I have the privilege of calling the Isle of Skye the closest thing to being my ‘home’. It’s where my parents live. However, for me I’ve only visited on a couple of occasions and never lived there for a long time. When I do see them, I always find out there’s something else to the island that makes it more than just a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. The island is definitely magical and the rugged terrain makes for some of the best scenery on the planet. There are many different aspects of why somebody would want to visit the Isle of Skye. Surprisingly, the island is not swamped with as many tourists as you may think. It remains a travel secret. Most sights on the island are free to see as well, making it all the more reason to go.
Getting in & Around
The way there is precarious, a two lane highway that zigzags through the highlands. But it is one of the most beautiful drives one could ever take. It takes you along the banks of Loch Ness (yeah, you know the story there) and through the epic terrain of Glencoe and Lochalsh. You’ll see mountains jutting from the water’s edge straight into the clouds. It reminds me of giants whose heads are too high to see. The drive starts from Glasgow and takes you to the southern tip of the island where a new bridge connects the Isle of Skye to the mainland.
There’s also a bus that runs this route. The drive takes most of the day and the bus isn’t any slower. There is also a train which drops you at the start of the bridge to the Isle Skye from Edinburgh.
Once on the island, you can find a bus that does a circuit around it during the day. By nightfall nothing happens, so be sure you’re settled by then. Hitching is a wonderful option to get around the island. Lots of friendly locals willing to help out a backpacker in need. I know of only two hostels on the island and during the summer and they’re always full, therefore reservations are a must here.
The best way to see the island is to camp around and hike on foot. There’s not many places left in the world where you can ‘go off the grid’ but the Isle of Skye remains one of them.
Isle of Skye in movies
Yes, it’s true. The Isle of Skye has seen its fair share of Hollywood big shots shooting flicks about anything from aliens to sword-wielding heroes. Some of my favorite movies include: Prometheus, Stardust, and the cult classic, Highlander. Currently they are shooting a new movie on Skye which is a remake of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Who knows, maybe if you walk in to one of the local pubs you just might see a celebrity nursing a pint!
Isle of Skye’s history
All the way since Prehistoric times people have been living on this small island. The island has also seen Viking settlers live on it and there are some places rumored to have Viking boats still buried and disguised as hills. During WW2 German U-boats would land on the island at night and steal fresh water from the island’s numerous streams. Most famously, Skye is the final resting place of Scotland’s historical sweetheart; Flora Macdonald. So between trekking from one hill to another don’t be surprised if you run into the old ruins of a castle or the wreckage of a WW2 bomber. The island has it all.
The Isle of Skye is magic… literally!
I’ve been perplexed more than just a few times running across pictish symbols made of stones on heather moors, or walking down a trail and seeing a stone stack where there wasn’t one before. Supposedly the Pictish symbols are places of Druidic worship and the stone stacks are when fairies turn into stone during the daytime. There are lots of landmarks named after mythical creatures such as trolls and fairies. There is still a great deal of belief in the magical realm on this island. Don’t be fooled if nobody talks about it.
A few more photos from the island: