Skye or the Isle of Skye

Submitted by Owen McCafferty on Thu, 2010-01-14

One of the largest and best known Scottish islands, Skye is particularly famous for its mountain scenery. Many people come here to climb or walk in the Cuillin and the Quiraing.

Due to its popularity with tourists, you will find many craft shops and cottage museums. As for sports, you can visit the swimming pool in Portree, play golf at Sconser and Skeabost or go pony trekking. Watersports available on the island include diving, canoeing, windsurfing and yachting. Skye is also the ideal place for fishing and birdwatching. But if it’s whisky you want, why not visit the Talisker Distillery at Carbost?

The Cuillin Hills, the Red Hills and Blaven have long been favourites with climbers and walkers. If you don’t fancy the high places, the deeply indented coastline means you are never far from the sea.

Portree, the island capital, has a picturesque, pastel cottage-lined harbour, overlooked by ‘The Lump’. To the north is the Trotternish peninsula, home to startling geological features such as the Quirang, Kilt Rock and the Old Man of Storr. However, it is the Cuillin that is the most outstanding feature on Skye, the peaks visible from all over the island, one of the most impressive sights in Scotland. With 20 Munros in the Red and Black Cuillin, they are a paradise for walkers and climbers.

Wildlife abounds on the Island, with birds from the tiny Goldcrest to magnificent Golden Eagle, mammals from Pygmy Shrew to Red Deer and fish from Saithe to Salmon. If you are lucky you might catch sight of the elusive Otter playing on the shore. The wide range of geology and topography provides habitats for many wild flowers. Wildlife cruises sail from various locations from which you might be able to spot seals, lovable otters, great golden eagles or the even bigger sea eagles.

The Year of Homecoming 2009! Come home to Skye, the worlds favourite island, recently voted’4th best island in the
world by National Geographic magazine.’Discover the compelling past, the vibrant future and, through the essence of this remarkable land, capture memories to live with you forever.

Descend Glen Shiel, one of the most breathtaking experiences in the Highlands, to beautiful Loch Duich, the gateway to a unique and inspiring landscape.Here the stark rise of the jagged Cuillin ridge drops to the gentle white of a soft sand beach. Inlets, bays and islands create a complex lacework pattern with the sea. Tiny villages and historic keeps are familiar and fascinating. A place where time means nothing, and beneath every footstep lies 500 million years of history.

Any visit to the Isle of Skye is incom­plete without savouring the wealth of history of­fered by Dunvegan Castle & Gardens. Built on a rock in an idyllic loch side setting, Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scot­land and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.

The picturesque village of Kyleakin makes the perfect starting point for any holiday on the Isle of Skye. At the Pier, beside the pontoons, you will find the Bright Water Visitor Centre. With a local guide the centre will take you Gavin Maxwell “longroom” Museum, or Climb the Stevenson Lighthouse and Watch wildlife from the island hide. This interactive centre introduces you to the local and natural history of the area , particularly otters, and there you can arrange to visit the island of Eilean Ban through its entry point at the “otter gate” on the Bridge. Visit traditional exhibition tannery at Skyeskyns or views of otters, eagles, seals seabirds, whales and dolphins at The International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF).

The Aros Experience Portree Visitor Centre will introduce you to live pictures by bringing in fish, sea-birds, rabbits and much more from two remote nests at separate locations. They will explain the life cycle of these magnificent birds and enjoy a Sea-eagle’s view of the Skye mountains, history and culture in audio-visual. Enjoy watching a world of snakes, lizards, frogs and tortoises in natural surroundings at award winning reptile exhibition & breeding centre, refuge and shop.

At Scotland Made Easy offering a very “hands on” personal service using our local knowledge and experience to design a tailor-made self drive Scottish vacation which is carefully planned just for you to suit your interests, budget and time of arranging your Scottish trip.

Isle of Skye walks help you find the best walking routes on Skye, from the classic outings to hidden gems not found in guidebooks. We’ve carefully researched each of the walks, giving up to date, reliable information to help you get the most from your visit to this beautiful island.

For those of you who are blessed with strong legs and a good set of lungs the island offers an infinite variety of walks, along the coast, over the moors, or up in the mountains. And for those lucky enough to be exploring the area by sea, the waters around Skye can offer you some of the most spectacular sailing imaginable while providing numerous anchorages, many with free visitor moorings. Whatever your mode of transport, the Isle of Skye can give you the holiday of a lifetime.

How to get to Skye

From the west coast of Scotland, there are 3 routes onto the island:

  • by bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh
  • by ferry from Glenelg
  • by ferry from Mallaig

By road, Kyle of Lochalsh is:

  • 75 miles north of Fort William
  • 80 miles south-west of Inverness
  • 180 miles north of Glasgow

Road bridge from the mainland The old Cal Mac ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh has stopped running now that the road bridge is open there. The toll in the summer is 5.70 pounds for a car (one way) and 2.90 for a motorbike (slightly less outside the tourist season). The locals buy tickets in books of 20 and these work out cheaper.

By bus

Buses operate from Inverness, Fort William and Glasgow. Most of these buses will take you to Portree. Some go as far as Uig to coincide with the ferries over to North Uist and Harris. Contact Citylink runs most of these services and all its timetables are online. Some of these are in conjunction with Skyeways Express Coaches (telephone: 01599 534328 / fax: 01599 534862 or their Inverness office tel: 01463 710119 / fax: 01463 711292). For buses between Armadale (ferry from Mallaig) and Kyleakin/Broadford/Portree, phone Waterloo Bus Services on 01471 822 630 for times.

By train
Trains run from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh where you can cross the new road bridge on foot (no charge).

Trains also run from Fort William to Mallaig (the most scenic railway line in the country) where you can take the ferry over to Armadale.

By vehicle ferry from Mallaig to Armadale
The summer vehicle ferry runs 6 or 7 times a day (including some Sundays at the height of the season) between Mallaig and Armadale on the Isle of Skye. Journey time: 30 minutes. There are fewer sailings in winter when it is a passenger only service (no vehicles carried). Bikes are carried free of charge. The official Caledonian Macbrayne website lists the current timetables and prices in detail. Tel: 01475 650 100 / fax: 01475 635 235 or for vehicle reservations telephone 0990 650 000.

By private ferry from Glenelg to Kylerhea
This privately-run ferry takes you over the sea to Skye in 5 minutes and holds 6 cars. Telephone/fax: 01599 511 302. The ferry runs as often as required during the following times:

  • 29 March – 22 May: Monday to Saturday 9am – 6pm (no Sunday service).
  • 24 May – 29 August: Monday to Saturday 9am – 8pm, and Sunday 10am to 6pm.
  • 30 August – 30 October: Monday to Saturday 9am – 6pm, and Sunday 10am to 6pm.

Prices: car with up to 4 passengers: single 5.50 pounds, day return 9 pounds (plus 50 pence per additional passenger). Foot passengers: single 60 pence, return 1 pound. Also charges for bikes and motorbikes.

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