Over the Sea to Skye
The Isle of Skye is about a 2 and a half hour drive from Inverness. The roads are tight and winding. I passed by Loch Ness, mountains and fields of green on the way north. I stopped along the road several times to take photos and relax. Check out my 3 day stay in Skye:
DAY ONE: Driving to Portree
The first official stop on my Skye visit was the Eilean Dunon Castle. This castle is famous for being in several movies like one of my favorites, The Maid of Honor. There was so much to see inside the castle. There were original family heirlooms and trinkets. It was absolutely amazing.
I met an older woman from Australia traveling alone as well and we bonded over our love for Scotland. After the tour, I hopped back into the car and drove with the music blasting and the windows down. It was a beautiful day in Scotland and I still had a long drive ahead of me. The view from the car was incredible. The mountains lined the roadway and there were occasional waterfalls and streams.
I have wanted to visit the Isle of Skye for several years now. It is filled with wonder and magic. There is said to be fairies on the Isle and dragons. Once I arrived, it was like being in a different world. The grass was greener, the sky blue and the air crisp. You could hear the waterfalls from off in the distance and could not help but wonder if you would see a creature in the woods.
I finally arrived in Portree and was staying at the Portree Independent Hostel. I was unfortunately in a 12 person room which smelled of camp. The hostel itself was very clean and updated. The staff was very helpful and had great advice on places to see and visit in Skye. I decided to keep my things in my car as I explored the petite downtown. There was even a bagpipe performance in the square. I walked down by the water and saw the picturesque watercolor buildings that aligned the shore. It was perfect.
I ate at the Central Cafe closer to my hostel. They had vegetarian haggis. It was delicious! They did have a 6:30 pm no wifi rule, so I ordered a Skye Brew beer instead and glanced through travel magazines. After dinner, I headed north towards Kilt Rock. The wind was blowing and there was a beautiful hum noise coming from the gate fence around the cliff. It was a straight drop from the cliff to the water. The waterfall was directly to my left and the sky was beginning to change shades of orange and yellow. It was a perfect way to end the night.
DAY TWO: Southern Skye
I woke up fairly early because everyone in my 12 person bedroom was waking up at the crack of dawn. I decided to head south to Glen Brittle to hike the Fairy Pools. It is a series of waterfalls and small whirlpools. I hiked for 2 hours and then decided to turn around because my legs were killing me. I had 11,000 steps on my Fitbit before noon!
Next on my list was Dunvegan castle and gardens. It was a self lead tour of the grounds (which I personally enjoy), and the castle was still inhabited by the original family. In the basement, there was a story about how the MacLead Clan won over the land of St. Kilda many years ago. It began with the background of how two clans wanted the land, so the leaders of the clans decided to race by boat, the first man to lay his hand on the shore would take ownership of the land. Supposedly, the race was close, so MacLead cut off his left hand and threw it onto the shore, claiming his territory.
After walking through the gardens, I headed west to Neist Point, the most western point on the Isle of Skye. It overlooked beautiful mountains and the aqua blue waters. I only climbed partially to the lighthouse because at this point of the day, I was exhausted.
I decided to grab dinner at Stein Inn, the oldest inn in Skye. I was falling asleep before my appetizer came to the table. I barely touched my food when I asked for the check and headed home. As soon as I walked into the hostel, I passed out. What a day.
DAY THREE: Northern Skye
Having a great nights rest, I decided to wake up and hike the Old Man of Storr. It is basically this huge rock formation, on top of a hill that has been standing for thousands of years. The climb was a little rough, especially without my hiking boots. But I somehow made it to the top. It gave me a great view of the Loch and mountain ranges. On the way down, it was rather slick and muddy, so of course I banana slipped, fell and rolled down the hill.
Covered in mud, I headed to the car laughing hysterically. Nothing was going to ruin this gorgeous day. The next stop was the Quiraing. From my understanding, this was a valley formed from a landslide hundreds of thousands of years ago. I sat on the ledge from awhile, looking out into the horizon. It was very peaceful and there were also hiking trails galore.
Making my way north, I stopped at the grave of Flora MacDonald and the Skye Museum of Island Life. It was very interesting to see how people lived on the island hundreds of years ago, but I could have gone with just stopping by the graveyard instead. Flora is one of the biggest Scottish Heroines of all time. She helped the Bonnie Prince Charlie hide during the Jacobite rebellion and the battle at Culloden.
After a few hours in the car, I arrived in Uig. I stayed in a private room at the Uig Hotel. It was a beautiful location with breakfast included in the morning. After unpacking, I ate dinner the Pier Restaurant across the bay. It was more like I grabbed a beer at the bar because Uig is home to the Skye Brewing Company and I could not pass up trying out a fresh brew.
To end my night, I went to the Fairy Glen eight behind my hotel. Just to be clear, I am 22 years old and will always believe in fairies, so this was the ultimate wonderland for me. There were cone shaped mountains, small waterfalls and puzzle rock formations in different spirals and shapes. I climbed to the top of Castle Ewen and overlooked the valley. I offered some money into the center of one of the rock formations and danced about as I explored the glen. I was the only person there, so I stayed for almost two hours and watched the sun set and the sky change into cotton candy colors.
On my way back to the south, I stopped at the Three Sisters of Glencoe which were absolutely breathtaking. I also decided to extend a night to stop in Stirling. I had visited the city last summer and climbed the William Wallace Memorial and attended a Highland game. This time, I booked a stay on the University of Stirling campus. I was so excited because after several years on Ancestory.com, my mom traced our Scottish heritage back to Stirling. Needless to say, I was stoked!
I was staying in a dorm on campus and it was perfect. It was just like staying in a hotel and the room had a large bed and private bathroom. Once I had checked in, I walked around the campus, which was absolutely beautiful and made me wish I had thought about going for a masters degree. There was a castle, secret garden and golf course on the grounds. It was also close to downtown Stirling.
In the morning, I realized my phone had completely died. Being stranded without a phone and without a GPS, I had to purchase a map and figure out how to get to Glasgow (which had the nearest Apple store). Somehow, like our parents before us, I was able to map my way from Stirling to Glasgow. I was also able to find the Apple store on my own. Although the store in Glasgow did not have a phone for me, they were able to track one down in Edinburgh and I was lucky enough to drive to the store before it closed to switch my dead phone for a new one.
As silly as it sounds, as a young woman who is traveling alone in several foreign countries, it is important to have a working mobile device. If I had been traveling with someone else, I would not have cared if my phone was working or not. But when you are alone there are certain necessities that you must consider. I was thankful that I was in a country that spoke English.