scotland

A Day On Skye (Which Is Definitely Not Enough)

When we started planning our North Coast 500 trip, I knew we needed to make a detour over to Skye.

After all, I’ve lived in Scotland (on and off) for 30 years…

…and had NEVER been there!!

When people plan a trip to Scotland, it’s as if there are only two destinations here: Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye. In fact, there’s even a meme for that:

Ironically, this was pretty much the exact route we took before hitting the North Coast 500 – but in fairness, there is a very good reason for that. Edinburgh is my favourite city in the world, the route through Glencoe takes you through a large chunk of Scotland’s best scenery, and Skye, it turns out, is just as beautiful as the photos suggest.

It’s also much larger than a lot of people realise, and I knew straight off the bat that a day would never be enough time to see it all. That’s why I picked a couple of highlights and contented myself with the fact we’d miss at least a couple of Skye’s most iconic sights.

Old Man Of Storr, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Sligachan

On our way up to Skye, Sam found a campsite in Sligachan, and I’m really, really glad we got to spend a night there!

Firstly, it was light when we got there. We’d finally managed to get to a campsite and not pitch our tent in the dark on day 3!

The best thing about this wasn’t the fact we could cook dinner without hovering a torch over the pan –

It was the VIEWS.

Sligachan campsite, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Sligachan camp site, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

I was thrilled that we had barely even begun our Skye adventure, and we were already surrounded by mountains.

Not only that, but we’d passed an old stone bridge before turning into the campsite, so of course I wanted to take a wander over to take some photos.

Sligachan bridge, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Sligachan, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Sligachan, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Honestly, I could probably stay at this campsite for two or three nights and still happily be exploring this one area of Skye THAT I HAD NEVER EVEN HEARD OF.

Sligachan, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

The following morning, we drove north to Portree, the winding roads snaking around the mountains – but although they were winding, I was really surprised that we hadn’t encountered any single track roads yet. In fact, the only single track road we drove on in Skye was the one leading up to the Quiraing – so while I’m sure Skye does get horrendously busy in the summer, the roads weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be, considering all the stories I hear!

We whizzed through Portree as we’d be stopping there on the way back, and headed straight to our first stop of the day.

Old Man Of Storr hike, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Old Man Of Storr

We got to the trail head for the Old Man Of Storr pretty early – around 9am, I think. Parking on the side of the road was easy, but you have to pay (welcome to tourist land).

I was surprised by the number of coaches there. The Old Man Of Storr is one of the most famous views on Skye – but the famous view is a two hour hike at best. Surely the coach trippers weren’t doing a two hour hike? But otherwise what was the point?

We’d been on the trail for probably about ten minutes when we reached a large mound that all the tourists were clambering onto for their photos. I looked at my friend. “This can’t be the viewpoint,” I said.

It wasn’t. If I’m honest, not really worth the stop either.

We shrugged and carried on – but after our strenuous hike in Glencoe, we were starting to wonder if we were up to a two hour ramble.

Old Man Of Storr hike, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Old Man Of Storr hike, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

The Old Man Of Storr hike isn’t difficult at all – in fact, in any other scenario it would have been a breeze, but our legs were feeling it half way up! We powered on though, because we knew it would be worth it.

Old Man Of Storr hike, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

I was thrilled that the whole way up, there had been patches of blue sky. Sadly, this was the last photo I took with any indication of blue skies. Just as we reached the rock stack where the best views are, it completely clouded over. Not that I can complain – the views were still simply stunning.

In fact, you could say that the views blew me away – because it is windy as all heck up there!! The entire hike had felt sheltered, but the second we stepped onto the mound, it was (as we say in Scotland) blowing a hoolie!

Old Man Of Storr hike, Isle Of Skye, Scotland
Behold – the only photo of me with my hair under control

Old Man Of Storr hike, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

There’s a good reason this hike is so popular – and I absolutely recommend it, even if you’re not a hiker! It’s not tough, but it can be steep in places. But we saw people from all walks of life on the trail, and you don’t need to be particularly fit.

By the time we got back down to the bottom, the road was packed with parked cars. I definitely recommend getting there early(ish) for this one!!

Old Man Of Storr hike, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

The Quiraing

The Quiraing was another hike that I had planned, but after our Old Man Of Storr jaunt, we decided not to. The thing is, the views look absolutely sensational, but the whole hike is estimated to be 3-4 hours (so potentially double what we had just done) and I wasn’t sure how long it takes to get to the phenomenal views.

On further investigation, I think to see the view over the whole valley wouldn’t take too long (possibly even a half hour round trip?!), and we probably should have just done it.

The Quiraing, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

The drive up there was really fun too!

It’s all single track, which I imagine is an absolute nightmare in the summer, but we met barely any traffic, so it was fine. We did get stuck behind a cow at one point though… and the person in front of us was clearly a tourist because they didn’t have any clue what to do! It was pretty funny though (and wouldn’t be our last cow-traffic-jam of the trip!).

The Quiraing, Isle Of Skye, Scotland
The Quiraing is stunning even if you don’t do a hike!

The main problem with deciding whether to do the hike was, it started raining as soon as we got up there. We decided to grab something from the snack van for lunch, and wait it out to see if it stopped. Instead, the clouds rolled in even more and we figured even if we did do some of the walk, we might not get the views anyway.

It’ll have to wait until next time.

Kilt Rock waterfall, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

We almost completely missed Kilt Rock. In fact, the only reason I realised it was there was because after we’d gone past the turn off and I’d sailed round the corner from it, I noticed a car park in my rear mirror. But there had been no signs, and the road hadn’t even been obvious. I only guessed that that was what the car park was even for because I knew Kilt Rock was supposed to be in that rough area.

And so it was that we popped in to see the gorgeous cliff waterfall with a “kilted” rock backdrop on our way back down instead.

We also discovered that this is where they found some dinosaur prints – I remember seeing the news stories a few years back, but didn’t know they were at Kilt Rock!

Portree, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Portree

When I worked in the hostel in Kirkwall, the manager from Portree’s hostel came to stay for a few days. She pointed out that Kirkwall is much, much bigger than Portree, and I was surprised. After all, so many people go to Portree, and I figured that an island bigger than Orkney would have the “capital” to match.

Well, it turns out Portree is tiny.

It’s only really a few streets, and although it’s pretty, there’s not exactly a lot… there. I guess Skye is more about getting out into nature, but I think it just surprised me that such a famous town was barely bigger than the village I grew up three miles from.

Portree, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Anyway, it’s quaint and cute and we enjoyed a little wander. I’d planned to stay longer and have lunch there, but it was late in the day by now anyway and I was glad we’d grabbed something up at the Quiraing.

There’s plenty more to do on Skye of course, and we only saw the eastern side of the island.

I am really, really glad we went to Skye though, even it was the briefest of visits! I’m just so glad I’ve finally made it there! I was worried that Skye would be overrated – especially as I’m from an island – but I don’t think it is. I really enjoyed it.

So yes – Skye is well worth a visit, and its accessibility makes it even more a popular choice, but please also remember there are so many other great places to see in Scotland!

Saying that, obviously I’ll be back. I didn’t even see the infamous Fairy Pools (is it bad that I’m actually not that bothered about them…?) or the Neist Point lighthouse. Ash has still never been. So all signs are pointing back to Skye!

Have you been to Skye? Did you love it, or did you think it was overrated?

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One Day On The Isle Of Skye, Scotland

42 thoughts on “A Day On Skye (Which Is Definitely Not Enough)

  1. I’ve still not seen the Old Man of Storr. I’ve stood and looked up at it from the road but had no chance of seeing it because of dense low cloud and so there was no point climbing up to it. I’ve seen the Old Man of Hoy (several times! – once from land and twice from the ferry) though which I was very happy about πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It looks gorgeous! I’m glad you found plenty to do there too. Hopefully I’ll get up there at some point and enjoy it for a couple of nights at least.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love, love Skye! We were incredibly lucky with the weather when we were there, which seemed to make the locals really cross. We constantly got told, ‘It’s not always like this, you know.’ My favourite Scottish island that I’ve visited might have to be Islay, for its amazing white sand beaches (oh, and the whiskey of course).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! Amazing. We had beautiful weather overnight (as you can see from the camping pics) and then in the morning it was nice, but it got darker and wetter all day. Typical Scotland really, lol. I haven’t been to Islay! There are so many Scottish islands I need to check out (especially considering I’m from one!).

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  4. Embarrassingly, I live in the UK and the only place I’ve visited in Scotland is Edinburgh and that was only because one of my close friends lived in Newcastle for a while (so, not a million miles away). It’s always cheaper and easier to travel to Europe from where I live than it is to get to Scotland!

    But, that said, I’ve been trying to persuade the boyfriend to drive the NC500 with me for years, and although I hadn’t considered a detour to Skye, I just might well factor one in now πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I know, that seems to be the way with a lot of Brits! There’s still some of England I can’t believe I haven’t been to (Cornwall…!), and don’t get me started on Wales lol. The NC500 is AMAZING btw! Not sure if you’ve seen my post on that. πŸ™‚

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  5. Wait, so if you go on a bus tour, you get to go on a mini hike, but not to see the actual amazing view? I have a feeling I would not enjoy that bus tour! 🀣 The views of the Old Man Of Storr are fantastic! After your epic Canadian hikes I would have thought this would be easy for you!

    It’s a bit of a shame that you didn’t get to hike the Quiraing…but I guess that means you have an excuse to go back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I know, it’s crazy! It’s a nice area to stop, but the viewpoint they got to… I mean, I didn’t even take a photo. It’s actually a really easy hike – but we had done a 7 hour one the day before, haha!! And I know, the Quiraing was on my list so I’ll definitely be going back to do that!

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  6. Scotland is my very favourite place in the world and I haven’t even been to Skye yet. I’m planning a trip to show Scotland off to my husband (sometime….when the danger of sickness has passed), and Skye will be high on that list!

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  7. These photos are stunning! Isle of Skye is on my bucket list. Love seeing the camping photos too – it looks so fun!

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  8. Love your photos from the Isle of Skye! I really wanted to visit the place when I was living in Edinburgh but didn’t get the chance to.

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  9. I’d love to visit Skye! My parents went last year and it looked beautiful, I love the Scottish Highlands so I think it would be right up my street@

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  10. Skye looks so beautiful! I would also want to stay there longer. The hike of the Old Man of Storr has some seriously stunning views! I’ve seen photos of those views before but it’s the first time I’ve put two and two together so hey, I’ve learned something too πŸ™‚

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  11. Ooo this is beautiful! I would love to camp at that site surrounded by mountains and hike in the surrounding area. It’s amazing how much you can see in just one day!

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