Please sign in to post.

Isle of Skye in mid-May

We are flying into Inverness from the US via Gatwick and spending the night after picking up our midsized automatic car. The next day we hope to wander around Skye and then head out/south to maybe the Fort William area for another night and then on to St. Andrews where we’re booked at another B&B.
I’ve heard from reliable ex-pat Scots who live in our community that if Skye’s weather is rainy, don’t even bother. That is why I haven’t booked anywhere that second night. As an alternate, I’m thinking we head south from Inverness along the Cairngorms and maybe see/stop in Pitlochry. Is this sane? 1. Not booking that second night in advance 2. Rain means a no-go for Skye and 3. Is this the best alternate day? We would miss Glen Coe, and that seems sad. Unless Hill House opens? Choices! (We are active and like to see and do).
Thank you for your thoughts!

Posted by
1290 posts

It's certainly a lot drier in the east, we once sat in pouring rain in Glen Nevis for 4 hours ,drove to Spean Bridge and it was warm and dry.
The Cairngorms are good to visit if outdoorsy.
The Green Lochan or if a bit of adventurous try finding Utsi's hut

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, TLee57,

I've been on Skye in glorious 70 degree weather, with not a cloud to be seen, and I've also been on Skye when the rain was lashing down. However, I'd say at least 80% of the times I've been on Skye, the weather has been good to gorgeous..

Here's the thing - you could spend that first day on Skye, and find beautiful sunny weather, with more predicted for the next day. And you'd already have made accommodations for the next day back on the mainland. So you miss out on what could have been a wonderful second day on Skye.

The point is, don't let the nay-sayers make your decisions for you. If you want to have that second day on Skye, go for it. And you can blame me when you get back from your holiday if it doesn't work out.


Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
1188 posts

Hello TLee57
I'm finding your description a little confusing. Are you planning to sleep in Inverness that first night or try to make it across to Skye for the first night? If the latter, then I would strongly recommend NOT doing this as you will be jet lagged and a danger to yourselves and other road users. The roads are narrower than in the US and have lots of bends and no shoulder. It is a 3 hour drive from Inverness airport to Portree on Skye and that's in light traffic and for someone like me who knows the roads well and can anticipate where to overtake slower traffic.

If your plan is to head for Skye the following day and spend 1 day driving around before heading to Fort William for the night, then I have to say I think that is a terrible plan. Skye is a large island with enough to keep people occupied for at least 3 nights, many people find even a week isn't enough. There are mountains, coastal walks, spectacular vistas, two distilleries, Dunvegan castle, the Island Life Museum etc to keep you busy. If you really can only spare one day then it would obviously be better to have good weather, but to be honest the weather across Scotland is variable and there's no guarantee that the east would be any better.

Without knowing your interests it's pretty much impossible to say what the best itinerary for you would be. But I'm curious as to why you have chosen to fly into Inverness rather than say Glasgow or Edinburgh when your immediate plans seem to be to get away from Inverness. One possible itinerary could be Inverness - Skye- Glencoe- Hill House, Helensburgh - St Andrews.

I hope this helps.
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
5678 posts

I have to say that you need to accept that there will be rain in Scotland. It is what it is what it is. You need to accept that having a rain-free vacation in Scotland is a minor miracle and one to be celebrated. But in order to have a hope of getting that rain-free holiday, you need to prepare for rain. And you need to accept that you will never let a wee mist stop you from touring. Of course, if there is a classic downpour you need to look for inside options, but otherwise you need to carry on.

in order to carry-on, you need a good waterproof jacket. I prefer one with a hood so I don't have to carry an umbrella. You need to think layers in case it gets chilly. (Of course, you can always buy a wonderful sweater if it gets chillier than you expected.) I always make sure that I have sprayed my shoes to make them water resistant. It's good to have two pairs so that you change out in the evening.

I have seen Skye in the sunlight and in the rain. It is beautiful in both conditions.


Posted by
7573 posts

In 2015 (August, not April) we flew into Inverness and picked up our manual, not automatic rental car. It started to rain, but out on the highway, the weather cleared up for a while. The traffic was heavy (it was August) with cars, lorries, and campervans. As we got closer and closer to Skye, it absolutely poured rain. Crossing the Skye Bridge, it was fascinating seeing water spurting from the hillsides, as if a tap had been turned on. The next day, the rain had let up, and the water wasn’t gushing out of the earth, so these were momentary rain-induced waterspouts, not permanent waterfalls. Would’ve missed them if we’d cancelled going to Skye because of some rain. Over the next 3 days on Skye, it rained off and on. We got in some hiking, did a mostly dry driving tour of the Trotternish peninsula, and had a great time. If you’re planning on only doing Class 5+ rock climbing, then rain might make the trip a no-go, but don’t let the likelihood of rain dampen your planet. Maybe May is a lot rainier than August, I don’t know.

Leaving Skye, we headed to Fort William for a couple of days (no rain) then headed towards Edinburgh through Glen Coe in another pouring rainstorm and slow moving, heavy traffic. The storm ended just afternoon, and the rest of the day was pleasant and dry. Go when you can, expect some rain, and be pleasantly surprised and make the most of the time if it doesn’t rain.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks, all, for the replies. I realize that I should get that first cup of caffeine in my system before typing so that I’m less confusing. To answer Jacqui, we’re meeting friends in Edinburgh at the end of the trip, so in order to see the Highlands, that’s where it felt like we needed to start. And yes, we will be sleeping in Inverness before heading anywhere with the car.
I am aware that rain is a given for a week in Scotland and we will be prepared to be warm and dry (although I like the idea of a proper new sweater). And if we cannot see enough Skye in a day starting in Inverness, it sounds like we should just head south to Glencoe and save Skye for our next Scottish adventure. The guidebooks (including RS) seemed to indicate it would be about 10 hours as a day trip, and I figured if we didn’t come as far back as Inverness, we could do it.
Again, thanks, and my apologies for a confused post.

Posted by
3122 posts

If it's any help, I'll express my opinion that Skye seems to have become overrated. Not that it's not a wonderful place, but Scotland is full of wonderful places with awe-inspiring scenery, friendly & witty people, good food & drink, etc. You can't control the weather, but you can control how much of your valuable vacation time you spend experiencing Scotland, as opposed to experiencing the interior of a rental car.

If you are headed from Inverness to St Andrews and you only have a short time in between -- what is it? 2 days? -- I know that I would not spend it driving to Skye and back. The scenery in the Cairngorms region is perfectly gorgeous. Dalwhinnie distillery is along the route. Further south and east is Glamis Castle. You could stay overnight in some place like Aviemore, Pitlochry, or even Scone. Another option is to spend your "wandering around" day seeing Culloden battlefield, Cawdor Castle, and the Clava Cairns, sleep in the same place in Inverness (they say you always sleep better the 2nd night in a familiar room), then drive to St Andrews the next day.