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Inverness to Skye - driving routes

I found an old related post, but am looking for a little more detail if possible. We are staying in Inverness and then driving to stay in Broadford on Skye. There seems to be 2 primary (most direct) ways via the Skye bridge:
- A-82 —> A-887 —> A-87
- A-835 —> ? —> A-890
We’d like to know:
1. General drive time differences (distance doesn’t seem much different, but we know roads can be very different).
2. Best one for scenery and / or things to see along the way. Or really a list description of things on each route so then we could decide.

We plan on stopping at Eileen Donan regardless which seems easy.

I’ve read in other forums that the route up through Ullapool is awesome, but we have limited time and want to get over to Skye pretty directly.

Thanks for the help!!!

Posted by
941 posts

Hi, B&CM,

Personally, I'd take the A9 north to Tore, then the A835 west to Garve, then the A832 west to Kinlochewe. From there, take the A896 west through Glen Torridon, past Kishorn and through Lochcarron to Strathcarron, then pick up the A890, and on to the A87 near Eilean Donan.

It may be a little longer distance wise, but you'll be traveling through some spectacular scenery, particularly Glen Torridon. If you're not pressed for time, that would give you an opportunity to take the coast road to Applecross out of Shieldaig, then tackle the Bealach na Ba eastward. You'd need to add on an additional three hours for that detour, but it's worth it.

Whichever route you choose, the scenery is magnificent. As you're overnighting in Broadford, try the Cafe Sia for your evening meal. Great food at decent (for Skye) prices. It's next to the post office.

Best wishes.

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks, Mike (auchterless)!!
So would the total approx time be about 5 hours doing the larger loop from Inverness to Skye?

So... with your suggestion, we would need to decide: take the extra time on the drive over to Skye and skip the Trotternish Peninsula. We only have 1 night on Skye so we were planning:
* Drive Inverness to Skye (~2 hrs to bridge), leaving early AM.
* Drive Portree - Trotternish Pen., then Talisker, staying in Broadford.
* Drive to Elgol- Loch Coruisk ‘tour’ in the AM
* Drive to Armadale & ferry that afternoon.

If we do your extra drive we wouldn’t do the peninsula loop. Is it worth it? Hard to make the decisions on what to cut out with the short time. Thanks for all the help!!

Posted by
941 posts

Hi again, B&CM,

Sorry, I didn't realize that you only had the one day on Skye. That being the case, you may want to only take the A832 as far as Achnasheen, then take the A890 down to the A87, so that you can visit Eilean Donan. You have a very busy day planned!

One thing you may want to take into consideration is the weather. Check the weather forecast for Skye before you leave Inverness. I'm assuming that you're taking the Bella Jane out of Elgol. Are you just taking the boat on a round trip basis (staying on the boat), or are you going to do the short tour on land? I'd recommend taking the 90 minute landing and walking about for a bit. Obviously, you won't get to see the entire length of the loch, as it curves off to the left from the landing area. However, if the river is not in spate, you can cross on the stepping stones, and take a short walk up the east bank. The east bank path is well defined; you won't get lost. That will open up a better view of the loch. There's no really good path on the west bank of the loch.

If the weather is bad - windy or lashing down rain, the Bella Jane won't go out. Best thing to do is give them a shout the day before, and then again the morning of your sailing. It's about a 45 minute drive from Broadford to Elgol. I know that the guidebooks say 30 minutes, but it's a single track road with passing places, and there are very few parts of the road where you can exceed 35 m.p.h. Plus you need to find a parking space close to the jetty.

Given that you're planning to visit Eilean Donan (at least 1 1/2 hours if you're taking the tour; 15 minutes if you're just taking exterior photos), the Trotternish Peninsula, and the Talisker Distillery (assuming that you're visiting the distillery, and not the village/beach), you're going to need to have an early start out of Inverness.

Although the scenery is more spectacular in Glen Torridon, there are more things to visit on the Trotternish Peninsula. The road from Portree to Uig is fairly straightforward, but starts to get interesting once you start heading down the hill in to Uig, with the bay opening up to your left. You can take the side road for the Fairy Glen, which is on the right before you head down the hill. After you start up the hill north of Uig, you have the choice of cutting across the peninsula on the unclassified side road for the Quiraing (which provides you with some unique, spectacular views as you approach the "car park"), or you can continue around the peninsula on the A855 and visit Duntulm Castle and Flora MacDonald's monument. You can then see the lower portion of the Quiraing from the road. It's not as spectacular as seeing it from the top.

On your way down to Portree, you can stop at the Old Man of Storr and the Kilt Rock. If you decide to take the hike up to the base of the "Old Man," it's about a two hour round trip.

If you want to avoid driving all the way down to Sligachan, and going back up to Carbost on the A863, there is a side road (B885) out of Portree which cuts across the island to Struan and Bracadale. Again, this is a one lane road with passing places, but mainly used by locals.

Assuming that you haven't already done so, check the closing time at the distillery before you head off around the peninsula. You may want to visit Talisker first. You didn't say when you were traveling, but if it's in mid June to mid July, it won't be getting dark until as late as 10:30, if you're around the solstice.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday!

Mike (auchterless)

p.s.: If you're staying at a B&B in Broadford, be sure to keep them apprised of your arrival time. If it's a hotel, no need to worry. If it's a B&B, you could possibly drop off your luggage on the way through Broadford, to save unloading it late in the evening. Most B&B owners are happy to accommodate.

Posted by
5 posts

Mike -
THANK YOU! Awesome information. Yes, we will be busy. We’re used to road trips here so hopefully we’ll be good there. We will be there in July.

For Eilean Donan, I think we’ll just take exterior pictures - quick stop. Unless you/others think it’s the inside isn’t to be missed (though I haven’t found that on any sites/forums/books).

The only hike we were contemplating on the peninsula was at the Quiraing -weather and time dependent.

Thanks for the tip about B885! Yes, we are hoping to get to the distillery and then head to our B&B. Thanks also for the reminder about keeping them in the loop about arrival plans.

Yes, taking the Bella Jane over to Coruisk. We will definitely do at least the 90 mins, possible more - which the website said was possible to do. Just have to decide on what weather and the rest of the day will hold. We will definitely check with them about weather.

What’s a realistic time frame for Broadford to Armadale? I’ve read 30-45 but seems those aren’t always accurate.

I am hoping for the next trip to spend almost all our time in the north part of the highlands/north coast. Then we could see Torridon and more!!
Thanks again.

Posted by
941 posts

Hi again, B&CM,

We've done the Loch Coruisk run twice. The first time, we did a one way in, and hiked over Druim Hain to Glen Sligachan, then up the glen to the hotel. It took so long that we missed the last bus, and had to take a taxi back to Elgol!

The second time we went out, we had decided to stay at the loch for six hours and hike around it. We made the mistake of heading along the west bank first. The path petered out after about a quarter mile, and we ended up jumping from rock to rock to avoid the large pools of water all along the shore and further inland. We gave up, and came back on an earlier boat. You can spend the time at the loch in increments of 90 minutes; however, keep an eye on the weather. If it starts to storm, the Bella Jane may come back early.

As far as your ferry from Armadale, CalMac are really good about getting you to your destination. If you end up spending more time at Loch Coruisk, and missing your ferry, they'll put you on standby for the next one.

30 minutes from Broadford to Armadale is a good estimate, unless there's a lot of oncoming traffic on the single lane parts of the road. It's two lanes most of the way. Give yourselves the extra 15 minutes, just to be on the safe side. CalMac usually requsts that you get to the terminal 30 minutes ahead of time, but no later than 20.

I'd skip the Eilean Donan tour, as well. Save it for next time. You can get some really good exterior photos from the west side of the castle. And some really bad ones, as well! (I've been there!)

Are you overnighting in Mallaig, or are you heading on from there? For your next trip (and there will be one!), check out the website for the North Coast 500 (NC500). There's some spectacular scenery!

Again, have a wonderful holiday. We'll be over in July, as well, so we may see you on the road!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
5668 posts

I've driven both these routes and the scenery is beautiful on both. And, yes, it's a lovely drive from Inverness to Ullapool. One question is, where are you going after Skye? IF you are headed south, then take the northern route from Inverness and explore other sites on the way south. If you are headed north then take the route down Loch Ness. If you do the the Loch Ness route think about going as far south as Invergarry. It's a bit of a detour, but gorgeous. Also, think of taking a side, side trip along Loch Garry toward Tomdoun. You'll have to backtrack, but it's a lovely drive. If you take the northern route, check out the waterfalls at Achnasheen.

And if you are looking for impressive drives, the road to Applecross is amazing.


Posted by
1798 posts

If you plan to hike on Skye, make sure you get up EARLY and to the parking area. The lots fill quickly, and there may be no place to leave your car...and I wouldn't advise parking on the road if you can avoid it. also, the trails fill as well, so to enjoy the view, get yourself to the start no later than 8AM if you can...

We visited Eileen Donan last September on our way to Skye... good place for a bathroom/snack stop...and you don't need to see the inside of the castle..the outside from a distance is great. We paid to go was crowded with bus tour groups and "if you've seen one castle, you've seen the all". Stirling or Edinburgh are better...