A few weeks ago, we accidentally drove onto the Isle of Skye while looking for a vantage point on the Mainland to photograph the Skye Bridge. Our fleeting visit (once round a roundabout then back to the Mainland) whet our appetite – the Misty Isle was calling.
Travel plans were hatched. We booked a night at Rokeby Manor in Invergarry to break up our journey north, then two nights at a B&B in Kyle of Lochalsh (on the mainland beside the Skye Bridge).
We arrived in Invergarry shortly before 7pm on a dark October evening and were greeted by a cosy glow emanating from Rokeby Manor.
After tucking into a delicious dinner, we cooried in our room, shortlisting things to see and do on the Isle of Skye over the weekend.
Day 1 – things to see and do on the Isle of Skye
The next morning, we said goodbye to Rokeby Manor after a hearty breakfast. An hour later, we were crossing the Skye Bridge – intentionally.
Walk – Fairy Pools, Glen Brittle (3 miles)
After a scenic drive, we arrived at our first stop. We last visited the Fairy Pools in Glen Brittle around seven years ago. Back then, there was a small car park and we only saw a handful of other people. Visitor numbers have rocketed since and a large car park has been built to cope.
From the car park we followed a path that led to a burn – we’d need to cross it to reach the Fairy Pools.
Beware the burn (a side story)
I could tell Mr G was apprehensive. While hiking to MacGregors Cave (a Clan MacGregor hiding place) in Perthshire the week before, we had to cross a burn in spate to reach the cave. I rolled my trousers up and waded across with my shoes on.
Mr G refused to cross wearing his shoes. He took them off and said he’d throw them over the burn to me. I was standing on a narrow path with a wall of rock behind me. I suggested he tie the shoes round his neck instead. He refused (too muddy) and stuck with his throwing idea. The first shoe landed safely on the path. The second one hit the wall of rock and bounced into the burn, before floating away at a rate of knots.
We agreed I should visit the cave first, return, then wait with the boy while Mr G when to see it. When I returned Mr G set off, barefoot and wobbling precariously across the burn.
When he reached the other side, he slipped his solitary shoe on, popped a sock and dog poo bag on his other foot and headed off to see the cave.
He reappeared a while later, removing his shoe, socks and dog poo bag for his return crossing. When he stepped into the burn, I heard a wail like an injured animal. He’d dropped his remaining shoe and was watching helpless, as it floated away.
We finished our walk, Mr G wearing socks and me crying with laughter.
Meanwhile at the Fairy Pools
Thankfully, he crossed the burn at the Fairy Pools without incident.
Shortly after crossing, we reached the first of the Fairy Pools (a series of small pools with waterfalls tumbling into them). The water in the pools is crystal clear, and a vivid blue colour in the right light. At the end of the glen, loom the jagged peaks of the Cuillins.
It’s a beautiful place, which has sadly paid the price of overtourism. The land around the pools is eroded and muddy, thanks to visitors not sticking to the path. Thankfully, improvement work is underway, so let’s hope future visitors treat the beauty spot with the respect it deserves.
Despite the mud, we enjoyed our ramble in the glen.
Lunch – Donald John’s Cafe, Carbost
We’d worked up an appetite and luckily there was a cafe a stone’s throw away.
Donald John’s Cafe at Carbost isn’t dog friendly, but there are tables outside. Al fresco dining on a late-October afternoon didn’t appeal, so we grabbed takeaway to eat in the car. After polishing off coronation chicken baguettes with chips, we were ready to explore some more.
Our next stop was The Quiraing on the Trotternish Peninsula. The Quiraing was formed by a massive landslip, which also created the Old Man of Storr. The landscape is so visually spectacular, that it looks like it was conjured up by CGI for a fantasy blockbuster. Unsurprisingly, it’s been used as a filming location in a number of movies including Stardust, Macbeth and King Arthur: legend of the Sword.
From the car park at The Quiraing you can follow a four mile circular trail. It passes incredible rock formations with names such as The Prison and The Needle, before looping behind cliffs, then back to the car park.
We did a short section of the walk, as there were places we still wanted to visit before sunset. The light was sublime and stopped us in our tracks frequently. It was like being transported into the pages of a Tolkien novel. The boy loves a rocky landscape, so was in his element.
Before leaving The Quiraing we bought coffees from a wee van in the car park. Now more than ever, it’s important to support local communities.
Caisteal Maol, Kyleakin
We drove back towards the Skye Bridge so I could have my history fix for the day. Caisteal Maol is a fifteenth century fortress that was once the seat of Clan MacKinnon. The castle is said to have been built by a Norwegian princess known as Saucy Mary. Mary was married to a MacKinnon chief and was no shrinking violet. She controlled the waters around the fortress, extracting tolls from passing ships.
Caisteal Maol is reached from Kyleakin via a path. Depending on the tide, getting to the castle involves a walk along the shore, or a boggy scramble across land. Either way, it’s worth visiting.
Our visit involved a boggy scramble across land, which delighted the boy.
Chasing a sunset – Skye Bridge
For our final stop of the day, we hoped to combine a short walk with a view of the sun setting over the Skye Bridge. All going well, the Cnoc Trail on the outskirts of Kylekean would give us what we wanted.
It did. From a rocky vantage point, we watched the sky turn pink over the Skye Bridge – wow.
Our base – Rasa Sayang B&B, Kyle of Lochalsh
We were ready to settle down for the night.
Our base for the next two nights would be Rasa Sayang B&B, in Kyle of Lochalsh. The name means loving feeling and it couldn’t be more apt.
Our hostess Joan, was an absolute delight – nothing was too much trouble for her. We arrived to find a nip of whisky and Scottish tablet (a traditional sweetie) waiting for us – a lovely gesture.
Our room was comfortable and cosy. We had Wi-fi and Sky Q (much to Mr G’s delight). It was a perfect base for exploring the Isle of Skye and beyond.
Even better, Joan had a rescue owl called Izzy, who we got to meet. She was beautiful, with big orange eyes and a cheeky personality – I was smitten.
Day 2 – things to see and do on the Isle of Skye
Before setting off to spend another day exploring the Isle of Skye, Joan cooked us a full Scottish breakfast. We were fit to burst after eating it. I was reminded of childhood visits to my Nana’s house. Scottish grannies love to feed you – even if you aren’t their grandchildren.
The forecast for our second day on the Isle of Skye was wild – high winds and heavy rain all day. It’d be a day spent touring in the car, with short stops to sightsee.
We headed to the Trotternish Peninsula, passing the mighty Old Man of Storr. We made our first stop of the morning at Lealt Falls. After a short walk, we reached a viewing platform where we could see peaty, brown falls thundering into a deep gorge.
It was worth braving the elements for.
Mealt Falls & Kilt Rock
A wee bit further along the road, we stopped at another dramatic waterfall with a viewing platform.
Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock are one of the most photographed spots on the island. The falls cascade 90 metres down a cliff face and into the sea. The cliffs are known as Kilt Rock, because the rock resemble the pleats on a kilt.
It may have been raining and blowing a hoolie when we visited, but we got to see the falls in full flow and looking fantastic.
With the rain becoming more persistent, we decided to drive around the Trotternish peninsula and enjoy the scenery. When we passed The Quiraing, small waterfalls on top of the cliffs were flowing up (with a little help from the wind). Only in Scotland.
The Skye Museum of Island life
Heading in the direction of Uig, we passed rugged coastline and lots of drookit (wet) sheep.
By the time we reached the Skye Museum of Island life near Uig, the rain was falling sideways and the wind almost whipping the boy’s whiskers off.
The museum was closed for the season, but we’d visited before, so were happy to snap photos of the pretty, traditional blackhouses it’s housed in.
If you visit Skye, the museum is a must. It really brings to life what life was like for the islanders of old.
Next to to the museum, in Kilmuir Cemetery is the grave of Flora McDonald. Flora bravely helped the fugitive Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape from Scotland after the 1745 Jacobite rising failed.
By the time we got back into the car it was raining sideways and the wind was so strong we were struggling to stand upright.
Duntulm Castle, Trotternish Peninsula
Driving back towards The Quiraing, we took advantage of a lull in the rain to visit Duntulm Castle. Not much of the castle remains, and what does is in a precarious state, but the location is stunning.
The castle sits on a rocky promontory, surrounded by the sea on three sides. It dates to the 14th/15th century and was originally a MacLeod stronghold, before passing into the hands of Clan MacDonald.
It’s reached from a lay-by, via a clifftop path. Thankfully, the path is fenced. We were midway between the car and the castle when the wind and rain picked up again. It was the perfect weather for a visit to a haunted castle on 31st October.
Duntulm Castle is reputedly haunted by several ghosts, one of them a nursemaid who was executed after accidentally dropping the chief’s infant son out of the castle window.
We certainly heard lots of mournful wailing during our visit. Ghost or wind – you decide?
An Corran Beach – dinosaur footprints
After haunted ruins, we turned our attention to dinosaurs.
An Corran beach is located on the Trotternish Peninsula near Staffin. On it are seventeen fossilised dinosaur footprints that were discovered in 2002 by a local couple walking on the beach. They were created 166-million-years ago by a megalosaurus stepping in mud by the shore of a warm tropical sea. The climate on Skye has changed slightly since then.
To be in with a chance of finding the dinosaur prints, you need to visit An Corran at low tide. We arrived just after. The weather gods must have taken pity on us, as the sun came out just as we arrived.
We quickly found a print, then a couple of possible prints. They weren’t to my liking though, as they weren’t symmetrical enough. While Mr G snapped photos of the beach I persevered, wading into rock pools and peering like a woman possessed. It paid off – there in a shallow pool was exactly what I was looking for. A perfect, three toed megalosaurus footprint – hooray.
Here comes the rain again
The nice weather lasted as long as our visit to An Corran. By the time we arrived in Portree (Skye’s main settlement) the wind and rain were back with a vengeance.
After warming ourselves with homemade soup and coffee, we drove back towards the Skye bridge – slowly, just in case the weather gods were going to favour us again.
They weren’t, so we said farewell to the Isle of Skye and headed back to the mainland.
We’d spent two very different days exploring the island and had thoroughly enjoyed both.
Dinner – Eilean Donan
For dinner that evening, we drove to Eilean Donan Castle a short distance from our B&B. The castle’s takeaway restaurant Heilan’ Scan is the perfect place to pick up comfort food on a wild night.
We tucked into fish and chips in the castle car park, as we gazed at the iconic fortress. Meanwhile, the storm raged on.
Eilean Donan was lit up red for Armistice Day and looked hauntingly beautiful. It was a fitting place to be on the day the world lost the finest 007 to ever grace our screens.
In the end, there can be only one.
If you enjoyed this blog, you may also like this one which features more things to see and do on the Isle of Skye.
Until next time …