This article was written in partnership with Haggis Adventures in exchange for a gifted experience. Rest assured all of the content below is accurate and true to the beliefs and opinions we hold for this tour and the experience as a whole.
The remote highlands of Scotland draw tourists from all over the world with their enchanting beauty, fascinating history, and mystical folklore and legends. One of the most popular places for both Scots and visitors to Scotland alike is the Isle of Skye, also known as the Misty Isle. For anyone visiting Scotland, whether it is a month-long trip or simply a weekend visit, no trip to this beautiful is complete without visiting this enchanting island.
That is why we decided to partner with Haggis Adventures to show off the best that Scotland has to offer, specifically their Skye High Tour, which takes you on an adventure through some of Scotland’s most remote lands, around the mystical Misty Isle and past one of Europe’s last remaining wildernesses.
If you are wishing to travel from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye alone, this guide is the perfect itinerary to follow along the way, simply skip to the Itinerary section. If you are travelling alone and are looking for the best way to tour this region, we highly suggest you read on and consider Haggis Adventures for your ultimate tour of the highlands.
This is a complete guide to the Skye High Tour and the itinerary we took from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye, including an in-depth review and full guide for how to prepare for your trip.
Edinburgh to Isle of Skye Itinerary – Haggis Adventures Skye High Review
The drive from Edinburgh to Skye is one of the road trips that you can do across Scotland, with a huge range of sights and activities waiting to be discovered. This itinerary will take you up the east coast from Edinburgh to Inverness, around the Isle of Skye itself and then down the west coast of Scotland back to Edinburgh. We have done this trip numerous times, both self-driven and with the Haggis Adventures Skye High tour experience.
The Skye High tour is an excellent, all-round tour of the highlands of Scotland and the Isle of Skye. You will be accompanied by a tour guide with an insane amount of local knowledge, as well as 10-20 other excited, like-minded travellers, all hungry to explore the beautiful highlands of Scotland. This is going to be the adventure of a lifetime, so get ready to make some memories!
Who Are Haggis Adventures
First things first, let’s talk about who your hosts are. The concept of Haggis Adventures was conceived in 1993 when a team of Scots dreamt of showing off the beauty that Scotland has to behold, as well as educate all visitors of the fascinating history that the lands have to tell.
Known as the “wild child” of Scottish tour companies, Haggis Adventures offers tours around Scotland’s (and, to be honest, the world’s) most breathtaking scenery, teaching you the dark, dirty, funny and fascinating history that each of the incredible parts of the land has to offer. They will not rest until your heart turns as tartan as theirs are, and until you fall head over heels in love with the beautiful country that Scotland is.
Passionate About Scotland
The first thing we noticed when we set off on our tour around Scotland was the passion bursting from the veins of our tour guide, Michael. Born in the highlands himself, he knew the landscape like the back of his hand and his passion for the stories he told was tangible.
No Such Thing as Bad Weather
We took part in our tour during January and it was in no way a nice weekend for weather. However, this did not put the tour guide or, in fact, the participants off of the thought of adventuring around the highlands and beyond. There was a range of activities organised in the event of bad weather and at no point were we worried that our weekend would be ruined by another Scottish winter’s day.
Eco-Friendly and Working to “Re-Wild Scotland”
One part of Haggis Adventure’s ethos that we found really attractive is their dedication to making their tourism as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. The accommodation we stayed at was especially eco-conscious, taking every opportunity to encourage the inhabitants to be as environmentally friendly as they can.
Haggis Adventures also take part in a program called “Trees for Life”, as well as working closely with the Treadright Foundation to encourage sustainable tourism in Scotland. The Trees for Life program offers participants of certain trips the opportunity to help them plant new trees in their very own Haggis Grove.
As modern-day deforestation becomes more and more of an issue, Haggis Grove grows natural and traditional tree species for the sole purpose of existing. One tree at a time, this program helps to regrow the native trees that once spanned 95% of Scotland’s lands.
Tours With Haggis Adventures
In addition to the Skye High Tour, Haggis Adventures offers a wide range of other fantastic Scottish tours, showcasing the best of the wild and untamed Scottish highlands. Tours with Haggis Adventures leave from Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Inverness and the tours range from 1 day to 10 days long, meaning that no matter how long a trip you are planning to Scotland, Haggis Adventures has the tour for you.
Is Haggis Adventures a Party Tour?
Despite the tagline “Wild and Sexy”, as well as the reputation of being a “budget backpacker tour service”, we did not find Haggis Adventures to be an overly energetic experience. There was an age range of 18-40 on our tour and the experiences were a good mixture of scenic, alcohol-based and hiking activities.
In my opinion, I think that the tours can be as much of a party tour as you want them to be. The hostel we stayed at offered night time activities that encouraged drinking and laughter, however, the rooms were quiet, respectful and at no point did we feel pressured to do something we didn’t want to.
Whether you are looking for a wild, party weekend in the Scottish highlands or a fascinating, educational and relaxing trip around Scotland’s beautiful countryside, these tours are perfect for you.
Is Haggis Adventures for Me?
If you are travelling Scotland for a short period of time and don’t have transport to get around Scotland, then this question is very easy to answer; Yes, Haggis Adventures is perfect for you.
The tours offered by Haggis Adventures offer a very cost-effective way to see as much as possible on your trip around the highlands of Scotland, whilst also meeting other like-minded and interesting people along the way. The transport around Scotland is not fantastic, meaning that your only option to see a lot of the most beautiful parts of the country is by renting a vehicle or joining a group tour.
The former is obviously an attractive option for those that enjoy their own company or for groups of travellers wanting to explore. However, if you are travelling alone and want to meet new people, as well as have an experienced, enthusiastic and knowledgable tour guide to tell you all about the history, then a tour is the way to go!
The Skye High Tour – Complete Review
The tour we took part in travelled from the capital city of Edinburgh, up the east coast, through the Cairngorms national park, along the central highlands to the Isle of Skye and back down the west coast through the Rannoch Moor wilderness. It was a good, all-round tour, with whisky tasting, castle history, plenty of hill-walking and some of Scotland’s most beautiful sights.
Summary of the Skye High Tour
To start off, we would just like to say that although we worked in partnership to review this tour, all of our opinions in this article are genuine and insightful. If you know us from our previous work, you will already understand how much we strive to provide the best advice on the internet for fellow travellers.
The Skye High tour was our first ever tour around Scotland, and if it is anything to go by, it will certainly not be our last. We thoroughly enjoyed our time on and off the big yellow bus of Haggis Adventures, with great banter during the drives and stunning sights throughout the tour.
The knowledge of our tour guide, Michael, really was hard to beat. He literally knew his local lands like the back of his hand, delivering fascinating insights into the history of the visited areas, as well as funny tales and tidbits about previous tours and sights along the way. All of the staff and participants on the tour were friendly, welcoming and enjoyable people to tour with, making our experience on this trip all the more memorable.
If all of this wasn’t enough, the price of the tour was very reasonable, sitting at just over £200 for transport, accommodation, and entry into a couple of attractions. There were also some hidden extras, such as the free evening’s entertainment in Morag’s Lodge (including free shots) and the free beer tasting in Uig’s brewery. If you are looking to explore Scotland alone by renting a vehicle, the cost of transport and accommodation will add up to way higher than this cost.
All of this combined, we would recommend this tour to anyone that is either travelling alone or simply wants to get a little extra from their time in Scotland.
How to Prepare for the Skye High Tour
Before you set off on your way to Skye, there are several things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. These include what to pack, where to stay and what is the best insurance for your trip to Scotland. All of this is discussed in detail below.
What to Pack for Your Trip to Skye
When it comes to packing for a trip to Scotland there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your trip to the Isle of Skye, you can expect rain at some point. Due to this, the number one item on your packing list is a good waterproof jacket.
Second to that, another item to not leave home without is a good pair of warm and, if possible, waterproof boots. A lot of the best sights on Skye require a bit of walking to reach them and the conditions underfoot can become very muddy. You do not want to ruin a good pair of white trainers so pack some sturdy boots.
You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the winter months as the wind chill can be bitter.
Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around the Isle of Skye, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.
What is the Best Travel Insurance for Scotland
I know travel insurance is the least enjoyable thing to purchase and look at when you’re planning a trip, however, you wouldn’t want to be without it in the event that something happened. Accidents can happen anywhere and the extortionate medical bills will ruin your trip if you are not covered.
To ensure you have a stress-free trip with no worries about potential medical bills, make sure you cover yourself when you travel. We can recommend using World Nomads, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support.
How to Get to Edinburgh
The Skye High tour kicks things off in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Luckily, given that it is the capital, it is very easy to get to and from Edinburgh. When you arrive in Edinburgh, you will most likely arrive at one of the two main train stations, the bus station or the airport.
If you are wanting to explore the city centre sights, such as the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, and the Princes Street shops then Waverley is the best train station for you. The Edinburgh Bus station also sits just behind Princes St, so it is perfect for arriving into the city.
Haymarket Station sits slightly further from the city centre, and the airport itself even further out of the city, however, there is a very simple and reliable tram system that runs around the city. You can catch a tram from Edinburgh Airport directly into the city centre, passing through Haymarket, in just 35-minutes.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
Since the tour leaves first thing in the morning and arrives back late at night, we highly suggest you book a night in the city to stay before and after your tour. There is a wide range of accommodations available in Edinburgh, so you will not be short on options. Here are our top suggestions for the best places to stay in Edinburgh for any budget.
Luxury – Sitting less than 500m from one of Edinburgh’s main stations, Edinburgh Haymarket, the Leonardo Royal hotel is a fantastic choice if you would like a bit of luxury. The spacious and comfortable rooms at this city-centre hotel are complete with a large TV, tea and coffee facilities and work away.
Mid-Range – For a more reasonably priced stay in the city of Edinburgh, without crimping on comfort, the Haymarket Hub Hotel is the best choice for you. This comfortable and central hotel is just a 15-minute walk from sights such as the Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile.
Budget – For those wishing to make the most of their time out in Edinburgh and don’t plan on staying long inside the accommodation itself, the High Street Hostel is your best choice. The building that hosts this hostel dates back to 1564 and sits right on a high street just off the Royal Mile.
This is your best choice of accommodation if you are heading on the Haggis Adventures tour as it is just 1-minute away from the meeting point.
Edinburgh to Isle of Skye Itinerary
The route from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye takes you north through the highlands of Scotland to the northern capital of Inverness, before turning East towards Skye. On return from Isle of Skye to Edinburgh, we take you down the western side of Scotland through one of the most spectacular drives in the world If you are touring yourself, you obviously have the choice of either heading directly to Isle of Skye from Edinburgh, or staying at the same accommodation we suggest in this guide.
Day One – Into the Highlands
The day kicks off bright and early in the city of Edinburgh, just as the local population brings the Royal Mile to life with car horns and the knock of high heels on cobbled streets. If you are touring with Haggis Adventures, your chariot for the next couple of days is the unmissable, big yellow bus located outside the Visitor Centre beside the Radisson hotel.
As you wind your way through the city, northwards to your first stop, listen out for the stories of ancient Edinburgh that your tour guide will tell. My favourite was the story of why the buildings in Edinburgh are so tall compared to other cities of the same time period.
This came from the failed campaign that King James IV experienced at the Battle of Flodden, where thousands of Scottish soldiers marched south to attack English troops and distract them from an upcoming invasion by France on England’s southern border.
After taking heavy casualties, the Scottish army retreated north to Edinburgh and worried about retaliation from English troops, so they decided that they would build a heavily fortified wall around the city of Edinburgh. As the city grew over the next century, they ran out of room to expand outwards within the walls, so instead began to build upwards, hence the tall buildings.
This is dense population also resulted in Edinburgh gaining the nickname “Auld Reeky” (or old smelly in traditional English). As the population expanded, the lack of a sewage system meant that there was no plumbing or toilets in the buildings, and the only way to dispose of the waste was to toss it out the window and let it flow down the Royal Mile into the loch that was sat beneath the castle.
Loch Leven Castle
As you head further north towards the famous Forth Road bridge, keep an eye out on your left for the picturesque Loch Leven, which has the historically significant fortress of Loch Leven castle. This was home to Mary Queen of Scots for just under a year when she was exiled. There is a small car park on the right that you can stop off at if you fancy a closer look at the castle and there are even day trips out to the island if you have time.
Town of Dunkeld
The route to Inverness continues north across the Forth Road Bridge and through the small but significant town of Dunkeld. This will be your first stop off point and is the perfect place to stretch your legs, visit the bathroom and grab a coffee and cake from the local bakery. Dunkeld is significant to the history of the region due to the role it has played in the religion of the region.
The cathedral in Dunkeld is a beautiful building that is well worth the visit, open all year round with varying times and free to enter. Once you have visited the cathedral, we recommend you take a wander down to the River Tay, which is Scotland’s longest river and is a popular spot for salmon fishing and spotting during the summer and autumn months.
Before you leave Dunkeld, we recommend heading to Aran Bakery in the town centre for an award-winning cake and warming coffee. One of the ladies that works this bakery was actually in the TV Show Great British Bake Off and you can definitely tell this in how delicious their cakes are.
Black Linn Falls
The next stop as we head north is at the beautiful nature reserve of The Hermitage and the beautiful Black Linn Falls that are situated here. This stop is a lovely place to stop off, stretch the legs and lose yourself in Scotland’s ancient forests. From the car park, follow the path under the railway bridge and then walk along the river until you come to a large opening. If you look across the water from here you will be able to see the remnants of what was once the tallest tree in the UK.
What is now a humble, upturned tree stump was once a towering, 61m tall Douglas-fir tree. In 2017, this record-breaking tree was sadly upturned in strong winds and fell towards the main road, crashing across the river, through the forest and landed on the sign welcoming you to the Hermitage, smashing it to pieces.
To find the Black Linn Falls, follow the river further round to the right and head upstream until you see a small building, known as Ossian’s Hall. You can either head inside this building for a high perspective of the waterfalls on the other side, walk along the old military bridge on the left or head around to the right for a view of all three spectacles.
For one of the most unique sights, you will find in this part of Scotland, continue to the right of the Ossian’s Hall, up a small hill until you find a collapsed tree filled with old coins. A rather peculiar object sits above the Balck Linn Falls: a log of wood that is covered in coins that have been pushed into the wood. It is believed that by adding a coin of your own to the wood here will give you good luck for the next year, however, it is unknown when this tradition began or who exactly started it.
Aviemore for Lunch
The next leg of your journey will take you into the ancient forest of Rochiemurchus and the Cairngorms National Park. This leg of our tour was one of our favourites, as we entertained each other with an introduction about who we all were over the bus microphone, accompanied by an embarrassing story about ourselves. What better way is there to bond with other travellers than stories of adventures gone wrong?
On your way north through the Cairngorms National Park, the best location to stop off at is the small and bustling town of Aviemore. Here you can stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat for lunch and stock up on supplies for the rest of your journey to Skye. Unless you are planning to stop at Fort William or Inverness this will be your last chance to get supplies from a supermarket, so pay a visit to the Tesco or Aldi in the town centre.
Tomatin Distillery Whisky Tasting
Once you have stocked up and lined your stomach for the next activity it is time to head on towards your next stop, a whisky tour at Tomatin Distillery. Here you will learn the history of the local highland region, understand the importance of Whisky to Scottish culture, see the process of whisky production with your own eyes and finish off the tour with a dram (sample) of the local produce.
We thoroughly enjoyed this tour as it differed from other whisky tours we had experienced by how raw and unchanged the process seemed as a visitor. Normally distillery tours will take you on an organised and softened route throughout the buildings, designed with visitors in mind. At Tomatin, the tour takes you through an unapologetic route through the process, with low roofs, charming aromas, and all-round rawness to the place.
Once you have browsed the collection of Scotch Whisky on offer at Tomatin it is time to head north to Scotland’s most famous loch, Loch Ness. On your way north, there is one more stop you should make on the western banks of Loch Ness (just south of Inverness), the ancient Urquhart Castle. This old castle ruin is one of the most popular castles in Scotland to visit, due to its fascinating history, beautiful scenery and untouched feeling of the ruins.
The original castle was built in the 13th century and played an important role in the Wars of Independence, as well as the Jacobite Rebellion when it held government troops until the defeat of the Jacobites. When the last of the government troops left the area, they blew up the castle, reducing it to ruin to prevent anyone else from seizing it. To this day, Castle Urguhart has laid in ruin and is regarded as one of Scotland’s most romantic castle ruins, with sweeping views and a tragic past.
Entrance to Castle Urquhart has a fee of roughly £12 for an adult, which grants you access to the castle grounds as well as an audiovisual presentation in a range of languages about the castle and its history. We would probably recommend at least an hour for this castle tour, so if you don’t fancy spending that long, there are a lot of pull in spots available to get a nice view of the castle from the road.
With the day quickly coming to an end, it is time to head to your accommodation for the night in Fort Augustus. If you are driving yourself, you can choose to stay here or continue to the Isle of Skye and stay there for the night. Skip to the next section to see what other sights you should see on your way to Portree in Skye.
Accommodation for the Night – Morag’s Lodge Hostel
The accommodation included in our Skye High tour was a cosy hostel situated in the small town of Fort Augustus called Morag’s Lodge. This hostel is partnered with Haggis Adventures, so it is a very good match with this trip, with a similar vibe to the hostel itself. The interior is modern yet rustic, with a wooden design to the bar, a clean self-service kitchen, and dining area, and a basic but very comfortable ensuite bedroom.
There is the option of private double rooms, however, we settled for the 4-bed mixed dorm and do not regret it. This is definitely one of the cleanest and most comfortable hostels we have enjoyed. The soundproofing in the rooms is phenomenal and since you are sharing with others from the tour, there is no need to worry about being disturbed by strangers.
For dinner, you have the choice to either cook your own food or eat from the hostel’s kitchen, which served a medium-sized portion of food for £9. This wasn’t the best value as the size of the portion we received was nothing special, so we would recommend bringing your own food and cooking. However, the food was still delicious and there was a range of options available, so if you do not like cooking this is still a good choice.
The evening’s entertainment for the first night was a group bonding pub quiz, mixed with other funny and quirky games, such as the best funny chat-up line and a “name the theme tune” round. This was exactly what we needed to really break the ice and get to know who we were travelling with in a relaxed environment. Perfect for any solo travellers worried about meeting new people!
Day Two – The Misty Isle
Depending on whether you are planning on staying on Skye itself or ar Inverness will heavily influence the amount of time you have on the Isle of Skye. This itinerary is assuming you will be travelling to and from Inverness to stay overnight, however, if you are spending longer on Skye, we recommend looking at our full-day guide to the Isle of Skye for all of the best sights.
The day kicked off bright and early at 8.30 am at Morag’s Lodge as we began our journey to the Isle of Skye. Fill up on the Continental Breakfast for just £4 at the hostel or make do with the free tea and coffee on offer before you get back on the road. As we made our way to our first stop of the day, Michael told a fantastic story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his cattle-stealing antics, so listen out for tales from your tour guide.
Eilean Donan Castle
The last stop before you reach the Isle of Sye sits at the intersection of the three lochs, Loch Long, Alsh and Duich. It is at this serene spot that the historically and culturally significant Castle of Eilean Donan sits. This castle dates back 700 years and is featured in several different films, including James Bond.
The current spot where the grand Eilean Donan Castle sits hosted its first fortified structure in the 13th century. This castle was constructed as a deterrent to the Vikings, who at the time frequently raided and pillaged the lands of Kintail. It also played a large part in the Jacobite uprisings of the 17th and 18th centuries, where it hosted a band of rebel soldiers plotting to overthrow the government. Upon the defeat of the rebels, this castle was blown up and lay in ruin for the next 200 years.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the lands of Eilean Donan were purchased by Lt Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap, and over the next century, the castle has been revived to the grand structure you see today
The castle is open to visits by paid entry, which allows you to walk around the castle grounds and view the exhibitions inside. Admission costs roughly £10, which includes an audioguide. It is worth noting that backpacks are not allowed inside the castle and must be left in your car or in a coin-operated locker outside.
Portree for Lunch
If you are only spending part of the day on the island, we recommend heading straight to the Trotternish Peninsula on the north coast of Skye. This has the widest range of activities and is the best place to spend a single day on the island. Upon crossing the bridge onto Skye, head directly to the capital town of Portree to grab some food and stock up on supplies.
In the centre of Portree, there is a selection of cute and delicious cafes and pubs to grab some hot food, or you can visit the Co-Op supermarket for something a little cheaper. We recommend the Granary for a good coffee and sausage roll (the veggie sausage is good!).
Climb the Old Man of Storr
The first stopping point as you head north out of Portree is one of Skye’s most famous attractions, the Old Man of Storr. As you wind your way north, keep your eyes peeled towards the hills on your left for the towering outline of the Storr. The car park for the Old Man of Storr is unmissable as you will see a large gathering of cars and a construction site for a new and larger car park.
The Old Man of Storr is an iconic standing stone on the Storr mountain range. Formed from an enormous landslide that happened thousands of years ago, the Storr ridge and the standing stones that sit there have been molded and shaped by millennia of weathering. The Old Man standing stone itself gets its name from the resemblance it has to the face of an old man.
There are two viewing areas of the Old Man, one that sits about 45-minutes from the car park and one further up the mountain that takes about 1 1/2 hours to reach. The path after the first platform begins to turn very weathered and broken due to the thousands of visitors that pile up and down the hill each year.
The hike up to the Old Man begins at the car park and winds up a steep path through a forestry track into the hills. It is quite a demanding track leading up to the Old Man, so we would suggest wearing comfortable shoes and packing water and food to bring.
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
Once you have marveled at the magnificent view of the Storr and heard the tales of how it was formed, it is time to head further north to the next stop at Kilt Rock. One of the most unique places you will visit on Skye, the viewpoint at Kilt Rock has stunning views out over the open ocean, with visibility all the way across to mainland Scotland (on a clear day).
What makes Kilt Rock such a special place is the combination of the cliff views and the crashing water of Mealt Falls that tumbles over the cliff to the sea below. It is quite rare to see a waterfall that falls directly into the ocean, so this is a very cool sight.
Kilt Rock gets its name from the way the basalt columns, formed by ancient volcanic activity in this area, look similar to the pleats of a kilt (a traditional Scottish dress worn by men and women). In my opinion, the colours of the moss, grass, and rock also look very similar to a traditional hunting tartan used by various Scottish Clans.
If you visit this platform on a windy day, take care not to lose anything over the edge and listen out for the howling of the wind as it blows over the cliff. Some say this is caused by the metal bars along the edge of the cliff, which whistle as the wind blows across them. Others say it is the fairies calling people to the edge of the steep cliff, hoping that they fall to their doom.
I’ll let you decide which one it is upon your visit!
There is a medium-sized car park at Kilt Rock that fills up pretty quickly on a busy summer day and there are no other public facilities at the viewing platform. If you need refreshments or a bathroom break, the nearest place will be in the nearby town of Staffin, just north of this spot.
Isle of Skye Brewery in Uig
The next stop is further around the northern coast of the Trotternish Peninsula at the harbour town od Uig. As you make your way around the north route, take your time and enjoy the stunning, cliffside views that this rugged part of the island has to behold.
There is not much to see in the small town of Uig. It is one of the best examples of a small island town, with a large port that departs to the port town of Tarbert on Harris, situated on the Outer Hebrides. The quiet harbour has a beautiful serenity to it, sheltered from the harsh weather that lies north of the island in the wild Arctic Ocean.
One tourist attraction that you need to visit in this small town is the Isle of Skye brewery, which makes some of Scotland’s most delicious and unique beers and ales. With a huge selection off different drinks on offer, this is the perfect place to stock up on some beers to go. There is also a wide range of souvenirs and other Skye merchandise, ideal for remembering your trip to the Misty Isles.
Although it is not open to tours if you show up at the door, this brewery does offer private tours to groups if it is booked in advance. There is also a small coffee shop for you to stop in at and heat up if you are visiting Skye in the winter months.
If you are sleeping back in Port Augustus tonight then it is time to make your way back south to head off the Isle of Skye. If you are planning on staying in Portree then this is still a sight you should see, along with some of the other amazing sights that there are to see on the south side of Skye.
The Old Skye Bridge of Sligachan is a very significant sight in the middle of the island that you might have spotted on your way north to Portree. This beautiful bridge was originally constructed at the beginning of the 19th century and once served as the main crossing point of the River Sligachan. Since then, a new bridge has been constructed with a 1930’s design, although the exact year of this construction is not known.
As with most things on Skye, the bridge and the water surrounding it has a romantic and interesting tale to it, involving two great warriors, a crying daughter and (obviously) Skye faeries. Rumour has it that if you are to dip your face in the cold water on the banks of the bridge and hold it under for 7 seconds you will be granted eternal beauty.
I am not totally sure that worked for me, however, it was certainly a decent alternative to my morning coffee! Brr!
Accommodation for the Night – Morag’s Lodge/ Portree
If you are taking the Skye High Tour, chances are you will be heading back to Morag’s Lodge for tonight’s accommodation, which is also a good option if you are driving yourself and are happy to leave Skye. If you wish to stay one night on Skye, however, the best place to stay will be in the island capital of Portree.
We have listed some of the best recommendations for accommodation in Portree below that will suit any budget and taste. Portree can be extremely busy if you are visiting in the summer so we would recommend that if you choose to stay here, you book early and expect that it will be busy.
Luxury – If you are looking for a comfortable apartment stay to come home to after a day exploring, Quayside Apartment is the perfect place for you. With spectacular views and a good central location, this accommodation is comfort plus for your next trip to Skye.
Mid-range – The Portree Hotel is a great central location for your stay in Skye. This hotel overlooks the main square in Portree and the winter months there are wood-burning stoves to keep you warm after a day of exploring.
Budget – If you are looking for a budget place to rest your head but still have a great view, The Pink House is the place to stay just for that. A continental breakfast is included in your stay and you can book a room with a great view out to sea.
If hostels are more your scene, you can check out the hostels available in Isle of Skye here.
Day Three – Back to the Capital
Unfortunately, if you are on the organised tour it is time to head back to Edinburgh, however, if you are touring Scotland yourself then why stop here? Spend some more time seeing the amazing sights on the Isle of Skye or even head further north to discover some of the beautiful sights on the North Coast 500.
Either way, we suggest that as you return to Edinburgh you travel back down through the western side of Scotland, visiting the breathtaking Glencoe and one of Europe’s last remaining wildernesses.
As you make your way south from Isle of Skye to Edinburgh, the first stop will be in at the Commando Memorial in Spean Bridge. This sculpture shows three Commando soldiers looking south towards Ben Nevis. The structure is made of cast bronze and sits upon a stone plinth.
The memorial itself was unveiled in 1952 and stands to commemorate the Commandos that trained in this part of Scotland during World War II. The Commandos were a special branch of the armed forces, thought up by Sir Winston Churchill intending to train specialised soldiers that could go undetected behind enemy lines and carry out covert missions. They are generally thought of as the most skilled soldiers in the armed forces. To this day, the Commando Memorial is used as a memorial for all soldiers who have lost their lives in conflict.
The memorial is a beautiful spot to visit if it is a nice, clear day. The view of the surrounding hills is breathtaking and there is a certain serenity to the place. If you are lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the very shy peaks of Ben Nevis to the south.
Ben Nevis Distillery for the Hairy Coos
As you venture further south towards Glencoe, our next stop is in at the Ben Nevis Distillery, just outside the town of Fort William. It is up to you whether you wish to take a tour of the distillery itself (which costs £5pp for a basic tour and £18pp for one that involves tasting 3 whiskys), however, the reason we stopped here is waiting at the farm next door.
As you drive through the small area of Lochybridge, keep your eyes peeled to the left for some of Scotland’s hairier attractions: the highland coo. The farm next door to the distillery keeps 3 hairy cows as pets and they can often be seen right up next to the fence.
If you wish to visit them, the best place to park is either in the distillery itself or at the service station across the road. From here you can walk 5-minutes back to the farm, climbing over the fence at the small step that is next to the gate (don’t worry, this is perfectly legal) and across to the area between the farm buildings.
The highland coo is one of Scotland’s most iconic animal and it is easy to see why. They are just so cute! The irony of this is that they aren’t actually native to Scotland, but are believed to have brought over by the Vikings centuries ago. Nowadays it is very uncommon to use these cows for meat, mainly due to how tough the meat tends to be, but also because they are just beautiful!
Glencoe Visitor Centre
When you arrive in the small town of Glencoe, you will begin to understand why this is one of my favourite places in the world. Sitting right on the banks of Loch Leven, Glencoe is surrounded by beauty. If you stand on the shores of this loch, you either have the peaceful view of the water on one side or the breathtaking view of the towering mountains on the other.
This part of Scotland also has a very dark history to it, which you can learn more about at the Glencoe Visitor Centre. There is a full exhibit on this part of Scotland, telling you about the mountains around you, the amazing efforts of the mountain rescue service in this area, and a short movie that condenses the entire history of the region into just 15-minutes. There is also a coffee shop that serves small bites to eat, so we recommend you grab some food here too.
The Glencoe Massacre
One of the most significant parts of Glencoe’s turbulent history happened at the end of the 17th century and is so brutal that it has been a source of inspiration for many TV shows, movies, and books (including George R.R. Martin’s “Red Wedding”).
During the turbulent times of the Jacobite Uprising of 1689-92, King William of Orange demanded that the Clan Chiefs of the Scottish highlands swore allegiance to him, in order to maintain order in this rather lawless part of the land. With the offer of a large sum of money to persued them, each Clan decided this was for the best and journeyed to Fort William to sign the document by the 1st January 1692.
However, when the MacDonald clan took their oath to Fort William, they were told that they would have to take it to a sheriff in Inveraray, some 70 miles away. Due to bad weather and misdirection, the Clan Chief arrived after the deadline and was unfortunately too late, there was already a warrant out for their deaths.
After returning home to Glencoe, unaware of this new danger heading their way, the Macdonald clan greeted guests into their homes at the beginning of February. The Campbell clan were travelling through the area and needed a place to stay, and so the rule of “free quarter” (meaning that you are bound to accept people in need into your homes in exchange for not paying tax) meant the MacDonalds had to welcome them.
Twelve days after letting the Campbell’s into their home, feeding them, keeping them warm and safe, the Campbell Clan Chief received the order from the King to kill every single member of the MacDonald clan. In the early hours of the morning, some 25 MacDonalds, including women and children, were murdered as they slept by the very people they welcomed into their homes. The rest escaped into the hills with as much as they could carry, many later dying from exposure.
To this day, the reputation of the Campbell clan is known throughout Scotland and you may even see signs at restaurants and bars in the Glencoe region stating “No Campbells”, although I’m sure this is more about humour than ill-feeling.
Three Sisters Viewpoint
Just 15-minutes further on from the Glencoe Visitor Centre is our next stopping point and the beautiful viewpoint of the Three Sisters. This mountain range is made up of three extinct volcanoes that once heavily shaped this region of Scotland, now sitting quietly, high above the cars passing by below.
There are a few different spots to pull in at along this road, however, the best one sits just before the road curves to the right. There will no doubt be a lot of cars parked up, so you are unlikely to miss it. You can either admire the view from the car park itself or take a wander along the path at the bottom of the hill and explore this remote paradise.
Kingshouse for Buachaille Etive Mor
Further along the glen, you will find our favourite location in this highland wilderness and might recognise it from a couple of different movies. The stretch of road that is home to the Glencoe Mountain Resort, the Kingshouse Hotel, and the turn off to Glen Etive, is frequently used in movies that aim to depict isolation, raw nature and often dangerous terrain (such as James Bond – Skyfall).
The best place to stop to admire this beautiful part of the world is in at the Kingshouse Hotel, which sits on your left-hand side as you pass through the glen. Stop off here to stretch your legs and even enjoy a coffee in the newly constructed hotel extension of the Kingshouse.
The car park of the Kingshouse Hotel has a very unique tourist attraction waiting by the woods. Every day, dozens of wild deer come down to the car park to graze and socialise with the visitors. If you have been wanting to see these beautiful creatures up close during your visit to Scotland then this is the place to come.
As to the exact reason these deer are so comfortable with humans, not much is known other than they have been coming here for years. I think it has been caused by decades of hand-feeding from visitors to the hotel and has resulted in a pretty much permanent herd of deer living beside the hotel car park.
As lovely sight as it is, seeing wild deer so close, feeding wild animals is not a sustainable or animal-friendly practice and it should not be encouraged. These deer are now completely dependent on humans for survival as the new generation has never had to survive without us. If you choose to visit the Kingshouse, we ask that you refrain from feeding the animals and encouraging this behaviour.
Green Welly Pit Stop for Lunch
After passing through the wilderness of Rannoch Moor, you will begin to reenter into society and see evidence of life once more. The next stop will be for a quick bite to eat at the famous Green Welly Pit Stop, which sits just outside of Tyndrum on the northern border of the Trossachs National Park.
Popular with hillwalkers, campers, and other highland adventurers, the Green Welly is a well-known lunch spot on the way into Scotland’s remote, northern landscape. If you fancy a taste of one of Scotland’s famous dishes, the Green Welly is famous for its Kullin Skink (aka fish soup). It may not sound appetising, however, this pit stop is renowned for serving the best Kullin Skink in the country.
Whatever you choose to warm your belly, rest up here for half an hour and get ready for some more famous sights in Scotland as we continue south to Edinburgh.
Another sight in Scotland’s highlands that is very popular with film and TV fans is the beautiful and ancient Doune Castle. Fans of shows such as Monty Python, Game of Thrones and Outlander will definitely recognise this castle, as it features heavily in all of them.
It is actually the only castle that Monty Python was permitted to use in Scotland, so in The Holy Grail, all castles shown are just Doune Castle from different angles. In Game of Thrones, this castle was used in the pilot episode as Winterfell and in Outlander, it is frequently used in many season 1 episodes as Castle Leoch.
This castle was originally built in the 13th century and suffered a lot of damage during the Scottish Wars of Independence. It is a highly popular tourist attraction due to these Hollywood claims to fame, as well as its almost intact interiors and courtyard. These demonstrate very well what life would have been like hundreds of years ago.
The final stop on your trip south towards the capital will be in at the small town of Stirling. Although this town does not have a huge population, it played a very significant part in the Scottish Wars of Independence during the 13th and 14th centuries. There is a lot to see and do in Stirling, from the 11th century Stirling Castle to the 15th century “Beheading Stone” on Gowan Hill.
If you have time, we highly recommend stopping off here to check out what else Stirling has to offer, however, during our trip we headed straight to the unmissable sight of the Wallace Monument. This 19th-century monument sits 67m above Abbey Craig and is built in the Victorian Gothic style.
The monument was built in memory of the famous Scottish warrior known as William Wallace, who features in the world-renowned (and slightly embarrassing) film “Braveheart”. It was designed and built after a mixture of public and foreign fund-raising during the 1800s and construction was finished in 1869.
The tower itself features many different exhibitions over 3 floors in the tower itself. Each of these tells of different stories about Scotland’s past and the many Scottish heroes that played their role throughout history. At the top of the tower, you are treated to the best view in Stirling, as on a clear day you can see all the way to Ben Lomond. It is well worth the 246 steps to the top!
Entry into the Wallace Monument will cost you a fee, costing roughly £9. The tower’s opening times can be found on the official website. If you do not wish to enter the tower itself, take a walk up to Abbey Craig anyway and enjoy the view over the town of Stirling from above.
Back into Edinburgh
With the trip coming quickly to an end, it is time to head back to your starting point in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. If you are touring with Haggis Adventures, you will most likely arrive back into the city at about 5 pm and will be dropped off back on the Royal Mile where you left off.
Listen out to the tour guide’s recommendations for the city, as they will most likely tell you of all the best bars and restaurants to go to around the city centre.
This tour of the heartlands of Scotland is one of the best itineraries you can experience from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye. It will take you through some of the most remote parts of the country, tell you all about Scotland’s fascinating (and often very dark) history and will allow you to be part of this country’s welcoming and warming culture.
The tour that we experienced this itinerary on was not our first time in this part of Scotland, however, thanks to Haggis Adventures we saw a side to our home country that we have never seen before. We cannot emphasise enough how much we would recommend this trip to anyone traveling Scotland who wants to learn more about the landscapes, the history, and the people.
Friendships were found, memories were made and our love for Scotland grows ever stronger. Get out there and experience it for yourself!
So there you have it, your Ultimate Itinerary for Your Edinburgh to Isle of Skye Roadtrip. If you are touring this incredible part of Scotland and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! What was your favourite stop? Did you have clear skies or moody weather? Let us know in the comments below!
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