Some of the most magical photos of Scotland are taken on the Hebrides – the archipelago of hundreds of islands on the Northwest coast of Scotland. You could easily imagine 12 dwarfs and a hobbit trying to shoo a dragon from a mountain or a fellowship roaming these landscapes in search of a new adventure carrying something precious (they carry nothing!).
*For motorbike stats and the full route of this road trip, check out this post.
The most famous Scottish island is, without a doubt, Isle of Skye, in the Inner Hebrides. The island where civilisation takes a break and lets nature envelop you. The island where sheep rule the road (see first photo gallery below).
Fun fact, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was filmed on the Isle of Skye!
The whole island can be seen in a few days as it is mostly nature, animals and remarkable views. I suggest a 2 night stay minimum, but 3 or 4 nights would be optimal if you’d like to do more hiking and explore some of the many walking trails.
Directions and roads:
Like with many other islands, there are two ways of getting your wheels on the Isle of Skye’s tarmac – by boat or by road. The only bridge is Skye bridge, connecting the island to the mainland at the Kyle of Lochalsh. The only ferry route is the one from Armadale to Mallaig.
Once on the island, it is pretty difficult to get lost – we didn’t get lost once! The backbone of the island is the main A87 road. The side “sections” of the island are connected to the A87 with 1 road only. Super simple and easy to navigate. All you gotta do is look at the map before you go and pick the correct section of the island you’d like to visit. Oh, and Internet on the island is very VERY patchy so don’t count on Google maps too much unless you have offline maps available (like we did in Morocco, helped a lot!).
The other roads are sometimes single track, sometimes a normal road, it depends if you are going towards small villages like Elgol or if you are going to “bigger centres” like Armadale (ferry port). The 11 miles of single-track road leading from Broadford to the cluster of houses where we stayed, was one of the best rides on our road trip.
Is there anything else there apart from sheep?
Yes, of course there is 😀 But if you are looking for cultural sightseeing or some big historical tours, maybe best to keep looking. The Isle of Skye is a perfect place for nature lovers, adventurers, hikers, explorers, and anyone really looking for a digital detox trip. Our cottage had no internet, even the mobile didn’t data work. Can’t say we missed it much.
One of the most famous landmarks on the island is Old Man of Storr (check the Prometheus scene when they start exploring the planet). You can find it up north, close to the main town of Portree. It is famous for its magnificent scenery and views. The hike/route is about 3.8 km.
I will have to disappoint you here, we didn’t go. Not because of time or not wanting to, but because of my knee. I have issues with my knee (trochlear dysplasia) and hikes and steep walks are a no-go. We tried walking to a viewpoint at Loch Lomond and had to stop halfway up, it was too painful to continue.
However, we did visit the Fairy Pools! Unlike Old Man of Storr, they are pretty central. We got there riding through the mist, following the twisting road from Broadford to Sligachan (I have no idea how to pronounce this) with the views of the eastern lochs after which we peeled off to a “smaller” road.
A photo stop on the turnoff from A87
As I mentioned, there is only 1 road per island section and this one eventually led us to a turning for the fairy pools. FYI, there is paid parking across the road from the start of the walking trail. I believe a day parking ticket is £5 but there are clean toilets and even options to dry yourselves if you get wet (possibly showers?).
The trail didn’t look too steep so we continued. My knee protested a few times, mostly with bigger rocks that we had to jump over but, all in all, it went pretty well. As I was searching more information for this post I found that the walking trail is actually considered a hike of a moderate difficulty level (obviously some palcebo effect when I think the trail is easy, the knee doesn’t hurt as much).
We were followed by the fabled Scottish weather. It was sunny at one point, then low clouds settled over and a quick drizzle passed us by, leaving a mist clinging to the surrounding mountain tops. It made for some excellent photos!
I read some people go wild swimming in the pools. We had no brave souls trying anything similar, it was pretty cold outside, thus the bright red hat on the photos. BTW, you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find a hat in Glasgow on the 1st of May. And no, I didn’t pack one as I didn’t expect bloody snow in May! You live, you learn…
The weather might look horrid but really wasn’t that bad. The mist added to the magic that surrounds the Isle of Skye.
There are many other nature walks you can do. As we were riding around the island, we saw hikers and backpackers all over the island following well-laid-out trails. We explored the woods and coast between Drinan and Glasnakille. We even stumbled upon some friendly cows 😀
For the top ten Isle of Skye walks, check here
In the end, the Isle of Skye isn’t for everyone. If your perfect holiday is loads of cultural sightseeing, all-inclusive accommodation, dressing up and going to restaurants and pubs every day, I would skip it. This destination is more suited for people who love hiking and going for long walks in nature, campers and backpackers, people wanting to get away from it all and not care if their phone hasn’t connected to a network in several hours.
Are you the kind of traveler that would love their time on the Isle of Skye or are you the type that would prefer just enjoying the photos of its landscapes? Tell us if you have or will be visiting Isle of Skye in the comments below!