Our Journal

Inspirational, Places to visit
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30 March 2022
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Kim Pierce

Your Guide to Discovering the Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides archipelago islands and is connected to the mainland by a bridge make it also the easiest to access. Although its a slight detour from the traditional North Coast 500 route, this beautiful island is home to some of the most picturesque scenery in Scotland and many of the most famous sites including the beautiful waterfalls at Fairy Pools, incredible Quiraing mountain range, the oldest continuously inhabited castle Dunvegan Castle & Gardens and the 674m tall landslip at The Storr Mountain Peak.

Read on to discover all about this beautiful island and the best places to explore.

Quiraing Mountain Range in the Isle of Skye – Image via Twenty20

How long does it take to drive from Inverness to the Isle of Skye?

It takes approximately 2 hours through beautiful scenic Highlands to reach the Isle of Skye from Inverness but make sure to plan in a little extra time so you can enjoy the journey and and take in the views.

Our favourite route is from Inverness, along the Northern side of Loch Ness, through Invermoriston and then up towards Dornie which is approx. 80 miles.

How long does it take to drive around the Isle of Skye?

You can get around the Isle of Skye in a day if you are just ticking it off your list, however we don’t recommend this and you will miss out on so much of what the island has to offer. If you only have a day, choose a smaller portion of the island and tae your time to explore it or if time is not an issue we recommend at least 2 nights and 3 days to explore but the more the better.

When’s the Best Time to Go?

The summer months are the most popular in the Isle of Skye, usually May to September is the best time to visit with the warmer weather and the longer days to make the most out of your time there.

June, July and August can be extremely busy and accommodation gets booked out well in advance so pre-planning is a necessity and the most popular tourist sites could be very overcrowded . It’s also when the midges come out.

Our favourite times are May and September, you may need to bring some extra layers and could have a rainy day or two but in some places you’ll be able to drive for miles without seeing another person.

What is the Isle of Skye Famous For?

Famous for its spectacular scenery, wild rugged coastlines as well as the picturesque fishing villages and medieval castles. The island has inspired numerous poems, books and films with its beauty and wonder.

Neist Point on the Isle of Skye – Image by Benjamin Trosch via Unsplash

Where is there to stay in the Isle of Skye?

Self Catering Cottages, B&B’s and Hotels:

  • The Cottage Stein – A comfortable and stylish B&B in Stein with just two en-suite guest rooms, both with full height windows to make the most of the stunning uninterrupted sea views of the Westernish peninsula in the North West Skye. Personal service, stylish rooms and within a two minute walk to the popular Stein Inn and the Michelin starred Loch Bay Restaurant.
  • Mint Croft – A lovingly restored self-catering cottage with beautiful sea views in the remote coastal village of Geary on the Waternish Peninsula of Skye. The ancient stone walls, hand-crafted deVol kitchens and luxury Fired Earth bathrooms are designed for an indulgent romantic break away from everyday life.
  • The House Over-By – Just six beautifully decorated rooms in a separate building right next to the Three Chimneys restaurant. The rooms have everything you need for a comfortable, luxurious stay with smart TV’s/DVD player, Bose Bluetooth Speaker free wifi as well as ironing board and hairdryer. Private parking is also available for all guests.
  • Kinloch Lodge Hotel & Restaurant – A family run hotel/restaurant with an aim to provide an escape which is “as unpretentious as it is luxurious” and a sustainable ethos, helping to look after the people and environment in their area. Each room is uniquely designed and you have the mouth watering restaurant to enjoy cosy dinners and delicious breakfasts and lunch.
  • Sligachan Hotel – 21 comfortable and stylish rooms with high speed wifi set within the beautiful Red and Black Collins, on the shores of Loch Sligachan. The perfect spot for walkers, mountaineers and anyone looking to be surrounded by nature in a great location in the centre of the island.
  • Skeabost House Hotel – An award-winning boutique hotel and the perfect spot for the golfing and fishing enthusiast. This 20 bedroom hotel is located on 23 acre grounds with woodlands, a golf course and the River Snizort flowing through which provides the perfect opportunity for some salmon and trout fishing.
  • Toravaig House Hotel – A small boutique hotel with just 9 contemporary bedrooms set on the Sleat peninsula, enjoying beautiful views out across the Atlantic waters. Having won “Scottish Island Hotel of the Year” at the Scottish Hotel Awards, it’s a popular and well loved accommodation, perfect for a special stay.

Campsites:

  • Kinloch Campsite – A family friendly campsite situated on a former croft on the shores of Loch Dunvegan in the north west of the Isle of Skye. The village of Dunvegan is just a 5 minute walk from the campsite for easy access to cafes, restaurants and shops.
  • Reraig Caravan and Camping – Found on the west coast of Scotland, 10 minutes from Skye bridge and just 15 minutes south of Plockton village. There’s a well supplied supermarket just 100m from the campsite and the Balmacara Hotel Restaurant and Pub right next door.
  • Sligachan Campsite – Set amongst beautiful views with the Cuillin hills in the background and the Loch Slihachan close by. There’s also a bar/restaurant just 5 minutes from the hotel.
  • Portree Campsite – Centrally situated in Torvaig, the Portree Campsite has hardstanding pitches with electric hook-up included, shower block and dishwashing facilities as well as free wifi available.
  • Glenbrittle Campsite – Awarded No.1 UK campsite by the Daily Telegraph, this popular campsite is set on the foot of the iconic Cuillin mountains and Loch Brittle beach. There’s 120 pitches, the Cuillin Coffee Co. cafe, campsite shop, laundry roan, shower block, chemical waste facilities as well as camping and climbing equipment. An ideal base for rock climbing and hill walking and dogs are allowed free of charge but must be kept under control.
  • Camping Skye – Opened in 2018 within a beautiful woodland location just outside of Broadford village with an easy 5 minute walk to shops, pubs and restaurants. Each of the 26 motorhome and caravan pitches comes with 240v 16a electric hook-up and individual barbecue/awning area.
  • Uig Bay Campsite – A popular campsite within Uig town and with sea views over Uig Bay. Dogs are welcome, there’s wifi available provided by Highland Wi-Fi as well as picnic benches throughout the site.

What is there to see and do?

Drive the Trotternish Loop – Spend a day exploring the Trotternish Peninsula by driving the 50-mile circuit known as the Trotternish Loop. Although only a couple of hours to drive there is plenty to see along the way and also has the beautiful Trotternish Ridge walk which takes around 2 hours so you can take in the beautiful surroundings on foot. Places you’ll see along the way are:

  • Portree Town – You’ll begin the loop from Portree town which is only small but worth taking a look around on foot.
  • Fairy Glen – a stunning and mystical glen which has been featured in many a movie due to the outstanding beauty of the landscape.
  • Isle of Skye Brewing Company – Take a break and enjoy a gin or ale
  • Duntulm Castle – Due to its precarious place on the edge of a cliff you aren’t able to enter the castle but its still worth a view from afar.
  • The Quiraing – Some of the most breathtaking scenery in Skye and in the Scottish Highlands, its well worth taking the time to hike the area and make the most of the beautiful views. The complete circular path takes around 4 hours.
  • Staffin Village – Known for dinosaur prints discovered on Corran Beach, a great family activity although they are very difficult to find.
  • Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls – Discover one of the Highlands most impressive waterfalls which falls 55 metres into the sea below.
  • Lealt Falls – A great place to stop for a bite as there are picnic tables scattered around, there’s a also a viewing platform over the gorge for some great views of the falls.
  • Old Man of Storr – One of the most photographed icons of Skye and featured in numerous films, this beautiful spot can be enjoyed from the road but as always its well worth doing the hike to the viewpoints.

Neist Point and Neist Point Lighthouse – One of the most well-known lighthouses in Scotland, Neist Point is found on the westerly tip of Skye in Durinish. There’s an easy walk down to the lighthouse with beautiful views of the surrounding cliffs.

Wild Swim at the Fairy Pools – Found at the foot of the Black Cuilins are the famous Fairy Pools and their waterfalls. Enjoy the approx. 40 minute walk and take in the view or if you’re feeling brave then jump into the beautiful crystal clear and cold waters for a spot of wild swimming.

Village of Elgol – On the shores of Loch Scavaig is the hamlet village of Elgol on the south coast of Skye. Take a boat across the loch to the entrance of Loch Coruisk or enjoy one of the many hikes along the coast or into the Cuilins range.

Hike the Cuillin Mountains – There’s a large selection of walks from gentler strolls in the Red Cuillins to tough technical challenges in the UK’s most challenging mountain range, the Black Cuillin which has 11 Munro’s and 16 other summits. A map is essential and due to the terrain shouldn’t be attempted in wet conditions.

Boat Trip to Loch Coruisk – Discover one of Scotlands most isolated and unique lochs, Loch Coruisk. Boat trips are generally around 3 hours and include an hour and a half on shore on the loch.

Armadale Castle, Gardens & Museum of the Isles – Explore this incredible Highland estate with its beautiful gardens, castle ruins and informative museum telling the tales of the Clan Donald, Scotlands most powerful clan.

River running away from the falls in the Fairy Pools area on the Isle of Skye in Scotland – Image by @timcrabb via Twenty20

Where are the best places to eat and drink?

  • Isle of Skye Brewing Co. – A must stop for an ale enthusiast, the Isle of Skye Brewing company uses only the most authentic ingredients, milling their own grains and hand-picking local berries and plants to add to their ales.
  • Talisker Distillery – The oldest working distillery on Skye, situated on the shores of Loch Harport, book onto one of the Talisker Distillery Tours or enjoy the Talisker Rare and Exclusive Tasting Experience.
  • The Three Chimneys – The restaurant at The Three Chimney’s is headed by Head Chef Scott who uses the freshest and finest natural Skye ingredients to create mouth-watering dishes using the finest techniques of ancient Nordic and haute Scottish cuisine.
  • Kinloch Hotel and Restaurant – Every meal is designed around the best local and seasonal ingredients which will make your mouth water and leave you satisfied but wanting more. Kinloch offers breakfast, lunch and dinner at set times throughout the day.

What are the best Castles to visit in the Isle of Skye?

  • Dunvegan Castle – An incredible impressive castle with some of its oldest areas having been built in the 1200’s, it’s 27th Chief, Sir Reginald Macleods opened it up to the public in 1933 and collections include beautiful paintings and heirlooms including the Fairy Flag and Sir Rory Mor’s ceremonial drinking horn.
  • Armadale Castle – Now a picturesque ruin, Armadale Castle was once the seat of the Macdonalds of Sleat part of the powerful Clan Donald. Although fenced off for security as the ruins are unstable, its still a stunning building to admire from the outside and plenty of the 40 acre surrounding woodland gardens to explore.
  • Dunscaith Castle – Another castle now in ruins, Dunscaith is found on the most southernly peninsula on the Isle of Skye and is believed to have been built around 1181.
  • Castle Ewen – Also known as the Fairy Castle, its not exactly a castle but actually a natural rock formation which looks like a fortified tower.

Discover the Isle of Skye and book one of our Highland Overland 4×4 vehicles for a comfortable, safe and stylish ride.

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