Book your accommodation early before visiting the Isle of Skye, as the island is very popular and there are only a handful of hotels and lodgings. Be sure to bring sturdy footwear, ideally which is waterproofed.
Explore the area around the foreboding Cuillin Mountains, discovering its whisky, beauty and mystery.
Talisker Distillery produces a single malt scotch whisky which is characterised by a powerful and peppery taste that has more than a hint of the sea and is moderately peaty. It is with good reason that it has been referred to as "the lava of the Cuillins". The general tour - 'Flavours of Talisker' - starts on the hour, so arrive about 15 minutes before this. In 1830 Hugh MacAskill leased a site at Carbost on Loch Harport from the MacLeods, raised £3,000 (it probably helped that his brother Kenneth ran the bank in Portree) and built a distillery at Carbost. Hugh chose to name his new distillery after his estate, Talisker, rather than the village in which it was located, Carbost.
Talisker Bay is a beautiful beach of stones and sand, best visited at low tide. There is both black and white sand on the beach, often mottled together to create patterns. The northern side of the bay is hemmed in by vertical cliffs and an impressive waterfall, whilst the southern side is closed off no less impressively by a great sea stack. Park at the Talisker Bay Car Park (really you are only parking on the verge of the road), then walk down the track to the bay, which will take about 15 minutes.
The Oyster Shed opened in 2012 and sells the local oysters which are farmed by the family themselves. The oyster far was established in 1981 and expanded at one point to a size of over 2 million oysters. The Oyster Shed also sells local fresh crab, lobster, langoustines, mussels, venison, game, cheese and honey.
The Fairy Pools are a natural waterfall phenomenon in Glen Brittle on the Isle of Skye. The vivid blues and greens of the pools suggest an unnatural origin. They are also a popular place for wild swimmers. The walk to the pools uses the same route there and back. The complete return distance to the first main waterfall and pool is 2.4km, with the average time to complete the walk being 40 minutes (with no stops). Most people will spend some time working their way up the river from the first waterfall exploring the different pools.
Continue your journey down Glen Brittle, past the Fairy Pools carpark and down to the Lochside near the Glenbrittle campsite. Glen Brittle runs roughly south to north, along the River Brittle, which has its mouth at Loch Brittle (a sea loch). The glen is also overlooked from the east by the formidable Cuillin, the largest mountains on Skye. The name is probably derived from old Norse Bred Dal ("broad valley") with the Gaelic glean ("valley") being prefixed later. The sandy beach at the southernmost point of the glen is the most popular attraction. The beach is home to many interesting bird species, such as turnstones, ringed plovers, grey herons, dunlins, curlews and oystercatchers.
Sligachan lies at the head of Glen Sligachan. This runs for eight miles south to meet the sea at Camasunary near Elgol, and divides the rounded Red Cuillin from the jagged Black Cuillin. Views from Sligachan itself are dominated by the savage profile of Sgurr nan Gillean. Over the years Sligachan has become a mecca for those wanting to tackle the Black Cuillin: something not for the faint hearted or inexperienced. The name Sligachan is Gaelic for "shelly place", after the shells found at the original location. The Sligachan Waterfall is only a short walk upstream from the bridge.
Discover Skye's ancient fortifications and its more modern castles, while learning about its fairies and real life giants, all with the most beautiful landscapes as a backdrop.
Dun Beag is a broch, one of around five hundred to be found across mainly the north and west of Scotland. Brochs were built in the last centuries BC and the first centuries AD. Opinions differ as to their purpose. Some view them as primarily defensive structures, while others believe they were symbols of prestige and power. When originally built Dun Beag would have been at least 10m taller than it is today. The residents would have lived at first floor level and above, while the ground floor would have been used for keeping livestock. The whole structure would have been roofed over with wood and thatch and there may have been a defensive rampart around the top.
Giant Angus MacAskill Museum celebrates the life of Angus MacAskill, who stood 7ft8in (2.36m) tall, weighed 425lb and lived from 1825 to 1863. He was the tallest Scotsman ever to have lived, and the tallest recorded true giant. He was born at the north end of the island of Berneray, in the Sound of Harris, the fourth of ten children of average sized parents. As a baby, Angus was so small he was not expected to survive. When he was 6, Angus's parents and their children were "cleared" from their land and forced to emigrate to the new world, where they settled in St Ann's, Cape Breton. Angus added most of his size during his teenage years, and by his early 20s has become renowned for feats of strength, becoming known as Gille Mor, the Cape Breton Giant, or Giant MacAskill. Eventually he was recruited to take part in a travelling show, where he put on performances across North America and Europe, working alongside General Tom Thumb, the shortest fully grown man of the time. He retired back to St Ann's a wealthy man. Although never visiting Skye, the museum was founded here by Peter MacAskill to provide a lasting memory to a notable member of the clan.
Dunvegan Castle is the seat of the MacLeod of MacLeod, chief of the Clan MacLeod. Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the stronghold of the chiefs of the clan for more than 800 years. A curtain wall was built round the hill in the 13th century around a former Norse fort which was only accessible through a sea gate. A castle was then constructed within the curtain wall by Malcolm MacLeod in about 1350. Look out for the the Fairy Flag as you walk around the castle and make sure to set aside time to walk the beautiful gardens.
The Fairy Flag, which resides in Dunvegan Castle, is treasured by the MacLeod clan, and has been used as a talisman during many of their battles. The legend behind the flag tells of how one of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod married a fairy; however, after twenty years she is forced to leave him and return to fairyland, but gave him the flag, promising that if it was waved in times of danger and distress, help would be given on three occasions. It was at the Fairy Bridge on the road to Stein (just after you leave the A850 road), where the legend states that she bade farewell to the chief.
Stein Inn is the oldest inn on Skye and offers light lunches and traditional bar meals. They use the best of Scottish ingredients and in particular from the Isle of Skye and the Highlands, including the freshest of shellfish. Eat in the bar, or reserve a table, or weather permitting, al fresco with the fabulous view of Loch Bay.
From the car park, follow the path to the beach. The walk takes about 20 minutes and you may need to wear sturdy footwear. Claigan Coral Beach is not actually made from coral, but the skeletal remains of a rare type of seaweed called Maerl. It is a beautiful beach with the small uninhabited island of Lampay accessible at low tide. From the carpark at Claigan, there is a mile long signposted path that leads to the beach.
Neist Point is a viewpoint on the most westerly point of Skye. Neist Point Lighthouse has been located there since 1909. Neist Point projects into The Minch and provides a walk and viewpoint. The basalt at Neist Point is very similar to that at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking shark can be seen from the point. Common seabirds include gannets, black guillemots, razorbills and European shags. Several rare plants, including saxifrages are found on the point. Make sure to wear sturdy footwear when visiting.
In a land of stunning scenery, marvel at Skye's most dramatic landscapes on this journey, with massive landslips, giant fingers of rock, and towering waterfalls.
Castle Ewen, also known as the Fairy Castle, in the Fairy Glen, sits above a fantastic wonderland of lumps and bumps and crazy pinnacles. Though it looks like a fortified tower, Castle Ewen is a natural rock formation. Geologists have one view about this up thrust of rock, but everyone around Uig swears it was created by fairies. Park near, or just beyond a small lochan (on the right) and explore this amazing landscape.
The Skye Museum of Island Life is an award-winning museum of seven thatched cottages where you can find out how islanders once lived. Explore the old croft house, byre and the village smithy. Visit the local shop or the weaver’s house. See a vast array of crofting implements and Highland history. Situated by the monument of the Highland Heroine Flora MacDonald, whose story is told in the museum.
Duntulm is believed to have been first fortified in the Iron Age, and the site continues to be associated with the name Dùn Dhaibhidh or "David's Fort". Later in life it was fortified by the Norse, and subsequently by their successors, the MacLeods of Skye. It would have been while it was under the MacLeod's tenure that James V visited the castle in 1540, where he was impressed by its strength and the quality of the hospitality on offer. By the early 1600s the castle was controlled by the MacDonalds, and they abandoned the castle in about 1730 in favour of nearby Monkstadt House. Some say this was after a nursemaid accidentally dropped the baby son of the clan chief from a castle window above the cliffs. The ghost of the nursemaid, killed in retribution, is still said to wander the ruins.
The SKYE Restaurant is part of the Flodigarry Hotel, with a glorious elevated setting looking over to Staffin Island. Flora Macdonalds actual cottage is adjacent to the hotel.
The Quiraing is a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish. The whole of the Trotternish Ridge escarpment was formed by a great series of landslips; the Quiraing is the only part of the slip still moving. Parts of the distinctive landscape have earned particular names. The Needle is a jagged 120-foot (37 m) high landmark pinnacle, a remnant of landslipping. Northwest of it is The Table, a flat grassy area slipped down from the summit plateau. Southwest is the Prison, a pyramidal rocky peak which can look like a medieval keep when viewed from the right angle. The name Quiraing comes from Old Norse 'Kvi Rand', which means "Round Fold".
Kilt Rock boasts a dramatic waterfall created from the outflow of Loch Mealt. Kilt Rock comprises spectacular sea-cliffs 55 metres (180 ft) tall, made of dolerite rock strata in many different colours (which makes the cliffs look like a kilt!).
There is a large well signposted car park at the base of the hill, just off the A855. The walk is steep in places and can require a little care near the summit. Also make sure you wear sturdy shoes. The Old Man of Storr is a massive pinnacle and is in fact just one element in an array of fantastic rock features. The Storr is the rocky hill on the Trotternish peninsula on which the Old Man resides. The Storr is prime example of the Trotternish landslip, the longest such feature in Great Britain. The area in front of the cliffs of the Storr is known as the Sanctuary. Some of the opening scenes in Ridley Scott's 2012 feature film Prometheus were shot at the Old Man of Storr.