Holiday on Skye – Just one full day (Option One) …

Many guests at my B&B in Crossal, come to this beautiful Island with no fixed plan of what to do whilst they are here.  So I thought, as my blog is accessed via our website, that it would be nice to give readers  a plan of action to take away the uncertainty and raise the excitement levels to soaring.

Background:

The Isle of Skye is located off the North West Coast of the Highlands of Scotland. Being the furthest north of the Inner Hebrides it covers a land area of 639 square miles (1656 km).  It’s an Island in the shape of an eagles wing radiating from its mountainous centre where the Black Cuillin stretch 3,258ft (993m) into the sky.

With five main peninsulas to the Island that makes for a lot of exploring, whether you prefer just a bit of sight seeing, hiking, climbing,  or taking to the seas.  In fact there are so many options, it’s hard to know where to start, but perhaps on reflection I should start with the most popular length of stay that my guests choose.  Two nights – that leaves one full day to explore.

In the summer months on Skye, i.e. May, June and July, the hours of daylight are many.  The sun rises in the north east at around 03:30 and the sky doesn’t go “dark”  until around 23:00, ample time to explore to your hearts content and even take in a fabulous sunset (weather permitting).  So after a hearty breakfast, why not opt for a day of drama and explore the Trotternish Peninsula – the largest most northerly part of Skye, giving the visitor a chance to experience a wide variety of sights and sounds, magic and mystery.

Your trip will take you north towards the capital of Skye, Portree, know locally as “the village”.

So here we go and the first inkling of the thrills to come as you near Portree from the south is the vision of the Storr away in the distance (if the weather is clear), its great pinnacle – The Old Man –  standing proud of the cliffs that soar behind.  Driving north through Portree and following the road to Staffin up the east coast of Skye the first real taste of drama occurs as the Storr comes into view once again at the head of Loch Leathan. There are a few strategic places (parking areas) where you can stop and take a photo or two, or to even just enjoy the view across the loch. However, once you have parked at the foot of the Storr a walk up the slopes is an absolute must as the views across Raasay Sound and to the mainland are spectacular and well worth the effort.

 

The magnificent Old Man of Storr
The magnificent Old Man of Storr
The "cathedral" rock by the Old Man that look remarkably like a great gothic gable end of a cathedral.
The “cathedral” rock by the Old Man that look remarkably like a great gothic gable end of a cathedral.
Perspective - standing by the Old Man - its a massive rock!
Perspective – standing by the Old Man – its a massive rock!

From here, drive north to experience the next taste of the drama that awaits you – Kilt Rock is your next destination.  A magnificent cliff where the contours bear a strong resemblance to the patterns of a kilt.  Parking is easy and passing through the gates to the viewing area you are greeted with the magnificent sight of a great waterfall gushing immediately below you to the swirling waves hundreds of feet below.  After rainfall this waterfall is truly spectacular.  Great Gulls swoop and glide in the thermals below the cliff on which you stand, drifting up – only an arms distance away – stunning!

Kilt Rock
Kilt Rock
Great Black Backed Gull soaring below the lookout area at Kilt Rock
Great Black Backed Gull soaring below the lookout area at Kilt Rock

As you proceed further north you pass through Staffin a small township with plenty to offer by way of refreshment, then off you go to your next destination, the incredible dramatic spires and cliffs of the Quiraing.  Walking just below the great cliffs that form the northern most end of the Trotternish Ridge, is a humbling experience. The views across to the mainland are breathtaking and the seas below stunning as they glisten in the sunshine.  Keep walking carefully along the path and you will arrive at the needle, the prison and the table all formed by the constant movement of this massive landslide over the course of thousands of years.

Quirang - taken on a dull day - but on a sunny day it is even more dramatic.
Quirang – taken on a dull day – but on a sunny day it is even more dramatic.

 

The Fairy Glen is your next snippet of drama – can you stand any more?  Of course you can you only have one full day after all and “Drama” is the theme.  You follow the road from the Quiraing toward Uig the main port to the Outer Hebrides and then after zig zagging your way down to sea level you proceed back towards the main town of Portree.  A few miles down the road you will see a white church balanced above the road to your left, a bus shelter tucked into a junction and an old sign that points you to Balnanock and Sheader. Follow this narrow road as it climbs and twists past crofts and fields.  You know when you’ve arrived, a myriad of tiny  pointed hills envelope you in a fairy world of brilliant greens, shimmering blue lochans and to top it all off a Fairy Castle – Castle Ewen.  It’s a magical place and the culmination of the highland drama of your tour.  Step out of the car and walk behind the lochan, following the pathway up onto the rise at the foot of Castle Ewen.  Massive waterfalls grace the cliffs across the opposite side of the glen.  Here there are fairy rings and tumbling burns surrounding you as well as the many pointed hills that mark this magical place.

Castle Ewan - a faerie castle at the Faerie Glen
Castle Ewen – a faerie castle at the Faerie Glen
Looking across the glen towards the waterfalls - even in winter it is dramatic and magical
Looking across the glen towards the waterfalls – even in winter it is dramatic and magical

Once you have had your fill of fairy magic, you drive to the end of the road and then retrace your steps returning to the main road and your next destination, Portree.

There are many more things to see on this mini tour of Skye’s Trotternish Peninsula, there’s the dinosaur footprints at An Corran Beach, the little museum just along the road from Kilt Rock  with its great trilobites and – if the tide is in and you can’t see the actual footprints then you can see an impression of them here.

You could go around the top of the Island passing Duntulm Castle, and the Skye Museum of Island Life at Kilmuir.  Basically your day can be as full of sights, magic and mystery as you wish.

Duntulm Castle - there's not a lot of it left now but it has belonged to the Macleods and the MacDonalds over the centuries before it was abandoned and fell into ruin
Duntulm Castle – there’s not a lot of it left now but it has belonged to the MacLeods and the MacDonalds over the centuries before it was abandoned and fell into ruin
Duntulm Castle looking across to Harris in the Outer Hebrides
Duntulm Castle looking across to Harris in the Outer Hebrides – what a magical place to live!

By now it is time to sample a little of Skye’s gastranomic bounty.  Grab a tasty fish dinner at one of the restaurants by the Harbour (Its a good idea to book these previously) or maybe you fancy sitting outside and watching the world go by at the Granary Restaurant  in Somerled Square.  In summer the shops in “the village” stay open until late so there’s even a chance to do a bit of souvenir shopping before tea.  What more could you ask for?

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