Een van de mooiste plekken waar ik ooit geweest ben is toch wel the isle of Skye, het grootste eiland aan de westkust van Schotland. Het stond al een tijdje op mijn verlanglijstje en dat was niet voor niets! Al jaren zag ik overal foto’s van prachtige landschappen, watervallen, bergtoppen, gekke rotsen. Hier moest ik heen! Schotland doet me altijd een beetje denken aan IJsland, maar dan zonder het ijs (en okee, zonder het vuur). Het is absoluut niet hetzelfde, maar aangezien Schotland vroeger ook actieve vulkanen heeft, lijken de rotsen en de omgeving toch een beetje op die van IJsland. Het heeft iets mysterieus, soms iets buitenaards, donker en grauw ook. Ik houd er wel van ;)
Maar goed, terug naar het verhaaltje over Skye. Skye stond dus al lang op mijn verlanglijstje en eindelijk was ik daar! Skye heeft net als vele andere plekken een aantal ‘hoogtepunten’ (letterlijk en figuurlijk?) die je toch wel gezien moet hebben! Het eiland zelf is niet altijd even goed bereikbaar met openbaar vervoer, zo gaat er in de winter soms maar 1 bus per dag die dan een rondje rondom Portree rijdt. Wel een dingetje om op te letten dus, maar aan het einde van dit artikel zal ik nog een paar tips geven!
Afijn, wees niet gevreesd, want er zijn echt talloze tourbusjes die je in 1 dag langs zo’n beetje alle bezienswaardigheden van het eiland rijden. Welke plekken dat zijn, laat ik je zien in dit artikel! Let op: de rest zal in het Engels zijn.
English: One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited is the Isle of Skye, an island off the west coast of Scotland. This is the part where I would tell you more about the island and it’s geography and shit, but I think we are all familiar with Wikipedia so let me just show you some pictures and write a few words about the places I’ve seen!
Although it’s the biggest island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, you can still see much of it in just one day. There are plenty of tours that all offer the same itinerary, just like the one I did! So here are a few things you just have to see in?at?on? Skye!
There will also be a few more tips at the end of this article, as there are some things you should know when visiting the isle of Skye :)
Portree is the biggest town on Skye, which means it’s still very tiny. This is the place where most of the tours start from and a great place to stay while traveling on Skye.
I think most of us are familiar with the pictures of the colourful harbour, which is definitely the city’s highlight. You can also take a small walk to the Coolin Hill Gardens and Scorrybreac that will lead you to a few cliffs and some stunning scenery. I wish I could tell you more about that, but as I ended up in a STORM not even halfway through, I didn’t saw a lot of it. But what I saw sure was pretty:
So here’s another tip: please bring some proper raingear with you and NOT a flimsy, cheap, pink poncho like I did. It’s not gonna work on an island where the wind is crazy almost all the time and even more crazy when it storms. After a while it started to pour and me and my poncho were heading back to the place where it’s all happening: the town square! Fun fact: I believe the square does have a name, but the buses and all just call it ‘Portree Square’ as there is only one square in Portree.
I happened to be there on a Sunday with no plans and a lot of rain, which to be honest doesn’t leave you with much to do in Portree. There are just a few pubs and while I stumbled into one being super cold, they didn’t even serve tea! They did serve beer though, at 11.30 in the morning… Yeah. It was also memorial day so the pub was ‘filled’ with veterans and people wearing poppies. And of course a tv showing the ceremonial. I decided to look for a place where they DID serve tea as I was cold to the bone and my hostel was closed (!)…
But then there was the West Highland Bar where they had everything I needed! Hot chocolate, veggie burgers, brownies, woah. I believe it was just recently opened which explained why it was so modern and hip unlike all the other pubs in Portree. It was also the most crowded. I sat next to the fire place and literally sat there the whole afternoon reading. I think I just became a piece of furniture there, as I sat there again the next day ;)
Anyway, Portree. It’s a charming little town with plenty of things to see. You can also get on boat tours in the harbour, looking for birds or seals or even other islands!
You can also take a local bus for just about 15 minutes that will take you to one of it’s most famous highlights: The Old Man of Storr, which I did next day!
Ah the Old Man of Storr… how many times I’ve repinned a picture of it on Pinterest! Well, that’s kinda random, but I can imagine some of you are familiar with the large pinnacle and the rocky landscape. It’s the most photographed/visited place on Skye. The best thing? It’s easily accessible from Portree so you can just take a local bus or go there by car (there is a car park). After that, you just go up there and take a walk. The whole walk is about 4 km long and will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. However, if you want to stop a few times to take in the view and take some pictures, I’d calculate a little bit more than that. I visited it on a Monday morning, right after that stormy Sunday. The weather was still pretty bad and I have to admit that it sometimes was a little scary, with hail, slippery rocks and the wind being so strong I was afraid I’d just tumble off the hill! But that was also part of its charm: the strength and force of nature which was just making itself known so clearly. Because of the weather there were only 2 other people somewhere in the distance, so I basically had the whole place to myself. That definitely made it even more special.
Of course as soon as I was about to go back to the bus stop, the sky cleared up and there was sunshine! Well, that’s Scotland for you.
Note: you will visit this place with a tour, but as it takes quite a while to hike the Old Man of Storr, you will not go up there. I didn’t really realize this when I took a tour but thankfully had some time later to go there by myself by bus. So keep this in mind!
I also encountered a few sheep there (woohoo my first gif! do click!). Apparently there are waaaay more sheep on Skye then there are people. They are EVERYWHERE. I love sheep though so no biggie.
The first stop on our tour was the Sligachan Bridge. I forgot a little why it’s so ‘famous’, I think it has something to do with the clans back in the days (I know, cool story bro…). My tour guide told me there’s a family that owns these mountains as it was part of their heritage (their ancestors were one of those clans of my cool story) and it was up for sale for a few million pounds… for many years. Apparently no one wants to buy a mountain, mmm… weird!
There’s also this legend that if a woman dips her face into the water, she will stay forever young and beautiful! It was tempting as you can see me looking at the water but I have to admit I didn’t do it ;) I came across this blog post that has a little more background information and the whole story of the legend!
The Faerie Pools was a mesmerizing place. As I visited in autumn, the whole landscape turned a beautiful orange. It was also a little foggy, which added more to the mesmerizing, fairytale landscape. It got its name because the waterfalls have crystal blue water (which somehow I didn’t really photograph as I found the rest of the landscape even better). It was a bit of a hassle to get to the path (you had to cross a little strong, deep stream which was quite scary to be honest!) on that particular day, but so worth it.
Our tour guide told us most people spent about 45 minutes here, but at 45 minutes I was just at the end point! I could’ve stayed there for hours.
The Faerie Glen is a weird, small landscape with cone headed hills. It’s definitely unique! We stayed here for just a short time, but when you go by car, you can also take a proper walk and explore some more.
Its name might have you wondering, but if you look closely you can see the basalt rocks that are formed a bit like a tartan pattern, the pattern a kilt has. It’s a majestic cliff with a small waterfall, what’s not to love?
(I always want to write Kid Rock instead of Kilt Rock… I can’t be the only one, right?)
Ah the Quiraing… This was such a special, beautiful place as well, with all the hills and pinnacles of rock. It was again one of those things that I’d just never seen before, it felt a bit like a different planet. With a tour you won’t go see it all and you just have a small stop to take some pictures. But if you’re traveling on your own make sure to take the walk around the area! Definitely wished I could’ve seen more of this.
And look! Another sheep!
Technically speaking, the Eilean Donan castle isn’t located on Skye. You won’t find any tours going there as well, as it’s officially located in the highlands. But it’s one of Scotland’s well known landmarks, so definitely a tourist attraction! I came across it by accident when I was traveling to Skye by bus. If you want to travel to Skye by bus as well, this might be a great stop!
As it was raining very badly I only got a few crappy pictures, but I’m still glad to have seen at least a little bit of this beauty :)
So, that’s a bit about the isle of Skye and its highlights! It’s such a beautiful and unique place, I can’t recommend it enough. Here is some little bit more information about the island:
How to reach Skye?
There are basically two options to reach Skye: either by bus or by ferry. The first one can be taken from Fort William or even Glasgow or Edinburgh I believe. I combined mine with the West Highland Line so I took the bus at Fort William. You can stop at different towns, I chose Portree. You can buy a ticket through CityLink. I have to say this was a very scenic route!
But you can also reach Skye by ferry. First you need to take the West Highland Line (or drive) to Mallaig, where you’ll take a ferry to Armadale, a town on Skye. From there you can take a local bus to several towns like Broadford or Portree. Please note though that the local buses are very unreliable, specially in autumn/winter. When I was traveling in November, there weren’t going any buses from Armadale to Portree (well, I think one, so I had to stop somewhere else blablabla, long story short: it would literally take 8 hours). This will be pretty doable in summer though!
If you want to see anything on the island you’re options are either driving yourself, take a taxi, go on a tour or take a local bus. Local buses aren’t going very frequently, in the winter there might just be 2 buses a day! So be prepared. No worries though, as there are plenty of organized little tours that will show you everything. Just walk into the information centre and everything will be fine :)
So, that’s about it. I realize I’ve probably written too much already so no one will read this huge wall of text. But I do hope you like the pictures! Normally I post something every Wednesday but as I’d been very busy I had no time and then this article took up way more time than I’d anticipated. So much writing and picture editing aahh!! Anyway, hope you enjoy it :)