We spent the middle segment of our trip on the magical Isle of Skye.
Headed towards Skye, we made a small detour to see the aqueduct and “Harry Potter” train at Glenfinnan, a beautiful spot even if you’re not into Harry Potter. This is also the site of the 1745 “Bonnie Prince Charlie” uprising and monument thereto.
We drove through Fort William and picked up picnic supplies at the Marks & Spencer Food Hall, which should be a tourist attraction in itself.
Our next stop was at the iconic Eilean Donan Castle, where we ate our picnic goods.
We had a mix of lodging on our trip–from small B&Bs to luxury hotels to the HF Holidays’ manor house to an AirBNB apartment. In Edinbane we rented the lovely Aber View self-catering apartment. It was very clean, spacious and comfortable. The location was great for exploring the best of the island and also given it is just across the street from a great gastropub, the Edinbane Inn. We had a lovely dinner there the first night. The hosts left us an abundance of food to “get us started” and it lasted our whole stay.
In the morning of our first full day on Skye, we headed down to Portree, Skye’s largest town and a lovely harbor. Portree also would be a good base of operations, especially if you’d like to be able to walk to more restaurants, etc. But unless you’re splurging for the Kinloch Lodge, I’d stay up north and not in the southern part of Skye as the Trotternish Peninsula has the most dramatic scenery. Don’t underestimate the distances in Skye. While everything is reachable as a day trip, the roads are small and if you get stuck behind someone slow, it can be hard to find a place to pass. Off the main routes, roads are narrow and very windy. So if you can group your activities in Skye by geographic proximity, you’ll be much happier!
Skye was the start of our culinary splurging. As Kinloch Lodge and Three Chimneys are rated some of the best restaurants in the world, we could not pass up the experience. Both meals (and splurging for the tasting menus) were well worth it. The food is incredible but the settings were also magnificent and the hospitality impressive.
After lunch at the Kinloch Lodge (a good hour’s drive from Portree), we visited the Old Man of Storr, a bizarre outcropping of rocks. It was a good time of day to go, in the early evening, as the sun was peaking out from behind the peaks and the crowds were dwindling. If you’re up for it, it’s definitely worth climbing up behind the rock outcroppings to the top of the ridge.
After Old Man of Storr, we drove around the rest of the northernmost peninsula, the Trotternish, which, again, I think has the best scenery of Skye and possibly of all of Scotland. We stopped several times along the way to walk out along the coast, for example by Duntulm Castle. We also stopped off briefly at the Skye Museum of Island Life though it was closed when we arrived so we only saw the period homes from the outside.
Our second full day, we headed back to the Trotternish Peninsula to explore the Quiraing in the morning. The Quiraing is another area of odd rock formations—impossible to describe in words. You have to look at the photos! We were lucky to arrive when the valley was fogged in and still be there while the fog was lifting. It’s a magical place—definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in terms of natural scenery.
After the Quiraing, we walked around the Fairy Glen just outside Uig. It’s a lovely spot with a surprising landscape. We expected everything after the Quiraing to be a disappointment but this was definitely worth exploring!
On our way to Three Chimneys, we visited Dunvegan Castle. We are usually content to just visit castles from the outside, but we decided this one we should go in as some of our ancestors are of the MacLeod Clan. So we wanted to see the castle that really should belong to us but through some mishap in history doesn’t. While perhaps not the most interesting interior, the setting of the castle is beautiful and the gardens are worth a walk through.
We drove past the castle, towards Claigan Corral Beach for a brief walk along the coast before the exceptional 8-course Three Chimneys tasting menu. In addition to the food and setting and service, I was impressed with the way the wait staff really pushed the non-alcoholic drinks for the drivers. They know the roads can be treacherous, so they have a great array of non-alcoholic options. I was planning to have one glass of wine with the 8-course dinner, but in the end I just stuck with the non-alcoholic elderberry sparkling “wine” because it was so good!
Our last morning in Skye, we drove to Elgol. It’s a bit of a harrowing drive but beautiful. It would have been great to combine this with Kinloch Lodge as they are in the same part of the island, but we just couldn’t make it work with the timing. From Elgol, you can take a boat trip to Loch Coruisk. We went with the Bella Jane.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the full trip that lets you get out and hike around Loch Coruisk, but the boat trip and the drive down to Elgol were definitely worth it anyways. The water is turquoise, the mountains impressive (this area is supposed to have great hiking too), the guide was very informative, and we saw a bunch of seals, including seal pups!
On the drive back to the main road, we stopped for a bit at the picturesque Church of Kilchrist (Cill Chriosd) ruins.
Once again, we entirely lucked out with the weather and this had a huge positive impact on our time in Skye. We absolutely loved it, but I could see how bad weather could give someone a different impression of this relatively desolate place!
Next week, the Torridon!