After living in London for over a year, I realized I have not explored any other bits of the UK. My good friend and I decided to go the Isle of Skye in Scotland for a few days this past week, and it was absolutely gorgeous. We took the train from London to Glasgow and rented a car to drive from there to the island. It was about a five and a half hour drive from Glasgow, but it’s a very pretty drive so not too bad. We stayed in Portree at a lovely B&B called the Caledonian Hotel. Whenever I have a wonderful stay at a hotel, it makes a huge difference in how I experience my trip. Dennis, the owner of the Caledonian Hotel, made our stay wonderful and it made me fall in love with Isle of Skye even more. It’s a simple B&B right in the center of town, plus a private car park, so it makes it all nice and easy. By the time we arrived on Wednesday, we were exhausted so just went to dinner around the corner at Caroy House. The food was good, but we were pretty hungry and the portions were a bit small for our bellies. We went to the Co-op grocery after dinner to pick up some dessert and ingredients for sandwiches the next day. There were a few places to stop for a bite along the way, but nothing that seemed great, so we thought sandwiches and snacks for the next day was a good choice.
After breakfast the next morning, we left the hotel around 8:30am. We decided to go a bit out of the way and head to the light house at Neist Point. It was about an hour from the hotel, but that’s mostly because the roads are so rough and narrow (many of them one way), so you have to drive rather slowly through. Along the drive we were meant to pass Dunvegan Castle, but we successfully missed that. When we arrived at Neist Point, we could not find a light house, but it was beautiful nonetheless. It’s one of the edges of the peninsula, so you’re surrounded by water on a beautiful green peak filled with cows and sheep. It’s truly a tremendous view.
From there we decided to do the Trotternish Loop. It’s one of the peninsulas in the Isle that has a lot of the popular sights, so we drove from Neist Point (again missing Dunvegan Castle) back to the Trotternish peninsula. We got a recommendation to do it counterclockwise as most people do it clockwise so not to hit traffic. I think either way would have been fine. The roads are so tight as it is, that if there was traffic on one side, many times the other side had to slow as well.
The first stop on the Trotternish Loop was Fairy Glen, and I think it was both of our favorite places. Dennis, from the B&B, had said if fairies ever existed, it would be at Fairy Glen – and he was right. It’s a green pasture for as far as you can see, with a small lake, and these ridges that make you feel like you’re in a different world. No description or pictures can do it justice. We walked through the glen a bit, just astonished by the greenery and the shapes of it.
After a bit of time there, we drove to Quiraing and tried to do the little hike, but it was rainy and incredibly windy, so we took a quick picture and went on our way.
The next stop was Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. It was undoubtedly gorgeous, but it’s a tourist spot with buses of tourists that crowd the area. On the south end of Kilt Rock you can walk over and see Brother’s Point in the distance. Everyone crowds over Kilt Rock, but I actually thought the view from the south side was equally as gorgeous. After we left Kilt Rock we actually drove down a bit toward Brother’s Point and walked around. Next to Fairy Glen, this was my next favorite stop. Sadly, again there were buses of tourists, but not many of them walked too deep into it. It’s this magical point that goes out into the ocean, with bright green grass against the dark blue/grey sand into the water. The colors were so bright and distinct, it’s absolutely unforgettable.
By then, it was already close to four and we wanted to make it to Talisker Distillery before it closed. The distillery is the only whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye, so we were keen to see it. Sadly, there wasn’t much to see – it was pretty tacky and commercialized in our opinions. So we drove back into Portree to have dinner and enjoy our evening. The second night we went to Isle Inn & Pub in Portree, also a few doors down from the Caledonian. It’s a true pub, but I thought the food was really good. Plus, they have live music a few nights a week.
A few things we learned from our adventure: first, we were super happy we packed sandwiches for lunch along the drive. None of the restaurants seemed all that exciting, and given the number of tourists there was inevitably a wait. Even in Portree each night for dinner, I’d recommend making reservations beforehand, otherwise expect to wait at least thirty minutes – some restaurants had three hour waits!
Isle of Skye is a special place that still feels a bit untouched. It’s expansive greenery is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen and its hard to imagine another place like it.