Travelling the UK is something I want to do more of. Having lived here in the North West all my life I can’t say I have explored very far. Foreign lands always seem more exciting, am I wrong?! I get inspired to see more of Britain when there’s a travel documentary on TV or I see an Instagram picture that makes me think I must go there! This Isle of Skye travel guide is hopefully going to be the start of many UK trips.
Myself and two friends recently visited the Isle of Skye and to prepare for the trip I did plenty of research via the tourism website which I found was the best resource for planning our trip. I had a boat tour booked, hikes planned and of course photo stops mapped out. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on our side. The boat tour was cancelled due to high winds (seeing dolphins remains on my bucket list) and landscape views were hindered by thick fog. Despite this I still had a memorable time with my two travel buds. In this Isle of Skye travel guide I’ll share some tips and recommendations for anyone visiting.
Isle of Skye Travel Guide
There’s two ways getting to Isle of Skye, first is over the A87 Skye Bridge and the second is via a ferry from Mallaig and docking at Armadale. Initially we booked the ferry crossing going to Skye but soon bailed on this plan after a few family recommendations said we’d be better just taking the bridge. Driving was going to be quicker and it meant we didn’t face the risk of the ferry being delayed or cancelled due to high winds. Not taking the ferry did mean we lost out on the £16 car ticket but we ended up arriving at our apartment two hours early.
Where To Stay
Depending on your finance and style of trip, Isle of Skye caters for all. From camping, hotels, apartment rentals, hostels and glamping, Skye has everything. My tip for the more unique accommodations that you’ll find on Airbnb is to book well in advance! I was gutted when I found out the bunkhouse pods I had been looking at were fully booked until winter. Location Is something to think about as well. Portree was our chosen place which is the largest town in Skye. It’s also bang smack in the middle, so an equal distance away when travelling either side of the island. We stayed three nights at Phoenix Flats which was a self-catering apartment. Only a 2 minute downhill walk and we were buying our food and water supplies in the local shop. Lots of restaurants and gift shops too, it really is a lovely place to stay.
Recommendation: After a long day of activity and needing food, more specifically craving PIZZA! l’incontro is the place to go.
If you are heading to Skye via ferry and do not have your car or rented car with you then cycling or hitch hiking might be your chosen way of transport. There’s a bike rental close to the ferry dock called Skye MTB Adventures. I saw both cycling and hitch hiking while I was in Skye so I can vouch for them being popular. There are plenty bus stops in Skye, though I can’t say the same about buses. They say if you wait long enough three come at once, I don’t think I saw a total of three buses while I was there! Bus tours/couches are popular around Skye and one we saw every day on the road was Rabbies.
Recommendation: When driving on the hilly rural single lane roads, the road may disappear for a second. Enjoy it, you have yourself a free roller-coaster simulator!
Places To Go
While Instagram is popular for travel and photo inspiration the information you sometimes need isn’t always there. Anyone else get annoyed when there’s a picture of a burger you have to get your chops around but the image hasn’t been geo tagged and the restaurant information isn’t in the description. Very frustrating! Travel websites are the most reliable places to get your research from. Especially if it involves hiking. For me I found IsleofSkye.com covered everything I was looking for and had questions on. Their top 10 Skye walks told me everything I needed to know from distance, difficulty and average time. It also included parking instructions and even listed stages of the walk.
Here’s Where We Went,
Neist Point Lighthouse
If it hadn’t have been for all the other cars parked I don’t think we would have known were to start walking. A hop over a tiny rock wall and a steep stair descent down, we started our first walk. Neist Point is a fairly easy walk for unfit people like myself. Although the stairs back up do seem to last forever! I had imagined a tea room and public toilets at the lighthouse but instead arrived at an ‘urban explorer’ kind of site. The lighthouse is unmanned and unfortunately in a bit of a mess. Despite the derelict but interesting lighthouse the ocean views and cliff tops were amazing.
Recommendation: Stop off at Café Lephin before or after your walk for a spot of lunch and a slice of their Victoria sponge cake! Talking about food, check out my must eats when visiting Scotland!
Our visit to the Fairy pools like all our walks was windy and wet. We got quite the ‘welcome to Scotland’ weather. Here you’ll find lots of wee waterfalls and plenty stones to step over. Some people even go wild swimming in the pools. Silly me forgot my swim suit so was unable to go for a dip. The freezing water had nothing to do with it! I’d love to go back in the summer though and take fun Instagram shots. Anyone willing to model?!
Recommendation: Make sure you go to the toilet before the walk. There’s not many cafes, shops, patrol stations close by. So, popping behind a bush might be your only choice. If like me you know you’d end up losing your balance and peeing on yourself make sure to go beforehand. This is for all locations but especially the Fairy Pools as there’s running water!
Parking in summer months will be a little more difficult as there’s only a few slots. For us it was quiet. Not quite our own private beach but secluded enough. After walking through a forest path and what felt like someone’s garden we passed all the usual road barriers aka sheep and arrived at the beach. There’s plenty of rocks to climb over to get close to the cliff bottoms and there’s a waterfall in the distance which was a pleasant surprise. One family had a camp fire on the beach, I’m sure I could see marshmallows on skewers!
Only a few steps from the car park we were enjoying coastal views and a water fall. A stop off at Kilt Rock is the easiest Instagram snaps you’ll take.
Recommendation: If you happen to time your visit when there’s a bus full of tourists checking out the view you might have another attraction to photograph. Their bus driver/ tour guide might just happen to be wearing a kilt which you can swoon over like my Canadian friend did.
Old Man Storr
I’d love to say the view is even more spectacular than all the photos, the truth is I couldn’t quite see. There was mist to begin with but heavier fog settled in the higher we went. They don’t all it the Misty Isle for nothing. We reached a top (not sure it was ‘the top’) and realised there was no one in front nor behind. Further down the walk we joked that it was like The Walking Dead seeing other travellers slowly emerge from the fog climbing awkwardly down the rocky path. It was very isolating, cold and we were rather wet and hungry. We celebrated reaching the top as that’s what mattered by taking the victory photo below.
Recommendation: Take the first 20 mins of the walk slow. It was the worst part of the walk for me. There’s no introduction it’s just incline walking from the start. If I remember correctly there are three gates before the rocky ground climbing beginnings. Reaching the first gate is the longest distance and you feel like quitting but keep going the victory of reaching the top is worth it.
What To Eat
Staying at Portree meant we had lots of places to choose from when it came to lunch and tea time. A few ‘must’ items you should try when in Skye is the fish and well, haggis. You are in Scotland after all! Places we dinned in were The Granary, l’incontro, Café Arriba and one night we were hungry for Fat Panda takeaway. All meals were very much enjoyed.
Recommendation: To cut food cost down we bought fruit and yoghurt for breakfast from the local supermarket. We also bought a big tub of Skye vanilla ice cream which we had after we showered and ate with strawberries in front of the TV. A perfect finish to a long active day.
I was in Skye for a total of three nights. Having travelled up by train to Edinburgh and then driving with my two friends on a full tank of petrol to the Isle of Skye the only cost we had between us was petrol money. We topped up on the Island before we continued our trip back to Glasgow. Our accommodation was split between the three of us and then meals were paid for separately. This is a rough estimate of how much I spent during the three days.
If the boat tour hadn’t have been cancelled that would have been an additional £23 which is a decent price for an hour on a boat and the chance to see some wildlife. Can’t you tell I’m still gutted about missing out. To cut cost down we could have cooked our meals instead of going out. Also, if we had an additional person the total price of accommodation could had been split four ways instead of three.
Last Recommendation: Keep an eye out for Eilean Donan Castle as you drive in or out of Skye. It can be a quick photo stop or for under £10 you can explore inside the castle.
When are you planning on going to Skye? Have you already been and actually saw Old Man Storr? Share your experiences in the comments below!
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