isle of skye, scotland

We had the best two days exploring the Isle of Skye.  It's truly an amazing island, full of a variety of spectacular scenery - we saw the coast, the mountains, lochs, waterfalls, amazing rock formations, and of course, sheep.  

Day 1

On our first day we focused on the Trotternish Peninsula.  We drove from our Airbnb near Edinbane through Portree (check out the colorful harbor!) to the Old Man of Storr.  The walk up to the Old Man of Storr is the busiest and most famous walk on the Isle of Skye (we were there in mid-April, and it was fairly crowded, so I can't even imagine the summer).  There are a few paths once you get near the top, and we chose one that actually took us to the Old Man (I touched it!!) and then another that we were on all by ourselves.  It was spectacular.

D - The drive to, along with our time spent on, Skye really robbed my speech of all seemingly useful adjectives.  I was just beside myself while we were there trying to find words or phrases to describe what we were seeing.  I know (for a fact!) that Shannon definitely grew tired of me saying "wow" or comparing everything to the landscapes featured in Lord of the Rings, but I just couldn't help myself.  I was humming Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire" (from "The Hobbit") probably the entire time we were there.

D - See what I mean?  Can't you just imagine Hobbits, and Dwarves, and Elves, and all manner of creatures from Middle Earth hiking through here?

Once we hiked down the Old Man of Storr, we drove on to Kilt Rock, named because the cliffs nearby are said to resemble, of course, a kilt.  

D - Though this was a bit nippy (unaided by the fact that the water from the waterfall was being blown back into our faces by huge gusts of wind) I'm definitely glad we checked it out!  As you can see, Kilt Rock and the accompanying falls are truly a sight to behold!

Our drive continued after we ate lunch from the Food Co-operative (a grocery store) in the car (we'd picked it up in Portree in the morning), past sheep and such, until we reached the Quiraing.  The entire Quiraing loop is a little over 4 miles, which we had planned to do, but turned around due to the cold and wind - it just wasn't very enjoyable.  The views were amazing, though, and we were glad that we persevered for as long as we did.  

D - Looking back, I wish that we could've finished the hike, because it ends with a view of this thing called The Table: a hidden, flat, grassy shelf where herders used to hide their animals from raiders and which can only be viewed from above.  But Shannon is right in saying that it was so cold and windy that it would have been kind of miserable. 

We finished our drive around the Trotternish Peninsula and picked up soup to eat at our Airbnb, and then headed back in Portree for a bit.  We took the Scorrybreac walk, which was about 2 miles long, and included views of Portree Bay, the Island of Raasay, and the town of Portree.  A perfect, low-key end to the day.

And that was day one!  My favorite part was probably the Old Man of Storr, the paths where it was just us and the scenery, but I think if the weather had been better, the Quiraing would have been my favorite.  Both of them, though, just had so much green, spectacular views, and an almost other-worldly feel.  While I'm so, so thankful that we didn't have any rain, I'd love to see all these places again on sunny days!

Day 2

Our second day on the Isle of Skye began with a walk to the Coral Beach in Claigan.  Roundtrip the walk is just over 2 miles, and pretty flat.  When I saw the pictures of the Coral Beach online, I definitely wanted to add it to our list, and I was so excited when it was just as stunning - if not more so! - in person.  I had no idea that such a place existed in Europe, let alone Scotland, so seeing the Coral Beach was really neat for me.  Now, to go back to such pretty, clear waters when it's warmer than 50°... 

D - Our guidebook said that the Coral Beach resembled a tropical beach, but I didn't really believe it till we got there.  It was awesome!

From Coral Beach we drove to Neist Point, or at least the parking lot at Neist Point.  We ate PB&Js in the car (photo included because WHAT A SCENIC SPOT TO EAT A SANDWICH!) for lunch and we walked along the cliffs overlooking the trail that led out to Neist Point, as they had great views of the lighthouse on the point (some things we had read said it wasn't really worth the walk to get out to the lighthouse).  It was kind of muddy, and we weren't on a path...and...I stepped in a lot of mud.  My shoes were saturated and I was feeling a bit sad about it so Danny decided to go into the mud as well so we could both be uncomfortable.  He shoes weren't quite as porous as mine, but it was quite a sweet thing to do!

Our drive continued to Talisker Beach.  I'd read about Talisker on a blog that I read sometimes and was excited to check it out.  As we walked down the farm road to get there, it felt like we were trespassing on someone's private property, but occasionally we'd pass someone going the other way, and it seemed like it was okay.  We made it to the beach, and it was...just amazing.  We were the only ones there, and I felt small against the cliffs and the sea.  It was a really special experience.  Hugh and Caroline let us borrow their wellies for our trip, and we were so glad we had them for our time at Talisker - we had a great time wading in the waves and not worrying about getting wet!

D - Besides us being the only ones there while we were exploring, my favorite parts of Talisker were probably the swirly black rocks or the black sand that was there.  They just add a really cool dynamic that you don't get at most beaches.  The sand almost reminded me of artificial turf material, I've never really seen anything natural quite like it!

When we finished at Talisker, we drove on towards the Cuillins, where we planned to hike the Fairy Pools.  I think we were both really looking forward to the Fairy Pools because they're just so famous in Scotland and worldwide.  Honestly, though, they kind of let me down....they just didn't look anything like the pictures I'd seen online.  The setting was certainly spectacular, though, which really took us by surprise.  

D - Though Shannon felt a bit let down, I really enjoyed the Fairy Pools.   Even though you can't (we didn't) really capture it that well on camera, the pools are indescribably blue and clear.  I was really wishing I had brought my swim suit!  Oh well, another day perhaps!  Plus with the Cuillin Hills providing the backdrop, I really feel like its one of the more scenic places I've ever been.

It got dark as we were driving from the Fairy Pools back to our Airbnb for another soup supper, so that was the end of our sightseeing for the day.  In the morning we had our final amazing breakfast with our hosts as we watched snow (!!!) fall outside our windows.  Shortly afterwards we began our drive back to the farm.  We made only one stop on our way back, much different than our drive up to Skye (check it out here), and it was in Glenfinnan to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct.  Danny's a big Harry Potter fan, and filming for the second and third movies took place here, so when he found out it wasn't too out of our way, we decided to stop on our way back.

D - I'm sad to report that apart from the paraphernalia sold in the gift shop, no trace of the Wizarding World, including the Hogwarts Express, was seen while exploring the area.  I'd still recommend it though!  It's a pretty cool place, especially if you're a Potter fan, but even if you're not.  

Putting together this post was just the best and the worst.  I did it almost two months after our trip, so many of the little details and memories have already slipped away, and because it was such a packed few days, I really put it off for a long time.  However, going through all the pictures, all 416 of them, was so sweet.  At one point I said to Danny, "Can we go back and spend a week?  I can't believe we got to go to Skye, but I feel like I want more time!"  It sounds so greedy, but Skye is really so (insert all of the adjectives having to do with awesome, beautiful, and amazing).  I just...can't get enough!  I think part of it was visiting in the off-season, and not having to share with many people, that probably helped a lot, and the other part is that the Isle of Skye has some really remarkable scenery (and we didn't even see it all!).  So, Skye, until we meet again!  We hope to return again some day!