by Ambra Pidroni and Attilio Pregnolato. An Italian version of this article originally appeared at The World’s Paths.
Isle of Skye, the place where ancient myths and legends were born. Vikings who came from the cold and bloodthirsty Scotsmen confronted each other in these lands where stories of elves and druids abund.
How could we not visit such a place? Impossible! So a long weekend and a flight to Glasgow open us the doors to Scotland and the Isle of Skye.
Our trip begins on a rainy april morning, after having landed and collected our rental car.
We decide to head straight to Skye without stopping, so that we won’t have to drive tomorrow, but we’ll enjoy a full day on the island instead. We drive northward, stopping here and there just to stretch our legs, passing Glencoe and Fort William along the way, with plans to stop there on our way back.
Time flies fast, between the flight and the drive. It’s night already and we still have to find a place to sleep, but we have already gone over the bridge that, crossing Eilean Bàn, links Skye to the mainland.
We finally arrive at Portree and–after a quick fish-and-chips dinner in a typical British pub, The Isles Inn–we look for a comfortable area and we set up camp. There goes our first night in Scotland.
We wake up–believe it or not–under the rain. Last night it rained, but not that much, after all. Ready for what promises to be a wet day, we make way towards the Old Man of Storr, a very famous stone monolith surrounded by smaller stones and overshadowed by the the Storr, the rocky hill that gives the Old Man its name.
This is a popular spot, a place where many films have been shot and where an impressive number of photos have been taken (we bet you can’t find even one without clouds). Only seeing it up close makes us appreciate its sheer size.
We don’t want to do the classical hike, almost always crowded, that rises from the coast straight to the stony fingers. We opt instead for a much longer trek that initially takes across what we find out to be marshland well hidden by the tall grass. We thus discover the importance of the bog factor when we are in water up to our ankles! In any case, we eventually reach the summit of the Storr, at 719 meters above sea level.
A very useful site that helped us in choosing among the many trails of the Isle of Skye is Walkhighlands. While the site can look humorous and funny, it provides all of the information necessary to anyone who wants to hike Skye.
By consulting Walkhighlands, we chose our second, short trek to Quiraing. We didn’t walk the whole trail, but stopped at Quiraing, one of the lowest peaks, but we were rewarded with a fabulous view anyway.
Even after having done two treks, our day isn’t over yet. We take one more drive to the village of Dunvegan on the other side of the island. While distances are short, speed is low and even moving to a place close by takes quite some time.
We look for a place to camp as we are used to, but all lawns are fenced and we can’t find a free camping spot. A bit disappointed by this, we resort to checking in at the only campsite in the area.
It’s not easy to find, but after a few dead ends we arrive at the Kinloch Campsite and we mount our tent a few feet from the shoreline of this beautiful fjord.
Another night of rain awaits us. While we weren’t exactly expecting sunny skies, this is starting to be a bit too much. However, a pale morning sun allows us to dry the tent before stuffing it into the trunk. A very welcome present!
We resolve to make the most of those rays of sun to take an easy walk, along the beach for once. We head to Claigan Coral Beach, a white sand beach with crystalline waters and lots of rabbits.
Yes, rabbits, that surround us when we reach the big lawn at the end of the walk. Once alerted to our presence, however, they disappear into their holes in the ground.
We just have the time to snap a few quick shots before the sunbeams are blown away by another thunderstorm that is quickly approaching. With a bit of luck, we manage to escape it at the last moment.
Having bypassed one more thunderstorm, we reach the next stage in this fast-paced and intense Scottish weekend. Our destination is Neist Point, the westernmost point on the Isle of Skye, where a descent towards the lighthouse and the vast number of birds that surround it awaits us.
The day is not over yet. We head back to our car and drive to Fairy Pools. We believe the name comes from the incredible colors of those pools and waterfalls, but maybe also from the chilling, almost magical wind that blows around here and that we try to avoid by taking a route longer than the usual tourist trail.
The day has flown by in an instant and we still have some distance to cover to return to Portree, where we spend the night in the same spot we had found on our first night in Scotland.
It’s a little secluded place some distance from the road from Sligachan to Portree. A few cars go by, but once the night falls we are almost alone. We don’t usually reveal the locations of our best spots, but for once here’s our Wild Camping site!
Today is the last day on Skye and this evening we should already be back on the mainland, but this doesn’t mean we will pass on some more opportunities for adventure. The day begins in Elgol, where we try to catch a ferry to nearby Loch Coruisk, but guess what? All ferry services are suspended because of adverse weather conditions!
A group of Highland cattle, with long horns and long hair blowing in the wind help us see the bright side of life.
It’s already time to leave the Isle of Skye. There would be many other places to discover here, but we have seen much of what we intended to see and we are happy.
We say goodby to Skye while we promise ourselves that we will be back one day to try the Skye Trail, 128 kilometers along mountains and coastal trails, a week of tough and pure Scottish adventure.
As we did on our way out, we don’t take too many useless stops, if not for a brief detour to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous for having been the set of many a Harry Potter movie. Pretty, but not worth the diversion.
Having walked across the Tibetan bridge–with free access and not a safety line in sight–we find ourselves in a beautiful marhsland right before reaching the falls. The whole Glen Nevis region is truly stunning. So much that, once we get back to the car, we would like to stop for the night, but we can’t find even a single camping spot.
We resume driving, but because of the strong wind and the rain we cannot stop until we arrive at the Beinglas Farm Campsite, almost on the banks of Loch Lomond. It’s pitch black and it rains heavily, so we have a quick dinner at the small bar and head straight to our sleeping bags.
We wake up knowing we have only about 24 hours of Scotland left, so we decide to repeat what had been a fabulous experience during our trip to Iceland: we rent a kayak at Luss, on Loch Lomond with the intention of reaching Inchlonaig, the small island in the middle of the lake.
On the face of it, this looks like a wonderful idea, at least until we exit the harbor and the waves start growing, the current becomes strong and adverse, and gusts of wind threaten to overturn us. We finally manage to land on the island, tired and wet and the return route is even worse. An interesting adventure, to put it mildly, but disregard the advice about the route and the weather from those who rent kayaks!
Having waved goodbye to the kayak–it was definitely a great adrenaline rush–we find the kitchen of a luxury restaurants that sells fish-and-chips in the back and we take advantage of it to regain some energy.
We spend the afternoon and the night in Glasgow. After a nice, warm shower in a fabulous AirBnB, we take a quick drive around the northwestern part of the city, since the outside temperature has dropped and the icy wind is not conductive to walking. We visit Kelvingrove Park, the University campus before concluding our evening at The Finnieston, a small and chic restaurant suggested both by our host and by the Lonely Planet guide. This turns out to be a perfect choice: tasty food at a nice price!
We then take some well deserved sleep before heading back home. Scotland has fascinated us and we make a resolution to return as soon as possible to discover the places we couldn’t see during our first, too short trip.
About Ambra and Attilio
Fill up your backpack: everything you need, nothing more. Free space will be needed for memories and the light weight will let you walk more miles.
Tie your shoes again, close your home door and leave, a new adventure is awaiting you.
it is always the same story even though it is different everytime: a better one? probably! All that matters is that it is a new experience that will be part of your personal growth. It will remain there, in your heart , in that little part of you that helps you when life gives you lemons!
What more is there to say? We are two Italian guys with the biggest wanderlust. Mountains do allure us, road trips are our everyday wish, people around the globe are our best friends and all we wish to do is travel all around the world and experience the wisdom of the real traveler.
Read about all our adventures at our website, The World’s Paths.
Would you like to see the Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highlands in the company of professional photographers. If you do, check out our Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye Landscape Photography Masterclass!