The Isle of Skye is raw, breathtaking and rugged. But, among lush valleys and sharpened mountains, you can find pastel colours and romantic places. The amazing rocky pinnacles, the crinkled shorelines and the blackhead sheep wandering down the road!
In this post you can choose between one of the 8 thematic itineraries on the island or mix them together to build up your own trip. I’ve tried to describe lots of possible trekking routes that run close to the spots I’ve mentioned, according to my personal way of traveling. I’ll be writing a post about practical information on how to plan a trip to the Isle of Skye soon, but if you have any questions, please let me know in comments below.
Portree is the capital town of Skye and the most visited point on the island. It has everything a visitor could wish for: pretty cafes, good restaurants, squares, churches, narrow alleys and colourful shops. Its position makes it a privileged point to explore the whole island by car, but also by public transport or on foot thanks to the convenient bus stops.
The Scorrybreac Circuit starts from Portree, in front of the Cuillin Hills hotel, and explores the spectacular surroundings of the Portree bay and the Sound of Raasay. Allow 2 hours to walk it all. For an amazing view point, go on after Sgurr Rhuadh onto a delightful coastal trek and magnificent cliff tops to Sithean Chumhaing trig point, also known as The Fairy Pass.
Other things you can’t miss on Skye are:
- Neist Point, the lighthouse placed on the very westernmost tip of the island. The most common way to reach it is a 2.2km-long-path that starts from the car park on the road that goes from Milovaig to Waterstein. It is said that, if you sit on a rock just some meters under the lighthouse, it’s sometimes possible to see whales. The best view on the Neist Point is definitely the one from the coastal route from Ramasaig to Waterstein Head, one of the quietest and most scenic areas on Skye.
- Old Mann of Storr, the real symbol of Skye, can easily be spotted from anywhere on the island. It’s composed of many layers of lava, probably from 24 separate extrusions. The circular route that passes through the Old Man, goes up to Coire Scamadal and then down through Bealach Beag offers spectacular views of the whole Storr chain and of Skye in its entirety.
Nature is the absolute protagonist of the island. As you can imagine, it’s wild and enchanting, and a lot more!
Places to appreciate nature at its best:
- Quiraing. According to the locals, and I have to agree, is one of the finest circular walks on Skye. It offers extensive views into contorted landslip formations, amazing plateaus, jagged peaks and beyond to the towns of Staffin and Flodigarry. I left Uig in the early morning, arrived at the tourist car park on the Uig to Staffin minor road after about 9 kms, walked the loop path up to “The Table” formation and down from the summit cairn of Meall na Suiramach (Hill of the Maiden), and arrived in Staffin after a 21km-walk.
- The Cuillins mountains are in the central-southern part of Skye and they’re considered a hikers’ heaven. They are divided into Black Cuillins, whose peaks are high and pointed, and Red Cuillins, that are rounded and hilly. One of the most unrelenting and awe inspiring walks is the one that goes up to the Bla Bheinn, a king among the enveloping mountains, as J. A. MacCulloch described it in his 1905 book The Misty Isle of Skye.
The best thing to do is park at the designated area just off the Broadford to Elgol A881 road.
- If you fancy a change from the mountains, take a look at the amazing Skye beaches. E.g. You can reach the Coral Beach from Dunvegan Castle or from the village of Claigan. This shore is a candid half moon in the middle of tropical blue water and lush green land. It’s made from crushed white coral that makes the place a truly magical one. A small island called Lampay can be seen from the shore and can be reached by a coral causeway during low tides.
But I think the most magnificent beach on Skye is Sleat, placed at the very southernmost point. It’s the perfect spot for a packed lunch or, why not, a swim. The car park is at the end of a single track road, 10 minutes from the village of Armadale.
Exploring the artistic side of Skye is an experience you definitely have to try. Art goes from sculpture to photography, from textile to painting, and the possibilities are limitless.
Below I’ve only mentioned a few places, close to the areas I’ve already talked about in this article.
And how could I not mention the famous Uig Pottery? It’s located in the spectacular village of Uig, close to the Fairy Glen and the Quiraing, in front of the pier where the ferries to the Hebrides leave. I would have spent hours looking at the woman who patiently creates and decorates all the clay objects.
Other must-sees’ are the Ellishadder Gallery, close to the Kilt Rock waterfall, where you can stop for a break in the tea room, the Kelpie Crafts Gallery in the zone of Neist Point, the Aird Old Church Gallery on the road to Sleat Beach, …
Take a look at this link for more info and a detailed map.
There are so many places on the Isle of Skye with imprecise history dates, where reality and legend are inextricably bound. They’re not often mentioned on maps or, if they are, they’re written in their Gaelic name, that contains the prefix Sith. Sith, pronounced shee, which indicates the presence of fairies or little people, as they’re sometimes known.
Among the most famous places that are filled with mystery, you can’t miss:
- Fairy Pools. They’re one of the best known spots of the Southern area, easily reached by the “Glumachan na Sithichean” car park, just off the Carbost to Glenbrittle single track road. The stream Brittle, which flows down the valley, has formed many bends, crystal waterfalls and clear blue lakes, known as the pools where the fairies love to have a bath and swim.
- Fairy Glen. It’s one of my favorite spots on the whole island. The landscape is dominated by small round-topped grassy hills: the unique exception is Castle Ewen, the only hill that still has its basalt topping intact, similar to a ruined castle. You can easily climb up to its top. At its base, you find some spirals that visitors have created from rocks, which increase the otherworldly feel of the place. You can arrive here on foot from Uig, but also by car, taking the minor road to Balnacnoc, the village that is located just after the Fairy Glen. Lots of trekking routes depart from here. E.g. the one that goes North up to the Beinn Edra and comes back to Uig passing through the Glen Conon waterfalls. Or another one that goes South to the top of Ben Brogaskil and then down to Earlish, on the main coastal road to Uig.
- Sligachan Bridge. Placed on the main Kyleakin to Portree road, this bridge is at its best at sunset, when the sun paints the under flowing water with reds and a soft breeze comes from the Cuillins. The legend says that the daughter of the Scottish lady warrior Scáthachs soaked her face in the water and acquired the necessary wisdom to make peace between her mother and the Irish warrior Cúchulainn. From that day on it is said that washing your face directly into the river and keeping it soaked for 7 seconds ensures eternal beauty and wisdom.
- Duntulm Castle. Placed at the northernmost point of Skye, these ghostly ruins are said to be haunted by several ghosts. One is Hugh MacDonald, whose screams can be clearly heard coming from the castle dungeon. Another ghost is the one of the baby son of the clan chief, that a nursemaid accidentally dropped from a window above the cliff. The nursemaid was then sent in the Atlantic Ocean on a small boat, but her ghost came back and still wanders the ruins today, accompanied by the mournful cry of the baby. Other ghost legends have these ruins as a background and they take visitors back in history, when this island was less hospitable and traversed by mist and mysteries.
As this article has become a long one, what do you think if we stop for a while and go on to the last 4 thematic itineraries in the next one? Let me know what you think about the first 4 ones in Comments below.
Ciao! Sono Claudia, la fondatrice di getgoingirl.it, lo spazio web dove unisco le mie più grandi passioni: i viaggi e la scrittura. É sempre il momento buono per un’avventura zaino in spalla, per un trekking al ritmo che senti tuo, per una visuale insolita e alternativa da scovare in giro per il mondo. Naviga per argomento, destinazione o tipo di viaggio e lasciati ispirare!
Also available in: Italiano