We woke up to have breakfast at 8 so we could set out and start seeing the sights early. It was raining and overcast, but it wasn’t too bad.
Today we were to do the Trotternish Loop around the northeast peninsula of Skye. It takes you right by the majority of the big tourist spots and eventually loops you back into Portree. You can go clockwise or counterclockwise so it’ll depend on what order you want to see everything. We went clockwise and excitedly drove out to the first destination: The Fairy Glen
Tip: Know how to get here! There weren’t any signs that we saw and we went on two wrong roads before finding the correct one. We assumed there’d be signage and it’d be obvious, but we were so wrong.
Again there are no bathrooms! Except it is above the town Uig, so go at a store or gas station there! You have to go up into the hills and then park near the pond. There isn’t any marking for where you should park and I’m glad we were there on offseason because parking would be limited during the busy season.
Many people say that if fairies were to exist, they would be found here. Nothing could’ve been more accurate. It’s located in the grassy hills with a notable basalt structure rising from the earth. The trees are twisted and covered in moss and there are a few ponds scattered about.
It truly felt like a place where magic would exist when you found yourself in a small clearing surrounded by moss covered trees. We were joking that it was the place where the fairies held their meetings.
We were there while it was raining and when you’re at the bottom of the hills the wind isn’t too bad, but as you climb higher the wind gets worse. Be careful here because if you go when it’s too wet and windy, it can be easy to slip down the hills. It’s a great place to explore though and I learned a lot about finding textures in landscapes from my photographer stepdad.
Our next stop was Quiraing!
As we were driving, the rain began picking up. It was a longer drive than we’d expected too so we were concerned we’d drive past it. When we stopped to pick up a map we noticed the wind was picking up as well. Soon we were driving with a downpour.
As we were driving we saw signs for Staffin Beach, a place where other tourists told us you can see seals! My mom also has a thing about getting sand from each place she visits so we decided to take a quick detour.
It was a violently windy and rainy place, especially when you’re by the ocean. However, it was really cool looking up at the coastline from below. It’s a great towering wall of stone and an incredible natural defense when you think about it.
We did not see any seals because they were probably hiding underwater from the weather, but it was a great stop nonetheless. Now back onto our journey to Quiraing!
When we eventually discovered Quiraing (another place you have to go up into the hills and mountains for), the wind and rain were just too brutal.
Quiraing is a 4.5 mile long circuit hiking trail through the mountains. It’s supposed to have great scenery, but the clouds were so low and there was so much mist for us that you couldn’t see much. Hiking in that much rain and mud isn’t safe and when we couldn’t even see anything, we had to skip this.
It was disappointing, but we didn’t have any other option. The weather was so brutal with the winds getting up to 40-50 mph that we decided to stop for lunch next and take a break.
Honestly there was only one cafe that we could find open and I have no idea what it was called. It hit the spot with a hearty soup though and my parents enjoyed a beer as we rested.
While we were there we could hear the wind howling and pushing on the building, but we slowly saw the rain lightening up and eventually stopping. It was still very overcast, but the mist thinned as well. We quickly finished up and set out to our next destination under these new conditions.
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls was not far down the road. There we were dry, but the wind was still brutally (how many times have I used the world brutal now?) unforgiving. There were a couple times where it forced me to stumble it was pushing so hard.
This site is beautiful though and worth facing the gusts. The coastline is a hard wall to the ocean and you learn from a sign that dinosaurs used to roam here. Suddenly your eyes are seeing that age. The level of power that nature holds here is unreal. You see the waterfall crashing down into the ocean and birds joyfully flying through that wind you hate.
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls was my favorite spot that we hit that day.
Next up: Rubha nam Brathairean (Brother’s Point).
Tip: The sign for the trail to Brother’s Point is so tiny and only readable by walking by it, so look for Glenview Hotel and the Skye Pie Cafe (the cafe was closed when we were there). The trail is right across the street from here though and you’d drive right past otherwise. Also the sign does have the long complicated name so while you don’t have to know it by heart, be able to recognize it.
This is supposed to be a short and easy hike to see more of Skye’s amazing coastline. Awed by what we’d already seen and enticed by the rumors that Brother’s Point was even better, we headed down the trail.
Now recall that there were heavy rains not even an hour before. While it’d stopped by now, the ground was not dry in one bit. Also remember the winds were strong.
What was supposed to be an easy hike ended up being our downfall. I fell once, my mom fell twice, and my stepdad fell once but he cut his hand on barbed wire as he went down. He started bleeding and we were all wet and muddy having gone maybe halfway. We decided this wasn’t really safe either. If one of us hit our heads on a rock it could’ve been devastating. It’s isolated and our phones had no service so we didn’t want to be there if there was an emergency.
Unfortunately, we had to turn back. You can see another waterfall in the distance on the way down though so we still managed to see some of the beauty there. It was disappointing, but we knew it was truly for the best.
Tip: Once again I will say buy rain pants! When we all fell it was primarily our rain pants that ended up muddy and since we wore them over our jeans we just pulled them off before getting into the car. I was so grateful for them after I fell.
Next we could have done Old Man of Storr, but it was another hike and we were defeated for the day. It’s the most popular spot on Skye to visit and is supposed to have odd rock structures. Since our past two attempts at a hike ended, we decided not to try again. Instead, we headed back to our hotel in Portree to take a hot shower.
With a couple hours before dinner still we walked into town to check out the stores and scope out where we wanted to eat that night.
I got a pen for my journaling as mine had run out and it’s a nightly ritual for me to write about what I’d done that day. The stores on this isolated island are nevertheless well-stocked and you could even buy a giant cadbury egg!
We walked down to the pier to check out Portree’s infamous brightly painted buildings and received a view of the town from below.
For dinner we went to Cuchullin Restaurant. It was their opening night for the season and since it started raining again, it wasn’t busy. It had great food though and warmed us up before we had to walk back.
What I Wish We’d Done:
- Fairy Pools – They’re in the southern part of Skye and so we didn’t have time to see them, but I’ve heard they’re beautiful clear pools of water.
- Stayed longer – It’s difficult when you’re only there for a day and a half so if the weather is bad during that time, you don’t have time to make it up.
- Dunvegan Castle – A beautiful castle on the water, but we didn’t have time. The building is also open only from April to October I believe so we couldn’t have even gone inside.
- Brother’s Point, Old Man of Storr, and Quiraing – I was disappointed that we were unsuccessful in doing the true hikes, but we had just gotten too unlucky. It wasn’t the right day for it and we couldn’t have forced it.
Overall Impression of Skye:
It’s an astoundingly beautiful place to see landscapes and coastlines that you’ve never seen before. It’s also an isolated place where I personally would not want to live or stay for longer than a week. While it was nice going during the offseason to have less people, Skye has become more of a resort place and the majority of places are only open during the busy season. Skye was a wonderful experience where I was able to see a completely different side of Scotland compared to the city that I live in everyday, but I prefer the accessibility of everything in Edinburgh. You can definitely see artists and writers hiding themselves away here though to immerse themselves within the power of nature.