THE ISLE OF SKYE
The Isle of Skye promises untouched landscapes, and untamed beauty, of an almost incomparable rarity. Selecting from 111 locations, National Geographic magazine found Skye - the misty isle (or Eilean a Cheo in Gaelic) - one of the top-ten unspoilt islands worldwide.
Besides the dramatic scenery, there is the feeling of being “abroad”. The road signs are in Gaelic and English and 40% of the people can speak Gaelic. The pace and stress of mainland life are soon forgotten.
The lovely scenery is the result of the island’s complex geology and its turbulent seas. Most famous are the Red Cuillins and the Black Cuillins with Loch Coruisk secreted in their midst, and only accessible to non-hikers by small boat from Glenelg. In the North are the equally famous landmarks of the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing. The dramatic coastline offers the basaltic pillars of Macleod’s Maidens, and spectacular cliffs running up to Dunvegan Head and both coasts of the Trotternish peninsula. There are atmospheric beaches: black at Talisker Bay below the Cuillins; and white at Coral Beaches beyond Dunvegan Castle.
There are castles and museums, pony-trekking, golf and boat trips aplenty. A step off the beaten track (and often smack in the middle of the beaten track, if you visit off-season) and there is wildlife in abundance.
Big birds like the golden and sea eagles, buzzards, ravens and hoodie crows (and voluble cuckoos in spring!) are viewable from public roads, whilst little wheatears and meadow pippets flit across boggy moors and fields. Turn to the sea and there are the herons, eider ducks, curlews and Manx Shearwaters. Rocky beaches and pools are an endless delight with their wealth of creatures and seaweeds.
So whether you’re just quietly watching and absorbing on gentle strolls round the coast, or are revelling in arduous treks or feats of mountain-bagging, Skye offers more choices and memorable venues than you’ll have the time or energy for.
Once smitten, like so many happy others, you will feel the need to return year on year.