The Isle of Skye, Scotland. This has been on my list of places to visit for a long time and what better time to do it than a global pandemic! With a much quieter than usual tourist scene and without the need for all the pre-departure and arrival Covid testing (like we’d experienced on our recent travels to Gibraltar), it made now a great time to go. Skye wasn’t the only place we wanted to see though, we flew to Glasgow and picked up our rental car and after a very scenic drive through the Highlands & Glencoe we arrived at Fort William, home to the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis. Due to an amber weather warning on our first day, we put our plans to climb it until the day after and instead drove up to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, just in time to see the Jacobite steam train (made famous from the Harry Potter films). We also got pretty lucky with the weather despite the warnings and managed to spend the rest of the day exploring Fort William and the surrounding area with only a bit of drizzle, including a couple of hikes which helped warm up our legs for the challenge tomorrow.
We got up early and without a rain drop it sight we headed to the base of Ben Nevis. We could only see half of it however as the summit was completely covered in clouds. I was hopeful it would clear up but after 30 minutes of climbing we ascended into the wall of fog and from that point on could only see a few metres in front of us. Without the need to stop and take in what I’m sure are amazing views, we powered on to see how fast we could reach the top and managed it in 2 hours and 20 minutes! The weather hadn’t cleared at all so after a quick snack there wasn’t much else to do than to go back down which somehow took us exactly the same amount of time. Even with the poor visibility we were happy to have conquered the mountain in a good time and that finished off our list of things to do here and we set off to Skye.
After another scenic drive we crossed the bridge and arrived in the Isle of Skye, the name of the island is derived from two Norse words meaning cloud island which felt very apt. There is a lot of different places to see here and we definitely made the most of our two days pushing our legs to the limit with countless hikes and walks around the spectacular landscapes. My favourite hike was in The Quiraing near the northern tip of the island. A 4.5-mile trail leads you across the steep slopes of this landslip and loops back over the ridge and above the jagged pinnacles that make this place so unique. We actually ended up coming here twice as I wanted to venture off the trail slightly to a spot nestled right behind the rock named “The needle”, with the landscape behind. This is certainly an optional extra of the hike and isn’t for everyone, you especially need to make sure you follow the right route up the steep slope as I found out the hard way getting a bit stuck on the wrong bit on what felt like a cliff edge and had to come back down. I thankfully found the right path in the end though and it was worth the perseverance.
We had a fantastic time with a perfect mix of weather during our time here including lots of fog creating a dramatic atmosphere, it’s crazy how it can change so quickly, one minute you can’t see your hand in front of your face and the next the sun is out and you can see for miles.
It felt like such a treat to be able to get away again after such a long period being stuck at home and this trip really made the most of that exploring such a spectacular part of the world.
Things not to miss on Skye:
- The Quiraing – Loop hiking trail.
- Old Man of Storr – Steep walking trail around dramatic rock formations.
- Neist Point – Most westerly tip of Skye with great views over the lighthouse.
See all the photos from our trip below.