At the end of our North Coast 500 adventure this Summer, we took a detour on our route home to the magical island of Skye. This was our first ever trip to this famous place, and boy were we in for a treat! The weather was phenomenal, the views were extraordinary and the culture and history is fascinating. These were our highlights of the trip, and are just some of the many reasons why you must visit Skye.
Old Man of Storr
North of Portree, high up on the hills is the iconic Old Man of Storr. Created by a massive landslide many thousands of years ago, this natural phenomenon is a pillar of rock that can be seen for miles around. This combined with a very photogenic landscape makes an incredible view. As one of Scotland’s most iconic scenes, and I am sure you will have heard of it before.
The hike to the viewing “platform” is only 3.8km, however don’t let this distance fool you. This is quite a steep hike up, it took us around an hour each way. It is also one of the most popular walks on the island, and will be very busy. Parking fills up quickly therefore lay-by parking beneath the “old man” can also be used. Pack your water and camera, and head off for one of the most beautiful views on the island.
You will find these magical pools in the south-west region of Skye, and oh my! you definitely do not want to miss them! Park in the forestry commission car park and take the half hour walk towards the pools (this is well signposted and bustling with people, just follow the crowds). The pools are crystal clear and make for some unforgettable photos.
For those brave enough to swim wild in the cold water, make sure you pack a towel and swimsuite, and for those not brave enough, do it anyway! We had all good intentions as we had been swimming in the Rha Falls the previous day, however the midgies were out in full force that morning and we thought we might get some odd looks if we got in. Turns out there were some kids in the pools and to dip your toes in it wasn’t too cold. So if you’re there, go for it! I wish I had.
Since this is Skye’s busiest attractions, if you want some privacy and the pools to yourself, you will have to get there early. We arrived just after 10am and the carpark was already full, with cars still piling along the road. try and get there for sunrise for some spectacular scenery and the place to yourself.
From Sconser, you can take the ferry across to Raassay island for £7 return. The ferries run once an hour throughout most of the day and then less often in the evening. Our suggestion would be only to go if you enjoy walking, as that’s pretty much all there is to do. There is one small shop on the island however I would recommend trying to stock up as much as you can before going over.
We decided to dust off our hiking boots and take the walk up Dun Caan, the highest point on the island. We ended up running half of the way up just to try get away from the miserable bugs (horseflies, aka. clegs, are fervent in this part of the world!). Make sure you bring insect repellent and a midgie net if you have one, cause these little bugs were definitely not our friends.
The views along the route and from the top are unbelievable; sure there are plenty of hills on Skye itself, however none of them give you a view of the entire island. The walk took us around 5 hours to complete and was a good 23km. It is definitely safe to say we had sore feet by the end of it!
Toilet and Shower Facilities
In the small town of Carbost, across the road from the Talisker Distillery and beside the Caora Dhubh Coffee Company, we happened to accidentally come across a toilet and shower block facility. For wild campers that have just completed a sweaty hike this was the dream find. It is 20p entry into the block, 2 toilets 2 showers and a disabled toilet/shower room. A shower is £1 for 2 minutes and was the best shower we had all trip.
If you want to save money and wild camp, then it is facilities like this that can change a trip. Skye is definitely up there with our favourite locations for wild camping now! You can read our guide to wild camping for all of our best tips for your next off the track adventure.
Food and drink
West of Sconser, around a 10 minute drive from the ferry terminal is the Sligachan Hotel. Around this area is the only areas on the island that we could find mobile phone signal. If you are looking for a night away from your gas stove and tent, check out Seumas’ Bar by the hotel. Delicious, reasonably priced food, dog friendly and a good chilled atmosphere, this is the perfect stop after a day of exploring.
Taste of India – If you’re a huge foodie like us and want a restaurant recommendation, then this is the place to go. It’s not the cheapest option for eating out, but as we had saved so much money from wild camping and were way under budget, we thought we could treat ourselves one night. This restaurant is located in Portree, close to the harbour. (Ps. Get the Peshawari Chicken!)
Due to all of these, as well as many more reasons, we would definitely recommend the trip to Skye! It is becoming a popular tourist destination in Scotland and we can definitely see why. If we have inspired you to go, then make sure you tag us in your pictures on Instagram – @highlands2hammocks!
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