Oh Look a Castle: Isle of Skye

Never underestimate the power of a good shower and good coffee to turn your mood around. Sarah had let me sleep as late as I wanted that morning–still not wanting to tangle with me after the night before–and used that time to plot out a route for that day. She ran through the route with me over some amazing coffee and breakfast at Cafe Arriba. If you find yourself staying in Portree, I’d really recommend going there for breakfast or lunch. Really good coffee and great food–lots of it too!


The view outside our hostel. Seriously, Skye, you’re gorgeous!

Oh, and we did learn from our mistakes the day before. Before leaving Portree we hit up the grocery store for water bottles, lunch, and some snacks. That way we wouldn’t have to worry about finding a restaurant when we were ready to eat.


Driving the coast road.

If you are planning to visit Skye, you have two options: either rent a car or join an organized tour group. I’m sure there is some public transit on the island, though I can honestly say I never saw a single city bus let alone one going between popular tourist sites. If you go for the self guided option, be aware that a lot of the roads are small and narrow–some even single track roads that require you to pull off to the side to let traffic going the opposite direction pass. There are also ample places to pull off the road for pictures. Take it easy and stop as often as you want along the way.


Other site seers who arrived by private tour group.

What I learned about the Isle of Skye that day is as follows: Skye is gorgeous, and there are more sheep than people on the island. I happen to have a deep love of farm animals, and thankfully Sarah was quite patient with me and my enthusiasm for them each time we passed a field of sheep or cows.


We had seen this abandoned structure from the road and decided to hike up to see it. We had to go through a sheep field to get there. 

One of our stops (we had designated it our lunch stop) was at the coral beach. Beach is such a subjective term in the UK, and I was honestly not expecting much. After driving a single lane road deep into the country we hiked down to the beach. In terms of actual white sand, what we saw was about a two meter by one meter patch. We ate our lunch and completely took the piss out of “the beach.” But as we sat there, we noticed that most people were heading over the hill behind us, rather than stopping where we had. After eating, I mentioned to Sarah that we should at least go up there and see where everyone else is going.


A quick snack stop on our way to the coral beach.

“Wouldn’t be be funny if the actual beach is over there and we’ve been sitting in the wrong place the whole time?” I said to her.

Yeah, we were sitting in the wrong place. The coral beach is actually pretty spectacular. It’s not a fine sand beach like you find in the tropics, it’s actually battered white coral bits. Finally something a little more like a proper beach.


The first beach that I have seen so far in the UK that actually looks like a beach!

Our last stop of the day was at the Fairy Pools. Like most of the attractions on Skye, this is a geographical formation of pools and waterfalls, surrounded by mountains. We had had the brilliant idea of taking a short cut from where we parked the car to where the trail was. Once again my high top Converse were a terrible choice of footwear. The ground all around the pools is soggy and with virtually no tread to my shoes I went sliding down the hill when I hit a particularly wet patch of grass. Good thing I was able to twist and land on the side where my camera wasn’t.


Exploring the Fairy Pools


I think the Fairy Pools was my favorite part of the day. I could have spent a full day climbing around the rocks, taking pictures of the waterfalls. There are no guard rails or site reps that keep you from climbing where ever you want. Which is exactly what Sarah wanted because if there is a body of water around, Sarah will be in it. Sure enough, she ended up going for a quick swim.


Waterfalls, rock pools, and Sarah’s quick swim.

We decided that night to make a second attempt at that plan for a seafood dinner. Pro tip: when eating in Portree, seriously make dinner reservations. Every restaurant we went to along the harbor was completely booked out. Eventually we did find a place, and yes the food was everything we wanted, just no view. It’s quite a view too.


Portree harbor while we were trying to find somewhere for dinner. 

Another early night–a much better one than the night before–because we would have another long drive back to Edinburgh the next day.