Summary of the trail:
Skye is an extraordinary island. During our 3 days spent there, we were really amazed by Skye: its people, its breathtaking landscapes, its Highland games (just excellent) and its good whisky too! Note that it is quite easy, during the season, to visit the island and ramble without a car. It only requires planning: sleep in Portree, wake up early (but as usual for walkers) and be careful with the bus timetable! This following trail is not enough precise to take it as a guide while walking. The idea is definitely to help you to see what could be interesting to see and where to walk from our experience.
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Your name as author of the trail: Hélène Herniou – visicity
How to arrive?
Take the bus citylink from Glasgow or Kyle of Lochalsh (accessible by train from Inverness) towards Uig and stop in Portree. If you arrive at the end of the afternoon as we did, there are activities you can still do:
To see in Portree
- Walk through the streets and shops if they are still open (the tourist information/shop is quite interesting). However, mind that the iconic picture of Portree with coloured facades houses is actually only a small part of the tiny harbour of the city but that is worth the end of your walk in the capital city of the island.
- If it’s still early on the day you will arrive, there is a walk around Portree that is quite nice and easy: use the Scorrybreac Road (direction the Cuillin Hills hotel), follow the foot path that will bring you to the other side of the bay, where are some fish farms and a strange tribute place to the Clan Nicolson. It’s seems that common seals can also sometimes be seen swimming by the shore so stay aware! This loop trail takes around 1h30.
To eat in Portree
We didn’t try everything but these both deserve really a trial:
- the Fish and chips on the harbour that offers also “haggis and chips”. It’s exactly the same recipe than the battered fish but with a slice of haggis… totally decadent but so good! Nonetheless, it’s better to share one with somebody else…
- the Isles Inn (pub and restaurant)
Sleep in Portree
There are many hotels and B&B in Portree. We found this solution to sleep in Portree easier with the buses system but if you don’t have this kind of “problem”, you can find very fine B&B in the middle of nowhere. About our experience, we were in the best B&B that we ever have slept in until now:
- Auch an Doune The tenants, Joanne and her husband, are just lovely and she is much more than a “fair” cooker, it’s a pleasure! She speaks different languages thanks to her different guests, the bed is heavenly comfortable and the house is nice and well located. Well, perfect!
The Storr: how to arrive?
Take the bus 57a (mind the letter after the number) in the bus station (in front of the Scottish Court Service). We advice to take the bus early in the morning because it allows you to enjoy all the day and not have too many tourists on the trails. Stop at the Storr.
Take the public footpath through the forest, to the direction of the Man of Storr. The path is quite clear and the other tourists are also a good clue to know where the direction is.
2 possibilities for this trail: the complete loop (around 4 hours, 8km) and the “little” loop (around 2 hours, 3.5km). We both did only the short loop because we wanted to ramble to the Quiraing after (see below).
This walk is the most popular walk on Skye thanks to its iconic pinnacle, the Man of Storr. The path crosses a “synthetic” forest that travel you through the Vosges to a Mediterranean landscape, from a lunar scenery to a path like in the Lord of the Rings; by this diversity of views, we can say that this ramble is a very good introduction to the magic walks available on Skye.
The Quiraing: how to arrive?
After the walk to the Storr, you can take again the 57a bus toward the Quiraing (stop in Flodigarry).
The path is sometimes a little bit hard to find, especially at the end (to ramble down Loch Leum na Luirginn/Sartle). But this walk is so amazing! The Storr was great, the Quiraing is super duper! Each side of mountains and vales are so different; each time you have the impression to enter in another world! You see the sea, the mountain, the rocks, the meadows, bog,… Just incredible 7 km (around 3 or 5 hours) of walk and amazed!
For the return to Portree, we finished the loop of the Trotternish peninsula by bus: first because it was easier to catch the bus in this direction, secondly because we needed this time without walk to restore my feet and finally because it is a way to see this wonderful part of Skye, quickly (interesting if you don’t have enough days to spend on the island!)
How to arrive?
From Portree, you can take the bus 608 toward Fiskavaig. In Fiskavaig, a road (then a path) can be used to walk to the Talisker Bay, on the beach. After it, another path is available toward Carbost, where the Talisker Distillery is (!)
The first part of this walk is really bucolic (with cows, farms,…). You arrive after on a wonderful large beach with a “salt and pepper” sand. It is really impressive because two rivers finish their run on the sea: River Talisker and Sleadale Burn.
The rest of the walk is really agreeable because we walk, alone, in the green vale. The walk is really easy and takes around 5 hours but that is definitely worth it… especially when you end with a visit in the Talisker Distilery, really interesting! (Mind to book before).
Interesting story: Samuel Johnson and James Boswell stayed in the Talisker House (that belonged at this time to the heir to the chief of the MacLeods) during their tour of the Highlands in 1773 but… didn’t really share the same feeling about their stay!
How to arrive?
After Skye, our next stage was Fort William; that’s why we decided to drive away by the south-west of the island (part that we didn’t have enough time to visit). For this, we took the bus 52 to Armadale then a ferry from Armadale to Mallaig (quite impressive!) and the train to Fort William.
On the train line, there’s also the “Harry Potter train”, a steam train with wood interiors. We strongly recommend to use the “regular” train because first there are more trains, then this one is comfortable (large windows, really interesting to see the wonderful landscapes) and an “acceptable” level of children and grand-parents in regard of the “old” train (of course, I’m joking but it’s sure that the noise level and the number of free seats are definitely not the same).