I realize the weather may cause us to improvise, but assuming it's "perfect," how does this itinerary sound for a late May visit? We're checking into Portree at 6pm, and will squeeze in an evening hike to the Old Man of Storr (will it be too dark around 9pm?). The next morning we'll drive to Igol to do a boat ride for 2 hours (till around noon). Then we'll drive to Dunvegan Castle, then Neist Point Lighthouse, then the Quirrang for an early evening hike. We're leaving first thing in the morning. Any input is appreciated - thanks!
Your itinerary is way too packed and I think you've seriously underestimated how long it takes to get around the Isle of Skye. As for doing the evening hike to Old Man of Storr - if you skip dinner that evening and simply drop your bags - you "might" be able to pull it off, weather permitting. But that's a big "if". As for the next day, there is no way you can fit all those things in. The Quirrang is not a quick hike and you follow a very narrow sheep path that has good drop off in spots - definitely not something to attempt when the light isn't good.
You will either need to add days or reduce the number of things you want to do.
That sounds like an ambitious schedule. I think that Jacqui (Skyegirl) will join in here at some point.
If I understand this correctly, you have two nights in Portree. Your plan for the first evening is doable. Sunset in late May is around 10:00 p.m., and you'll have some twilight left for about 45 minutes after that. If it's really overcast, you may not get much in the way of twilight.
If you're arriving in Portree at 6:00 p.m., and plan to have finished your hike to the Old Man (count on two hours there and back via the tourist route) by 9:00 p.m., you're not giving yourselves much time to eat. It's about about a 20 minute drive to the car park for the start of the hike. You may have a difficult time finding somewhere to eat after your hike, although there should be at least a couple of chippies open.
On your second day, if you're going to Elgol for a boat trip on the Bella Jane, ending by noon, you are going to have to leave Portree no later than 7:30 a.m. It's a good 90 minutes to Elgol, even more if you get stuck behind a bus or lorry.
Fortunately, Dunvegan, Neist Point, and the Quiraing are all up at the north end of Skye. However, Dunvegan and Neist Point are on the Duirinish Peninsula; the Quiraing is on the Trotternish Peninsula. Give yourselves a two hour cushion to reach Dunvegan; 90 minutes to tour the castle. Thirty minutes from Dunvegan to reach the car park for Neist Point; at least an hour if you want to take a liesurely hike down to the lighthouse and back. Another hour to reach the Quiraing. So if you don't stop to eat or use the bathroom, you'd be arriving at the Quiraing around 6:00 p.m. Still enough time for about three hours of broad daylight; first you have to find a parking space.
Once again, you'd be getting back to Portree late in the evening. You may be able to find some pub grub along the way, or once you get back to Portree.
Honestly, your plan for day is not something I'd like to try. If I suggested it to Mrs. A., she'd have my guts for garters! If you find yourselves really pressed for time, you could either avoid hiking all the way down to the lighthouse, or avoid hiking all the way to the "Table."
As you said, this plan is weather dependent. If it's pissing down rain, you probably don't want to hike too far at the Quiraing, as it's pretty slippery. As your evening hikes are in prime midge time (if it's not windy), you may want to invest in some insect repellent or midge hats. Actually, the weather may work in your favor. If it's really windy, the Bella Jane won't go out, so you could go directly to Dunvegan from Portree. Also, if it's really windy, the midges won't bother you.
I wish you the best of luck. If there is any way that you can extend your time on Skye, so that you are not rushed, by all means do so.
Thanks to you both. Looking at revising, how about if I drop Dunvegan Castle (we're doing plenty of castles on this trip, anyway)?
Am I doing too much driving and should I just focus on the top of the island? I really want to do the boat trip from Egol, but it's so inconvenient.
Should we go to Neist Point Lighthouse that first night, instead of hiking the Old Man of Storr? Then we could drop Neist Point and Dunvegan from the itinerary. Problem is I don't know if we can (physically) do Storr and Quiraing both in the same day.
Hi again, fuzzy,
The boat trip from Elgol to Loch Coruisk (I'm assuming that's the one you're planning to take), is really not meaningful unless you spend the time on land at the south end of the loch. The minimum time on land is 90 minutes, so the earliest that you can get back to Elgol will be about 12:30.
After having driven for an hour and a half to Elgol, you'd be faced with a two hour drive to Dunvegan, or about 2 1/2 hours to Neist Point. Skye is very deceiving road wise. Looking at a map, you think that it's easy to get from point A to point B, but it always takes longer than you think it's going to. Once you get off the main A roads, the majority of the roads are single track with passing places. This is certainly true from Broadford to Elgol, and Dunvegan to Neist Point.
I would not advise driving to Neist Point your first night. It's a hell of a long drive, and you'd still have to get back to Portree afterwards. Your best bet would be to do Storr on your first night, weather permitting, as it's closest to Portree.
As you really want to take the boat trip (again, weather permitting), don't forget that it's a good 90 minutes from Portree to Elgol. If you do take the boat trip, you should definitely skip Dunvegan, which should give you enough time to do Neist Point and the Quiraing. It's still a lot of driving, but you'll have a lot of daylight hours at the end of May.
If you decide to forego the boat trip, or if it's cancelled, then you'd have plenty of time to do Dunvegan, Neist Point, and the Quiraing. You should provide the boat company, Bella Jane or Misty Isle with a telephone number where you can be reached (your lodging, if you don't have a mobile) so that they can call you if the trip is cancelled.
Once again, very best of luck, and I hope that you have good weather for your adventures!
Okay, we're not doing the long hike to the far end of Loch Coruisk, so now you've got me reconsidering that leg of the trip. Egol itself looks great to me, and I thought the boat ride itself. I'll be with my wife, 17 year old daughter and 19 year old son. The girls aren't real outdoorsy (would rather still be boutique shopping in London).
I'm definitely leaning towards dropping the castle unless it's raining and we just need somewhere to go that's indoors.
This is a tricky puzzle...
First of all, may I say that I agree with everything Mike (Auchterless) has already said. So here's what I would do.
1. Don't both with Dunvegan Castle. I can see it from my house, and yet have only been inside 3 times! The gardens are lovely but the castle itself is pretty missable There are very few rooms open and unless you are a MacLeod or super interested in Bonny Prince Charlie then you don't need to visit
You plan to visit both the Old Man and the Quiraing in the evening. Both face east, so you will miss the sunset (always assuming there is some sun while you are here - and May is as a good a time as any). Both also have pretty similar views, so I would opt for one or the other, and of the two I much prefer the Quiraing. The Old Man is more interesting (at least to me) from a distance, for example as you approach from Portree, because as you climb towards it it disappears from view. The Quiraing is spectacular so that's the one I would do.
Boat trip from Elgol. Maybe you could do this on your way off the island? I have done the Bella Jane round trip towards Loch Coruisk and then back again without getting off the boat many times (too many to count) and every time I enjoy it just as much as the first time. I have never failed to see seals, dolphins and sea birds galore as well as getting brilliant views of the Cullin hills (mountains). I really would not want to miss it!
Just a quick note on meals. You will want to reserve tables ahead of time. Trust me on this one. Unless you want to line up outside the fish and chip shops and share your take out (carry out in Scots) meal with the sea gulls.
Hope this helps.
Thanks, again, to you all for this (helpful and humorous) input - I had a feeling I might be off track. Okay, so my here's my revised itinerary (please critique):
Day 1: Arrive at 6pm: Post-dinner we'll just drive up the NE shore of the island from Portree. No major hikes.
Day 2: Morning - hike the Quiraing (I assume we can get midge spray while we're there?). Afternoon/evening - Neist Point LH (am I over-emphasizing Neist Point LH - should we not bother with that side of the island?)
Day 3: Take a boat trip on our way out to Edinburgh (should we use Bella Jane or Misty Isle?).
I don't often make reservations to eat, but I'm not big on sharing with seagulls, either. How far in advance should I make reservations, and can I do it online?
Hi once again, fuzzy,
If you were to walk to the far end of Loch Coruisk, you'd need to be on land for six hours. You'd also need a stout pair of wellies (Wellington boots), as the undefined path on the west side of the loch is really boggy. The 90 minutes I mentioned earlier is the standard visit to the south end of the loch. However, you don't see that much of the loch, as it curves off to the left from where you stand at the south end.
Loch Coruisk was much revered during the Victorian Age, as numerous artists painted it and extolled the wild beauty of the loch surrounded by the Black Cuillins. It's best seen on a cloudy day, as bright sunshine detracts from the austerity of the view. Jacqui (Skyegirl) is quite right - the boat ride on the Bella Jane can be enough in itself. From the boat, the view across Loch Scavaig, with Camasunary off in the distance, surrounded by the Red and Black Cuillins, is one of the best in Scotland. Plus you're guaranteed to see the seal colony near the Coruisk jetty. I've been on the Bella Jane when it was followed by a pod of dolphins.
You said that your wife and daughter are not outdoorsy types. They may not like to hike the Quiraing. Guidebooks make it sound easy, but it isn't! It's a spectacular area, unlike just about anywhere else in Scotland, but you can get a decent enough appeciation for it from a short walk in each direction from the car park. You'll be approaching it from the narrow road out of Uig. After you leave the car park (actually it's just some bare spots along the side of the road!), the road descends in a series of hairpin bends, with amazing views all around.
Your wife and daughter will have a better time of it on the walk to the Neist Point Lighthouse. It's pretty straightforward, although uphill on the way back. There aren't any boutiques in Portree, but they may enjoy Skye Silver, which is on the B884, on the west shore of Loch Dunvegan. That may make up for all of the hiking that you're putting them through!
As Jacqui advised, you should make reservations for your evening meals, as restaurants do fill up quickly, even in May. Portree has a good range of restaurants. However, you may find something in the Dunvegan/Edinbane area as well. The "Slig" (Sligachan Hotel) has good meals at Seamus' Bar, and you may not need a reservation. It's nine miles south of Portree, on the A87. It's in a spectacular location, and you can hike a half mile in to Glen Sligachan to view the Cuillins. You can check out restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor.
Best wishes once again!
And yet again, fuzzy,
You must have been typing your response while I was typing mine!
Yes, by all means, keep to your plans on the first night. You could hike part of the way to the Old Man, but be sure to check out the Kilt Rock, Mealt Falls, and Brothers' Point. You probably don't want to go much farther than Staffin, as you'll be seeing it the next day. Will you be approaching the Quiraing from Staffin, or from Uig? If from Staffin, you'll be hiking uphill; if from Uig, you'll be hiking more downhill.
You definitely should consider the Neist Point trip. It's in a spectacular setting, and you get a real appreciation for the isolation on parts of Skye. Quiraing, Neist Point, and returning through Dunvegan, cutting across to Portree on the B885 from Struan, would make for a great day trip. Skye Silver is on the way out to Neist Point. As you're going to be travelling through Uig, a side trip to the Fairy Glen might be worthwhile. It would only be about a mile out of your way, and if you can find somewhere to park, you could have a quick half hour to an hour walk through the glen.
Go with the Bella Jane. They're good people. Not that the Misty Isle isn't, but I've always gone out with the Bella Jane.
Dinner reservations are best made by telephone or in person. If you can't find something to everyone's taste on line, you could ask your host at your lodging for recommendations. And prices! There are some incredibly pricey restaurants in Portree! (Yes, I'm talking about you, Scorrybreac! I don't care if your dad is Donnie Munro!)
Anyway, fuzzy, have a grand time!
Hi again, fuzzy,
I just remembered that you had asked about midge repellent. We've had pretty good results with REPEL, and also Avon's Skin So Soft Insect Repellent. Both are DEET-free, and readily available in the U.S. The most popular brand in Scotland is Smidge, although I'm not sure of its efficacy.
We found midge hats a godsend while on Rum, but that's Rum, which has the highest concentration of midges of anywhere in Scotland.
You may not encounter a midge problem if you're hiking around the Quiraing in the morning. The little blighters are much more prevalent in the evening. Neist Point tends to be more windy, as it's exposed. Midges don't like wind, either!
Thank you, again. I hate to ask any more questions because I don't want to over-stay my welcome, but might it be possible to get enough at the grocery/co-op in Portree to bluff our way through a few meals without having to rely on restaurants? I'd at least like to be able to get muffins/eggs, and maybe some things for some sandwiches.
Oh, and about my wife and daughter not being outdoorsy - I'm looking to get them out of their comfort zone a little bit - my son and I will be spending days waiting for the fashionista's to finish shopping, and they're likely to enjoy the hiking once they get into it. They're both fit, they just prefer urban hiking if you will. We will go to the Quiraing, but I must admit it looks a little daunting in parts with the drop-offs. My wife wont be up for anything too risky.
Hi again, fuzzy,
Yes, you can certainly stock up at the Co-op supermarket. If we didn't do that, we probably wouldn't be able to afford our trips to Scotland. There is a very well stocked Co-op in Broadford, which you'll pass through on your way to Portree. There are two Co-ops in Portree - one is right in the center of town, on Bank Street (I think) - and the other is on the A87 just on the outskirts of town as you head toward Staffin. The one on the A87 is much larger; the one in town has very narrow aisles.
Despite Skye being fairly distant from any major distribution routes, the Co-op supermarkets have a surprising amount of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as fresh meat and fish. It sounds as though you're staying somewhere that has cooking facilities.
Mrs. A and I often purchase rolls and lunchmeat, and get some of those free packets of mayonnaise, in order to make our own sandwiches. However, the Co-ops (as do almost all supermarkets) have a meal deal, which usually runs about three pounds to three pounds 50. You get a ready made sandwich or wrap, plus a drink and either dessert or crisps (potato chips). If you go for that at any of the Co-ops, at least one of you should get the millionaire's shortbread as your sweet (dessert).
If we're somewhere in Scotland where there are no inexpensive restaurants, we often get those cups of soup which require only hot water. I'm not suggesting that you do that, as your family might be horrified, but the option is there.
I know for sure that the Co-op in Broadford is open until 10:00 p.m.; I have to assume that the Portree Co-ops would be open that late as well. If you're coming back to Portree across the B885 from Struan, you need to turn left on the A87 to get to the big Co-op. It's on the right side heading north.
p.s.: There are other hikes on Skye that are not as daunting as the Quiraing. The first part of Brothers' Point, for one; also Loch Cuithir and the Fairy Glen. The Fairy Pools walk isn't too bad, unless it has been raining. Parking there is sort of a nightmare, though. I think that the Fairy Glen might be your best bet if the Quiraing looks to be too much once you get there. You don't have to go all the way to the Table in the Quiraing - maybe just enough to make it a good experience for everyone. There's a small hillock near the car park on the Uig-Staffin road that provides great views all around. Make sure to wear footgear with good tread.
Hi again Fuzzy
The sun has crept over the horizon on this side of the Atlantic, so I am up and about and ready to talk about Skye!
Again Mike is a mine of useful information and I concur with everything he says..... apart from the Quiraing being daunting. Yes it is if you do the entire circular hike, along the narrow path, up the scree, on to the tops and back across the moor (complete with man eating heather), but if you do a 15 minute wander from the parking area you will get a really good taste of it without any hair raising moments. And actually if you head south from the parking area, away from the Quiraing, up a lovely grassy slope, you get amazing views with no danger (as long as you don't get too near the edge!). I have never been bothered by midges up there - and if there's a biting creature about it will usually find me. It's usually breezy there which keeps the little blighters out of the sky.
Neist Point. Yes it's worth it. The single track road out past my street and onwards to Neist is a challenge, but read up on the etiquette for these roads, get ready to pull over to allow oncoming and faster traffic to pass you, and perfect your cheery wave, and you will be fine. Once at Neist, you can walk the paved path (and many steps) to the light house, or you could head out to the right, tracing the edge of the cliff (but not getting too close), and you will discover a fabulous view of both the light house and the Outer Hedbrides without having to descend and then climb all those steps. If you walk for about 15 minutes you will out run the crowds too.
Groceries and supplies. One of the questions I always get asked by B&B guests is 'where do you buy supplies since there are no shops on Skye?'. Of course this is nonsense! The COOPs in Portree and Broadford provide everything you need and there are other little shops tucked away. In Glendale (on the way to Neist Point) is Glendale Stores and Post Office, which looks tiny from the outside, but which is an Aladdin's cave of goodies if you venture inside. I usually buy venison salami, smoked salmon and various Scottish cheeses (including ones with whisky, beer and red onion). They also sell very tasty crackers and oat cakes as well as local beers, gins and quite a good selection of whisky and wine. In Dunvegan there is a very unpromising looking shed (opposite the Fasgagh Stores) which houses Tony's Fruit and Nut Place. This is a fruit and vegetable shop that also sells everything else a vegetarian and vegan could want or need (including oat and soya milks). I once asked Tony if he had any strawberries and he scolded me that he wouldn't stock anything except Scottish strawberries and therefore I would need to wait until late June!
Other retail and boutiques. While it's not the West End of London there are some quite lovely little shops on Skye. Over here in the wild west of the island, we have Skye Silver as Mike has said, but we also have the absolutely wonderful Skye Weavers. This is also on the way to Neist Point. It's a husband and wife business and they make tweed and wool on bicycle powered looms, which they then make in to everything from scarves to bed blankets. They will let you have a try on the bicycle too! Well worth a visit. Also in this area there is Raven Press (next to the Three Chimneys restaurant) which create and sell wood block printed items. In fact you could do worse than call in to the Tourist Information Centre in Portree and ask for a copy of the Art and Craft trail booklet (free). It will guide you to all kinds of wonderful boutiques while you travel around the island.
As for dining in Portree I would recommend calling up maybe a week before you arrive. There are some changes afoot on the restaurant scene there over winter, so I am not sure what will be open, but check Trip Advisor before you come over.
….. oh where to buy midge repellent. The COOP sells Smidge which is what most locals use. It's available in some other shops too. Otherwise the chemist in Portree (Boots) sells various brands of insect repellent.
And a quick one on a couple of decent shops in Portree. Firstly the Skye Baking Company. It is tucked away just off the main A87 heading north out of the village. It's on the left hand sign and usually has a sign out on the main road. You head up a little track just before you reach Howdens (which is a builder's merchants - like a tiny version of Home Depot I suppose). As well as being an interesting bakery it is also home to a large gallery space which sells all kinds of lovely things from local crafters and makers. Everything from jewellery, cards, socks, hats, yarn, art works, etc to pieces of furniture.
And secondly, the Skye Gin Shop. Local Misty Isle gin, but lots of other small Scottish producers and some whisky too.
And finally, Skye Skyns. Their main shop and tannery is out on the Waternish peninsula and well worth a visit. They sell not only sheep, cow and reindeer skins and products made from them, but also some fantastic woollen and tweed items and have a nice little café in a yurt. They have also now opened a small branch in Portree.
Don't worry about asking questions. Happy to help (at least for another week until I head to Montana for my own vacation - some cross country skiing).
This is all so incredibly helpful. I do have some more questions about the Quiraing. I'm encouraging my wife to get hiking shoes (the rest of the family already has them), so I'd like to do longer than 15 minutes. I'm less concerned with the difficulty than I am the fear of heights - don't want to get too close to any cliffs (nothing too daring). I don't want to do the entire loop, but I'd like the hike to last around 2+ hours. Does that sound realistic?
Also can you tell me where I can hope for cell phone reception? I'm assuming I wont have it everywhere, so I should also plan on getting a physical map.
Fuzz, I would not trade my time at Quirang for anything else we saw on Skye but our time and hiking there was limited due to a medium fear of height and cliffs. Early along the trail, we went counter clock wise, there is a spot that demands you take a pretty long step, hop, to the continue on the trail. The drop off is huge. We did this before I started using trekking poles and I have since learned the trekking poles help with a fear of tumbling off the trail. Hiking boots are a huge plus. Your family may find this spot a challenge, but we spent a couple of hours taking photos and exploring both sides of the road. We did see several people cross at the spot we balked on, including a girl that looked to be junior high age so I guess the fear is relative but it seemed to me the Scotland folks are more confident on the trails and dont get intimidated easily. A Swiss couple (they were 20ish, we are 60ish) approached the hop and gave it no thought. They did offer to help us across but we decided to turn back and continue to explore around the area including the hike up the trail across the road. I have done more hiking since that time in 2014 and probably would make the hop today and I regret not making the tour of Quirang, it is the most awesome spot I have encountered. After a couple of hours there we drove across Trotternish (single lane road for like 13 miles) and went to the Fairy Glen Uig and it was a great spot and not intimidating. Be prepared for a tough drive the final 5 miles or so when you approach Quirang and be aware that when it gets dark over there it get DARK. I envy your trip and am considering a return to Skye to face my fear!! Good luck. https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/fairyglen.shtml
https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/quiraing.shtml My wife wanted me to add that long legs are a big plus when making the hop on the trail I mentioned, maybe your clan will benefit from long strides! We are short legged and the hop/crossing would have been tough and the result of a miss and tumble would have been severe injury or death!
I'll have to see when we get there, but I've got a feeling we wont be doing any mildly dangerous hops. We're short-legged, too, I'm a very short 5'11" (only have a 30" inseam). It's good to know there's a worthwhile hike on the other side of the road away from the Quiraing. I might rent some trekking poles if I chance across any.
Cell phone (mobile) reception is pretty good all throughout Skye. I've been able to get reception out in the middle of Glen Sligachan, but absolutely nothing in Lower Breakish, near Broadford. I have Vodafone as a carrier, which I use with a mobile which I bought years ago for use on our Scottish holidays.
I would think that if you're anywhere close to one of the main roads, or not too far from a populated area, you shouldn't have any trouble. A lot will depend on your carrier. However, if you're on Skye, it's a place to get away from all those modern accoutrements, like cell phones and the internet.
Best wishes once again,
p.s.: If you check out jarrardd's link to the Quiraing hike on the WalkHighlands website, it's listed as a three boot hike, which means that it's relatively strenuous. The gap which jarrardd mentioned appears in the hike description. There are several videos of the Quiraing on YouTube.
Hi again Fuzzy
I am a very unfit, 5 foot tall woman in my early 50s with a 29 inch inseam. I had no trouble at all with the Quiraing as far as the climb up to the 'table' which I didn't do. The gully or gap mentioned above is in reality a small water course when it's been raining a lot. When it's dry then there is usually only a trickle of water, which you need to get across. The step across is nothing to worry about, but there's a drop in the path to get down and then across the gap. In order to accomplish this, what I do is sit down on the 'step', so that my little legs easily reach the next step. Ok so my bottom gets a bit muddy, but who cares? And it's very safe done in this way.
Honestly, you will be fine up there as long as it's not really, really windy, in which case just go up the grassy slope on the other side of the road. The drops are not steep, as in 'sheer cliffs', they are more like steep grassy slopes. And if you want/need to do a different 2 hour hike, then just check out Walk Highlands for other suggestions on Skye. You can walk almost anywhere and be among spectacular scenery.
As for walking/trekking poles I find them very useful. You won't be able to rent them here, but a collapsible pair could be purchased at home and packed in your luggage, or picked up at any outdoor shop here in the UK for a reasonable price. Well worth the (small)i investment.
And hiking boots - yes you need them for pretty much any walking here on Skye. The trails as such can be very vague, and almost any walks of 2 hours are going to involve some stretches of 'bog' or boggy ground. So you need boots for both grip and protection from wet spots.
As for mobile phone coverage. We are on the EE network which seems to be the best one up here (they have the contract for emergency phone coverage so that seems to help). But it's patchy.
hey Fuzz one more bit of advice. While we were snapping photos at Quirang there was a professional photographer there, this was in early October. It was a partly cloudy day with sun peeking out often from behind the clouds. The guy told us to be sure and wait for the sun to peek out on the Quirang as you take your photo.....we sat for an hour or so taking photos off and on with the sun in and out and got some tremendous photos. Give the spot some time and watch as the sun comes out to shine on the mountain, it is magical.