Glenelg is a village and a whole peninsula called, as the name suggests, after a glen, or a valley in the Lochalsh area of the Scottish Highlands. People who travel along the A82/A87 ''road to the Isles'' often either stay on in Kintail/Glen Shiel area or rush on to Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye bridge. This is a mistake, at least in the summer months, as by doing that a visitor misses one of the most stunning drives in Scotland, an enchanted area of wilderness and what is arguably the best way ''over the sea to Skye''.
Tucked away behind a high ridge of hills on the Sound of Sleat, Glenelg had long been the main gateway to Skye – at least until a road reached Kyle in the early 19th century. Boswell and Johnson took this route during their famous trip to Skye and other Hebridean islands in 1773. The Kylerhea narrows was the main crossing point, for the boats and also for the drovers who swam the cattle across in right conditions.
Modern Glenelg is an enchanting area, with – obviously – a lot of attraction for walkers, but, quite surprisingly, also quite a few other points of interest.
Not the least of these is the Glenelg ferry, a community run operation that sails between April and October, remaining the best (if rather slow, considering the drive to and from it) way to reach Skye.
IN addition to the ferry and the walks, Glenelg has historical remains to see.
One is of a more recent heritage, a shell of Bernera Barracks, one of the four built after 1715 uprising to keep troublesome Jacobites in check. The building is not accessible but can be seen from beyond the fence for those who want to ponder the way the heroic myth and tragic history intertwine in Scotland.
The other ruins, and these are unmissable ones, are the Glenelg brochs, well-preserved ruins of three circular, fortified tower houses from 2,000 years ago.
Getting to Glenelg is attraction in itself. Take a minor road off the A87 in Shiel Bridge. This is sign-posted for Glenelg, and the Glenelg ferry. The road, in many sections single track, climbs up from the head of Loch Duich towards the 1,100 feet high pass of Mam Ratagan, following a series of hair-raising hairpin bends and reaching a 15% (1 in 6) gradient. Good tyres (and good breaks) are a must but you are rewarded by incredible views at the top of the pass (there is a viewpoint with a car park and picnic tables) and a slightly milder descent into the long, narrow, lush valley of Glenelg: this place really feels like a different world, an enchanted valley surrounded by green hills flowing with water.
At the bottom of the road, the village of Glenelg offers accommodation and welcome in Glenelg Inn, just before the village the road branches left to the ferry; beyond the village in Glean Beag you will find the brochs, and if you don't go up Glean Beag for the brochs but follow the road along the Sound of Sleat, 10 miles on the road ends at the villages of Arnisdale and Corran: even more remote, wilder and possibly more enchanted places on Loch Hourn, with views to Knoydart. It's worth the drive if you have time to spare, though the road is narrow and single track.