Lisa Owen

If you’re looking for a unique place off the beaten path in the UK, then consider visiting the Isle of Skye.

The Isle of Skye is part of the Inner Hebrides chain of islands off Scotland’s west coast and is only a couple of kilometres from the Scottish mainland.

This beautiful part of the world is full of breathtaking landscapes perfect for hiking or simply a road trip.

 

The closest major airport to the Isle of Skye is in Glasgow. You can reach the Isle of Skye by flying into Glasgow and hiring a car or jumping on a bus.

It’s about a six hour trip to the Isle of Skye by bus with a stop at Fort William, but it’s a scenic journey that will give you lots of ideas of things to do if you have some time to spend exploring Scotland. Driving your own car may not take you quite as long, but it depends on how many times you stop – there’s a lot to see.

Fort William is a good halfway point if you want to break up your journey. It has plenty of accommodation options as it’s a common base for hikers attempting the United Kingdom’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis. Fort William is also a good place to pick up a few food basics as the island supermarkets can be pretty expensive.

The Isle of Skye is connected to the Scottish mainland by a bridge spanning from the small town of Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin.

I based myself in the town of Kyleakin.  It’s a quaint little waterside town with accommodation, a pub, a ruined castle accessible via a narrow (and often muddy) trail, and not much else.


 

Kyleakin is walking distance of Kyle of Lochalsh which has a supermarket, a few pubs and a few shops – but it’s pretty small too.

It will take you about 30 minutes to walk across the bridge but it’s a pleasant walk provided it’s not raining – which is sporadic during the Scottish summer – and offers good views back to Kyleakin.

The nearby town of Portree has a range of cafes, bookshops, souvenir shops and supermarkets. You’ll find a lot of places serving up fish and chips – great for cold, rainy Scottish days.

There are a number of companies offering sightseeing tours but I would recommend hiring a car and suggest you book well in advance or get a car from Glasgow. There are only a few cars available on the Isle of Skye and you will find it difficult to see what you want to see without a car.

One of the must do places on the Isle of Skye is the Fairy Pools. On a misty Scottish day, the Fairy Pools feel a little magical. It’s about a 10 minute downhill walk to get to the start of the Fairy Pools – a series of beautiful waterfalls running down the hill.

Other spots to see include the 50-metre Old Man of Storr rock, the Fairy Glen, Quairaing rock formations, and the Cuillin Mountains.

Running up and down the hills on the slippery grass at the Fairy Glen was fun – I felt like a kid again.


 

There are lots of hiking opportunities in the Isle of Skye and, while I didn’t have time for any, recommendations from other backpackers of good hikes included up to the Old Man of Storr and in the Cuillin Mountains area. You’ll need a car to get around to the hikes.

When hiking in the Scottish Highlands, make sure you take warm and wet weather gear. Even in summer, Scotland can have four seasons in one day going from hot, to cold and misty, and rain.

Not far from the Isle of Skye and back on the mainland is the Eilean Donan Castle. You may recognise the castle from movies including James Bond: The World Is Not Enough.

A fortified structure has existed on this site since the 13th century but it has changed many times over the years and both expanded and contracted in size throughout the centuries.

You can catch the CityLink bus here or it’s about a 20 minute drive from Kyleakin.

Things you should know:

  • Hire cars are few and far between in the Isle of Skye and you’ll need one. Book in advance or consider hiring a car from Glasgow.
  • Pack for all seasons in summer. It will rain, get hot, and you’ll be shrouded in mist sometimes all in the space of one hour. Bring a rain jacket and shoes you aren’t afraid to get wet and muddy.
  • If you want to stop in the main towns of Isle of Skye in one day, a day pass on the local bus is a good investment.
  • If you’re on a tight budget, consider getting some food at Fort William as the supermarkets on the Isle of Skye can be expensive.

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.