Island Adventures – The Inner Hebrides & Isle of Skye

The Inner Hebrides are scattered off the west coast of Scotland and are made up of 36 inhabited islands altogether, including Islay, Jura, Skye, Mull, Raasay and Staffa.

People come here to discover the charm of these remote, beautiful places and to explore the wonderfully diverse and captivating scenery.

Skye Bridge
The Skye Road Bridge with the Cuillin Mountains in the background

The Isle of Skye is connected to the mainland by a bridge joining the villages of Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyleakin. If you still want to arrive by boat from the mainland, there are frequent sailings from Mallaig to Armadale.

This is a short ferry crossing with fabulous views towards Skye of the Sleat Peninsula with the jagged mountains of the Cuillin range towering above it. You’ll also see the peaks of Knoydart, the last great Scottish wilderness, as well as the striking peaks on the island of Rum and the distinctive profile of Eigg.

Stay a while at Armadale where you can visit the castle, the last ancestral home of the Macdonalds of Sleat. Explore 40 acres of historic gardens with woodland walks around romantic ruins, enjoy stunning views across the Sound of Sleat, visit the award winning museum and discover the history of the Highlands. The estate is a lovely habitat for wildlife; look out for red deer, golden eagles and sea eagles.

Armadale Castle
The front entrance to the abandoned but still very grand Armadale Castle

Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides and best known for its rugged landscapes, picturesque fishing villages and medieval castles. Portree is the largest town and a hub for tourists with lots of shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and restaurants. The harbour is a gastro treat with freshly caught seafood on most of the menus and boutique shops to browse.

Skye is a walker’s paradise, home to some of the most spectacular and challenging mountains in Britain. The Black Cuillin range has many summits requiring scrambling and or rock climbing to reach the very top (it is strongly advised to hire a guide if you are new to the area).

You can experience all the drama and challenges of these mountains on some of the shorter lower routes; you’ll only miss out on the views from the very top of the pinnacles. There are 12 mountains all over 914 metres, the highest is Sgurr Alasdair at 992 metres. The range attracts ‘Munro baggers’ of all fitness levels and there are walks to suit everyone – though the Sgurr Dearg and its Inaccessible Pinnacle, is best avoided by all except the most expert rock climbers!

The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye
The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

The Trotternish Ridge is about 19 miles long and best walked over 2 days. One of the finest ridge traverses in Britain, it is a remarkable peninsula and the result of a massive landslide. Along its length are some of the most striking natural landscapes in Scotland.

You’ll walk along the crags of the Quiraing to the summit of Sron where the ridge officially starts. Climb Bioda Buidhe, Ben Edra then the Peak of the Red Fox with lovely views of Rona and Raasay on a clear day.

After a short steep climb you reach Hartaval then the summit of Storr, the highest point at 717 metres with views of the pinnacles of the Storr Sanctuary. The best parts of the ridge are now behind you with only Ben Dearg waiting, a real sting in the tail before crossing boggy ground to finally arrive at Portree for a well-earned rest and wee dram!

Dramatic rocky pinnacles, mountain peaks and valleys of the Quiraing on the Trotternish Penisula

The Minginish coastline remains largely unvisited, which is surprising as it is only slightly less spectacular than the island’s mountainous regions. Huge cliffs and dramatic waterfalls can be reached by walkers who’ll be rewarded with one of the most beautiful bays on Skye.

The walk has plenty of historical interest with ancient cairns and 19th century crofts plus lovely views of the Small Isles and the southern Outer Hebrides in the distance.

Fairy Glen to the north of Uig has a magical landscape, with roads winding round small grassy hills and Lochans (ponds). The same goes for the Fairy Pools with lovely waterfalls and crystal clear rock pools in the shadow of the Cuillin Mountains.

Other things to do on the island:-

Neist Point is one of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland near Glendale on Skye. Walking along the path you’ll see stunning views of high cliffs and the lighthouse which looks out towards the Outer Hebrides. You can also spot sea birds and minke whales in the summer months.

Neist Point Lighthouse
Neist Point Lighthouse clinging on to dramatic cliffs on the Isle of Skye

Beautiful Talisker Beach has a spectacular setting at the foot of Glen Oraid and is an easy walk from the road. There is a wide stretch of sand amidst impressive high cliffs, a huge sea stack and waterfalls. This is one of the few beaches on Skye. Aspiring photographers should visit at sunset which can be spectacular.

For the history and culture buffs the Skye Museum of Island Life is not to be missed at Kilmuir with a preserved township of thatched cottages dating back to the 18th century. Dunvegan Castle and Gardens is a must with a wealth of history to discover.

Built in the 13th century it was the seat of the chief of clan Macleod and is currently occupied by the 30th clan chief, Hugh Magnus MacLeod. This is a stunning location on a rocky outcrop on the shores of Loch Dunvegan and you will stroll through woodland, past waterfalls and see pretty plants and rhododendrons thriving under the warm influence of the Gulf Stream!

There are some fast and exciting wildlife boat trips around the coast of Skye. You can go for 2 or 4 hours or even circumnavigate the whole island (weather permitting!). Look out for dolphins, seals and sea eagles and enjoy the amazing scenery.

Seals resting on the Isle of Skye
Seals rest on the rocks in Loch Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye

Hidden Gems on Skye

Tobar Loch Shianta was the most celebrated healing well in medieval times on the island. The Gaelic people also believed in the healing powers of the indigenous plants found on the loch shoreline.

The stunning beach of Flodigarry has amazing views, as well as being a fantastic place to look for fossils at low tide. Fossils can be found on the exposed clay bedrock and boulder-strewn shoreline, only those on the surface can be collected by visitors.

At the southern tip of the Duirnish Peninsula are three dramatic sea stacks called Macleod’s Maidens. This is a 16km return walk but you are rewarded by the stacks; the Mother rises 70 metres out of the wild ocean with the two Daughters either side.

St Columba’s Isle was the centre of Christianity in the Hebrides between 1079 to 1498. It lies between Portree and Dunvegan, and you’ll find ancient ruins and graves dating back many centuries. St Columba is mainly associated with Iona but this is the site he founded the Cathedral of the Bishops of the Isles.

Click here to choose your perfect holiday cottage on the Isle of Skye.

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