One of Scotlands highlights is the Isle of Skye. Skye is situated just off the West Coast of Scotland and part of the inner Hebrides. I read somewhere Skye is a miniature version of Scotland. If you’ve seen Skye, you get a good impression of Scotland as a whole. To be honest I think it is a bit exaggerated, but the island is beautiful and definitely worth a visit. Since 1995 it’s possible to travel to Skye via a bridge. It’s an easy and convenient way to enter Skye. We choose an other way though; the small ferry from Mallaig to Armadale. At least, that was the idea. The weather interfered and the ferry was cancelled due to rough seas. So in the end we did drive via the bridge.
Along the road (A830) from Fort William towards Mallaig one of the highlights is the Glenfinnan viaduct and the Jacobite steam train (also known from the Harry Potter movies). Two times a day (depending on the season) you can wait for the train to pass by. So did we, in the pouring rain. There is a small car park next to the visitors center and it’s a 15 minutes walk to the viewing point. Opposite from the visitors center you will see the Glenfinnan monument. It marks the Jacobites rising. Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) raised his War flag here in 1745.
Once we found out the ferry was cancelled we had to drive back all the way to Fort William. From here it’s 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to Skye bridge. Again a beautiful route and a nice bonus: the Eilean Donan Castle.
We stayed four days in the south western part of Skye, in a small place called Elgol. Once you leave the main road from the small village of Broadfort, a single track road leads you through the beautiful Swordale valley and the small village of Elgol. It takes about 40 minutes. Camper vans choose to wild camp here, sheep wonder through the fields (and on the road) and almost every corner offers a breathtaking view!
From Elgol we took a boat trip into Cuillin Hills. The boat drops you close to Loch Coruisk and we hiked around the loch in about 3,5 hours. It’s a beautiful walk, no marked directions but you know where to go. After crossing a river, using natural step stones (walking sticks recommended!) we walked counter clockwise on rough terrain. That’s what makes the hike pretty strenuous!
About a one hour drive from Broadfort you will find a beautiful geological area called The Quiraing. It’s hikers paradise! We hiked a strenuous 12 km round trip (You can start this hike either way). We choose clockwise, straight up the hill (definitely the better choice for my knees), following a trail along the cliff. Beautiful views accompany you when you start your decent! The second half of the route leads you via a gap between the mountains, followed by a small mountain path back to the parking lot.
Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
Dunvegan Castle is located off the west coast of Scotland and home of the clan MacLeod. Not the prettiest castle in my opinion, but still worthwhile to visit. You can see parts of the inside and there are several beautiful gardens. We spent 2 hours, exploring and taking pictures.
Road trip on Skye
It’s easy to see a lot of highlights in one day if you’re not planning any long hikes. The day we hiked in The Quiraing (in the morning) we also explored the northern part of Skye in the afternoon. First stop was Duntulm castle (or what’s left of it). You can't enter the premises, but you can walk towards the cliffs for a nice view. Second stop was Kilt Rock view point with a small waterfall. Third stop: The old man of Stohr. As we already hiked pretty far that morning, we only drove by and made a quick stop for a picture. It’s worthwhile to reserve more time to visit the area (and be able to make better pictures)!
Our last stop of the day was Portree, the largest town on the Isle of Skye. It has a beautiful photogenic harbor! It’s also a very touristic place and finding a restaurant for diner without any reservations was not easy! It’s nice to wander trough the streets and probably worth while to stand in line for The Lower deck restaurant (best fish in town, first come, first serve!). But we didn’t.