So you want to see the Isle of Skye but like myself find yourself…ahem..short on time? It is not ideal, but you can see the Isle of Skye if you can spare two days of your UK trip. You will end up with approximately one day of activity time once all the pesky traveling too and fro are completed.
I am not exactly sure how the decision to visit the Isle of Skye came about. I had planned a trip to Ireland and at the last minute decided to try to fit in Scotland. This was a bit ambitious for a 9 day trip and I would advise making two separate trips unless you have 3 to 4 weeks.
That being said, I was intrigued by the Isle and had assumed (wrongly) that it was close to Edinburgh and easy to get to. How about I just skip to what we did after days of research.
We took an evening flight from Dublin to Glasgow, very cheap and quick flight on Ryan Air followed by a bus to a cheap hotel near the train station. Early the next morning we took a 5 1/2 hour train ride north to Mallaig. We hauled ass over to the ferry terminal which was about a 5 minute walk to catch a ferry that was about to leave. The ferry was a 30 minute ride to the city of Armadale on the Isle of Skye.
Yay we’re here!! Oh no honey, it’s not over. The hard part is just beginning. We found the bus stop, already knowing that it was an hour and half bus ride to the city of Portree where we were staying. The bus that went directly there was coming much later. There were no taxis. We ended up on a bus that went in the right direction then got off and walked a bit (with all of our crap) and then waited at another bus stop for what felt like an eternity. Luckily we had company, other confused travelers some of whom were spending even less time there than us! Nobody quite realized what a schlep this would be. You really need several days here to make this long journey worthwhile but alas, we had two half days.
Of course it was drizzling intermittently this entire time. We started to get nervous that the public transport system was not adequate to allow us to see the things we wanted in the short time that we had. My friend luckily had cell phone service and began to call every taxi service on the island until we found one man willing to be our driver while we were there. At that point we may have paid anything. Eventually the bus came and we made it to Portree and to our cute little inn, The Isles Inn where the “check-in” area was a bar. Sweet.
In case you’re wondering how long this ludacris journey involving trains, ferries and buses lasted, it’s now 5:00pm. Luckily, the sun doesn’t set until about 10:30pm. Very helpful for us in this situation. We quickly dumped our luggage in our rooms and set out to see some things while it was still daylight. We met up with our driver Kenny from Gus’s Taxis.
He first drove us to see the Old Man of Storr in the Trotternish Ridge section of the island. This took about an hour of steep climbing on wet rocks but was SO WORTH the effort. Incredible unique scenery.
After we did this hike, Kenny drove us to see the Fairy Glen. This was one of my favorite places. I wish I had more time to sit, relax and have a picnic here.
After we romped around the Fairy Glen let’s just say things happened and we weren’t able to see anything further this evening so we ate and went back to the inn with the plans to start early the next day.
The next morning after a yummy Scottish breakfast at the inn, we met Kenny (did I mention he was a doll and basically saved our lives?) and went to see more sights. Of course, the weather refused to cooperate.
He took us to Coral Beach (which is not made of Coral but is crushed beached skeletons of Red Coralline seaweed, also known as Maërl), then to Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls.
Next it was on to Dunvegan Castle. I was particularly excited about this since this is the castle belongs to the last of the Highland Clans. It is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. This is really cool, especially if you are a history geek like me AND have read Outlander. Anyhoo….here are some pics.
I was really impressed by the beautiful castle gardens. I wasn’t expecting such a variety of bright color. Even in the yuck weather this garden was a joy to walk through. Bridges, waterfalls and once again we were waiting for fairies to pop out.
Next Kennie drove us to the place I was most excited to see…The Fairy Pools!!! According to Kennie, and the internet, this would only take us 40 minutes to an hour to see which was basically all the time we had left before we had to head to the ferry and then a train to Edinburgh. Oh and we got to see a Highland Cow!
This is kind of funny. Like most things on the Isle of Skye, you have to walk quite a bit to see them. The fairy pools were no different except that we really didn’t realize that we had seen them. The weather went from bad to super bad just as we arrived. It actually altered the landscape, covering paths and forcing us to hop over streams, balance on rocks to cross larger streams, trod through mud, etc. Hey, no problem! I have my rain boots and I like an adventure, right?
Yes, I like an adventure, but this got out of hand. After 30 minutes of walking and seeing gorgeous scenery in the pouring rain but seeing nothing that looked like the fairy pools on google images, we turned and went back to the car. It turns out, the heavy rain turned the dainty little fairy pools into some raging fairy rapids. If you want to see what they look like in optimal weather conditions, here you go. Fairy Pools
We had to laugh at this irony…and then cry because all of our phones were wet from trying to take pictures in the rain. As the phones dried on the dashboard, Kennie cheered us up with a quick trip to get local oysters at The Oyster Shed. These were some of the best oysters I’ve ever had. Crisp and freshly caught that morning. Definitely a nice treat before leaving the Isle.
As we left with full bellies but drenched pants, the rain stopped, the sun came out, the sky became blue and it was the most beautiful day we had seen on this trip. And we had to leave. Here are some pics of the beautiful island in the elusive beautiful weather as we drove to the ferry and left.
I mean…seriously? You should have seen our faces. I had a few choice words for Mother Nature.
We were miserable and wet so we changed on the ferry, then got some food for the train ride. Thankfully, they sell wine on the ferry…in adorable personal size bottles. Perfect. There are several little cafes in Mallaig as well as a grocery store where we bought rice for our wet phones (it really worked). On the train home we met some fun Scottish men who traveled with lots of booze and were happy to share. Winning! And then we saw this…