Isle of Skye Dreamin’
Isle of Skye Dreamin’
A little disclaimer to start off with: I sincerely doubt that my photographs can convey Isle of Skye’s serene and wild beauty…
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Once you set your foot on the island, you realise why Lonely Planet has rated it as the top destination in the whole of Scotland… The seemingly barren landscapes of rocky mountains, huge expanses of greenery and heather-covered moors, and the glistening waters of the sea are spectacularly mesmerising!
I spent three days on my own exploring this stunning island, just me and my blue Mini Cooper. My little brother abandoned me after our climb to the top of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain peak in the British Isles, because “business is more important than family”. This island is, in fact, the perfect solo getaway destination when you need to detox from all the hubbub and pollution that constantly envelops you on if you live in a big city like me!
Isle of Skye is the largest island in Scotland, and yet the population is a mere 10,000, making it the perfect getaway for those moments of solitude and peace that we all crave in our daily lives when things become overwhelming. Here, there are a plethora of hiking trails, both easy and arduous; they are spread out all over the island, and many can be enjoyed in solitude, just you one-on-one with Mother Nature, getting at times a little overwhelmed by its sublime power.
One of the most common beliefs is that the name “Skye” derives from the Old Norse Skuy (“misty isle”), Skýey or Skuyö (“isle of cloud”). Isle of Skye is widely known for its temperamental weather: one day it’s all glorious sunshine, illuminating the greenery and enhancing the shimmer of the seas, while the next it’s all mist and rain, thus rendering the island atmospheric and mystical. Catching good weather is, of course, a matter of luck. I was very fortunate because I had two days of wonderfully warm sunshine ,and just one day of fog, wind and rain!
Isle of Skye (and the Highlands as a whole, I suppose) stands out because the UK in general is very much cultivated, manicured and touched up… But here it is just so wild and windswept! In my opinion, it is the ultimate destination to contemplate life!
Old Man Of Storr
Personally, one of the main draws of Skye was to see the bizarre and eerie rock formation called the Old Man of Storr. Supposedly the views from the top are gorgeous… I wouldn’t know since when I climbed the winding, steep path to the top, the landscape was enveloped in thick fog, the rain was relentless and was complemented by howling gales (I thought I was going to get blown away like the lightest of feathers). These seemingly unpleasant weather conditions actually made the whole climbing experience even more uncanny and atmospheric, the towering pinnacles themselves appearing unexpectedly through the fog like some terrestrial Loch Ness Monsters!
The grey-black jagged peaks of the highest mountain range in the UK are truly imposing if viewed from sea level; the highest point in the range, Sgurr Alasdair, towering above the sea at 992m.
There are numerous hiking trails, but one of the most spectacular is the steep climb from Glenbrittle campsite to Coire Logan, starting at the sea level and quickly climbing more than 600 metres to a corrie (amphitheatre-like valley head) that contains a tiny loch ringed by gigantic rock peaks. It was fascinating to witness drastic weather and temperature changes as I climbed. Sunny and warm at the sea level, yet the conditions at the top were harsh and very alpine (foggy, a little drizzly, and with occasional Arctic bursts of winds!).
Dunvegan Castle is the most popular historic sight on the Isle of Skye: it has been the seat of the chief of Clan Maclead for for over 800 years! The location of the castle by the sea is dreamy and unbeatable, and the whole place itself has a very romantic feeling, reminiscent of the glorious, and occasionally turbulent, past. The surrounding gardens are very beautiful, and a joy to meander through!
As some of you may know, I have recently become a bit of a birder: bird-watching is extremely underrated, fascinating and not just for “old people”. Therefore, finding white-tailed eagles was one of my top things to do on the Isle of Skye!
With a wing span that approaches 8 feet across, white-tailed eagles are the largest bird of prey in the UK and, in fact, in all of northern Europe! Unfortunately, they are very endangered and there are currently fewer than 100 nesting pairs in the UK. Whilst I was staying in Portree, Skye’s busiest town, I got a chance to go out on a little boat trip with MV Stardust, a wonderful little company that offers two hour tours to see seals, porpoises and, of course, white-tailed eagles!
I was very lucky, because we spotted two pairs. These magnificent birds became extinct in Britain in the early 1900’s because of persecution, were reintroduced to Scotland beginning in 1975, and can now be somewhat predictably encountered on the Isle of Sky, as well as other areas in Scotland.
Where I stayed:
Toravaig House – a nine-room luxury boutique hotel in the southern part of the island with a very homey feel! The hotel has some of the friendliest and most helpful staff, and the food, both at breakfast and dinner, was superb. I would definitely recommend staying here!
Rosedale Hotel – When I was staying overnight in Portree, I picked Rosedale Hotel because it was overlooking the harbour: the hotel itself was average, but the view of the sea from my bedroom was very nice!
Where I ate:
Café Sia – the best coffee on the Isle of Skye. By that I mean as good as some of the best places in London or New York!
Red Skye Restaurant – an unpretentious place to get some top-notch Scottish food! I ate wonderfully meaty and fresh langoustines, followed by excellent venison steak!
Red Roof Café – This cute little place, located in the most picturesque glen a mile or so from the main road, was my first food stop on the Isle of Skye! The café serves very simple, yet delicious and fresh food and some scrummy home-baked goods. I had my best lunch on the Isle of Skye here, although this must be due to the fact that I was absolutely famished (and exhausted) by the time I got there!
So do these photos make you want to visit this gorgeous island?!