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Isle of Skye

Kilt Rock Waterfall by Barbara Ballard View over water from Portree by Barbara Ballard Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides islands at 48 miles in length. Its width varies from 3 to 25 miles. Mountain, sea, and history combine to give the island a mythical image. Much of the land, still wild, is bare of human habitation. Many of the people speak Gaelic.

Skye Bridge courtesy John Allan Geograph Britain and Ireland Portree view courtesy Richard Dorrell Geograph Britain and Ireland The bridge to Skye is located at Kyleakin, the former ferry port. A drive from here to Portree unfolds the splendid beauty of Skye’s scenic wonders. Portree is the main centre on Skye and a good base for exploring the island. Begin an island visit with the Aros Experience where AV presentations and information boards tell of the history and way of life of the people and the Gaelic language.

Trotternish peninsula by Barbara Ballard Traveling north up the coast road on the Trotternish peninsula brings into view an area where mountain slippage holds sway. Piles of boulders, scree, and pinnacles dominate the landscape.

Old Man of Storr by Barbara Ballard Quiraing,  the Needle courtesy John Allan Geograph Britain and Ireland The 20-mile drive is replete with seascapes and unusual rock formations such as the Storr with its basaltic rock columns and towers. The escarpment known as the Storr is 2363 feet high; the Old Man of Storr is an 160-foot high pillar of note. Further along the road is another similar area known as the Quiraing where the land features are called the Table, the Prison, and the Needle. The Quiraing was a favourite destination for Victorian travellers. Everywhere arresting seascapes are on view.

Museum of Island Life by Barbara Ballard Museum of Island Life courtesy Terry Johnson Geograph Britain and Ireland At Kilmuir, the Skye Museum of Island Life exhibits many photographs and documents, and visitors can see an authentic late 19th century crofter house, a weaver’s house, a smithy, and a ceilidh house. A Celtic cross monument to Flora MacDonald sits in the churchyard. Her role in spiriting Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s escape to Skye is an oft-told tale. It is the theme of the song, ‘Over the Sea to Skye’.

Dunvegan Castle by Barbara Ballard Dunvegan Loch courtesy Richard Dorrell Geograph Britain and Ireland On the northwest coast of Skye, Castle Dunvegan, beside the loch of the same name, has served as the home of the chiefs of the Macleods for 800 years. Alterations were made in mid 19th century. Flora MacDonald lived here at one time. Here is the Fairy Flag, reputed to have magical powers. The legend of the flag is that a MacLeod married a fairy, and, when she returned to her people, she left behind the flag to protect the family from harm. Clan mementos, ancestral portraits, and a dungeon complete the picture.

Cuillin Hills from Elgol jetty courtesy Irene Cockett Geograph Britain and Ireland In the southwest, Skye’s Cuillin hills are its defining feature. More than 20 peaks reach 3000 feet in height. The Black Cullins are horseshoe shaped; the Red Cullins are named from the pink granite of their stone. They are popular with climbers and hillwalkers who enjoy the challenge of the steep ravines, scree slopes, and gullies. Further south at Torrin, climbers are enticed by the 3044-foot mountain known as Bla Bheinn.

Armadale Castle courtesy John Allan Geograph Britain and Ireland Armadale Castle gardens courtesy Colin Park Geograph Britain and Ireland At Armadale near the southern tip of Skye, in the ruined Armadale Castle’s gardens, is the Clan Donald Centre and the Museum of the Isles, which contains an exhibition on the Lords of the Isles and the Gaelic culture. Woodland walks and nature trails are an added attraction.

Isle of Skye Visitor Information Centres

Armadale VIC
Armadale Pottery
Armadale, Sleat
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: no hours given

Broadford VIC
The Car Park, Broadford
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: Summer season only: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 11am-4pm

Dunvegan VIC
2 Lochside, Dunvegan IV55 8WB
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: April-May: Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm; June and Sep, Oct: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; July-Aug: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm

Portree VIC
Bayfield House
Bayfield Rd, Portree, IV51 9EL
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: Apr-mid May and mid Sep-late Oct: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 10am-4pm; late May: Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm, Sun 10am-4pm; Jun-Jul: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-4pm; early-mid Sep: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm; late Oct-March: limited opening hours

Atlantic House, Uig, IV51 9XX
Tel. none given
Open: Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm, Sat and Sun 11am-4pm; local information

Skye Attractions

For full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.

Armadale Museum of the Isles
Armadale, Inner Hebrides, on the A851
Tel. 0 1471 844 305

Aros Experience
Portree, on the A87
Tel. 0 1478 613 649

Captain Fraser’s Folly
On the A87, at Uig

Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan, at end of A850 in north-west part of Isle of Skye
Tel. 0 1470 521 206
Web: Dunvegan Castle

Skye Museum of Island Life
On the A855, Trotternish Peninsula
Tel. 0 1470 552 206

Trotternish Peninsula Drive
On A855, A87

Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy of Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Skye bridge and Armadale Castle: John Allan
Portree view: Richard Dorrell
Quiraing, the Needle: John Allan
Museum of Island Life: Terry Johnson
Dunvegan loch: Richard Dorrell
Cuillin Hills: Irene Cockett
Armadale Castle gardens: Colin Park

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