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Isle of Skye

Travel Guide Europe United Kingdom Scotland Scottish Islands Inner Hebrides Isle of Skye

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Introduction

Isle Of Skye19

Isle Of Skye19

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The Isle of Skye lies off the western coast of Scotland in the Inner Hebrides, and is the second largest island in Scotland (after Lewis and Harris). Skye is a large island of dramatic contrasts, from the leafy fertile plain of Sleat to the dramatic Cuillin mountains. The landscape in the centre of the island is dominated by the rugged Cullin mountains, and from there numerous peninsulas head in different directions. It is a particularly popular destination for hiking and climbing. Raasay, Rona and Scalpay are islands (north to south) to the east of Skye.

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Geography

Skye is a large island but its coastline is disproportionately long for its size due to major indentations. The Black Cuillin are possibly the UK's most dramatic mountains, being gabbro of volcanic origin. The adjacent Red Cuillin are far less spectacular. However there are some more interesting mountains in the Trotternish area farther north. Less visited is Skye's spectacular coastline from Dunvegan to Carbost, containing the United Kingdom's highest sea cliffs.

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Towns

The following are all on Skye:

  • Portree - the island capital.
  • Broadford - a transport hub for the island.
  • Dunvegan - to the west of the island - castle belonging to the clan MacLeod.
  • Armadale - the crossing point for te Mallaig ferry.
  • Uig - small north-western port - crossing point for Tarbert on Harris and Lochmaben on North Uist
  • Kyleakin - was the main ferry port of the island from Kyle of Lochalsh but now simply one end of the Skye Bridge
  • Kylerhea - near Kyleakin and the crossing point for the summer only ferry from Elgol.
  • Elgol - marvellously situated village south of the east end of the Black Cuillin with boat trips to the even more wonderful Loch Coruisk, surrounded by Cuillin peaks.
  • Torrin - between Broadford and Elgol at the foot of Blaven (see mountains)
  • Glenbrittle - small coastal village with a campsite near the south-west Cuillin.
  • Sligachan -even smaller but with an inn - a good approach for Sgurr nan Gillean and Bruach na Frith
  • Carbost - the home of the Talisker distillery - excellent beach.
  • Breakish & Waterloo
  • Armadale & Ardvasar
  • Strollamus
  • Luib & Sconser
  • Staffin
  • Stein
  • Glendale
  • Struan & Bracadale
Elgol Home 2

Elgol Home 2

© All Rights Reserved EaLaSpada

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Sights and Activities

Mountains

  • Cuillin Ridge - Walkers Beware, the traverse of the Cuillin Ridge is not a walk. It demands scrambling and simple climbing skills. The length of the traverse and the height of the peaks give a false picture. Furthermore the weather can change very quickly and visibility is often very low indeed. Thirdly you have to carry any water you want to drink and as if that were not enough, something in the rock causes your compass to behave manically. For those who can do it this is probably the UK's best mountain outing and walkers need not despair completely. There are numerous points on the ridge that can be reached and the view along the ridge far more than justifies the effort. Bruach na Frith is not even difficult if taken from Sligachan.
  • Blaven - This is the only Black Cuilin mountain not on the ridge. it has two peaks and can be attacked from Torrin.
  • The Quiraing This is a mountain in the north of Skye with not very much height but some magical rock scenery.
  • The Storr is a peak on the Trotternish Ridge, best known for a large stack below the summit. This is the Old Man of Storr and should not be confused with the sea stack Old Man of Stoer off Hoy in the Orkneys.

Coast

  • The best stretch of coast is that around MacLeods Maidens. The beach at Carbost is very attractive.
  • Take a sea-fari and go whalespotting from Armadale.
  • AquaXplore offers boat trips which vary in length, and their boats go fast, really fast.

Loch Coruisk

This is a magical loch. It is a true loch but its outflow leads very quickly to (Sea) Loch Scavaig, which is reached by boat (trips) from Elgol. Alternately there is a walk from Elgol via Camasunary but this involves a bad step when exposed above the sea. Lastly it can be reached by a fine walk from Sligachan - if the return seems too long, see if you can work out a way to go by boat and returrn to Sligachan or vice versa.

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Weather

While the weather is relatively mild for a region this far north, mildness meaning a cool, wet and rainy climate even in high summer (the best time to go). There is almost constant wind from the sea and rare are the moments the sun breaks through the clouds and gets temperatures above 20 °C.

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Getting There

By Train

There is a wonderfully scenic line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh where you can get a bus over the bridge and on into Skye. Another line comes from Oban and Fort William and stops in Mallaig, where you can take the ferry to the island. If the scenery seems familiar that's because footage of the steamtrain that services this route is used in the Harry Potter movies. This steam locomotive only runs in summer.

By Car

The Skye bridge connects the mainland of Scotland with Kylerhea. The bridge is part of the A87 motorway, and is the ony bridge connecting Scotland and the Isle of Skye. The bridge used to be a toll bridge, but after a big controversy over the costs of the tolls, the tolls were finally abolished in 2004.

By Bus

CityLink is the equivalent in Scotland to National Express in England. Citylink connects Glasgow with the Isle of Skye making stops in Uig and Portree. Direct buses run from Inverness as well as other destinations in Scotland.

By Boat

There are two ferries to Skye. The Mallaig to Armadale ferry service is run by Calmac. and the Glenelg to Kylerhea connection (Easter until October) is run by Skye Ferry.

There is a summer ferry to Raasay from Sconser on Skye also run by Calmac.

Rona and Scalpay are harder to reach unless you are renting one of the few cottages on either. Both are privately owned and it may be possible to arrange something for a day with the owners, who are shown in the sleep section.

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Getting Around

By Car

The car is probably the easiest way to get around the Island. There is a nice one way road taking you around the island, which can be good if you don't have a lot of time to spend.

By Bus

Public transport is a bit limited on the island, especially on in the weekends. Citylink takes care of the mainroutes on the Isle and Rapsons (Highland Country Buses) operate many of the other local routes including Armadale-Kyleakin and Portree-Dunvegan. More information can be found on the website of the tourist information.

By Boat

The trip from Elgol to Loch Coruisk can be done with Misty Isle Boat trips.

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Drink

  • Sligachan Inn - often referred to by climbers and walkers as 'The Slig'.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressIslandTypePopularity
Broadford Youth HostelBroadfordSkyeHostel83
Glenbrittle Youth HostelCarbost GlenbrittleSkyeHostel-
Saucy Mary's LodgeMain RdSkyeHostel78
Skye BackpackersKyleakinHostel84
Skyewalker HostelThe Old School PortnalongHostel91
Uig Youth HostelUigSkyeHostel83
Rona Holiday cottagesRona-
Isle of Scalpay CottagesScalpay-
Broadford Backpackers HostelHigh Road Broadford Isle of SkyeHOSTEL86
Flora Macdonald HostelKilmore SleatHostel82
Hillview Budget RoomsShore road A87GUESTHOUSE-

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 57.375574
  • Longitude: -6.217743

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