Isle of Skye
The largest of the inner isles, Skye, was known to the Vikings as "Sküyo" ("cloud island"), while in Gaelic it became known as "Eilean Sgiathanach" ("winged island") because of the irregular coastline. Thanks to the prevailing weather conditions it was also termed "Eilean a Cheo" ("misty island"). The attractions of Skye are its unspoiled natural environment, the wild, romantic mountain scenery and the green valleys, caves and attractive glens, magnificent waterfalls and sandy beaches.
Kyleakin - Castle Moil
Kyle House is by Loch Alsh. The splendid garden was laid out about 30 years ago by Colin Mackenzie.
Armadale - Castle & Clan Donald Centre
Armadale at the south end of Skye is often a starting point for touring the island as ferries arrive here from the mainland port of Mallaig, but it can also be reached via the A851 from Broadford. The castle that was built between 1815 and 1819 by Gillespie Graham and the Clan Donald Centre are well worth a visit. A museum illustrates thrilling tales of the "Lords of the Isles" who during the 15th century dominated the region between the Outer Hebrides, the northern coast of Antrim in what is now Northern Ireland and Easter Ross. An attractive garden is laid out in the castle grounds.
Broadford (pop. 1,250) 8mi/12.8km to the west of Kyleakin is the second-largest settlement on the Isle of Skye and a good base for tours.
One of the most interesting excursions from Broadford starts with a visit to Loch Scavaig (15mi/24km) which affords a splendid view of the Blaven (3042ft/927m) followed by Loch Slapin and finally Elgol, a tiny village with a steep descent to the coast. The breathtaking view from Elgol encompasses numerous offshore islands. "Bonnie Prince Charlie" is said to have hidden from the English in one of the nearby caves.
The Cuillin Hills are formed from gabbro, a rock of volcanic origin, and they attract hundreds of enthusiasts from all over Britain as there are climbs here to suit all abilities. The highest of the 20 peaks above 3,000ft/900m is Sgurr Alasdair (3,251ft/991m). Only experienced climbers should venture on to these higher peaks since the steep scree slopes can prove very hazardous. The high iron content of the rock can often distort compass readings so walkers need to exercise great care.
Sgurr nan Gillean (Glen Brittle)
The best known mountain in the Cuillin Hills is called Sgurr nan Gillean. Glen Sligachan mountain climbers' hotel and pony trekking center attracts many tourists to this part of the island. Glenbrittle is another base for mountaineers and courses in climbing are organized. There are good opportunities for bathing in Loch Brittle and boats cross to Rhum, Canna and Eigg.
Old Crofter's House
The A850 from Broadford to Portree passes the Old Skye Crofter's House. This dwelling offers an insight into the arduous life of Skye's peasant farmers at the beginning of the 20th century.The Old Crofter's House is a traditional Skye thatched house situated in the crofting township of Bornesketaig, at the north end of Skye.
Portree (pop. 2,000) is the largest town on Skye. It has an idyllic harbor with views across the Sound of Raasay. It is said that in 1746 "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and Flora MacDonald parted company in the Royal Hotel.
The A855 follows the coastline of the Trotternish peninsula northwards affording fine views across to Raasay in the east.
Old Man of Storr
Museum of Island Life
The A855 cuts off the northern tip of the Trotternish Peninsula before reaching the seven cottages which make up the Skye Museum of Island Life. The thatched huts give an insight into the rural life of crofters in the mid-19th century.
Kilmuir - Flora MacDonald's Tomb
The Hebridean heroine Flora MacDonald is buried in Kilmuir cemetery.
Before returning to Portree stop off in Uig, departure point for the ferries to Lewis and North Uist.
The Dunvegan Castle, built originally in the 13th C, was converted to a Victorian style residence in the 1800s.
Colbost - Folk Museum
About 3mi/4.8km to the west of Dunvegan on the Duirinish Peninsula the harsh deprivations of rural Skye in the mid-19th century are brought to life in the straw-roofed Black House of Colbost.
The first school for pipers is said to have been founded ca. 1500 by the MacCrimmons, the legendary pipers for the MacLeod clan in Boreraig, and to have survived until 1800. Opposite the ruins of the old piping school, the Skye Piping Centre traces the history of the bagpipe and the traditions of the old clans right up to the present day.