Isle of Skye Things to Do

  • Dun Beag
    Dun Beag
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    Loch Mealt
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  • Trotternish
    Trotternish
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Most Recent Things to Do in Isle of Skye

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    At the Grave of Flora MacDonald

    by Drever Written Mar 16, 2014

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    Munement erected to Flora MacDonald
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    An imposing Celtic cross, the memorial to Flora MacDonald who died on 4th March 1790, dominates the cemetery in Kilmuir, Skye. Perhaps appropriately sited behind the Museum of Island Life.

    Born in South Uist in 1722 she suffered the early death of her father and her mother remarrying - this time to a Hugh MacDonald of Armadale. The chief of her clan, the MacDonalds of Clanranald, brought Flora up.

    In June 1746, at the age of 24, she was living on the island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides when Bonnie Prince Charlie took refuge there after the Battle of Culloden. For two months he flitted from hiding place to hiding place in the island.

    Flora did not seem a likely person to help the fugitive prince. Her husband to be Allan MacDonald was a redcoat officer and her foster father was in command of King George's troopers on Benbecula. Like many others though she was content with the stodgy Georges as kings as they had given a period of peace. However she would not have offered up Bonnie Prince Charlie to almost certain death, not for all the ransom money offered by their government.

    Being young, healthy, full of spirit and practical Flora seemed to be the ideal choice to guide Charles on the next dangerous stage of his journey to safety. At first she refused but eventually relented.

    June 20th 1746 was the day the young Prince and Flora finally met and after a week of hiding they were ready to leave. The commander of the local militia her stepfather, Hugh MacDonald, gave her a pass to the mainland for herself, a manservant, a big, rawboned Irish spinning maid, Betty Burke (the disguised prince) and a boat's crew of six men.

    Finally the boat slipped away into the night across the Minch to Skye. From there the prince reached the island of Raasay and eventually a ship to France. Loose talk by the boatmen led to Flora’s arrest an imprisonment in the Tower of London. An Act of Indemnity passed in 1747 gained her release.

    After a time spent in North Carolina, where her husband suffered imprisonment, they returned to Skye. Flora died in 1790 at the age of 68. Thousands turned out for her funeral, creating a funeral procession a mile long. Indeed so widespread was her fame that the original family mausoleum fell victim to souvenir hunters and had to be replaced.

    The epitaph on her memorial, written by Dr Johnson, reads "A name that will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour".

    There are always interesting stones in churchyards for those who seek. Towards the back of the cemetery a slab depicting a mailed figure once marked the grave of an early Scottish king. An Angus Martin who married a Danish princess and had seven sons stole it for his own grave. In contrast to Flora he sought honour but had to award it himself.

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    Skye Museum of Island Life

    by Drever Written Mar 16, 2014

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    Typical thatched dwelling house at Museum
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    The Skye Museum of Island Life opened in 1965. The township of thatched cottages represents conditions at the close of the nineteenth century. Within their walls, by the light of the peat fire, crofters kept alive the songs and stories which have made the Hebrides famous. Warm, sturdy and made from local materials these houses suited the landscape and the climate. Whitewashed walls kept the house bright and clean. Hessian lining the ceiling helped keep it warm.

    In the main room in the croft house the family cooked on the open-hearth peat fire using a heavy three three-legged cast iron pot hung over the flame suspended from the ‘swee’. The shelves of the dresser offered both storage and a display space for the crockery. In this room the family also ate and sat before the flickering flame of the fire. The cruise, a lamp burning fish liver oil, dimly lit the room during the dark evenings.

    In this museum the other croft room furniture consists mainly of a bench, a table, a barrel chair by the fireside for the crofter and other chairs or stools for the family or visitors. The mantelpiece contained a Gaelic bible and a family photograph.

    The parent’s bedroom contains a box bed with the mattress filled with straw. The linen sheets are handmade, and the blankets have been spun and woven locally. A curtain woven by hand two hundred years ago from local flax drapes the bed. The strong crimson colour comes from lichen. The larger bedroom, the children’s room, contains three box beds. The room has wooden chests for storing clothing, a basin for washing, a mirror and a candle.

    No Highland cottage was complete without a set of bagpipes, a fiddle or a Jew’s harp.
    Neighbours got together in the long winter evenings and to make their own entertainment. They sang, told stories and discussed topics. In this congenial way the long dark nights wore away. This close community spirit and atmosphere was once so characteristic of the islands of the Hebrides.

    In the barn there is a display of tools and implements, some of which are two hundred years old, and often made by the crofter himself or by the blacksmith in the local smithy.

    The smithy, found in every community, provided a popular meeting place for the local folk. Farriery was the mainstay of the smith’s income. Every crofter had a horse, sometimes two, and in the busy seasons of spring and summer there was always a horse in the smithy being shod.

    The village weaver could also find plenty of work to keep his shuttle going, as he produced the tweed for all types of garments but also the blankets and plaids. The old handloom on display in the weaver’s cottage is over one hundred years old and is typical of the type used in homes in the Highlands.

    Other wool-working instruments on display include a distaff which goes back over two hundred years. The women used a spindle and this piece of wood to spin yarn in the times before spinning wheels became available. Other items include spinning wheels, a hank-cross, carders, dye pots and old dye-making recipes.

    The world has certainly progressed since the age represented by this museum. Might we also have lost this close community spirit and atmosphere once so valued and prevalent in many communities?

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    Dunvegan Castle

    by Drever Written Mar 16, 2014
    Dunvegan Castle

    Dunvegan Castle has been the stronghold of the Chiefs of MacLeod for nearly 800 years. Architecturally it contains work of at least ten building periods. Its history, and that of the famous Clan whose Chiefs have ruled from their castled Rock are rich with drama and packed with colourful interest. Within Dunvegan's stately halls are priceless heirlooms, some of which have descended in the hands of the Chiefs of MacLeod since medieval times.

    Rising sheer from the almost vertical edges of the rock, the castle’s massive grey towers and hoary battlements stand forth against the sky, mountain and islet-spangled sea. On the landward side are the gardens of the castle, whose beauty and range of plant life attract the interest of serious gardeners.

    The motto of Clan MacLeod is ‘Hold Fast’, and throughout the centuries their Chiefs have strove to do so. Three Chiefs even though ruined by difficulties caused by the hostility of centralised government towards Scottish Clans, have remained faithful to the Rock.

    Although the Chief during the '45 uprising didn’t support Bonnie Prince Charlie, many of his Clan did so. One of them even piloted the boat which brought the Prince 'Over the sea to Skye' from Uist during the time when the Prince was a fugitive.

    The Potato famine of 1847-51 forced the 25th Chief from his home, exhausted and ruined by the stress of providing food and work for his people. At the age of 39 he left Dunvegan to take a job as a clerk in London to raise his family. In 1929 his second son, the 27th Chief, returned as an old man to his boyhood home, the castle of his ancestors.

    Today the Castle has a unified design with Victorian dummy pepper-pots and defensive battlements running along the roof line. The 25th Chief between 1840 and 1850 carried out this 'romantic restoration'. Underneath this outer skin there remains buildings, each of a different date.

    The castle houses several relics; chief among them is the famous Fairie Flag of Dunvegan mounted in a picture frame and displayed in the castle's drawing room. Legend has it the queen of the fairie gave this magical flag to the clan in reward for a favour they had done her, and that waving it would enlist the fairies help in time of need. Many believe the flag has aided the family through hard times to remain held by a golden thread to this isle and their castle.

    The MacCrimmon Pipes on display have come down from hereditary pipers to MacLeod. Pipers in Scotland would come to receive tuition from them. Pipers still make a special pilgrimage to Dunvegan Castle where the MacCrimmon hereditary pipers to the MacLeod clan Chiefs once played the finest pipe music.

    A little test of a chief’s suitability for the job is the Rory Mor’s Horn. It holds two litres of claret, which every chief had to drink down in one draught to prove his manhood.

    The Dunvegan Cup, another artifact, carries the inscription around the brim that it had in 1493 been made for Katherine, daughter of King Neil and wife of Macguire, Prince of Fermanagh – Ireland. But inside the silver cover there is a far older oaken cup.

    In the basement there are items, photographs and stories of St. Kilda, a remote island belonging to the fief of Clan MacLeod. The islanders there like the MacLeods for a long time might have thought the motto ‘Hold Fast’ appropriate. For one thing an important part of their diet came from being lowed down sheer cliff faces on ropes to harvest gulls eggs. It was ‘hold fast’ or plunge. Eventually though they had to abandon their island. Their method of fertilising the small bit of cultivated land available had poisoned it with toxic metals.

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    An Aird, Braes.

    by tetris Updated Dec 19, 2012
    An Aird beach.
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    This walk starts from the Braes road. This road is a turn off just before or after Portree depending which direction you're coming from.

    If you drive down this road, there is a gravelled area directly opposite a house. We parked there, don't know if anyone would mind if you park there, but do not park in passing places or on someones drive. If you continue to walk down the road there is a postbox on the left in a passing place the path is just off here. There is a steepish grassy path and then you walk down onto the beach. If you walk all the way along the beach and up the grassy bank you get up the top.

    We walked along the left hand side of the peninsula and all the way to the end. To get to the point nearest Ben Tianavaig (this is the mountain/hill you can see from it), you do have to clamber over some rocks. We saw dolphins from this point following a small boat.

    If you walk along the opposite side there is a wee cliff type thing and a stack standing in the middle of it (see third picture). There is also a nice view along the coast from this side. You can continue round and then back down onto to the beach, then back up the beach and path and up to your car.

    Also there is lots of sheep so watch your feet, and the sheep usually just run off the nearer you get.

    Please excuse the rotation of the pictures can't get them upright.

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    Fairy Pools walk

    by tetris Written Dec 19, 2012
    View back down the road and river from the path.
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    Park at the car park on the right hand side of the road if coming from carbost, cross the road and walk down the path. There is a fork off to the left but that's for if you want to walk over to Sligachan. As you go down you have to cross a stream which can be awkward if it has been raining really heavily, there are stepping stones.

    If you keep walking up, there pools in which you can swim, if you don't mind the cold. The path keeps on going up the bottom of the big triangle shaped rock (can't remember what it's called and I doubt most people know what it's called anyways, see second picture). You can then either go down the way you came up (which I would throughly recommend) as the path off to the left is not exactly a path. It sort of is but it sort of isn't and it's horrible when it has been raining. If you do decide to go this way, you need to be careful as it's a tad awkward finding the path again to take you back down.

    Also dogs need to be kept on the lead here as with most of Skye due to the sheep.

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  • globetrott's Profile Photo

    take the coast-road towards the north

    by globetrott Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    Island of Skye

    Take the coast-road towards the north of the Isle of Skye.
    Some parts of the road are still "single-track-roads" with passing places and are not yet so very crowded like other roads in Scotland.
    You will pass by plenty of lovely lakes and mountains in a completely unspoilt landscape.
    I took these photo in 1990 and I am quite sure that the road is much better now !

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    Quiraing

    by globetrott Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    Island of Skye - the Quiraing

    Quiraing is a huge mountain massive in the north of the Isle of Skye, and a small road will take you across the Quiraing to the village of Uig on the West-coast.
    This road is much steeper than it seems on my photograph, but my motorhome made it anyway.
    Up there on Quiraing you will find a small path to walk around the mountain within 4 hours, offering great views over the surrounding landscape with all the lakes and the open sea. And you will also find some small places to park your car !

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    Uig - the gate to the Western Hebrides

    by globetrott Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    Uig - the ferry to the Western Hebrides

    Uig is a small town on the West-coast of the Isle of Skye and from there you will be able to take the ferry-ships to the Western Hebrides :
    To Lochmaddy on North Uist and
    To Stornoway at Lewis .

    It is essential to make reservations for these ferriesalready a long time in advance, especially when you have a motorhome that is higher than an ordinary car, as all the trafic goes with these few ferries.
    And when you happen to see the big gasoline-truck boarding the car-ferry togeather with you, you will understand, why the petrol is 30 % more expensive there on the island of the Western Hebrides.

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    take the road to Trotternish

    by globetrott Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    Trotternish - the very top of the Isle of Skye

    Trotternish Island is the very top of the Island of Skye, and there you will find only a very few buildings and farms, surrounded by heather and lovely mountains.
    Most of the sheep will run freely on all of the meadows and they will be marked by colors in order to be "sorted" by the farmers at the end of the season.
    Get more infos about Trotternish Island in my link below !

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    • Cycling

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    remote bays all over the Island

    by globetrott Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    East coast of Isle of Skye

    Drive any road that you will findon the Isle of Skye, because so many of the great bays have no names and are not indicated by signposts as worth a visit.
    After driving such roads with a dead end it sometimes was not easy to reverse with my large and heavy motorhome, as many of these roads will end inside the private area of a farm, but all of the farmers were helpful in opening their gate and letting me in to turn around my car again.
    And we always had a little chat about this and that, I could buy some eggs from them etc.

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    A small lake near Broadford

    by globetrott Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    Isle of Skye

    This lovely lake is close to Broadford and I passed by it on my way to Elgol.
    Be careful, when stepping into these meadows, as most of them are really muddy and you might sink in half a meter and it will be hard to get out again, withouth the help of someone else.
    When you are driving a car in the Isle of Skye, make sure you always "test" the surface of any place OUTside of a road, where you might want to turn around your car and have to drive through some grass or so !!!

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    Broadford

    by globetrott Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    Broadford on the Isle of Skye

    Broadford is the place, where you may take the road to the Westcoast and to some remote places to go hiking in the Cuillin Mountains.
    There you will also have a footpath to Lough Corruisk and a big camping and youth hostel.
    You will find some more infos abot this place in my link below !

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    The Old man of Storr

    by globetrott Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    Isle of Skye - Old man of Storr

    The old man of Storr is a rock, 50 meters high, and it is shown in the back of my photograph, standing up like a needle on top of the mountains.
    Watch out for the car-parking, when you get closer to these mountains, to walk up there takes about 2 hours, but it also makes a really great panorama-view over the island and the mainlands of Scotland !

    ...and there is still my old, very first motorhome. It was a bit slow, but a great car to explore Scotland, and it had an extra Motorscooter on the back ( a Velosolex, that had the engine sitting on top of the front-wheel).

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    The O'l man of Storr from the back

    by globetrott Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    Island of Skye & Old man of Storr

    This is now a part of the panorama-view that you will get , when you walk up to the Old man of Storr.
    This is the view towards Kyleakin and the Cuillin Mountains in the south of the Isle of Skye.
    There is a small parking for maybe 10 cars at the foot of the mountains and walking up needs about 1-2 hours one way. The first part is rather easy, but finding a good spot for a photograph might take more time and could be dangerous as well and quite exhausting !

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    Kyleakin - the place to enter the Isle of Skye

    by globetrott Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    Kyleakin on the Island of Skye

    The small village of Kyleakin was founded in the 19th century with a very few houses only and a tiny shop. For plenty of years it was the port, where the ferries from the Scottish mainland to the Isle of Skye landed every few minutes.
    But some years ago there was a huge bridge built connecting the mainland with the Island of Skye, and most people simply pass by the village of Kyleakin, as the bridge ends outside of town.
    In case that you need to do some shopping, Kyleakin is still a very good place and you will also find some tourist-boats leaving from there to watch seals.

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