A Drive Around the Isle of Skye
Welcome to the second installment (you’ll find the first part here) of our Highland Road Trip, the alternative – although really quite terrible – title for which could be ‘All the Places Amber Tried to Pee on the Isle of Skye’. Or maybe ‘Amber’s Toilet Tour of Skye’. What do you think? Is there a market for it? Should I try to get myself an agent? Or should I just shut up about this and simply remind you that drinking your own bodyweight in coffee shortly before spending most of the day in a car is NOT a great idea, and leave it at that?
Okay, we’re going with option two, in which case I’ll start off by telling you that we had breakfast at our hotel (The excellent Duisdale House, which you can read all about here), before getting back into the car for a drive around Skye.
Having been obsessively checking the weather for the past 24 hours, we knew this was likely to be the only dry day we’d get on the island, so we decided to try to fit in as much as possible, knowing the views would likely be obscured by the weather on the next two days.
Old Sligachan Bridge
The last time we visited the Isle of Skye, we drove past an old bridge which seemed to be surrounded by people with cameras.
“There’s lots of people taking photos of that bridge,” I said to Terry, who was driving. “It must be pretty good. We should stop for a look.”
“No,” said Terry, whose rules for the road can be found here. “No time.” And so it was that we missed out on the sheer joy that is the view from Old Sligachan Bridge:
We DID have enough time to stop this time, as you can see.
The bridge itself is no longer in use, and, as well as being very picturesque, it’s the perfect vantage point to view the hills that surround it. We saw quite a few brides and grooms here (one couple had come all the way from Nevada) having photos taken, and I can only imagine how incredible those photos must have been: well worth braving the weather for.
If you look carefully, you might just spot Max and me on the bridge:
(This was also where Max managed to get soaked to the skin while paddling in the river, so he spent the next part of the journey wrapped in a blanket in the back seat, while we dried his trousers and socks on the dashboard of the car. What a time to be alive, for sure…)
(I know I promised not to talk about this any more, but I just want to say a quick thank-you here to the kind people at the Sligachan Hotel for allowing Max and I to use their toilet. It’s not a public toilet, so, you know, please don’t go there purely for that purpose, but it had become an emergency situation by this point, so we’re very grateful to them for allowing us inside.)
(Also, it was a very nice toilet – 9/10.)
The Old Man of Storr
The Storr is a hill located on Skye’s Trotternish penninsula, and its ‘Old Man’ is the distinctive rock formation near the summit, which you can (just) see at the top right of this photo.
The drive to this spot is a really lovely one (Even with your child’s trousers blowing merrily in your face), and there are lots of viewpoints along the way where you can stop and take some photos. The real appeal of The Storr, of course, is the view from the top, but even if you don’t fancy the climb (We’d actually had the intention of doing it on one of our days in Skye, but the weather was just too bad for us to risk it…), it’s still one of the island’s most iconic sights, and worth stopping nearby for a few minutes.
(Seeing as I’ve built this up so much, this is also the location of my al fresco toilet break, which I do NOT recommend if you can possibly avoid it. 0/10.)
Trotternish Viewing Platform
Having wrestled Max back into his clothes (Question to self: why, when you had filled the car to the brim with everything you could possibly need for this trip, did you fail to bring a change of clothes for your child who can almost always be required to need one? Seriously, WHY?) we drove on to the Trotternish Viewing Platform: a wooden walkway which is suspended over Lealt Gorge:
This is probably not going to be more than a few minutes’ stop-off on your drive around Skye, but the views are pretty, and it’s only a short walk from the car park, so we were glad we’d stopped off.
(These photos mark the last known sighting of the hat Max is wearing in them, which had been purchased for the purpose of this trip just two days before, and which we can only assume he dropped somewhere near the falls, because we haven’t seen it since. I’m sure I’ll get over it some day, just not today…)
Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls
Kilt Rock is one of the places we stopped-off at on our last trip to Skye, and I’ve shamelessly re-used one of my older photos of it here, purely because I liked it better than the ones I took this time. Also, it’s a waterfall: it doesn’t really change much…
Again, this is really just a stop-off as opposed to a full day’s excursion, as, unless you choose to take a walk along the cliffside (Which is definitely something I’d like to have done if we hadn’t been dodging the rainclouds…), there’s not much here other than the viewpoint itself of course: which, to be fair, is pretty spectacular.
Kilt Rock is so-named because of the folds in the rock formation here which look a little bit like a kilt. The Mealt Waterfall cascades down the rocks from a height of 55 metres, and, as well as the views of the falls themselves, the viewpoint also offers views of mainland Scotland and, on this occasion, my big face:
After yet another bathroom break at a convenience store near Staffin (6/10 for facilities but 10/10 for just existing), we were on our way to our next stop:
For me, some of the best views on Skye are the ones you get fromThe Quiraing, which was formed by a landslide on the north side of the Trotternish, and which now offers an other-worldly, almost prehistoric landscape which made me feel a bit like we’d gone back in time.
You can take a two-hour circular walk here which takes in the whole thing, but, luckily for us, you can also drive up to this viewpoint by car, which is what we did – with me shouting, “Oh my God, LOOK AT IT!” the entire time. The views were absolutely spectacular, and I can only imagine the walk must be even better. This was another location where we saw some people having wedding photos taken, and while I’m sure they must have been absolutely freezing doing it, I’m also pretty sure they won’t have regretted it for a second, because just look at this view:
Now imagine that we’re all dressed up, me in a long, flowing gown, Terry in a suit, and maybe the wind whipping through our hair or something. It would be amazing. Really wish I’d thought to bring a wedding dress now. You always think of these things too late, don’t you?
(I know it looks like Max is being physically restrained here, but it was purely because it was really windy and I was terrified of letting him go in case he went too close to the edge. He was enjoying it really…)
The drive from here down to the port of Uig is also really scenic, and, for once I decided to put the phone down and just enjoy it, which means you’re just going to have to imagine it. Just above Uig itself, however, was our final stop on this particular drive…
The Fairy Glen
With any other place you’d probably roll your eyes a bit at the idea of a place called “The Fairy Glen” – I mean, who do they think they’re kidding, right? On Skye, though, I’m willing to bet you’re more likely to just look at it and say, “Yeah, I get where they’re coming from,” because, I mean, SERIOUSLY, people:
This is another place my photos don’t do justice to. The best I can do is to tell you it felt a bit like walking into Hobbiton, in Middle Earth, and if you’d told me it was all man-made, just to attract tourists, you could probably have convinced me, because I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
The Fairy Glen is, however, entirely natural, with the little pointed hills and mini lochs being simply part of the Isle of Skye’s unique landscape. It would be really easy to spend a few hours – or even a whole day – here, exploring. The hour or so we spent, however, was still pretty magical (Even if we did get stuck in the mud a few times), and it’s one of the places we’ll definitely go back to next time we’re in Skye.
By this point, however, it was starting to get late, and we had a long drive back to our hotel, so we waved a reluctant goodbye to The Fairy Glen, and headed for home: or for the Am Pràban Bar, rather, which was where we had dinner that night:
We actually picked this place purely because it was close to our hotel, and we were all pretty tired and hungry, but it turned out to be a great choice. The bar itself is small and cosy, with a very authentic kind of feel to it, and the food was just sublime: I had the best steak pie of my life here, while the rest of the party had the haggis, neeps and tatties (Because, have you even been to the Highlands if you haven’t eaten haggis at every available opportunity?), and Max cheerfully joined a table of Americans, who I have to thank for the patience and good humor with which they allowed to show them all his vast collection of drawings.
So, a good time was had by all, in other words: and so ended our first full day on the Isle of Skye. Check back soon to find out what we did on Day 2, during which, you’ll be relieved to hear, I managed to drink a more appropriate amount of coffee at breakfast, thus avoiding any more unscheduled bathroom breaks…