By Lottie Gross
One of the most popular destinations in all of Scotland, the Isle of Skye draws in thousands of visitors for its dramatic landscapes and rugged, remote beauty. If you’re looking for an adventure that’s not too far from home but feels like it’s a world away, this is the place to come.
With an extensive human history dating back to prehistoric times and a geological landscape that’s even older, inlaid with dinosaur footprints and fossils, this island has a somewhat mystical appeal about it. Just google pictures of Skye and you’ll understand why so many people come here for their holidays.
Located in the Inner Hebrides on Scotland’s west coast not far off the North Coast 500, the Isle of Skye is conveniently connected to the mainland by a bridge, although it’s still not that easy to reach. The rewards, however, are well worth it and keen walkers, wildlife watchers and foodies will delight in what this island has to offer.
And you could even book into one of these amazing lodges with hot tubs for the best Isle of Skye holiday. Here are just a few reasons you should visit the Isle of Skye.
Guided Isle of Skye holiday - from £1,695pp | Wilderness Scotland
The company offers guided walking holidays on Skye from £1,695pp sharing, including 6 nights B&B accommodation, daily lunches, 2 dinners, guiding and transfers. Departures throughout 2021, or guests can make it private to travel in their own social bubbles.
6 reasons to visit the Isle of Skye
1. The journey there is a beautiful adventure
However you choose to get to Skye, you’ll be blown away by the landscapes en route. From Edinburgh, it’s a good five-hour drive but the views along the way are sensational. You’ll pass around the edge of the Cairngorms, where forested mountains make for a compelling journey, and then onto the Highlands and through the absolutely mesmerising Glen Shiel, before crossing the bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh.
For those coming from the south without a car, the Caledonian Sleeper is a thrilling way to arrive. Take the train from London St Pancras and you’ll arrive with breakfast at Fort William, where you can meet a tour guide with their own vehicle (we recommend Wilderness Scotland) or take a bus up to the island.
2. There’s exceptional walking to be done
The main appeal on the Isle of Skye is its fabulous hiking territory. Myriad trails cross the island’s mountains, coastlines and hills, offering innumerable opportunities for exploring on foot. It’s on these that you can see some of Skye’s most impressive sights, such as the Quiraing – a dramatic landslip that has more than its fair share of epic views – and the Old Man of Storr (which is also visible from viewpoints on the road that circles the Trotternish Peninsula).
If you’re looking for a challenge, book a guide and take the hike around the Strathaird Peninsula, which travels through two ruined settlements that were destroyed during the Highland Clearances. “You can almost hear the kids running and playing, being called back inside their homes by weary mothers,” says Wilderness Scotland guide Craig McDonald, who really brings the past to life on this stunning walk.
Shorter walks include the steep steps out to Neist Point Lighthouse, which is well worth the breathlessness for views back along the coast to waterfalls and basalt rock formations, and the very short stroll to the remains of MacDonald clan castle, Duntulm. The undulating Fairy Glen is an otherworldly location for an afternoon stroll, too.
3. There are some fascinating stories to learn
Alongside its ever-present mountains and pretty beaches, Skye has a wealth of intriguing history. Get a guide to show you the top spots on the island, such as the grave of Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape after his defeat at the battle of Culloden in 1746. In the northwest of the island, head to Dunvegan Castle – a stunning, manicured estate where the MacLeod clan have held the seat for 700 years.
Take a guided tour of the house, where portraits of the clan’s prominent members hang on the walls, then head out on the water for seal-seeking tours by boat.
4. There’s exciting wildlife all over the island
From majestic, long-antlered red deer to soaring golden eagles, take a hike across some of the island’s most remote corners and you’ll meet all manner of exciting wildlife. On the coast, expect to see plenty of gannets from March through to September, and in the waters beyond the beaches are minke whales (May to July) and bottlenose dolphins (year round). Bring binoculars if you’re a keen birdwatcher.
5. There’s some fantastic food to indulge in
The food on Skye will surprise you. For such a remote place, it certainly packs a punch when it comes to restaurants. Up in Dunvegan, the Three Chimneys is a lovely little restaurant with rooms, with three AA Rosettes to its name and a Michelin star awarded in 2014. Book in for a sensational meal of traditional Scottish and Nordic cuisine by head chef Scott Davies.
On the Waternish Peninsula, Loch Bay was recently awarded a Michelin star for its smoky shellfish bree and fish stews. Set in a small crofter’s cottage with views of the mountains, it’s a dreamy, down-to-earth little spot with truly brilliant dishes. In Broadford, in the south of the island, Deli Gasta doesn’t command any Michelin stars but is by far the island’s top spot for coffee and a Skye crab sandwich.
6. It’s a boutique shopper’s paradise
“A haven for creatives… stumbling across tiny galleries in unexpected places is one of [Skye’s] greatest joys,” writes Katie Featherstone in the Bradt Inner Hebrides guide (published in 2020), and she’s not wrong. Skye’s wild landscapes and windswept coastlines make for excellent inspiration and the island’s boutiques and galleries are a testament to its artists. There are candle companies, jewelry makers and textiles peddlers, so come with some space in the boot and take home some physical memories from your trip to Skye.
Lottie is an NCTJ-trained journalist, an experienced travel writer and an expert in creating compelling digital content.
Lottie has been in the travel writing business for nearly a decade and has writing and photography bylines at The Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, the i and National Geographic Traveller. She's done broadcast work for BBC Radio 4 and have contributed to a number of guidebooks and coffee table titles during her career.
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