Two full days of views, hiking, natural wonders and history on the beautiful Isle of Skye
We arrived at our hotel in Portree on the Isle of Skye in the late afternoon after a beautiful drive from Inverness and visiting some awesome castles along the way.
In this post:
- Cuillin Hills Hotel
- Fairy Pools
- Fairy Glen
- Dunvegan Castle
- Chargrill Restaurant at the Marmalade Hotel
- Old Man of Storr
- Kilt Rock
- Flodigarry Skye Restaurant
- Ferry to Mallaig and drive to Ft. William Information
Portree is a great base for a visit to the Isle of Skye. It isn’t difficult to get around the island–we found the driving and maps very easy. We stayed three nights in the Cuillin Hills Hotel. This hotel has beautiful views of the sailboats in Portree Bay and the colorful houses in Portree. On a clear day (our first day, fortunately) we had beautiful views of the Cuillin Mountains. The hotel has a large front lawn area with seating to enjoy the beautiful Isle of Skye and Portree views.
The Cuillin Hills Hotel’s restaurant is very, very good. We ate dinner there once (highly recommend) and breakfast there twice. The service was always impeccable and the food delicious. The dining room overlooks the lawn and the bay, so the tables have incredible views. We were fortunate to score a table by the windows.
Our room overlooked the bay as well. It was very comfortable, with nice, updated furnishings and a great bathroom. As we were midway through our Scotland itinerary, we needed laundry done, and the service was great and done within a day.
It was an easy drive there and there weren’t many people around. The waterfalls are an absolutely beautiful setting. It was a rainy, dreary day, but the waterfalls were gorgeous and the foggy mist made it a truly ethereal setting.
We parked (for a small fee) and walked across the road. After a minimal distance, we found some small waterfalls. We then continued up the hill and eventually started seeing the large ones. Overall, the hike was very easy; however there are several small streams to cross carefully across slippery rocks. Just take your time. The day we were there it was also very muddy.
The Fairy Pools path climbs gradually up the hill alongside a series of beautiful waterfalls, streams and pools. With the rain the waterfalls were really strong. You can easily maneuver closer to the falls and pools at most points on the path. They were very beautiful and it was an easy hike of about a mile and a half. Allow at least 40 minutes. It was hard not to take pictures and videos at each waterfall, as they were all so beautiful!
The Isle of Skye is incredible and the Fairy Pools are not to be missed. I even found an arrowhead at one point, but didn’t want bad juju from the “fairies,” so I just took a picture with it and put it back down.
For an overview of the hike, go to Isle of Skye Tourist Information.
We left the Fairy Pools and headed to the Fairy Glen (this was obviously Fairy Day)! The Fairy Glen is a series of land masses, some are pointy mounds, others more rounded mounds. It is very other-worldly looking and enchanting. We loved climbing the mounds and enjoying the views. There is a large rock formation at the top of one called Castle Ewan, which was fun to climb up. The view from the top was fantastic.
There was also a “Game of Thrones”-style circle near Castle Ewan, but from what I understand that was created by tourists and the locals have to dismantle it constantly. You can see it in the slideshow below.
Continuing with our “fairy” theme, our final stop on our Isle of Skye itinerary for the day was Dunvegan Castle, ancestral home of the Chief of Clan MacLeod. This beautiful castle was exceptional to explore. On display they have The Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, which supposedly has miraculous powers for the MacCleod Clan. When unfurled in battle, the Clan cannot be defeated. There are several legends relating to the flag, which in reality was probably brought back from the Crusades. You can read about the flag here.
The castle has been occupied by the same family for 800 years. You can tell from the exhibits how very proud they are of their history. The castle is in fabulous shape and the clan motto, “Hold Fast” holds true for the castle, too.
Like all the other castles we had visited, Dunvegan has a very interesting history and many pieces of art and artifacts that are truly fascinating. They also have some beautiful gardens. I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful castle.
We had reservations for this wonderful restaurant in Portree. My husband and I both had delicious steaks. The service, atmosphere, and food were all very good.
The next morning we left bright and early to arrive around 8 am at the Old Man of Storr. It isn’t a very difficult hike up, and the views and rock formations are truly incredible. They are going to film scenes from the upcoming prequel to Game of Thrones there. It is eerie and other worldly, and truly beautiful. It also had amazing views over the water and the surrounding area.
This hike on Isle of Skye is truly not to be missed.
While driving north on the eastern side of the island, you can pull off for an overlook area that has a magnificent view of Kilt Rock. The day we were there, a bagpiper made us feel at home with lovely tunes.
You have to wait your turn for the best views of the Mealt Falls that flow in to the sea, but it is worth it.
Just be prepared for crowds as many or all of the tour buses stop here.
We loved this hike as well. There are some points on the path with a sheer drop right beside you–if you have a fear of heights, you might get a bit nervous. There is a section where you have to carefully lower yourself down rocks and over a small stream, just take your time and it’s not too bad. We walked all the way along the east side to the fence that they have up (for the end, I guess!). There are beautiful views of the water and the rock formations the entire way. This was an absolutely beautiful, fairly easy hike.
Here is a quick video I took walking along the path:
After our two hikes of Storr and the Quiraing, we were ready for something to eat and a “wee dram.” We had early reservations at Skye Restaurant, which is located in the Flodigarry Hotel on the Northeast Coast. After we finished the Quiraing (the parking lot is basically in the middle of the island), we headed west on the very narrow road so that we could drive north along the west coast.
We arrived at the beautiful hotel in a magnificent location and, since we were super-early for our reservations, we had a few drinks in the lovely pub there. When our table was ready, we sat in a windowed-sunroom area and had a great, delicious dinner. Our server was really efficient and down-to-earth, and the service in the pub and the hotel was all very good. We didn’t stay at this hotel as it is so far north, but I would highly recommend it, just from the service we experienced alone. And oh my gosh. THE VIEWS FROM THIS PLACE! Heavenly.
Our big plan for getting from Skye to Ft. William was to drive to Mallaig on Skye and take the ferry to the mainland, then take the scenic drive from there to Ft. William. However, when I asked at our hotel about it, the nice lady asked if I already had made reservations. I immediately got online…and the first ferry was sold out already. If we waited for a later one that would put us far behind on our schedule. So we had to scrap the ferry plan. I was pretty bummed that I missed this awesome boat ride, as all reviews had said how beautiful it is. So if you want to take the ferry, book far in advance to avoid similar sadness and disappointment!
Final Thoughts on Skye
When people talk about Scotland they often refer to Skye. There is a reason for it. It is truly a fabulous place and not to be missed.
What did you like the most about the Isle of Skye? Please leave your comments below. Up next: Ft. William!