The first time I visited Skye, we only spent 24 hours on the island, and quickly learned that a day is not enough. Of course, I knew that before we went – I just wanted to see some of the highlights before we headed further north.
This time, we spent a full weekend there, which meant we managed to cover, depending on how you look at it, all the highlights.
I split our itinerary into two distinct areas of the island to break up the two days, and had booked a place to stay near Dunvegan, which would mean we could strategically visit Neist Point for sunset without having to return miles to accommodation elsewhere on the island.
Before we get to Skye itself, the journey there is pretty phenomenal, and you can’t drive to Skye without passing these places first.
We took a very short detour from the road along Loch Alsh to Eilean Donan Castle to find this viewpoint from the other side of the loch, on the old military road by Ratagan.
I’d stumbled across this view online and immediately put it on the list for the next time we went to Skye, so I am REALLY glad I found out about it! Absolutely stunning.
However I couldn’t resist getting a tree-free shot out the window as we drove back down.
Our next stop, naturally, was Eilean Donan Castle. Unfortunately the tide was out, which is exactly what happened the last time I went, but I wanted to get a photo of the “iconic view” anyway. Sorry about all the seaweed blocking what would be a dreamy reflection.
From there, we also stopped nearby to grab something we could have for lunch – from the highly aesthetically pleasing Manuela’s Wee Bakery!
Just HOWWWWWWW cute is this place?!? I have to admit we totally only stopped because of how it looks, and why wouldn’t you?! However we are pleased to report that the “cookies” are absolutely delicious. The less said about my cup of tea, the better.
We finally arrived on Skye and planned to make a stop at the Sligachan bridge and potentially see if the hotel had space for dinner later, but as it was packed, we sailed straight on by, into the clouds towards to our first stop.
I have to admit – despite the Fairy Pools being one of the most popular sights on the island, and even in Scotland in general, I didn’t know all that much about them or what to expect.
I certainly didn’t expect a twenty minute walk before you even get to the first ones!
Of course, as we pulled up it started lightly raining, so we sat in the car for a while eating our delicious “cookies” from the bakery, waiting for it to die down, or to see if it would in fact get worse.
Soon enough it stopped, and we headed out in the dry.
I’d also had no idea just how many pools there are – everyone takes photos of the pool with all the little waterfalls which is presumably at the top of the trail.
We were so enamoured with the smaller pools that we stuck around, watching people jump in and swim. I had really been setting myself up for disappointment with the pools, as I’d heard so many mixed reviews of what it was like. A typical Instagram vs reality place, you could say.
It’s the colour of the water that I found especially enchanting, as it was SO clear yet such a magical shade of turquoisey blue.
Unfortunately, we were probably around half way, or maybe even close to the top, when the heavens opened. And boy did they open WIDE. We were soaked within seconds, and we debated trying to take cover (though where would have been anyone’s guess) to wait it out, or just continue to the top seeing as we were already soaked. The clouds rolled in quickly and the mountains disappeared, so we decided that even if we did make it up there, the views wouldn’t be any good, and the rain really was so heavy that I wouldn’t have dared to take my camera out. We begrudgingly decided to head back to the car.
It was horrendous. I’ve never been caught out on a walk in such miserable rain, and the last time I was that soaked, it was when I was about three years old and I had a tantrum and refused to take my clothes off so my Dad threw me in the bath with my clothes on.
By the time we got back to the car, I had to peel my trousers off, inch by inch, revealing legs covered in half the fabric from the inside of the trousers.
A fun start to Skye! But it didn’t stop raining for a couple of hours after that, so we at least felt vindicated in our decision to abandon ship.
Tip: there is now a huge car park for the Fairy Pools, and it’s £5 to park all day. The funds go towards conservation efforts, so in actual fact I didn’t mind paying it, but I think paid parking is a relatively recent – but much needed – addition to the area so it might come as a surprise to some. There’s another car park further up the road which may have been free, and a lot of people were walking down from there, but this had a good set up right next to the start of the trail and has toilets and information.
I didn’t know a lot about Dunvegan before we went, but I had just finished reading The Lost Lights Of St Kilda and one of the main characters lived at Dunvegan Castle so that had piqued my interest. We weren’t going to have time to go to the castle itself, but I was keen to see it and we managed to catch a glimpse of it across the water.
What we found instead was a charming, but very small – as in, one street – village that felt very local and unchanged, which is sort of a breath of fresh air for somewhere as touristy as Skye.
We popped in to Blas cafe to warm up in the dry, and I couldn’t resist a piece of cake with my cup of tea.
On our walk back to the car, we passed the Giant Angus MacAskill museum, which I wanted to go into just to get a photo with the life-size giant himself. He was 7ft 8″ and is known to have been the tallest Scotsman who ever lived! I did peek through the window and can confirm that he was a very tall boy.
Ash also popped into the local shop to grab a drink and commented on our walk back to the car that it was a really nice shop. Opposite, while I was waiting for him, I checked out a huge corrugated shed which is actually a greengrocers!
I managed to get us a table at the highly rated Old School restaurant, however they either had a table in half an hour, or one at 9pm. We wanted to get checked in to our accommodation and shower our dishevelled selves into something human, so wouldn’t be back in time for the soonest one, so we decided to opt for the 9pm one.
It meant we would miss the sunset at Neist Point, but it was our fault really for not booking a table anywhere in advance. Even without the pandemic, it was a Saturday night. We re-jigged our plans and decided to go to Neist Point before dinner instead.
Neist Point is really quite spectacular, but I had no idea that it was surrounded by other stunning cliffs, or that the view over to the Outer Hebrides was so phenomenal.
We found a perch to enjoy the view, marvelled at the sheep that appeared to be clinging on to the cliff edges, and spent a while trying to discern which islands we could see in the distance.
Dinner at the Old School Restaurant was fantastic. I opted for an unusual starter with a duck and watermelon salad, and then played it safe with haggis, neeps & tatties as a main.
Ash had the haggis as a starter instead, and when it came out we both burst out laughing as the haggis had been arranged… questionably! It was a smaller version of the below.
Thankfully, mine looked less like a turd. Regardless, it was all delicious, and that’s what matters!
Our accommodation – The Garden Bothy shepherd’s hut
After our gorgeous cabin stay in Assynt, we wanted to stay in some sort of cabin or pod. Ash had found some nice pods around Uig, but I’m afraid I won him out with my choice of a delightful shepherd’s hut!
The Garden Bothy is, quite literally, out in the middle of nowhere – in the tiny hamlet of Glendale, half way between Dunvegan and Neist Point, but it was absolutely perfect for what we wanted.
Hilary and her brother-in-law gave us the warmest welcome (even though I went to the wrong door of their house to start with!) while Phoebe the sassy goose did not. The hut is set on their small steading of chickens and the goose, making it wonderfully homely, and they provide a beautiful spread of breakfast bits including fresh eggs from the hens.
We chatted about their life on Skye, our life in Orkney, our plans for the trip, and then got settled in to our home for the night before heading out for dinner.
The following morning, we awoke to silence. It was blissful.
I sat outside for a while and made friends with one of the chickens. Phoebe the goose never did warm to me, but hey, I can’t win over every animal!
I could not thank Hilary enough for such wonderful hospitality in her remote wee corner of Skye. It felt like such a home away from home and as we drove away, I asked Ash when we can go back.
Old Man Of Storr
The last time I was on Skye, my friend and I did the hike up to the Old Man Of Storr, a distinctive needle jutting out from the landscape. It’s a spectacular hike, with one of the best views in Scotland.
However we were trying to maximise our time, especially as the sun was out and I was keen to get some good views up at the Quiraing. If yesterday was anything to go by, the weather on Skye is very interchangeable!
So instead, we settled for some views from the bottom, including the one above from a nearby loch. The perfect thing about this photo is that the default title from the camera ends in “123”, and the boats are labelled 1, 2 & 3!
Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls
This is one of the few places I think was actually better last time I was there! You see… the falls weren’t really… falling.
I was actually really surprised as I’d never heard of them drying up before. I didn’t think it had even been that dry. Did Skye have a drought?
Anyway, here’s what it looked like last time, so you can get the full effect:
I really love this side of Skye though – all the views are stunning, and we could even see the mountains of Assynt and Torridon clear as day.
The Quiraing is undoubtedly one of the masterpieces of Scottish landscapes, and one of the best views on Skye.
Last time, it had been raining, which is why I was so keen to get there while it wasn’t, and head out for a walk. As you can see from the photos, it had already clouded over considerably by the time we got there. However with the sun peeking out every few seconds, the lighting was fascinating – literally every photo I took, a different part of the landscape is lit up.
We didn’t do the full loop, or even make it to the needle, but we did make it to the exact spot I’d hoped for.
This overhanging tree is the subject of a lot of Quiraing shots, and I actually might have missed it if a couple of people weren’t already there taking photos of it. It’s only about ten minutes into the trail!
However, something else had caught my eye – a sheep and her lamb, in the perfect spot for a photo opportunity. I just had to get close enough to them without scaring them off.
Bingo!! I love this shot so much.
As we walked back to the car, we spotted two birds chasing each other in a flurry – one was hunting the other! They circled the tree, and I couldn’t believe we might have seen that up close. The second bird eventually got away, but it was a fabulous drama to witness.
Museum Of Island Life & Flora MacDonald’s grave
A quick stop on the way back down towards Uig, the Museum Of Island Life looks FANTASTIC.
…Unfortunately, it was shut due to Covid.
I took some shots from outside the complex of seven houses, but it would be great to come back and see this place properly.
Instead, we took a wander up to the nearby Kilmuir Cemetery.
Flora MacDonald is a giant of Scottish history, having assisted Bonnie Prince Charlie in escaping Scotland after the Battle Of Culloden. She brought him to Skye to make his escape, despite her step-father being in charge of a British government militia, and my favourite fact is that she had him wear a dress for disguise. Interestingly, she later moved to the USA with her husband, who fought on the side of the British government. It seems crazy to me that she put her life on the line for treason and then continued to support the other side instead.
Here, near her original home, she has been given an exquisite place of rest.
However, she’s not the only famous resident of the graveyard. Fashion designer Alexander McQueen is commemorated here after his tragic death in 2010; his ashes were scattered here and he requested to be facing the north of Skye.
A beautiful place to be laid to rest, that’s for sure.
We had been hoping for a stop at the Fairy Glen, but as we hadn’t eaten yet and we didn’t know how long we’d need to spend at the Fairy Glen or if there’s much of a walk to get there in the first place, we decided to skip it this time and head straight to Portree for some food.
Portree is such a cute little town, and I was glad to have some more time to explore it this time around. Not that there’s a lot to explore, but we went into a couple of shops and managed to grab an outdoor table at The Granary.
And of course we took a wander down to the colourful harbour front before we headed off again.
On our way back south, we managed to stop at the Sligachan hotel this time and check out the bridge.
This is one of my favourite places to photograph on Skye, with the ever-changing ways the currents flow with the striking Cuillin mountains providing a stellar backdrop.
It’s all so beautiful that it’s hard to know where to point the camera to get the best shots, so naturally I had to take a panorama.
Long-time readers might remember that we camped here last time too, and with a cheap campsite right across the road, I can’t think of many better places to pitch up!
And that was that – Ash’s first ever trip to Skye complete, and I felt like we’d really ticked off most of the highlights. The only place we felt we missed was Fairy Glen (and err, the rest of the Fairy Pools) but we could have fit those in if we had planned our meals a bit better – a theme of the weekend, really, after missing the sunset at Neist Point too.
A weekend was a perfect amount of time for an introduction to Skye, however if you’re planning any hikes, I’d recommend at least three days. The Old Man Of Storr hike takes a couple of hours, and the Quiraing loop is recommended to be 3-4 hours.
Of course, there are loads of places we didn’t see, too. I mean, I feel like I could spend a week on Skye and still not see everything, but isn’t that the same in most places?
A day is definitely not enough, but a weekend? It’s perfect.