Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 18 Jul, 2013
The most popular attractions on the Sleat peninsula of the Isle of Skye are in the ferry-terminal village of Armadale and along the main road from Broadford, what with the Sabhal Mor Ostaig Gaelic college and Clan Donald visitors' centre as well as some popular…Read More
The most popular attractions on the Sleat peninsula of the Isle of Skye are in the ferry-terminal village of Armadale and along the main road from Broadford, what with the Sabhal Mor Ostaig Gaelic college and Clan Donald visitors' centre as well as some popular hotels and restaurants. But it is worth getting off that main, recently constructed road for some magical places off the beaten track. When in Armadale, take the road further, towards the village of Ardvasar and beyond. Drive along the single-track to the very end of the road, past the hamlet of Aird. Park by the farm gates. From then on, a dirt track leads for two and half miles to the southernmost tip of the island. The walk is easy, most of it on the aforementioned dirt track, with a few up-and-down bits and some splendid views towards the mainland, Mallaig and sands of Morar. Turn off the dirt track after about two and a quarter of a mile onto a slightly steeper and more rocky path -- it's clearly signposted -- and at the end you are rewarded with a picturesque lighthouse and the panorama of the Small Isles, with Rum and Eigg clearly visible. But before the Point of Sleat, the track branches down towards a real gem: a delightful cove, surrounded by rocky formations. The last time we visited that beach it was completely empty, and I just wanted to stay there forever, such was the seclusion and beauty of the place. The sand on the little beach is very fine and white, with hardly any shingle, and the water, wonderfully clear, aquamarine and azure with a sparkle -- if not temperature -- which on a sunny day rivals the best of the Mediterranean. There are nooks and crannies between the rocks, above the high-tide water mark, where you could even potentially pitch a tent for a night's camping, and to the sides of the cove, the flattish stones create shallow rock pools and puddles where the water warms up, perfect for looking for sea creatures and paddling with your trousers rolled up even on cooler days. It's a special spot altogether, and very worth the relatively undemanding walk which shouldn't take more than an hour even if leisurely ambling. Close
Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 10 Apr, 2013
Broadford, the first bigger place on the Isle of Skye after driving off the bridge, is a long, sprawling settlement stretching for about a mile along A87. It's not a particularly lovely village, but it is the main service centre for the south of the…Read More
Broadford, the first bigger place on the Isle of Skye after driving off the bridge, is a long, sprawling settlement stretching for about a mile along A87. It's not a particularly lovely village, but it is the main service centre for the south of the island and it has been recently chosen by the Sunday Times as a one of the top places in Scotland to live in. The views towards the mainland and up-island are lovely indeed, and the presence of the large Co-op supermarket, open seven days a week and till late, means that Broadford is indeed the place to stop for any provisions. In addition to the Co-op, Broadford has a laundrette (at the back of the supermarket, on the petrol station side) as well as a hospital, several hostels (including rather nice Broadford Backpackers, on the same turnoff as the hospital), two garages for servicing and fixing your car; hotels, restaurants and a few gift shops. If you are after wool or knitwear, unique but on an expensive side, check out the Handspinner Having Fun at the old pier (well signposted). Up the road, past the bridge,near the post office and the bank, is the Woodrising gallery of photography, where very pretty prints of lovely Skye landscapes can be bought (and there is free coffee, even for browsers). If you are looking for a quick bite to eat, the Waterfront chippie is passable, but if the fast food van is open on the ''market square'' behind the co-op, have something from there, the burgers come from Strahtcarron butchers and are really good, and coffee is OK too.Broadford is also a location for one of the few Skye rainy-weather attractions, namely the Serpentarium, a small but reasonably diverting for a short visit, reptile rescue centre which has snakes, lizards, frogs, tortoises, iguanas and the like, in addition to a case exhibiting illegally traded goods of reptilian origin. Snake handling sessions are on offer, and you can settle your nerves with a beverage in the next-door Watermill cafe. Serpentarium is closed on weekdays November to March. Close
Kyleakin is a small village that used to receive the ferries that departed from Kyle of Lochalsh to Skye before the Skye Bridge took over the task. About 200 years ago, Lord Macdonald planned developing Kyleakin as a model new town of "New Liverpool",…Read More
Kyleakin is a small village that used to receive the ferries that departed from Kyle of Lochalsh to Skye before the Skye Bridge took over the task. About 200 years ago, Lord Macdonald planned developing Kyleakin as a model new town of "New Liverpool", but not much of that came to fruition. The loss of the ferry traffic put the hamlet more off the beaten track somehow, with the main A87 road that goes north bypassing the village. However, it has reinvented itself somewhat as a location for backpackers' hostels and gets actually fairly busy in the summer, while at other times it's a sleepy place. I wouldn't make a big point of going to Kyelakin on purpose, however if you have an hour or two to spare in the area, it's worth the little detour or a 2-mile walk from the Skye Bridge roundabout.The views down Lochalsh are pretty good, and the Kyleakin harbour is rather picturesque. You can climb the hill above the village, or for a less taxing little walk, go along the shingle beach opposite the harbour, past some decoratively dilapidated fishing vessels and to the ancient ruin of Castle Moil, a 15th century castle that used to guard the narrows and from which the legendary princess called Saucy Mary (after whom a popular hostel in the village is named) extracted a toll from vessels passing through. The ruin is small, but the views from the top of the little hillock on which it stands are excellent, especially towards the bridge, and on a not-too-midgey day it's a nice place to have a picnic lunch. Kyleakin is also the location for Bright Water Visitor Centre, where you can discover the biodiversity of the local area and book the tour of the islet of Eilen Ban. It supports the Skye Bridge now, but it's known for its Stephenson lighthouse and the cottage of Gavin Maxwell, of the ''Ring of Bright Water'' otter novel fame. Kyleakin hall hosts many local performances, and when the mobile cinema Screen Machine comes to the area, it parks at the Kyleakin village car park. Close
Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 02 Oct, 2012
Dunvegan Castle is the principal historical attraction on the Isle of Skye, and a popular site to visit, a fixed point on the route of numerous tour buses but also frequented by many an individual tourist, particularly middle-aged Americans in search of their roots (immigration…Read More
Dunvegan Castle is the principal historical attraction on the Isle of Skye, and a popular site to visit, a fixed point on the route of numerous tour buses but also frequented by many an individual tourist, particularly middle-aged Americans in search of their roots (immigration from Skye was huge).It is situated north of the rather dull village of Dunvegan and approximately 30km west of Portree, at the base of the hammer-head shaped Duirnish peninsula. The castle is known as the ancestral home of the Chief of Clan MacLeod for almost 800 years. It is reputedly the oldest continuously occupied castle in Scotland.The castle's history is inextricably linked to the history of the Clan MacLeod, being the seat of MacLeod of MacLeod (the current Chief is Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, the 30th chief of the MacLeod Clan). The MacLeods' heritage goes back to the Norse named Leod, one of the Lords of the Isles. He was the son of Olaf the Black, who in 1237 came into the possession of the Isle of Skye (as well as other Hebrides).The castle has been constructed on a 10m high basalt column that rises vertically from the east bank of Loch Dunvegan (until recently it was surrounded by water at high tide) and it is said that the first stronghold there was built by Leod himself in the early 13th century. The current structure comprises numerous parts and six distinct buildings dating to various periods in Dunvegan's long and colourful history, starting with the keep that was raised in the mid-14th century by Malcolm, the third Chief. This is still largely extant.The early 16th century saw the building of the Fairy Tower, whose name is connected to the revered MacLeod relic, and quite possibly the most interesting object displayed in the castle - the Fairie Flag. Some legends claim that it was given to one of the first MacLeods by his faerie wife, some say it was captured from the Saracens during the crusades (though the material is silk dating to 4th to 7th centuries). The Flag is supposed to grant MacLeods victory in battle every time is unfurled, but can only be used three times, with one use now left after the battles of Glendale (1490) and Trumpan (1580).The site of the castle is eminently defensible and until the 18th century the only entrance was through a sea gate with a portcullis. A land-side entrance was only create mid-18th century during the times of Jacobite rebellions. The rebellions split the MacLeod clan, as many of the MacLeods supported the Jacobites despite the Chief being against the Pretenders. Flora MacDonald, known for aiding Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape to Skye, happened to marry a tutor to a young MacLeod who became the next Chief and the castle now holds some of her memorabilia.New wings were added to the castle in the late 18th century, housing barracks of the Black Watch led by the 17th Chief, followed by the bridge over the moat leading to the current main entrance on the landward side.The first half of the 19th century saw a major restoration in the spirit of Scottish Romantic Revival, with ''picturesque'' turrets, crenellated battlements and similar features added to the outer shell of the castle. However, this was accompanied by the decline of MacLeods, with the clan system already close to dismantling by then, following the changes after the Jacobite risings. The financial effort of the restoration work, combined with the cost of dealing with the Potato Famine in the mid-19th century (many of the Highland Scottish landowners and clan chiefs, unlike the Irish absentee landlords, made active effort to ease the impact of the famine on their tenants) forced the impoverished 25th Chief to migrate to London to seek office employment.The MacLeods returned to Dunvegan in 1929 in the person of the 27th Chief, now an old man. Significant parts of the castle were restored and rebuilt ten years later after a major fire ravaged the building.The castle was first open to the public in 1933 by the 27th Chief and since then, despite its remote location, has grown to be one of Scotland's premier tourist attractions welcoming tens of thousands of visitors a year.Whether it's actually worth your visit depends on your schedule in Scotland and the budget. From the outside it's a rather grim pile; although fairly impressive and in a fabulous setting. Those of limited means may want to limit the visit to just a look, but those with interest in the history and able to bear the combination of the ''stately home'' cultish feeling with the tartan tat and the crowds will find a lot of fascinating history and a few interesting artefacts here too. Close
Written by krisdae on 03 Aug, 2005
We took a tour of the Isle of Skye, a northwest island off Scotland. It was a trip that was suggested to me by a friend, and I'm glad I took his advice.We took the train to Kyle of Loch from Inverness, and the…Read More
We took a tour of the Isle of Skye, a northwest island off Scotland. It was a trip that was suggested to me by a friend, and I'm glad I took his advice.
We took the train to Kyle of Loch from Inverness, and the trip itself was beautiful. The train passed along countryside that seemed untouched by humans. It was full of mountains with misty peaks and sheep everywhere you looked.
We were met at the train station by Peter MacDonald. He was a lovely Scottish gentleman that took us around the island in a car. We learned about the history of the island as well as the current lifestyle. Some of the information surprised me, such as the fact that they have only one high school and students who live far away stay in dorms during the week.
We toured Dunvegan Castle, which was not that grand of a castle, but was situated on the water in a nice spot.
Isle of Skye seems like it is on the edge of the world. Not only are the mountains often hidden among clouds, but the shore feels as if there is nothing beyond the water.
The tour is very nice, and I enjoyed it, but if you are more into hiking, than I would suggest a different tour. We walked around Dunvegan Castle and the gardens and were able to see a bit of the towns, but most of the tour happened inside the car, with brief stops for photos. But this tour allows you to see what life in rural Scotland is really like.
Written by Mary Porcher on 03 Aug, 2002
Portree is a quaint seaside town that is easily walked and enjoyed. There is a central parking lot that charges an hourly fee, but if you drive around a bit, you'll find curbside spots without meters. Wherever you park, the shops and sights are only…Read More
Portree is a quaint seaside town that is easily walked and enjoyed. There is a central parking lot that charges an hourly fee, but if you drive around a bit, you'll find curbside spots without meters. Wherever you park, the shops and sights are only a step away. And a visit to Portree is even fun in the rain, because there are so many shops to duck into.
It's a good idea to follow the signs and visit the Tourist Information Center first. I was surprised at the excellent selection of information, books,and gifts here. The free Traveler's Companion pamphlets about the different areas of Skye contained the most useful maps and visitor information we could find.
Our best meal here was two blocks up the hill at Bosville Hotel's Chandlery Restaurant, which was recommended by a shop owner. We arrived a little before 6:00, and they were not serving dinner yet. But they seated us, alone at the bar, and Jason had Scotch and attempted to speak Gaelic to the bartender. The dinner bill was about 30 pounds, and the food and wine were good and filling. Even the best restaurants here aren't overly impressive, perhaps because of the remoteness and limited availability of ingredients and chefs.
There is a cramped grocery store within view of the hotel, where you can purchase necessities at a reasonable price. When I was there, it was incredibly crowded, and I felt a little claustrophobic! Just down the hill and around the first corner from the grocer is Portree's One Hour Photo. It is one of the best developers I've found. We developed 8 rolls of 36 exposures there for 60 pounds. It was cheaper than Ritz camera, and the quality was superb. Across the street from the photo shop, we purchased an antique gold ring for me at A' Bhùth Bheag. It is romantic and simple with emeralds, and only costed about $200. I would never have an emerald ring if we didn't go antique (they're so expensive), and I think we got a bargain! This little hole in the wall shop had all sorts of antiques, from silver to knick-knacks and jewelry.
Back across the street, only a few shops down from the photo developers, is a gift shop with an exceptional selection of highland pottery. There are vases, teacups and platters, all with mountains and flowers and celtic designs. Here I found the perfect gift for my mom, and a vase for myself as well.
It's best to drive into Portree when you can have dinner and then visit Skye Scene. Talking with shop owners and finding a few precious souvenirs, having dinner beside the sea, and enjoying an evening's performance of song and dance makes for the perfect day.
Written by bri on 16 Feb, 2001
"What in the world is a "hairy coo"?"
I had to ask after we passed a backpacker hotel by that name on the road.
Not nearly as common as sheep, "Hairy Coos" are the shaggy long hair cows you see all over the highlands. If…Read More
"What in the world is a "hairy coo"?"
I had to ask after we passed a backpacker hotel by that name on the road.
Not nearly as common as sheep, "Hairy Coos" are the shaggy long hair cows you see all over the highlands. If you do any hiking around your bound to run into one or two. There actually quite bizarre looking up close- they look like some kind of Hollywood animals made up for a science fiction movie. Sort of Wookie-ish.
Written by UPSCWRU on 22 Jun, 2002
Portree is the administrative capital of the Isle of Skye. Although, with 1500 souls, it is the largest town on the island, it's actually very small in size. In existence for centuries, Portree is centered around a lovely harbor complete with fishing boats…Read More
Portree is the administrative capital of the Isle of Skye. Although, with 1500 souls, it is the largest town on the island, it's actually very small in size. In existence for centuries, Portree is centered around a lovely harbor complete with fishing boats and beautifully colored homes lining the waterfront. After miles and miles of little or nothing commercial on the island, it was good to know there was a place we could stop to find film, petrol, and a grocery store for a driving lunch.
As soon as you drive into town, I highly recommend that you find a place to park, as you should be able to experience most of Portree on foot. Much of the town is flat until you approach the waterfront. Then you will descend a steep hill to the dock and the small road that takes you along the colored homes. There are plenty of shops around town for whatever you might be looking for, as well as numerous places to stop in and eat.
A couple of miles before Broadford coming from the bridge direction, just past the Red Skye restaurant, you will see a roadside sign advertising ''bric a brac and curios''. A hundred yards on, you will come to the yard of Breakish Byres, a wonderful second…Read More
A couple of miles before Broadford coming from the bridge direction, just past the Red Skye restaurant, you will see a roadside sign advertising ''bric a brac and curios''. A hundred yards on, you will come to the yard of Breakish Byres, a wonderful second hand, junk and antique shop where you can spend hours browsing, inside and outside. From assorted crockery and items deemed unworthy the interior storage, so they are left to get rained on in the yard, in the company of chainsaw-carved giant hands, mushrooms and giraffes, to interesting ornaments and furniture inside, with books, textiles and pretty much in between thrown in, this is a place for a browse or, sometimes, finding excellent value household item that just isn't available anywhere else locally.Drop in. Close