Anyone familiar with tabloid headlines will be able to recognize hyperbole when they see it. A recent story describing Skye as being full shocked local residents and visitors alike as it is completely at odds with the experiences of people who have actually been there. Skye has indeed seen a large increase in visitor numbers in the last few years, it’s perfectly understandable given how much the island has to offer holidaymakers, but for those willing to get off the beaten track a little they can easily find some peace, serenity and quiet.
The Cuillins should not be missed by any visitor to the island. These majestic peaks offer enough hiking opportunities to keep even the most avid walker busy for the duration of their stay. The ‘Fairy Pools’ are a traditional stop off for walkers on the way down from the ridge, but are now easily accessible from the new car park in Glenbrittle. This means the occasional presence of coach parties, but the landscape is so vast that you never feel crowded. To really immerse yourself in the remoteness of the Cuillins then take a boat trip from Elgol to Loch Coruisk and the seldom visited southern side. Hikers can make the journey by boat in one direction and walk the other for a true wilderness experience. You are much more likely to encounter some wildlife than see another person. Saltwinds is in a great location for the serious walker, close to the famous hiker’s pub in Carbost as well as having inspirational views over the MacLeod Tables.
Skye cannot promise cyclists the holy grail of traffic-free roads but a trip to Raasay will provide the next best thing. The short ferry journey to get here is enough to deter most motorists (there is no charge for bikes) and you are unlikely to encounter any coaches or lorries. It makes a great location for cycling with the kids and you can even ride along Calum’s Road which gives you a sense of the history of the place. For those worried about their fitness then electric bikes are available to rent at Raasay house, where post ride refreshments can also be had.
For crowds of bon viveurs chasing Michelin starred restaurants then Kinloch Lodge and The 3 Chimneys are the obvious destinations, those in the know head to Scorrybreac in Portree for a quiet dining experience. With only 20 seats, if you are lucky enough to secure a reservation, then you are guaranteed an intimate dinner to remember from one of the most exciting up and coming chefs in the country. In contrast to the hip, contemporary cuisine of Scorrybreac then the Eilean Larmain is a culinary gem of a different sort, offering the very best in traditional Scottish cooking. Located in the oft overlooked Sleat Peninsula, this corner of Skye is green and lush as opposed to the rugged north. Arrivals to Teangue House via the ferry from Armadale often find there is so much to do in this part of the island that they spend the entire holiday without visiting the busier north.
Skye doesn’t pretend to have white sandy beaches to rival the west coast of the Hebrides but the location and atmosphere of some of the best shoreline spots more than compensates. Their relative inaccessibility mean that they are rarely busy and it is common have the place completely to yourself. Talisker Bay, the inspiration for the famous Skye made whisky is a spectacular spot for a picnic (bring your hip flask if you are not driving) and the coral beach at Claigan further north is equally impressive. Instead of sand it is made up of fossilised and sun-bleached algae which almost glows and makes the sea an azure blue when the sun shines. Beach House sits right on the water’s edge and can be driven to in a 4x4 at low tide. The panoramic views over to Raasay are tremendous and talented fisherman can have a go at catching their dinner from just outside the lounge.
One more way to beat the crowds would be to come during the off season. There are tremendous bargains to be had on self-catering accommodation and unlike many parts of the country the top attractions are still open. After a busy season, this is when the locals let their hair down and the diaspora return, so it’s also a friendly, sociable time to visit. Check the LHH website now for last minute deals and low season special offers.