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Skye and Small Isles

Travel Guide Europe United Kingdom Scotland Scottish Islands Inner Hebrides Skye and Small Isles

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Introduction

Skye and the Small Isles lie off the western coast of Scotland.

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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 United Kingdom'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 UK's highest sea cliffs.

  • Rum is a significant sized island with its own Cuillin but a very low population.
  • Eigg is much smaller but has a very distinctive hill, the Sgurr of Eigg, that forms and provides an excellent viewpoint because of its island position. There is a fine beach to the west of the island.
  • Muck is the smallest of the Small Islands but it's big enough to have a few holiday cottages to rent during the summer.
  • Canna is between Rum and Eigg in size but if you want to stay, it means camping and taking your provisions with you.
  • Raasay is an island to the east of Skye and does not come in the Small Isles group.

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Cities

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.

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Sights and Activities

There's so much on Skye that only some of the main sights are shown here!

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 cn 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 to 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.

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 hwen 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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Getting There

By Plane

As yet there is no airport.

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.

By Car

The Skye bridge is now free

By Bus

CityLink is the equivalent in Scotland to National Express in England.

By Boat

  • Mallaig to Armadale ferry service run by Calmac.
  • Calmac also runs ferries from Mallaig to the Small Isles but it no longer seems possible to do them all in a day.
  • Aisaig Marine also provide trips to the Small Isles.
  • AquaExplore for something more adventurous.

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Getting Around

By Bus

Loca buses

By Boat

Elgol to Loch Coruisk with Misty Isle Boattrips

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Drink

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

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Sleep

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This is version 3. Last edited at 15:17 on Aug 23, 09 by Utrecht. No articles link to this page.

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