The Isle of Skye has unique mountain scenery providing a spectacular background to one of Scotland’s largest islands, along with beautiful coastal scenery, rivers and lochs as well as crofts and farms. Throughout Skye you will discover a wonderful natural environment where you can see eagles flying overhead, stags and deer in the hills, otters frolicking along the coastline and numerous species of native and migratory birds. While you can see dolphins and whales from various coastal locations the easiest and most reliable way is to take a wildlife boat trip, and while it is not guaranteed to see these amazing creatures you will experience a trip to enjoy and often see other wildlife including puffins, sea eagles and seals while getting a unique view of the island from a boat.
Skye can be found on a map of Scotland, on the west coast, opposite the Applecross peninsula. Skye is the largest island of the island group forming the Inner Hebrides, being 50 miles long and just over 639 square miles in size with several smaller islands nearby including Raasay and Scalpay that can be seen from Wester Ross. While crossing the Skye Bridge you cross over the wildlife reserve on Eilean Bàn, known and loved for the book A Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell about his life on the island, especially with the otters living on the island.
With a toll free road bridge connecting Skye from the mainland at the Kyle of Lochalsh, a train link to, and ferry link from Mallaig on the Scottish mainland to the south of the island, and the romantic Glenelg to Kylerhea Skye Ferry, you have a choice of how you can visit the island. If you want to travel without a car then you can get a train or bus from Glasgow or Inverness and then make other travel arrangements when you get to the island. It is worth remembering that while there is public transport it is not that frequent. You can travel around the island by walking and cycling, just remember the distances involved so that you get to your holiday accommodation.
When visiting the island during the main tourism season you do need to book bed and breakfast, hotels, self-catering cottages as well caravan / campervan places in campsites well in advance of your visit.
Skye can get busier than expected with many people visiting the island. A number of roads are single track and you need to plan extra time to travel safely along these roads. Remain patient, drive carefully, and use the passing places to allow vehicles to pass. Be friendly and give drivers a thank you wave as you pass each other. The roads on Skye are not really suitable for high volumes of traffic and popular visitor attractions can get busy and car parks full during the summer months.
The best way to discover and explore Skye is to arrange for several days or longer on the island and to use the well mapped walks to get off the roads and experience the islands hill walks and coastal areas. If you enjoy other people’s company while making new friends then bus tours encompassing the island along with more intimate Highland tour and adventure trips by minibus is an excellent way to see Skye and the Scottish Highlands with the added advantage of having all your accommodation and meals booked in advance for you. You can then just sit back and enjoy the amazing scenery and watch out for the wildlife.
While wild camping is allowed throughout Scotland and is ideal when exploring the interior hills and mountains it is not always the best for the environment along the main road routes and where possible you should use caravan and camping sites where toilets and other facilities are provided. During busy times you do need to book your caravan / campervan and sometimes tents in advance, it is best to check each campsite you plan to stay at for their booking requirements. If you do plan to wild camp then please leave nothing behind and take all rubbish with you to the nearest bin in that way you protect wildlife, the environment and other visitors and your own enjoyment of this beautiful island you have come to visit.
The Fairy Pools on Skye are one of the most popular attractions that people visit while on the Isle of Skye. It is located at Glenbrittle and involves a brisk 1 hour walk (1.5 miles / 2.4km) that is suitable for most fit individuals, although you do need to go over a stream. Appropriate hillwalking footwear and clothing is advisable. Car parking at the start of the walk is charged for and the money used to support outdoor access in Scotland. This wonderful place does get busy in the summer and it is worth visiting the pools out with peak visitor times (around 2pm) for you to get the most out of your experience, in other words – go early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The Pools are free to visit.
The Fairy Pools are beautiful and if you want, and the conditions are suitable, you can take a dip and swim in the pools. Some people recommend using a wetsuit as the water can be very cold as the pools are fed by crystal clear water coming off the nearby Cuillin mountains. Having a wild swim will certainly be a lasting memory for your visit to the islands, just remember to take towels and swimwear (or wetsuit) with you so you can enjoy the swim and then dry off quickly after your adventure. The Glenbrittle area and walk is a photographers paradise where you can capture the beautiful scenery and mood of the mountains when you visit through different seasons and weather conditions.
Where to stay? The nearby Glenbrittle Campsite is ideal if you are camping, travel with a campervan or with a caravan. The campsite also has a café where you can get coffee as well as having toilet facilities. We hope you enjoy your visit to the Fairy Pools.
One of the most popular walks is to the Old Man of Storr and most people follow the well defined path up this walk. In good weather the hill walking conditions are fair to good and the climb is given an easy to moderate rating, depending on the route taken and the final destination. The walk to the Old Man of Storr forms a part of longer walks suitable for experienced hill walkers. It is advisable to wear appropriate footwear and to be prepared for changes in the weather, waterproof clothing may be required at all times of the year. Certain areas of the walk involve scrambling over uneven surfaces, and other parts can be muddy.
The Storr is a rocky hill on the Trotternish peninsula of the Isle of Skye in Scotland. The area in front of the cliffs of the Storr is known as the Sanctuary. This has a number of fascinatingly shaped rock pinnacles, the remnants of ancient landslips. The sci-fi movie the Prometheus and other films were filmed around the Old Man of Storr and at the nearby Quiraing.
Most visitors to this area are happy to walk up to the Sanctuary and to admire the wonderful scenery and cliffs of the Storr. From different aspects of the walk you will experience outstanding panoramic views over beautiful scenery.
It is worth planning to spend half a day at this popular area for you to explore around the fascinating geological structures and for time to relax and enjoy the outstanding scenery over Skye and the Sound of Raasay.
Walk time to Old Man of Storr is around 1.5 hrs with the walk to the Storr taking around 4-5hrs depending on your return route.
The Storr Sanctuary and the Old Man of Storr
Getting to the Old Man of Storr. The path to the Old Man of Storr is from the car park next to the A855, just beyond Loch Leathan when travelling north from Portree.
Dunvegan Castle and gardens is a must for castle and gardens enthusiasts and many people love the gardens where you can easily spend several hours enjoying the lovely plants and scenery. A visit inside the castle is interesting. Charges are made for visitors to the castle and garden.
A boat trip to see the seals on the sea loch takes around 25 minutes and is dependent on weather conditions, it is on a first come basis. Small group boat trips can also be arranged for sight seeing or fishing, more details on the Dunvegan Castle website.
The castle is located 1 mile to the north of Dunvegan, in the north-west of Skye. It is the seat of the MacLeod of MacLeod, chief of the Clan MacLeod. The castle was first built in the 13th century and developed over the years. In the 19th century the whole castle was remodelled in a mock-medieval style. The castle overlooks Loch Dunvegan, a sea loch.
Car parking is nearby and a café provides hot drinks and snacks with vegetarian options.
Neist Point and Neist Point Lighthouse is one of Scotland’s most photogenic areas and it is well worth taking the time to visit this Skye attraction. Neist Point is near the township of Glendale on the most Westerly point on the Isle of Skye. There is lovely views over Moonen Bay, and over the Minch to the Outer Hebrides. This area is ideal for nature enthusiasts with views of whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking shark possible from this location. The Lighthouse was designed by David Alan Stevenson and switched on 1st November 1909.
While there is a well defined path to the lighthouse it does involve a fairly strenuous hike and may not be suitable for all. The walk is also weather dependant and should not be attempted in high winds or when it is very misty as the path is close to steep cliffside drops. Please check the details of this walk on isleofskye.com as accidents have occurred in this area and we do want you to be safe, while enjoying the best that Scotland and the Isle of Skye has on offer.
Fishing is another holiday activity that is popular around the coves and off the rocks at Neist Point with plenty of sea fish fishing points around Moonen Bay and from points at the Lighthouse.
Coral Beach in Skye is a remote beach that is made from crushed white coral-like seaweed that gives the water a magical tropical appearance when the sun is shining, especially when the tide is half out/in and water calm.
Whatever the weather this beach is popular and can get fairly busy during summer months even with the 25 minute walk from the car park to the beach. It is a fairly easy walk and most people should find the path suitable with beautiful scenic views along the walk. When you get to the beach it is prefect for family days out and picnics, and if you are brave enough for a swim in the sea you will find it a truly memorable experience.
Getting there is fairly straightforward with a car as it is around 10 minutes from Dunvegan Castle along to Claigan. There is a small car park at Claigan that does get busy during the summer and you do need to take care when parking not to block people (or the farmer) in.
This beach will remain beautiful if you remember to take nothing out except what you take in, let us all help keep it litter free.
When you walk to the most northerly point on Skye to Rubha Hunish, you experience the wonders of the oceans and the beauty of the Isle of Skye with views over to the Outer Hebrides. With patience and some luck you may see Minke whales, Orca and the occasional Humpback passing by the headland as well as basking sharks, dolphins and seals. If you are interested in birdwatching then you will be able to sit and watch gannets, guillemots, shags, fulmars and other species diving into the sea for fish. It is worth bringing scopes or binoculars with you.
There is around a 1.5 mile (2.4km) hike that can take around an hour for most people, this is along a fairly well-defined path (sometimes boggy / wet in parts) to the Rubha Hunish lookout bothy. The bothy is maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association and anyone can use it. You can use the bothy to shelter from inclement weather, sit and admire the amazing view through the large windows, or even stay overnight if you bring a sleeping bag.
From the bothy location you can get superb views and enjoy watching out for whales and dolphins. You can carry onwards down to the Rubha Hunish headland by scrambling down a fairly steep and uneven path (care should be taken). Most fairly fit individuals will manage this just take your time, especially in wet weather when the path may be slippy, it is highly advisable to wear hiking / walking boots.
With no facilities at Rubha Hunish, except for the bothy, you do need to take water and food with you along with other essentials if you plan to stay for several hours. If you plan to stay over at the bothy it can sleep 3 persons, it is on a first come first served basis and you may have to share with other people using it.
Comments made about this walk on TripAdvisor include “superb”, “fabulous walks and views”, “stunning walk”, “incredible destination” and it has been given a 5 star rating.
The walk to the clearance village of Boreraig is often part of a longer circular route of just over 10 miles of around 6 hrs, a shorter walk is possible if you simply return back the route taken to get to the Boreraig. You start the walk from the car park at the ruined church of Kilchrist.
The village was cleared by Lord MacDonald in 1852 as part of the widespread Highland Clearances when sheep were found to be more profitable than people by the land and estate owners. Thousands of people were forced out of their homes as the rent they paid was less than could be made from farming sheep. Some of the people, including 8 families from Boreraig were helped to Australia by Highlands and Islands Emigration Society, others moved to poorer land on the MacDonald estate.
Today you can see the relatively well preserved remnants of the buildings that made up the village and agricultural buildings, you will also see superb scenic landscapes and waterfalls.
Picture credits: © John Allan (cc-by-sa/2.0) geograph.org.uk
Before the clearance there were over 250 living in the area of Boreraig and Suisnish. Throughout Skye and the Highlands people were forced from the land they farmed and they went to the cities, such as Glasgow, or abroad to Australia and New Zealand, Canada and America. Some continued to farm, sadly this was on poorer quality land that barely allowed for subsistence farming.
Walk to Boreraig: The walk can get muddy in parts and it is advised that suitable walking boots are worn and you also carry weatherproof jackets. Midges can be irritating, remember to take your favourite repellent – Jungle formula is one to consider for this task.
Quick links Wikipedia has interesting information on the clearance village of Boreraig as well as on the Highland Clearances. Video on Youtube by Andrew Flood on making the train / boat trip to Skye and the walk to Boreraig. Canmore the National Record of the Historic Environment, part of Historic Environment Scotland, has aerial views and interactive online maps on the area around Boreraig.
Buy Skye maps on Amazon UK for this area:
The Fairy Glen is near Uig in the north of Skye, 16 miles from Portree and around 30 minutes’ drive. There is also a bus service from Portree to Uig where you can walk up to the start of the walk to the Fairy Glen. If you are driving to the start of the walk you may find it difficult to park and if you want to be considerate then consider walking from Uig or get the shuttle bus up to the walk start.
From the start of the walk it will take just over an hour to walk to the Fairy Glen where you can immerse yourself in a mystical adventure around the natural structures and climb “Castle Ewen”, while this is not a real castle you will find it fun to get to the top by scrambling up the cliff to see the views over the glen. As usual appropriate footwear is beneficial as certain areas can get wet and slippery.
This is a fun day out for all the family especially if you take a picnic with you and spend a few hours enjoying the location, use your imagination to see fairies watching you as some people believe the Isle of Skye is full of these mystical creatures. When you finish enjoying this magical place please leave the Fairy Glen as you found it. Remember to take your camera.
Armadale Castle is the spiritual home of the Clan Donald and is now owned by the Clan Donald Lands Trust, a registered Charity. The trust owns the now ruined castle and the surrounding 40 acres of woodland along with 20,000 acres of land that was traditional lands of Clan Donald. While the castle is a ruin the gardens, museum and woodland walks are the main attractions. Entrance to the garden and museum is charged for and the money used to maintain the estate and library. During the main visitor season there are a number of events run within the grounds. There is a café on site.
If your interests are in the garden then plan your visit to coincide with the flowering of the Rhododendrons and bluebells in late spring / early summer, although the gardens are beautiful all year round. Dogs are welcome and need to be kept on the lead at all times, only guide dogs are allowed into the museum.
Several walks exist in the area where you can see a range of wildlife including deer, eagles, pine martins and otters along the coast as well as lovely scenery. There is a children's playground. Plan for 3-4 hrs or longer to enjoy your visit.
In the north of Skye you will discover one of Scotland’s best visual landscapes, the Quiraing, the area has a Hollywood feel and mystical atmosphere. There is a single track road to the car park for the Quiraing walk and the drive along this winding road is an holiday experience on its own with its hairpin bends and steep gradients.
The car park does get busy during summer months although there is further parking further down the road. Many visitors will enjoy the drive surrounded by outstanding scenery and views that will remain with you long after your holiday in Scotland. You can stop at the Quiraing car park (free) and easily walk up part of the Flodigarry path to see the amazing scenery over the Quiraing and Skye, it is spectacular landscape and a photographers dream location.
The circular walk around the Quiraing is more challenging especially after wet weather when the path can get muddy and slippy, there is also sections that are steep and involve scrambling and is best for people with experience in hillwalking. If you are not experienced yet wish to walk the route then arrange to go with someone who has experience of the area, or join a planned walking tour.
As with all hillwalking, especially on Skye appropriate walking boots, all weather clothing and a proper OS Explorer map is recommended. The further you walk the Quiraing route the more spectacular the scenery gets with views over towards the Islands of Ronay and Raasay, with the Applecross Peninsula beyond. Target areas on the walk include the Table and the Needle.
Whatever you decide to do visit the area around the north of Skye and see the beauty and mystery of the Quiraing. There is also a number of excellent off road routes that are suitable for mountain bikes.
Buy maps and books on Skye from Amazon UK for this area, or use our shop page for International Amazon Stores | books and maps, tents, walking boots and outdoor gear.
Throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland you can find hundreds of brochs and on Skye you have a number of well-known ones that can be easily visited. With 40 broch sites listed on the Canmore website with other sources stating 50 brochs in Skye there is some discussion on the total number on the Island. Most of these sites are just the remnants of once proud Iron Age buildings the purpose is not fully known, some were probably used for protection against marauders, for living in and protecting livestock, or possibly as vanity projects. For the amount of effort needed to build these large drystone structures there was probably a very practical reason for their construction. Whatever reason the remnants of them are still with us after 2,000 years.
You can visit several brochs while staying on Skye with Dun Fiadhairt just two miles north of Dunvegan Castle in the north of the island. Park near Loch Suardal and follow the track for just over a mile to the broch. As usual it does help to have an OS Explorer map detailing the area and you can also have it downloaded to your smartphone.
A popular broch to visit on Skye is Dun Beag, this broch is close to the road and there is a small car park nearby, another 500 metres inland is the remains of Dun Mor (Fort) where you will get beautiful views over the surrounding countryside.
This area of Skye is for serious hill walkers and climbers and while there are walks in this area that are suitable for most keen hillwalkers who want to explore the Cuillins, if you plan to attempt to climb the munros or walk the Cuillin Ridge you need to be seriously fit and experienced. The area is best explored / climbed with a hill walking guide and several Skye hill walking guides are available.
The services provided by these guides range from activities for people learning to hill walk, for adventurous families who wish to experience the adventure of rock climbing and walking in one of Scotland most remote areas, to serious munro baggers and climbers who wish to walk the Cuillin Ridge, or climb rock faces. In most cases it takes a couple of days to attempt the Ridge and it is always dependant on weather conditions and will involve at least one overnight stay wild camping.
For reasons of your safety please visit the websites that specialise in hill walking and also the hillwalking and mountain guide companies that operate in Skye. While we have provided links below to these companies we are not associated or linked to them.
Quick links Mountain and hillwalking guides for Skye http://skyeguides.co.uk for a wide range of activities from days out in the hills for the family to climbing all the munros on Skye for the dedicated hillwalker / climber. You will also find a lot of information on Skye mountains and hill walking. The West Coast Mountain Guides offer a wide range of winter and summer courses in the Highlands and on Skye. For information on walking The Cuillin, the walkhighlands website provides comprehensive facts and information as well as trip reports (often with outstanding photographs) written by members.