The fastest way to get to the Western Hebrides is also through the Isle of Skye: In Uig, on the north-west-coast of the island the ferry will take passangers and cars to Tarbert in Harris and to Lochmaddy in North Uist. These ferries are quite expensive and when you have a high motorhome you also need to make a reservation some time ahead.
I have done that once and spent 3 days in the western Hebrides, where the weather might change very fast and strong winds might make an end to a joyfull vacation !
Another way to drive by car to the Isle of Skye is on a side-road over Glenelg & Arnisdale, two lovely, but really remote places in the Scotish Highlands. The street will take you first through some scenic woods and you will end at Kylerhea, where a ferry takes you to the remote south of the Isle of Skye.
Click on the weblink below to find more details about this car-ferry that is operated ONLY in the summertime from Easter till mid of October. They will go daily between 10.00am and 06.00pm every 20 minutes or when-ever required !
The main road to the Isle of Skye will take you through some of the most scenic areas of the highlands on the road A87 from Inverness or Ft. Williams from the Scottish mainland over a bridge in Kyle of Lochalsh. You will pass by Eilean Donan Castle - shown in my 2nd picture, a scenic castle that is open also for visitors.
Some time ago it was quite expensive to drive over that bridge, but now it is totally free of charge after some severe protests of local people !
There are NO trains in the Isle of Skye, BUT you can get from Ft. Williams to Mallaig by train and from there you could take the ferry-boat to the Isle of Skye.
That trainline is called "the Jacobite" and Harry-Potter-fans might remember this scenery and the steamtrain from these movies. And once a week every summer there will be a steamtrain like in my picture going from Ft. Williams to Mallaig as a daytrip - make your reservations as soon as possible, that train is mostly fully booked and there are NO standing-places available !
The cruiseboat to Lough Corruisk will need about 2 hours one way - and you will have about 90 minutes to explore the lake before they will take you back. They even had a "Tea-break" on the ship with tea, coffee and coockies included in the ticket.
My photograph was taken on my way back from Lough Corruisk and you will see the mountains surrounding Lough Corruisk in the middle of my picture.
Read more details about the ship and this trip in my link below !
Another possibility to get to Lough Corruisk is to walk from Glenbrittle ( there you may leave your car and may even spend the night in a Youth-hostel ). Such a hike will take the whole day !!
Skye has - in my view - some of UK's most scenic driving roads, with views of sandy beaches, rock, Cuillin mountain ranges, waterfalls, pretty little towns, etc. Furthermore, public transport is relatively undeveloped so seeing the island without a car would substantially eat into the time you have available and limit your sightseeing options.
It can, however, be a tricky place to drive, and there are a few things to keep in mind:
Road quality: road surfaces are uneven once you're off 3-4 main roads, so potholes will test your car
Single track roads: roads to many of the most scenic places (Quiraing and Neist Point come to mind) are single track, with enough space for just one vehicle. There are, however, many passing places along the road so make sure you look for both oncoming traffic and any cars behind you wishing to overtake - it'll make for a more pleasant driving experience for all concerned
Gradient and bends: Skye is in the Highlands, and some of the most scenic routes go through mountainous terrain, so gradient of over 15%-16% degrees is not uncommon, and with bends, too. So make sure you select the gears that help you keep control of the car if you're in a manual (as we were!)
Cattle grids: there are plenty off the main roads, so look out for signs and slow down to save your tires and suspension (and ears - the noise cattle grids make when you drive over is not pleasant!)
Once you get to the northern parts of Skye, the two lane roads end up being one lane. The locals have got this down pat, if you see a car coming towards you, you pull of onto one of the many pull offs and let the other car pass. No rush, just take it easy.
Some of the tourists are much less courteous and go flying through at breakneck speeds and do not have any intention of sharing the road
My friends and I arrived at Skye via the Skye Bridge, but were determined to squeeze in a ferry ride back to the mainland and we were SO glad we did. We arrived for a sunset trip from Armadale to Mallaig and the views back over Skye were unbelievable and a fitting send off.
Notice in the pictures that there was little que...our visit was during the last week of September. It is my understanding from other VT tips that purchasing your tickets ahead of time is recommended during travel peak season or if you are more pressed for time. Our fair was approximately £35 and time on board was around 30 minutes.
(Note for fellow motion sicknesses sufferers: I faired quite well on this ferry ride with the use of my accupressure wristbands)
For a long time the only way to reach Skye was to go to Kylesku and take the Ferry across. In the 1980s a bridge was built to save time and be more convenient, though at a price. In the early 200s there was talk of scrapping the toll.
The old ferry was for cars and passengers. Driving along narrow roads, poorly fenced on the edge of the mountains and then driving down and onto the ferry was a nightmare.
In common with many other rural routes throughout the Highlands of Scotland, Skye has its fair share of single track roads. Great care is required when driving on these routes as there is very little chance of two cars being able to pass one another. However, there are Passing Places (small laybys), located every few hundred metres which enable vehicles travelling in opposite directions to pass. They also enable you to pull over and let a vehicle travelling behind to pass. You will actually see Police Notices advising you to do exactly this.
It is adviseable to slow down and be ready to pull in when approaching a Passing Place in the event that you may come across another road user who is approaching in the opposite direction or who may appear suddenly from round a corner or over the top of a crest on the road. Be aware that these routes are also used by cyclists and motorcycles and again it can be very tight to pass each other between Passing Places.
Therefore in order to enjoy the scenery whilst travelling by road, please follow the rules and drive safely.
Years before the Skye Bridge was built, or indeed, any previous ferry crossing from Kyle of Lochalsh, the ferries used to go from Gleneig to Kylerhea. In bygone days Black Cattle were taken to the mainland tied nose to tail to swim the hundred meters behind a rowing boat. The littlle six car ferry still crosses the minch and goes daily to Skye. It runs every fifteen minutes during busy times and thirty minutes in quieter periods. Monday - Saturday sailings are from 9.00 - 18.00 & Sunday 10.00 - 17.00
Prices - car + 4 passengers £8.50
passenger only £1.00
Perhaps a more romantic crossing in our rush to get about.
Listen here to the Skye Boat Song
CityLink will pick you up directly at the Glasgow International Airport and drop you off at the door of the Sligachan Hotel - with a few stops and six hours in between. The bus ride costs 28 pounds and some pence (9/07) and you can catch in the reverse direction again - take care of the midges circling your face as you wait. The same bus will take you on to Portree, where the Old Man of Storr (another mountain) awaits or farther, to Uig, the ferryport for Tarbert on the Harris part of the Harris/Lewis island of the Outer Hebrides.
From Sligachan, there are other local buses you can catch both along the Uig-Portree-Broadford-Kyleakin route (postal bus from Broadford runs over to Elgol for access to boats going to Coruisk and the southern Cuillin) and also from Broadford another line runs further south to Armadale on the Sleat Peninsula and the ferry to Mallaig (the train from Fort William comes in there). Another bus route goes by Sligachan in the direction of Carbost and the Talisker Distillery.
Neither my boyfriend nor I drive but we do still manage to have some great holidays in Skye. I'm not going to pretend that it's an amazing service with buses every half hour going everywhere and all linking up together, but it is possible.
First of all you have to be prepared to work around the timetable, there may only be a couple of buses a day to and from where you want to go. You might not be able to spend as long as you want there, or you might get stuck somewhere longer than you want.
Rapsons Buses cover most of the island (Citylink also have a couple of services a day to and from Inverness/Glasgow/Fort William that pass through the island). You can download a timetable from their website - read it carefully and check the codes, it can be easy to miss that a bus only operates on schooldays (as happened to us but it was a sunny day and we were near a cafe we could wait in). Don't always trust what the timetable says at the bus stops either, go with your printed timetable (also available from tourist offices and on the buses) and double-check with the drivers. They are mainly pretty friendly and some go out of their way to help tourists.
The main bus route seems to be Uig-Portree-Broadford-Armadale, and it's the one we've used most. It doesn't go as regularly as you might want, but it's still ok. Don't always expect the buses to co-ordinate with other routes though! There are day tickets and three-day tickets which can prove economical if you are doing a lot of travelling about. There's also the postbus service run by the Royal Mail but there might only be 3 seats and it's first come, first servied. Remember it's main function is to get the post around, taking passengers is an added extra.
So please don't think you can't get around Skye on public transport, you can, you just might not be able to do as much as you would want and you end up at the mercy of their times, but we still love it (going to Skye that is, I wouldn't go so far as to say we love the buses) and manage to see lots.
After a daylong trip around the Isle of Skye, we were headed to Fort William.
Rather than drive back over the Isle of Skye bridge, then south, we caught the ferry that goes from Armadale [on Skye] to Mallaig [on mainland], and drove from there.
It wasn't cheap [car + 4 people = £32], but saved quite a bit of driving time at the end of the day, and enabled us to get out of the car and [especially for the driver] to enjoy more of the incredible scenery as we crossed to the mainland.
Caledonian MacBrayne Hebridean & Clyde Ferries
There are two ways to get to the Isle of Skye; via the Skye Bridge or by ferry.
The ferry to Skye departs from the Mallaig Harbour and lands in Armadale on the Skye.
Mallaig is a quaint fishing village, with its main activities centered on the working port. It is a must for those who have a weakness for the sea and boats.
You can get prices and timetables at either of the links below: