The Isle of Skye

Jutting out from the mainland like a giant butterfly, the bare and bony promontories of the Isle of Skye fringe a deeply indented coastline. The island’s most popular destination is the Cuillin ridge, whose jagged peaks dominate the island during clear weather.

More accessible and equally dramatic in their own way are the Quiraing, the rock formations of the Trotternish peninsula, in the north, from which there are inspirational views across to the Western Isles. The unique landscape of the Isle of Skye landed it a vote as one of the most beautiful places in Scotland.

Of the two main settlements, Portree is the only one with any charm, and a useful base for exploring the Trotternish. Check here to find an accommodation on the Isle of Skye.

The Cuillin and the Red Hills

For many people, the Cuillin (An Cuiltheann), whose sharp peaks rise mirage-like from the flatness of the surrounding terrain, are Skye’s raison d’être. When the clouds finally disperse, they are the dominating feature of the island, visible from every other peninsula.


The Cuilin mountains on the Isle of Skye - shutterstock

There are three approaches to the Cuillin: from the south, by foot or by boat from Elgol; from the Sligachan Hotel to the north; or from Glen Brittle to the west of the mountains.

The second route, down Glen Sligachan, divides the granite of the round-topped Red Hills (sometimes known as the Red Cuillin) to the east from the dark, coarse-grained jagged-edged gabbro of the real Cuillin (also known as the Black Cuillin) to the west. With some twenty Munros between them, these are mountains to be taken seriously, and many routes through the Cuillin are for experienced climbers only.

Elgol and around

The road to Elgol (Ealaghol), fourteen miles southwest of Broadford at the tip of the Strathaird peninsula, is one of the most dramatic on the island, with a stunning view from the top down to Elgol pier. Weather permitting, you can take a boat from Elgol across Loch Scavaig, past a seal colony, to a jetty near the entrance of the glacial loch Loch Coruisk.

Loch Coruisk

Loch Coruisk, a needle-like shaft of water nearly two miles long but only a couple of hundred yards wide, lies in the shadow of the highest peaks of the Black Cuillin, a wonderfully overpowering landscape. The journey from Elgol takes about an hour and passengers are dropped to spend time ashore. Walkers can hike amidst the Red Hills, or over the pass into Glen Sligachan.

Trotternish peninsula and the Quiraing

Protruding twenty miles north from Portree, the Trotternish peninsula boasts some of the island’s most bizarre scenery. Especially on the east coast, where volcanic basalt has pressed down on the softer sandstone and limestone underneath, causing massive landslides. These, in turn, have created pinnacles and pillars that are at their most eccentric in the Quiraing, above Staffin Bay, on the east coast.


The Quiraing on the Isle of Skye are covered in uncountable shades of green - shutterstock

The Quiraing are an amazing sunset spot, and are counted as one of the must-visit places in Scotland. Most people visit the west coast to catch the ferry to the Western Isles from Uig, or the folk museum, further up the coast.

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updated 26.04.2021

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