Isle of Skye

One of the important reasons to choose the Isle of Skye as your holiday destination is that there is so much to do and see here. Staying in Carbost, in the middle of Skye, means that you will be within easy reach of all that the Isle of Skye has to offer. An added bonus is that you are within 45 minutes of the harbour of Uig from where you can make day trips to spot whales, dolphins, puffins, etc. You can even add on a week or a few days to your stay on Skye in order to visit some of the beautiful islands of the Outer Hebrides, likes Harris or Lewis. Below you will find just a few suggestions. More suggestions closer to Carbost will be added.

 

Walking

There are numerous short and long walks for beginners or experienced ramblers on Skye. They range from a short stroll to the stunning Coral Beach to multi-day hikes across the Cuillin. There are some really good short walks on the Isle of Skye that offer stunning scenery, access to secluded white beaches and the chance to fill your lungs with fresh air. An excellent resource, with accurate maps and great advice for walkers and climbers, is www.walkhighlands.co.uk. In the house you will find various guidebooks and maps of Skye to help you plan your days out. One little book that I can also recommend is Isle of Skye: 40 Coast and Country Walks.

A very short walk that has a connection to the house is one that takes you to the beach at Talisker Bay. To start the walk drive from the house up the hill past the distillery, do not follow the B8009 to Portnalong and Fiskavaig, but follow the road straight on. At the next fork in the road do not follow the sign to the Wee Tea Room (unless you fancy a cuppa and a look at some pictures) and keep right to the end of the road and park on the verge.

Take the public path to the left towards the house, which continues all the way to the beach. Samuel Boswell wrote about his visit to Talisker House in 1773: “we came to Talisker, which is a beautiful place with many well-grown trees, a wide expanse of sea and mountains, and, within a quarter of a mile from the house, no less than fifteen waterfalls.” Some of the trees still surround Talisker House, which dates from 1717 and was the home of the MacLeods of Talisker. I have not counted all the waterfalls, but I am sure you can find 15 of them. The most spectacular one drops 100 feet or more, into the sea. On a windy day the water can actually be blown up the cliff. You can help to keep Skye beautiful by picking up some bits of plastic from the beach to dispose of them in a rubbish bin. There are two kinds of sand on this beach: black & white, Because the grains are different sizes and weights the water flowing back to the sea creates beautiful patterns in the sand.

Black & White Patterns on Talisker Beach

 

 

Another good walk is the 5 mile walk to the Point of Sleat, which starts at the end of the road in Aird in the south west of Skye. The little detour that you can see on the map below takes you to a fantastic secluded white sand beach at Camas Dairag. Nowhere better to be on a hot summer day! Once you get to the light at the Point you can enjoy beautiful, uninterrupted views towards Eigg and Rum. Seals are frequent visitors here and if you’re lucky you could even spot a dolphin.

map of Point of Sleat walk

Point of Sleat walk

Another great walk on Sleat that I can recommend takes you to another secluded white beach on the north side of the Sleat Peninsular. It is a bit longer, but well worth it on a sunny day. You start on the loop road between Killbeg and Tarskavaig and the path takes you past Loch Alt a’ Ghlinne and some wonderful Scotch Pine to a beach with a fantastic view of the Cuillins. This is what it looked like in April 2014.

ViewPanoCrop

More pictures of this walk are here.

 

Cycling

Whether you choose a racing bike, a mountain bike, or a touring bike, the Isle of Skye offers routes for every level with fantastic views, challenging bits (if you want), easy downhill stretches and exhilarating off road tracks. One example of an easy(ish) mountain bike route is one that starts just outside Broadford and takes you to a deserted village whose inhabitants were evicted during the Highland Clearances. It is an atmospheric place and a lovely spot for a picnic on a warm summer day, with great views towards the Cuillins and across Loch Eishort towards Sleat. More info and a route map here.

You don’t need to bring your own bike as there are a few places on Skye to hire bicycles. The most convenient one and closest to Carbost is Island Cycles . They have new, good quality bikes for hire every year. They have road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrids. The staff is very friendly and helpful and the shop sells everything you need to maintain or fix your own bike too. If you are planning to hire a bike I would recommend booking in advance, especially during the busy summer season.

If you have not seen it before you should watch Donny McGaskill’s video The Ridge. He grew up on Skye, in Dunvegan, and explored it on his bike extensively. It may not be the kind of mountain biking that you or I could do, but it shows off some of the stunning scenery of Skye and some of his incredible mountain biking skills. Brave or foolish?

Drives

A popular drive on Skye takes you around the Trotternish peninsular and gets you to see a few of Skye’s highlights. It is a circular drive (or cycle if you’re fit and don’t mind using your gears to get up some steep hills), so you can start it anywhere.

Trotternish Peninsular

The Storr is one of Skye iconic landscapes and has featured in many movies, i.e. Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and The Wickerman (which is mostly set in Plockton, nearby on the mainland.) The Old Man of Storr is a 160ft pinacle that can be seen from miles away. It was first climbed in 1955, but is extremely dangerous.

At Kilt Rock we find one of the highest waterfalls on Skye, Mealt Falls. There is a parking area and a fence, but keep an eye on young children. In February 2018 we had a cold & windy spell, so the water was blown back onto the cliff and the fences and vegetation above, where it froze.

Frozen Mealt Falls

 

Golf

We may not be able to compete with golfing destinations like St. Andrews or Gleneagles, but Skye does have its own golf course and it terms of surrounding scenery we are up there with the best of them! The Isle of Skye Golf Club was formed at a meeting held in Sligachan Hotel on 23rd November 1964 and over the next 20 years the club grew and became established. In 1984 the land was purchased from the Campbell family and a fence erected to remove the sheep which had traditionally grazed on the golf course. In 1988 the present clubhouse and car park were constructed and in 1999 a tearoom and small golf-related shop were added. Today the Isle of Skye Golf Club has around 170 members and employs one full-time greenkeeper and one part-time seasonal assistant to keep the course in excellent condition. Green fees are very reasonable (just £17 for 9 holes, or £60 for a whole week) and you will be able to hire clubs and trolleys. More information on the club’s website.

Boat Trips

Some of the beautiful views can be best enjoyed from the water. By boat you can get to some places that otherwise would require a long hike. A case in point is the wonderful Loch Coruisk. Short (and longer) trips to this magical place depart from Elgol harbour and are run by two companies. I have used both and they are excellent: www.bellajane.co.uk and
www.mistyisleboattrips.co.uk The road to Elgol is beautiful and once you reach the little village you’ll get a fantastic view of the Cuillins.

Loch Coruisk

The most memorable boat trip I have ever done was to the isolated island archipelago of St. Kilda. It is located out west in the Atlantic Ocean, approx. 50 miles west of Skye. It has a fascinating history and, to me, is one of the most awe inspiring, beautiful places on earth. There is too much to tell on this page, but you will find a host of information and history in a few books in the house and some pictures on the walls. Going to St. Kilda is not cheap and requires a 4 hour journey in a fast RIB that can be a bit bumpy. I did a multi day trip with GoToStKilda in 2014 and you can read about it in 5 posts on my photography site www.ruudseye.com.

Shopping

You may not find all the shops that you know from the city centre near you, but Skye still gives you great opportunities for shopping. There are many artists whose work would be a lovely memento of your stay here, my own photography included! There are painters, potters, weavers, candlemakers, soapmakers, jewellers, knitters and many other craftsmen and women to help you spend some money.

Eating Out

The Isle of Skye boasts a variety of options for eating out. Your stay in Carbost would not be complete without a few visits to Old Inn, just a few hundred yards away. I can recommend both food and beers that are on offer. Lunch always includes a choice of fresh seafood, like scallops, crab or fish & chips. Apart from a big selection of beer produced on Skye there are also guest beers from further afield. The staff will always make you feel welcome, either inside or on the beautiful terrace on the shore of Loch Harport.

For breakfast or lunch (or coffee & cake) we often go to the Bog Myrtle Cafe, an Indie, family run establishment that sells great coffee and food, but also second hand books, vintage items & local treasures. They are in Struan, a 25 minutes drive from Carbost along some beautiful coastal scenery.

An internationally acclaimed restaurant is Kinloch Lodge on Sleat. A nearby, less exclusive, alternative is Hotel Eilean Iarmain where you have the choice of eating in the dining room, or in the pub. We go here regularly and the venison burger is one of our favourites. We have recently discovered another restaurant to recommend: the Waterside, which is located in the former waiting rooms of the Kyle of Lochalsh railway station. It is a fish restaurant, but they do have other things. Nice atmosphere and the food is excellent! They have only 6 or 7 tables, so booking is essential.

There are many fish & chips shops around Skye and one of our favourites is at the harbour front in Portree. A bit further afield in Colbost, in the rugged northwest of Skye, is the world famous Three Chimneys. The seafood, all caught locally of course, is fantastic and the service is outstanding.

Cinemas

Screen MachineYes, we have two cinemas on Skye! Well, there is always one, but when the big blue Screen Machine comes to Kyleakin (just by the Skye Bridge) we have two. The Screen Machine is an 80-seat, air conditioned mobile cinema which brings the latest films to remote and rural areas of Scotland. It is the big blue truck in the picture and it drives to various locations on the West Coast and islands like Skye, Harris and North Uist and it even visits some of the smaller islands like Gigha. When the truck arrives at it’s destination it folds out and creates space for 80 comfortable seats. To find out when it next comes to Kyleakin and which films are showing go to http://www.screenmachine.co.uk/.

The other cinema is a permanent one. It is located in the Aros Centre in Portree, just 25 minutes from Carbost. For their programme visit http://www.aros.co.uk/whats-on or have a look in the monthly brochure that is with the rest of the touris info in the house. They have a varied programme of music (Traditional Scottish and other genres), plays, dance, etc.

 

 Museums

There are a few very interesting museums on the Isle of Sky. If you want to get an insight into the lives of the crofters that built An Doras Dearg about 150 years agowhy not visit the Skye Museum Of Island Life in Kilmuir. One of the big attractions in Armadale, just a few miles from the house, is the Clan Donald estate and museum.

Mainland

There are many places of interest on the mainland that are easily accessible from An Doras Dearg. Here are just a few

  • Eilean Donan Castle
  • Ben Nevis
  • Plockton
  • Applecross
  • Loch Ness