Isle of Skye


The Isle of Skye is one of the largest, wildest and most famous islands in Scotland.

The main town on the island is Portree, at the base of the Trotternish Peninsula, and the island itself used to be served by a regular ferry service to the mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh; today it is connected to the mainland by the Skye Bridge (toll free).

Skye is a fascinating place, not least for geologists and hillwalkers. Home to the world famous Cuillin mountain range, visitors will be amazed by such natural geological features as the Inaccessible Pinnacle, the Great Stone Chute, Quiraing, The Storr and Macleod’s Tables (also known as Healabhal Mhòr and Healabhal Bheag. The gabbro rock of the Cuillins is also magnetic, and so plays havoc with a compass. Many climbers take out their compass to help with navigation, only to find that the needle is slowly spinning and will not stop!

Skye is a wonderful place to go walking or climbing, there are routes for all abilities. For more information on the best walks on Skye, what not take a look at 40 Coast and Country Walks on the Isle of Skye which has suggestions for everyone.

One of the oldest archaeological finds in Scotland is located on Skye: the discovery of a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer site in Staffin dates back to the 7th Millennium B.C. That is the start of a long and rich history for Skye, with the island being a centre of clan rule, not least from the Clan MacLeod and Clan MacDonald of Sleat. The escape of Princes Charles Edward Stuart (better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) with Flora MacDonald via Skye is well known. So too is the visit to Skye of Samuel Johnston and James Boswell during their “Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland” (1773). Samuel Johnston himself documents that:


Quiraing, Isle of Skye.

“I never was in any house of the islands, where I did not find books in more languages than one, if I staid long enough to want them, except one from which the family was removed. Literature is not neglected by the higher rank of the Hebrideans. It need not, I suppose, be mentioned, that in countries so little frequented as the islands, there are no houses where travellers are entertained for money. He that wanders about these wilds, either procures recommendations to those whose habitations lie near his way, or, when night and weariness come upon him, takes the chance of general hospitality. If he finds only a cottage he can expect little more than shelter; for the cottagers have little more for themselves but if his good fortune brings him to the residence of a gentleman, he will be glad of a storm to prolong his stay. There is, however, one inn by the sea-side at Sconsor, in Sky, where the post-office is kept.”

Skye is one of the centres for the Gaelic language, often being heard spoken by locals, and the island is home to the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, a centre of excellence for learning and studying the Gaelic language.


Skye is an amazing place to travel to, and you will want to include in your visit Dunvegan Castle, the Clan Donald Visitor Centre, and the Talisker Distillery, home to the world famous Talisker single malt whisky. You can travel to Skye via the Skye Bridge, the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale, or the ferry from Glenelg to Kylerhea. Coach services are run by Scottish Citylink to Inverness, Glasgow and Fort William, mostly running from Uig, Broadford and Portree.

Skye is also an access point to the Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles. Ferries are run by Caledonian MacBrayne from Uig to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris, and to Lochmaddy on the Isle of North Uist. There is also a ferry service running from Sconser to the Isle of Raasay.

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