Having recently spent a week in Scotland, I have fallen in love with the country! And the Isle of Skye was no exception. To me, the Isle of Skye was other worldly. It felt like the beginning of time and the end of the Earth.
Where is the Isle of Skye
The Island of Skye is located in the northwest of Scotland, and can only be driven to via the Kyle of Lochalsh Bridge, which is free to cross. It is quite far away from Edinburgh and is the kind of place you need a few days to explore (or more!).
A great resource I used whilst planning my own trip to Skye was the official tourism website, which is chock full of information.
Portree is the biggest town on the island, with only a couple thousand inhabitants – they call it the big smoke. It has grocery stores, restaurants and a lovely colourful harbour, whilst also being within a short drive to most places on the island.
There are countless hikes to do on Skye, from big day-long hikes, to the easier shorter hikes. All of which show amazing scenery that no matter how exhausted they make you – will make you say “WOW”.
The Fairy Pools was our first hike after arriving to Skye. It is located on the southwest of the island and is also near the Talisker Distillery (a perfect post-hike activity!). We had been told before arriving at this waterfall hike “once you think you are at the finish line, just keep going.” So, as we climbed up the rocky path along the beginnings of the falls, we noticed tourists had all stopped to take selfies and climb as close to the falls as possible for their photos – so we continued hiking.
We hiked and climbed and got wet and dirty as we continued to follow the falls for 1.5 hours. We were completely alone in the wilderness and loved the complete isolation! I even did the first of many wilderness wee’s of the trip here.
The hike is at times a little difficult, only because the path is rocky and you can easily roll your ankle. However, this is doable by anyone big or small, young or old.
During our hike, we found a photo spot further afield than any other hikers got to which was the perfect place for a perfect photo of the beautiful and serene Fairy Pools. Make sure you take the advice we were given “Just keep going!”
Neist Point is located on the west of the island and is surrounded by so much beauty my eyes could barely handle it!
I would classify this hike as HARD. The hike begins with a severe downhill, followed by quite a challenging uphill, followed by another challenging downhill, before a flat walk over to the Lighthouse at the end of Neist Point. It takes about 30 minutes and a lot of sweat but the reward is not only the Lighthouse but really, the fact it feels like the end of the earth.
Neist Point Lighthouse is eery. It is uninhabited, but that’s not the most weird thing about it. You can see into the lighthouse and all of the belongings of the former residents are still there! Beds, bottled water, vacuum cleaners, backpacks, bags of trash, and the list continues.
Both the hunk and I who like to think of ourselves as adventurous were both weirded out by the vibe and didn’t really want to do too much exploring, in case we found something even weirder. As we were wandering around the lighthouse grounds, we enjoyed coming up with creepy stories to explain why it had become deserted.
After finishing the return hike back to our rental car, we both were freezing but also reluctant to drive away. The view and surroundings were so beautiful we hung around, almost wanting to take a permanent picture in our minds so that we’d never forget where we were!
Scotland isn’t known for its beaches. And I can understand why – they don’t have many good ones, and the weather isn’t warm enough for most of the year to want to go to a beach in the first place!
After parking our car, we found a sign informing us the walk would be around 2 kms each way to the Coral Beach, and began down the pathway. After about 5 minutes the pathway ended and the rest of the route was over rugged terrain along the beach. The normal beach is made of black sand, interesting in itself, though the trek continues over some hills (slippery when wet!) until over the last small hill you can see in the distance the white beach of coral!
This is a fairly easy walk and is one for the whole family. As we went in winter, it was very cold on the beach, but with some summer sun this could be a nice spot for a picnic lunch!
Old Man of Storr
The Old Man of Storr is located a 15-30 minute drive north of Portree. This hike was my favourite and also the one I found by far the hardest! The work I put into getting to the summit was the reason I enjoyed it the most I think, as the views made it all the more rewarding.
This hike is almost immediately very steep, but starts out as a pathway. As you are walking up the never-ending hell path, make sure to stop for a breather and look back out onto the landscape! It’s not just the summit that is stunning.
After we made it to the ‘ridge’ – for lack of a better word, the path fell away and after going through a small iron gate, we had essentially made it to the Old Man of Storr! However, there was still some hard work ahead.
This last part needed all of my effort – with high-speed winds and the cold-air feeling like I was getting frostbite, the thoughts of stopping had to be put aside to get further into the mountain-side & get up to a point we felt was the point of accomplishment – far enough up to get some pretty photographs!
We tried to take a selfie at the top of Old Man of Storr but the wind was so fierce neither of us could hold our own arm up to get the shot!
Hunk (who is so athletic that it’s annoying) decided to sprint up to the actual rock just to touch it. Look how small he is?
Eilean Donan Castle
The first thing you need to know is that this castle isn’t named after a woman named Eilean Donan…but actually trasnslates from ‘Island of Donan’.
This 13th century castle sits on the water, on a small island in a loch surrounded by some of the most picturesque views of Skye on one side and the highlands on the other, only attached to the mainland by a walkable bridge.
It is surrounded in an eery mist and low drifting clouds, making it not only picturesque but also etherial. We walked around the castle but unfortunately did not enter inside as during January it is closed to visitors. We still enjoyed getting a feel for this castle and as it is the most famous castle in all of Scotland, I’m sure we’ll be back to go inside on another visit!
The Talisker Distillery is located reasonably close to the Fairy Pools, maybe 15 minutes drive away. It overlooks yet another stunning landscape (there is truly plenty in Skye) and the rugged landscape, they say, can be tasted in their whiskey.
Talisker is the only whiskey distiller on the Isle of Skye and can be toured for as little as 8 pounds; more if you want tastings as well. Whilst you can do tours, there is also an informative visitor centre where you can learn all about the Isle of Skye and the Talisker brand of whiskey, and also buy your very own bottle of Talisker to take home.
This comes under the classification of “When in Scotland…”!
Overall – we had a fantastic few days exploring the Isle of Skye! I do think, whilst cold, we had amazing weather. The sun shone for us everyday – which made the hikes a lot better, with un-obstructed views!
Before visiting Skye, make sure you are visiting in a period you can try to utilise daylight to its best – however we really enjoyed getting our sweat on during the cold winter days.
Pack warm weather gear even in summer as once you reach the highest points – like on the Old Man of Storr – the temperature drops dramatically! My warmest weather gear was no match for the fierce winds!
Tell me about your favourite hikes from the Isle of Skye! I’d love to hear about other experiences – comment on this post below.