Sheep. Sheep everywhere.
Visiting the Isle of Skye and surrounding Lochalsh area of Scotland may not seem like an obvious holiday choice. But if “Chasing sheep” is my metaphor for having found somewhere remote with sublime scenery – then this area is the prime example of what i mean.
True, you will never have blistering heat and the journey there may be well be long. But after my trip to the North West Geo Park last March, I was thirsty for more of the Highlands (see previous blog on Chasing Sheep in the Highlands). This year, we chose the Skye area as it was slightly less remote and known for its spectacular beauty. It did not disappoint.
Here are seven key reasons you might want to consider heading there too. You can:
1) Get cosy in a Cottage with a Fantastic view
You can’t beat a cottage when you spend a week away in the UK. Get one with a breathtaking view and you’re sorted. Even if it rains every single day (always a possibility in Scotland..!), you can happily amuse yourself just looking out the window. This was our view:
We stayed in “The Cabin” in Letterfearn, on the mainland, about a 40 minute drive from Skye itself. We loved it because:
- The living room has a huge window with the above view.
- Pine martens and a badger visited the garden every evening to eat leftover food we left out for them while we watched from the sofa (more on this below);
- The well equipped kitchen was perfect for making our fav meals – think big brunches, roast chicken and casseroles for dinner;
- It had all the travel info we could need about exploring the area : leaflets, pamphlets and even a lonely planet!
The only things that could have made it entirely perfect would have been having WiFi and a more powerful shower. But we brought our own dongle for the WiFi (check the coverage before you go) and made do with the shower. The cottage owner, Mr Campbell, leaves chocolates and bread from the local bakery out for guests which is a really lovely touch.
2) Spy some Wildife
The area is really rich with wildlife. Out and about we saw deer and stags when driving around – really close to us on the road.
I already mentioned the badger and the pine martens outside our window every evening – they came from 7:30pm onwards like clockwork. The pine martens were always first to arrive; they’re really playful and apparently like eating raw eggs. They just pick them up whole in their mouth and run off with them. The badger was also interesting to watch, slower moving and seemed to really like the carbs!
3) Go on some Breathtaking Walks
Here are three of the walks we did, in order of preference:
Walk in the Quiraing: Honestly this is one of the best walks I have ever done – outstanding views. It involved literally climbing over a mountain, which I had not fully appreciated when setting out. It took about 2.5 hours and was definitely not a gentle stroll – but totally worth it. Below is a pic of the view we had on the first part of the walk.
If you need some food before or after definitely give the Skye Restaurant at the Flodigarry hotel a whirl. It sort of feels like an early twentieth century gentleman’s retreat with a modern twist (and delicious food of course). They serve a forager’s salad, which was not only delicious but also thematically right up my street – even if the food wasn’t actually foraged (see pervious blog on foraging: Park Life in Edibles). They also serve hearty burgers etc for those of you who prefer something a bit more substantial…
Camasunary Walk: Beautiful mountain views leading to a bay. You can do this walk along with a drive to Elgol, which also offers spectacular views:
Totaig to Glenelg: This walk was just a bit further down from our cottage. You get some great views of Eilean Donan Castle (more on this below), get to see an iron age settlement, and fantastic views over to Skye as well. It’s quite a long one way walk so we didn’t do it all, but here is a couple of pics of the bit we did do:
4) Drive along the highest road in Britain!
The drive to Applecross is truly spectacular. It was snowing as we drove up there, which felt really surreal – see photo below. You can reward yourself on arrival with a delicious meal at the Applecross Inn where we had some delicious seafood.
5) Visit a 13th Century Castle
I had wanted to visit Eilean Donan Castle ever since I had started researching Scotland. It was on our drive to Skye so that worked out quite well. It looked spectacular on the drive back from Skye in the evening as it is lit up.
6) Visit the Magical Faerie Glen
Worth doing when you’re area, perhaps on the same day you walk the Quiraing. These small conical shaped mounds are natural formations. It kind of reminded me of the Shire in Lord of the Rings. It was sunny when we visited and we were able to climb the mounds. There were quite a lot of people there, parked up and walking around, so I imagine in the high season it might get quite busy.
7) Tour the Talisker Whisky Distillery
A trip to Scotland is never complete without some whisky tasting. We did the basic Talisker tour of the distillery which was interesting enough and the whisky was really delicious. We tasted and promptly bought the Talisker Storm – which is a slightly peaty whisky.
I hope these 7 reasons to visit the Isle of Skye and Lochalsh this year have inspired you. I have marked out all the locations I have mentioned on the map below to make it easy if you do choose to head that way.
Let me know if you manage to make over there. Any further tips welcome in the comment box below.
As I mentioned before, I also strongly recommend the North West Geopark if you’re in the mood for something really remote (see previous blog on Chasing Sheep in the Highlands).
Happy travelling 😊