Despite the emergance of Scotland’s North Coast 500, the fact that the Isle of Skye is still as popular as ever tells you everything you need to know about this stunning area of the country. Remote and tranquil, but bursting with character and full of surprises, Skye is the perfect place to base yourself for your next roadtrip.
You’ve got a number of different options of reaching Skye – make sure you take the option that works best for you and the route you’re approaching from and, most importantly, enjoy it! The drive itself into this part of the world is likely to be one of the most scenic you’ll experience in the UK.
Probably the main way to make it onto Skye is to take the Skye Bridge (as you might’ve guessed), which connects Kyleakin to Kyle of Lochalsh and the rest of Scotland. Enjoy the beautiful, winding drive through mountain ranges and alongside lochs on the A87, before taking a pit stop at the impressive Eilean Donan Castle to stretch your legs and grab some fish and chips! You’ll then bw ready to take on the Skye Bridge, just a short drive away. Such is the angle of the bridge, it’ll feel like you’re about to take off and continue driving into the sky – on Skye – a nice irony.
If you want to give yourself a bit of a break from driving round to the bridge, you can also take the ferry. The most frequented ferry route is from Mallaig, however if you’ve got time to spare, then consider opting for the Glenachulish ferry instead. It’s the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland and probably the most picturesque way of getting onto Skye – with the added bonus of spotting seals, otters and sea-eagles!
Whilst it may be the largest of the Inner Hebrides at 50 miles long, some parts of Skye are pretty remote. You’ll be driving along some tough, single track roads at times and on occasions you won’t always have signal for Google Maps to bail you out so make sure you are prepared and know what your getting in for. Allow plenty of time to travel and make sure you use the passing places wisely and you’ll be absolutely fine.
Portree is the biggest town and has a big Co-op, a pharmacy and a selection of other shops and restaurants, so it’d be wise to stock up and fuel up around here before you continue into the wilderness. That’s not to say you’ll come across nothing on your travels, but don’t expect a McDonalds anywhere in the Quiraing – yet.
At the North end of Skye the Trotternish Ridge rises high above the landscape to form a spectacular and unique sight, completely different to anywhere else in Britain. You’ll see the ridge jutting out from the ground whenever you’re driving in the area and it makes for an incredible view.
If you want to get up close and personal with Skye’s rugged landscape, you’ll need to head onto the ridge itself. Whilst it is possible to walk the entire length of the ridge, this is a 22 mile hike and should only be attempted if you’re experienced and know what you’re doing. Don’t worry though, there are two easily accessible spots to experience the Trotternish Ridge up close without trekking for days.
The signature image of Skye. It’s a remarkable and spectacular rock formation, jutting out of the Earth in a completely unnatural looking way, against the backdrop of the Southern end of the Trotternish Ridge. Getting to the Old Man of Storr is easy if you’ve got a vehicle – just park up in the car park and head up the path up the hill. It’s a bit of a steep climb to the best viewpoint which usually takes around an hour to reach, and 45 minutes to come down from. During peak season this does get extremely busy, so head there early or late in the day if you want to avoid the crowds.
The hike to Camasunary Bay is much less popular than the others mentioned here, but for no good reason as it is as every bit spectacular. Around a 30 minute drive from the town of Broadford, your hike to Camasunary Bay will be about 9.2km long, with a couple of challenging scrambles and a chance of spotting red deer. If you fancied staying a bit longer, there’s also a new bothy that has been built in the bay, so you don’t have to worry carrying all of your camping gear with you. If you can, pick a nice sunny day to do this walk, or better still, go for sunset and you’ll be rewarded with amazing views over the Black Cuillin.
At the other end of the Trotternish ridge and is equally stunning, but quite different to the Old Man of Storr – make sure you make enough time to visit to both! Just park up in The Quiraing car park and head North on the footpath into a totally unique landscape, with imposing rugged rock formations and views for miles across the island – any budding photographers will not want to miss this one!
Around a 2.5km accessible walk through the stunning Cuillin mountain scenary is all that it takes to reach Scotland’s magical Fairy Pools. On a sunny day, the pools’ crystal water will take on a blue tinge – and on a summers day the water will be, well, still freezing cold, but it’s become a popular spot for wild swimming – so if you’re feeling really daring, then take your speedos! The walk is short to the Fairy Pools, but be sure not to rush it and explore the other pools and waterfalls en route.
When you think Scotland, tradionally, you often think castles. Dunvegan Castle was thought to be first built in the 13th century, before being remodelled in the 19th century and is well-worth a visit. Explore the round and walled gardens, the pristine nature of which contrast and clash with the surrounding landscape, really emphasizing the rugged nature of Skye – as well as the care which has gone into the castle grounds. If you prefer wildlife over history, you can arrange to take seal spotting boat trips from the castle too.
There are plenty of campgrounds available in Skye; obviously these can provide more facilities and luxuries such as toilets, showers, electrical hookups. A lot of these campgrounds may be around more populated areas where you’ll find more restaurants, shops and things to do – although as we’ve mentioned, apart from Portree, there aren’t too many bustling hubs of life!
Many people come to Skye for it’s remoteness and so may opt to wild camp. You’ll find no shortage of decent spots to set up camp, so even if you’ve never wild camped before, this is a great place to start.
Most will try and camp near the hot spots of Skye – the Quiraing, Storr etc, but our best tip would be to head round toward Duntulm Castle, at the Northern tip of the Isle. There you’ll find great places to set up camp, and have amazing sunset views – you’d pay a pretty penny for sea views like this from a hotel room!