In a recent survey by the country’s biggest estate agents the Isle of Skye emerged at the top of the list of the most desired places to live in the UK. Commentators from the more fashionable urban centres expressed surprise while locals and frequent visitors nodded in quiet agreement. One of the most pertinent bits of advice that emerged in the ensuing debate that this list provoked, was that people thinking of relocating to Skye should experience it in winter as well as summer before taking the plunge. We at LHH couldn’t agree more and here are our top reasons why you should visit the misty isle off season and some great self-catering houses to stay in, the next best thing to permanent relocation.
Talisker is currently the only active distillery on the island (although there are two new ones in the pipeline). It’s a classic malt with a worldwide reputation and distillery tours are available all year round. A dram is always a treat but there is something extra special about a hot toddy in winter. After a long day outside the feeling of warmth and satisfaction when you relax in front of a peat fire with a single malt as the wind howls outside cannot be beat. Saltwinds is less than 10 minutes away and has stunning views during the day and a welcoming fire for the evening.
The Absence of Midges
Midges can often be the ruination of a west coast holiday. Thankfully they are elsewhere in the winter months when it’s a great time to be out exploring the many coastal walks and paths around the island. There is a fresh and invigorating taste to the sea air when it has been blowing a hoolie, walking in it can clear your mind as well as transforming the landscape. The days are short but the spectacular deep pink sunsets which can begin at 3.30 more than compensate. Beach House has panoramic views over the sea to the Isle of Raasay, ideal for appreciating the landscape in comfort.
Driving holidays to Scotland have become a lot more popular in recent years. During peak season in the summer many single track roads on the mainland can get congested with the sheer volume of traffic. Skye on the other hand still feels like a little bit of motoring paradise, the scenery around the Quiraing can rival anywhere in the UK and while the roads are quiet they are still challenging enough to put a smile on the face of the most experienced driver. If driving just for the sake of it, exploring off the beaten path and just going where the road takes you appeals, then Skye in winter is the place for you. The Sleat Peninsula is an oft overlooked corner of the island but rewards the intrepid motorist, Teangue House is a wild 30 minute drive from the Skye Bridge, but still green and lush compared to the more rugged north.
Gloriously Wild Weather
When wild storms drift across the horizon and the exquisitely coloured skies drag sheets of rain up from the sea, it’s time to stand on the beach and get splashed by the spray flying off the rocks. Windswept and rain-lashed, you’ll feel satisfyingly exhilarated and awed by the power of nature. Mealt Falls has the wow factor in the summer, but in winter the volume of water increases making it a truly breath-taking spectacle. In really windy weather the water from the falls can be blown upwards and even across the road back to the loch, nature at it’s finest. The light and colours in the winter also make it ideal for photography, perfect rainbows, clear skies, starry nights and northern lights all await you.
Winter walking on the Cuillin
The Cuillin Ridge can be a daunting challenge for hillwalkers in the summer but even more so in winter. Frequently covered in snow it’s the closest the UK has to a classic alpine traverse and draws intrepid mountaineers from all over. The less experienced can join in organised walks, rambles, hikes and climbs. The Countryside Rangers, for Skye and Lochalsh are based in Broadford have a programme of professionally guided activities throughout the winter.
Festivals and events
During the summer there are a host of festivals and events throughout the island. These are mainly geared towards visitors and can attract international artists and massive crowds. During the off season the focus changes, it’s a time for the residents to let their hair down after the hustle and bustle of the main tourist season so local bands, small venues and traditional music are the order of the day. A warm welcome is assured if you venture out and it’s a great way to meet some locals and feel like a part of the community.