and it would be a shame if we don’t keep it that way.
Now here’s a beauty! Coral Beach is a short drive away from Dunvegan Castle, so combining the two could make a great day out. Castle in the afternoon and sunset on the beach in the evening? WIN! Unfortunately, both times we visited, we were in the winter season and the castle was closed! We will be back for it!
The beach is only half an hour walk away from the car park in Claigan. It’s a nice little walk on a farm road, climb over a little hill and voila! The beach is called Coral Beach because of all the crushed white coral and it gives it a unique look. It’s a perfect spot for a family picnic, some bird/seal watching and again, if you dare, a wild swim! It depends on the weather of course. When we visited, it was blowing a gale, so strong that we could barely stand!
There is way more to Isle of Skye than these few points listed above. I only listed them because that’s what we managed to visit so far and thought I would share with you what our experience was and what tips we have to make your visit that much smoother.
With that being said, there are loads more attractions such as Dunvegan Castle, the Cuillin Ridge (for seasoned hikers of course), Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls, The Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, Spar Cave and Vaternish Lighthouse to name a few.
Not much to say here, other than, as always in the Scottish Highlands, these are some of the most amazing driving roads in the world. Long straights with miles of visibility, with varying turns from tight hairpins to long swooping turns, all with astonishing scenery all around to satisfy both petrolhead and passengers. I swear it’s torturous sometimes as I am torn between driving a bit more spiritedly and admiring the scenery. More reasons to go back I suppose!
If you are visiting from overseas and are driving a small rental car, be prepared to downshift into lower gears as the hills can be deceivingly steep. On that note, if you’ve never been to the Highlands, there are plenty of single track roads on Isle of Skye. That means there is only enough space on the road for one car. There are plenty of designated passing places alongside each road, so look ahead (and behind, as you might be keeping a more seasoned local up) for oncoming cars so you can plan which passing place to use. Don’t play a game of chicken with the other car, but at the same time, don’t just pull in the first passing place you see, when the car is a good couple of hundred feet in front of you as you will be wasting your time and the people behind you. Be courteous and driving can be a pleasure! Also look out for sheep haha!
We have eaten at a few places throughout our stays. The Greshornish guest house (which is where we stayed the first time) is absolutely fabulous, and had an amazing full Scottish breakfast. Their dinners are really good and quite nicely priced too.
We also went to a really nice restaurant in Portree called Scorrybreac. This is a perfect place for a romantic quiet dinner with your partner and the food and service are exceptional.
Another place we stayed at was Duisdale House Hotel. It’s one of the nicer places on the Island and we had an absolutely amazing stay. The staff are wonderful, the accommodation spotless and the food and the whole dining experience was probably the best we had ever had.
Another wee gem of a place, which I highly recommend if you want to mingle with the locals and get to know Skye a bit better, is The Old Inn, in Carbost!
I have not been paid by anyone to say these lovely words about these places by the way. I just wanted to share with everyone our experiences so far.
Over to You!
So what do you think? Are you seriously considering visiting Isle of Skye now? Just going through this while I was writing it gave me the urge to go back again! Comment below with what you think!