Skye is one of the most beautiful locations in the UK to visit. It is world renowned for scenery and landscapes that will take your breath away. At 50 miles long it is the largest of the Inner Hebrides. Each of the 50 miles is packed with history, beauty and magic. Is there anything better than a Skye road trip?
We set off on our Skye road trip excited to discover everything that this enchanting island has to offer. We had a mere weekend to see and do as much as we possible could. It is nowhere near long enough to see everything available on this magical place, but we were determined to make the most of it! Here is an itinerary of all the stops that we managed to fit in!
We set off from Inverness at 6.30am with plans to reach our first stop before 8.30am. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had my second cup of coffee and drove almost all the way to Ullapool before realising my mistake. With an extra hour added to our journey I sheepishly turned and got us back on the correct route!
The Most Photographed Castle in Scotland
The first stop on our Skye road trip is probably one of the most iconic on mainland Scotland. Just before you reach the Skye Bridge you come to the famous Eilean Donan castle. This 13th century stronghold is probably the most photographed castle in Scotland and needs no introductions. The castle was initially built as a defensive measure against the marauding Vikings. It has evolved through the centuries and even played a role in the Jacobite risings of the 17th and 18th Century. It’s a must stop destination on your Skye road trip. The photos alone will make it worthwhile.
Coffee with a Sprinkle of Magic
I was in dire need of a caffeine boost before we continued on our journey. This café is another destination before the Skye Bridge that we implore you to visit! Manuela’s Wee Bakery in Ardelve is just a stones throw from Eilean Donan Castle. It is a magical café with whimsical hand crafted buildings, a unique gin distillery, and great coffee! This enchanting wee place really needs to be seen to be appreciated! We highly recommend you make this your final pitstop before crossing the bridge to Skye
An Awesome Adventure in Spar Cave
Galvanised by Manuela’s amazing coffee, and feeling adventurous, we decided to head south to make Spar Cave our next stop. Spar cave is one of Skye’s lesser knows treasures, but it is absolutely out of this world. Spar Cave is about 5 miles from Elgol and is one of the most magnificent caves I have ever been in. The cave can only be accessed at low tide so we timed our arrival to fall at lowest tide. This adventure involves a steep scramble up white flow stone to reach a circular pool deep inside the cave. The cave is pitch black and rather creepy so don’t forget your torch! The inside of the cave makes you feel as though you have walked into the mouth of a giant beast. You can read more about our Spar Cave adventure here.
A Leap of Faith at Elgol Harbour
After our escapades in Spar Cave we needed somewhere to relax and take in the surrounding beauty. We couldn’t have picked a more beautiful spot than Elgol Harbour. The harbour is a picturesque location with views over to the Cuillin mountains. As we sat and ate our lunch a small fishing boat pulled in with the days catch. Luckily for me I had already jumped off the pier into the crystal clear water. A bracing, but awesome experience. A must see place on your Skye road trip
Sligachan Bridge and the Hidden Falls
We had heard about some secret waterfalls and pools near Sligachan bridge and were determined to find them for a dip! We didn’t even bother to take our changing robes off and headed north on our quest. There was a very friendly herd of Highland Cattle on the road north, so we stopped to get some great pictures of Scotland’s favourite hairy coo!
We parked near Sligachan bridge in a carpark and headed off on our walk. Sligachan Bridge is one of the most photographed spots in Skye. When you point your lens at the old bridge with the Cuillin mountains framed in the background it is easy to understand why. People say the water under the bridge is enchanted. If you dip your face in the clear water you will be rewarded with eternal beauty! We gave it a go- it’s worth a try isn’t it!
Not far from Sligachan bridge you will find a couple of secluded waterfalls and pools suitable for wild swimming. Allt Daraich falls are every bit as beautiful as the nearby Fairy Pools, while not being as well known. Nothing screams Isle of Skye like immersing yourself in a magical green pool with the black outline of the Cuillins as a backdrop. This is a must see place on your Isle of Skye road trip. To learn more click here.
The World Famous Fairy Pools
No trip to Skye is complete without a visit to the Fairy Pools. Their popularity can be a little off-putting but we arrived early enough in the season to miss the crowds.
The world renowned pools sit at the foot of the black Cuillin mountain range. Their beauty entices visitors from all over the country and beyond. The pools are famous for their waterfalls and the crystal clear, green tinged water. The Fairy Pools are another great stop for some wild swimming although you may want to get there early to beat the crowds. We had another wee swim to make it our third of the day! Our towelling robes have definitely come in handy! Be aware that the carpark costs £5.
Seafood Heaven at the Oyster Shed
With all that wild swimming there is a good chance you would have worked up an appetite. We certainly had! The Oyster shed is a fifteen minute drive north-west of the Fairy Pools. The fresh seafood is served from a rustic shed with wooden picnic benches and a fantastic view. If you are a fan of oysters this place is a must visit on your Isle of Skye road trip. All the seafood is fresh off the boat and if you want extra to take home there is also a small shop on site. The scallops and chips were to die for! The food was so good I forgot to take a photo! You can read more about the Oyster Shed here.
Pitching up for the night at Coral Beach
From Dunvegan we headed north to Coral beach where we planned to watch the sunset and try out our new paddle board. As we parked up, there were a few groups of people who clearly had the same idea. Coral beach is named so due to the crushed white seaweed (often confused for coral) that makes up the sand. When the sun comes out this makes the water sparkle a beautiful tropical blue! It is a great place for a picnic, swim or paddleboard.
The beach is about a 20 minute walk from the carpark and we decided to walk a little further around the peninsula to get a secluded spot to camp up. It is important to remember the Scottish Access Code when wild camping. We took a lightweight 2 man tent and camped away from enclosed fields, buildings and the road. We took away all of our litter and didn’t light a fire as we didn’t have a raised pit with us. You can read more about the Scottish Access Code here.
We enjoyed a paddle board in the calm water at Coral Beach There is a small coastal island here that you can paddle out to. After our paddle we climbed a small hill beside the beach to watch the sunset and then headed to our tent to warm up and get some much needed sleep! Tomorrow was another action packed day!
A Touch of Magic in the Fairy Glen
We rose early on the Sunday morning to head North towards Uig and the beautiful Fairy Glen. This really is a magical place with rolling green as far as the eye can see! The glen is just a short walk from where you park and we spent about half an hour here soaking up the peaceful surroundings. On a longer road trip you could easily spend an hour or more! The glen has no known mythological links to fairies, however when the crowds disperse you can certainly imagine them coming out to play in this magical place!
The Spectacular Quiraing
We left the Fairy Glen to make our way to the unbelievable Quiraing. The Quiraing is part of the Trotternish ridge and contains towering cliffs, craggy formations and pinnacles of rock. The Quiraing walk is essential for any photographer as it passes through some of the most spectacular landscape in Scotland. A walk of the whole loop can take 3- 4 hours. More information can be found here on walkhighlands.
Due to time constraints we decided to walk as far as the prison, needle and table features before retracing our steps back to the carpark. The path can be uneven and scrambly in places so wear suitable footwear! The photo opportunities are out of this world! A must see destination on your Skye road trip.
Hunting for Dinosaurs at An Corran Beach
After our visit to the Quariang we made the short drive to An Corran Beach. An Corran beach has volcanic sand and calm water but for once we weren’t interested in a wild swim. We were determined to find the famous dinosaur footprints we had heard so much about. Remarkably the dinosaur prints were not discovered until 2002 after a storm had blown away the sand and seaweed that covered them! There are 17 prints in all and they are best discovered at low tide although seaweed can make them very tricky to spot. After about 10 minutes of searching we found the largest of the prints slightly obscured by seaweed. Many of the others were covered up but we managed to spot a few. These are the largest dinosaur footprints in Scotland and the beach is well worth a visit to try and find them!
Kilt Rock, Mealt Waterfall and Lealt waterfall
Our next stop as we made our way down the coast was Kilt Rock. Kilt rock is a 90 metre high cliff with a striking similarity to a pleated kilt. Mealt waterfall flows over the side of the cliff, crashing into the sea below. There is a large viewpoint and it’s a great place to stop for ten minutes.
If you head five minutes further south you will come to Lealt Falls, which is arguably more impressive that its more famous neighbour. There is a narrow path you can walk down that provides a good view of the falls. You can follow this path all the way to the beach which has the remains of old salmon bothys. This waterfall is well worth a quick stop.
Don’t Forget the Old Man of Storr
One of our last stops before heading back to Inverness was the iconic Old Man of Storr. The walk takes between 1 and 2 hours and starts and finishes from the same carpark at the bottom. This is probably the most famous walk on the Isle of Skye so expect it to be busy! You can do the walk in most conditions but the final stage just before the Old Man is a wee bit of a scramble! This was once part of the same ridge as the Quaraing, and the photos here are just as magnificent!
Fish and Chips and a Tower View at Portree
We were in much need of sustenance before heading back to Inverness and decided to stop at Portree for some fish and chips. Portree is a 200 year old fishing village with brightly coloured buildings sitting along a photogenic harbour. It is a beautiful spot to stop for some food and a wander. The views from the top of the village over the harbour are beautiful and make for a great photograph.
While we were there we decided to walk up to a tower high on the cliff top that we could see from the harbour. The path up to the Apothecarys Tower winds around the cliff and it doesn’t take long to get to the top. You can climb steps to the top of tower and get great views over Portree Harbour. There is more information on the tower here.
Depart for Inverness
We headed back to Inverness with both our hearts and our bellies full! We had the most magical couple of days exploring the wonderful Isle of Skye. Fortunately we live close enough to revisit the areas we had to miss this time. However, if you find yourself with only a couple of days to explore this amazing island we hope our itinerary helps you decide where to go!
Click here to go to our map and directions for our Skye road trip
Remember wherever you go to take only pictures and leave only footprints to help protect Scotland’s beauty for all who live here and visit!
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