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Skye
Location
UK Skye.PNG
OS grid reference NG452319
Names
Gaelic name An t-Eilean Sgitheanach[1]
Pronunciation [əɲ tʰʲelan s̪kʲiə.anəx]
Norse name Skíð
Meaning of name Etymology unclear
Area and summit
Area 1,656 square kilometres (639 sq mi)
Area rank 2[2]
Highest elevation Sgurr Alasdair 993 metres (3,258 ft)[3]
Population
Population (2001) 9,232[4]
Population rank 4[4] out of 97
Main settlement Portree
Groupings
Island group Skye
Local Authority Highland
Flag of Scotland.svg Lymphad3.svg
References [5]
If shown, area and population ranks are for all Scottish islands and all inhabited Scottish islands respectively.

Skye or the Isle of Skye (Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach or Eilean a' Cheò), is the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The island's peninsulas radiate out from a mountainous centre dominated by the Cuillin hills. Although it has been suggested that the first of these Gaelic names describes a "winged" shape there is no definitive agreement as to the name's origins.

The island has been occupied since the Mesolithic and has a colourful history including a time of Norse rule and a long period of domination by clans Leod and Donald. The events of the 19th century had a devastating impact on the human population, which declined from over 20,000 to around 9,200 in the early 21st century. Nonetheless, in contrast to many other Scottish islands, this represents a 4 per cent increase from the census of 1991.[6] The main industries are tourism, agriculture, fishing and whisky-distilling and the largest settlement is Portree, which is known for its picturesque harbour. Just over 30 per cent of the residents on Skye speak the Gaelic language.

Skye is part of the Highland Council local government area and is now linked to the mainland by a road bridge[7]. The island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, vibrant culture and heritage, and its abundant wildlife including the Golden Eagle, Red Deer and Salmon.

Contents

Etymology

A grassy moorland in the foreground with a complex of high, grey cliffs at centre under a blue sky. A tall rock pinnacle stands under the cliffs at right.
The Storr, Skye

Skye's history includes the influence of Gaelic, Norse and English speaking peoples and the relationships between their names for the island are not straightforward. The Gaelic name for the "Isle of Skye" is An t-Eilean Sgitheanach (or Sgiathanach, a more recent and less common spelling). The meaning of this name is not clear.[8] Various etymologies have been proposed, such as the "winged isle" or "the notched isle"[9] but no definitive solution has been found to date and the placename may be from a substratum language and simply opaque.[10]

For example, writing in 1549, Donald Munro, High Dean of the Isles wrote: "This Ile is callit Ellan Skiannach in Irish, that is to say in Inglish the wyngit Ile, be reason it has mony wyngis and pointis lyand furth fra it, throw the dividing of thir foirsaid Lochis".[11]

A map of the island chain of the Hebrides that lie to the west of the mainland of Scotland.
Skye is the northernmost of the Inner Hebrides, coloured red on this map of western Scotland.

This was by no means the first written reference. Roman sources refer to the Scitis (see the Ravenna Cosmography)[12] and Scetis can be found on a map by Ptolemy.[13] A possible derivation from *skitis, an early Celtic word for "winged", which may describe the island's peninsulas that radiate out from a mountainous centre, has also been suggested.[14]

In the Norse sagas Skye is called Skíð, for example in the Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar saga[15] and a skaldic poem in the Heimskringla from c. 1230 which contains a line that translates as "the hunger battle-birds were filled in Skye with blood of foemen killed".[16] According to other authors, it was referred to in Norse as skuy (misty isle)[14], *skýey or skuyö (isle of cloud).[1] It is not certain whether the Gaelic poetic name for the island, Eilean a' Cheò "isle of the mist" precedes or postdates the Norse name. Some legends also associate the isle with the mythic figure of Queen Scáthach.[17]

In April 2007 it was reported in the media that the island's official name had been changed by the Highland Council to Eilean a' Cheò. However, the Council clarified that this name referred only to one of its 22 wards in the then impending election, and that there were no plans to change signage or discontinue the English name.[1][18]

Geography

At 1,656 square kilometres (639 sq mi), Skye is the second-largest island in Scotland after Lewis and Harris. The coastline of Skye is a series of peninsulas and bays radiating out from a centre dominated by the Cuillin (Gaelic:An Cuiltheann) hills. The main peninsulas include Trotternish in the north, Waternish, Duirinish, Minginish and Strathaird to the west and Sleat in the south. Surrounding islands include Isay, Longay, Pabay, Raasay, Rona, Scalpay, Soay and Wiay.[1][14] Malcolm Slesser suggested that its shape "sticks out of the west coast of northern Scotland like a lobster's claw ready to snap at the fish bone of Harris and Lewis"[19] and W. H. Murray that "Skye is sixty miles long, but what might be its breadth is beyond the ingenuity of man to state".[1]

A map of Skye and the surrounding islands
Skye and the surrounding islands

Martin Martin visited the island and reported on it at length in a 1703 publication. His geological observations included a note that:

There are marcasites black and white, resembling silver ore, near the village Sartle: there are likewise in the same place several stones, which in bigness, shape, &c., resemble nutmegs, and many rivulets here afford variegated stones of all colours. The Applesglen near Loch-Fallart has agate growing in it of different sizes and colours; some are green on the outside, some are of a pale sky colour, and they all strike fire as well as flint: I have one of them by me, which for shape and bigness is proper for a sword handle. Stones of a purple colour flow down the rivulets here after great rains.
[20]

The Black Cuillin, which are mainly composed of basalt and gabbro, include 12 Munros and provide some of the most dramatic and challenging mountain terrain in Scotland. The ascent of Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh is one of the longest rock climbs in Britain and the Inaccessible Pinnacle is the only peak in Scotland that requires technical climbing skills to reach the summit.[14][21] A full traverse of the Cuillin ridge may take 15–20 hours to complete.[22] The Red Hills (Gaelic: Am Binnean Dearg) to the south are sometimes also known as the Red Cuillin. They are mainly composed of granite that has weathered into more rounded hills with many long screes slopes on their flanks. The highest point of these hills is Glamaig, one of only two Corbetts on Skye.[23]

Rugged mountain scenery. Several sharp prominences of bare grey rock stand out on a long ridge leading to more hills beyond.
The vertical west face of Am Basteir in the Cuillin, with Sgurr nan Gillean in the background

Trotternish is underlain by basalt, which provides relatively rich soils and a variety of unusual rock features. The Kilt Rock is named for the tartan-like patterns in the 105 metre (350 ft) cliffs. The Quirang is a spectacular series of rock pinnacles on the eastern side of the main spine of the peninsula and further south is the rock pillar of the Old Man of Storr.[24]

Beyond Loch Snizort to the west of Trotternish is the Waternish peninsula, which ends in Ardmore Point's double rock arch. Duirinish is separated from Waternish by Loch Dunvegan. It is ringed by sea cliffs which reach 295 metres (967 ft) at Waterstein Head. Oolitic loam provides good arable land in the main strath. Lochs Bracadale and Harport lie between Duirinish and Minginish which includes the narrow valleys of Talisker and Glen Brittle and whose beaches are formed from black basaltic sands.[25] Strathaird is a relatively small peninsula close to the Cuillin hills with several small crofting communities.[26] The bedrock of Sleat is Torridonian sandstone which produces poor soils and boggy ground, although its lower elevations and relatively sheltered eastern shores produces a lush growth of hedgerows and crops.[27]

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Climate

The influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream create a mild oceanic climate. Temperatures are generally cool, averaging 6.5 °C (44 °F) in January and 15.4 °C (60 °F) in July at Duntulm in Trotternish.[28][29] Snow seldom lies at sea level and frosts are fewer than the mainland. Winds are a limiting factor for vegetation with speeds of 128 km/h (80 mph) being recorded and south-westerlies the most common. High winds are especially likely on the exposed coasts of Trotternish and Waternish.[30] In common with most islands of the west coast of Scotland, rainfall is generally high at between 1500-2000 mm (60-80 in) per annum and the elevated Cuillin are wetter still.[30] Variations can be considerable, with the north tending to be drier than the south. Broadford, for example, averages more than 2,870 mm (113 inches) per annum.[31] Trotternish typically has 200 hours of bright sunshine in May, the sunniest month.[32]

Climate data for Duntulm, Skye
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.5
(44)
6.6
(44)
8.1
(47)
9.6
(49)
12.4
(54)
14.3
(58)
15.4
(60)
15.7
(60)
14.2
(58)
11.5
(53)
9.1
(48)
7.6
(46)
10.9
(52)
Average low °C (°F) 2.4
(36)
2.2
(36)
3.3
(38)
4.3
(40)
6.5
(44)
8.7
(48)
10.4
(51)
10.7
(51)
9.4
(49)
7.2
(45)
5.1
(41)
3.6
(38)
6.2
(43)
Precipitation mm (inches) 148.3
(5.84)
99.8
(3.93)
82.3
(3.24)
86.4
(3.40)
72.9
(2.87)
85.1
(3.35)
97.3
(3.83)
112
(4.41)
128.3
(5.05)
152.4
(6.00)
143
(5.63)
141.7
(5.58)
1,349.5
(53.13)
Source: [28]
A small harbour fronted with a row of cottages painted in white, pink, green and blue with a tree-covered hillock behind them.
Portree, Skye's largest settlement

Towns and villages

Portree in the north at the base of Trotternish is the largest settlement, and main service centre on the island, with a population of 1,960.[33] Broadford is on the east side of the island and Dunvegan in the north-west. Kyleakin is linked to Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland by the Skye Bridge that spans the narrows of Loch Alsh. Uig is on the west of the Trotternish peninsula and Edinbane is located between Dunvegan and Portree.[14]

History

Prehistory

A stone lined ditch of primitive construction leads from a small lake. Rocky heathland lies on either side and there are tall cliffs in the distance.
The "Viking canal" at Rubha an Dùnain

A Mesolithic hunter-gatherer site dating to the 7th millennium BC at An Corran in Staffin is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Scotland. Its occupation is probably linked to that of the rock shelter at Sand, Applecross on the mainland coast of Wester Ross. Surveys of the area between the two shores of the Inner Sound and Sound of Raasay have revealed thirty three sites with potentially Mesolithic deposits.[34][35] Finds of bloodstone microliths on the foreshore at Orbost on the west coast of the island near Dunvegan also suggest Mesolithic occupation of the area. These tools probably originate from the nearby island of Rùm.[36]

Rubha an Dùnain, an uninhabited peninsula to the south of the Cuillin, has a variety of archaeological sites dating from the Neolithic onwards. Loch na h-Airde, which is situated close to the ruins of a promontory fort, is linked to the sea by the artificial "Viking canal" and there are remains of prehistoric settlement dating from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages nearby.[37] Dun Ringill is a ruined Iron Age hill fort on the Strathaird peninsula, which was further fortified in the Middle Ages and may have been the seat of Clan MacKinnon.[38]

Early history

Adomnán's life of Columba, written shortly before 697, portrays the saint visiting Skye and Adomnán himself is thought to have been familiar with the island.[39] The Irish annals record a number of events on Skye in the later 7th and early 8th centuries, mainly concerning the struggle between rival dynasties which formed the background to the Old Irish language romance Scéla Cano meic Gartnáin.[40]

The Norse held sway throughout the Hebrides from the 9th century until after the Treaty of Perth in 1266. However, little remains of their presence in the written or archeological record on Skye. Viking heritage is nonetheless claimed by Clan MacLeod and Norse tradition is celebrated in the winter fire festival at Dunvegan, during which a replica Viking long boat is set alight.[41]

Clans and Scottish rule

An old map of Skye with north at right.
Skye as shown on Blaeu's 1654 Atlas of Scotland

The most powerful clans on Skye in the post–Norse period were Clan MacLeod, originally based in Trotternish, and Clan MacDonald of Sleat. The MacDonalds of South Uist were bitter rivals of the MacLeods, and an attempt by the former to murder church-goers at Trumpan in retaliation for a previous massacre on Eigg, resulted in the Battle of the Spoiling Dyke of 1578.[42][43]

After the failure of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, Flora MacDonald became famous for rescuing Prince Charles Edward Stuart from the Hanoverian troops. Although she was born on South Uist her story is strongly associated with their escape via Skye and she is buried at Kilmuir in Trotternish.[44] Skye was visited by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell during their 1773 Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Boswell wrote of their visit to Kilmuir that, "To see Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great champion of the English Tories, salute Miss Flora MacDonald in the isle of Sky, was a striking sight; for though somewhat congenial in their notions, it was very improbable they should meet here.[45] Written on her gravestone are Johnson's words that hers was "A name that will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour".[46] In the wake of the rebellion the clan system was broken up and Skye became a series of landed estates.

Of the island in general, Johnson observed:

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.
[47]
A grey castle with tall square towers stands amongst trees in full leaf.
Dunvegan Castle, looking towards MacLeod's Tables

Skye has a rich heritage of ancient monuments from this period, especially castles. Dunvegan Castle has been the seat of Clan MacLeod since the 13th century. It contains the Fairy Flag and is reputed to have been inhabited by a single family for longer than any other house in Scotland.[48]

The 18th century Armadale Castle, once home of Clan Donald of Sleat was abandoned as a residence in 1925 but now hosts the Clan Donald Centre.[49] Nearby are the ruins of two more MacDonald strongholds, Knock Castle, and Dunscaith Castle, the legendary home of Queen Scáthach.[14][50] Caisteal Maol, built in the late 15th century near Kyleakin and once a seat of Clan MacKinnon, is another ruin.[51]

Clearances

A small stone building with a thatched roof sits in a field overlooking the sea. Several large rusty metal circular rims sit against one wall and there is a partial view of another, similar building and a green rowing boat to the left.
A restored black house, of traditional design

From the latter part of the 18th century up to the mid-19th century, the inhabitants of Skye were devastated by famine and clearances. The "Battle of the Braes" involved a demonstration against a lack of access to land and the serving of eviction notices. The incident involved numerous crofters and about 50 police officers. This event was instrumental in the creation of the Napier Commission, which reported in 1884 on the situation in the Highlands. Disturbances continued until the passing of the 1886 Crofters' Act and on one occasion 400 marines were deployed on Skye to maintain order.[52] The Clearances had a major impact on the population of Skye and the ruins of a cleared village can be seen at Boreraig, Strath Swordale.[6]

Overview of population trends

In common with many Scottish islands, Skye's population peaked in the 19th century and experienced a significant decline since then in the wake of both the Clearances and then later the military losses of the First World War. By 1971 the population was less than a third of its 1841 peak recorded figure. The later years of the twentieth century saw a revival and the total number of residents grew by over 28 per cent in the thirty years to 2001.

A body of water in the foreground contains several sailing vessels, including yachts, small fishing boats and an orange lifeboat. In the middle distance a variety of modern cottages are set amongst coniferous trees on a long grassy slope. Large and precipitous black mountains dominate the background.
The Cuillin ridge from Portree harbour
Year Population[14]
1755 11,252
1794 14,470
1821 20,827
1841 23,082
1881 16,889
1891 15,705
1931 9,908
Year Population
1951 8,537
1961 7,479
1971 7,183
1981 7,276
1991 8,847
2001 9,232


The changing relationship between the residents and the land is evidenced by Robert Carruther's remark circa 1852 that "There is now a village in Portree containing three hundred inhabitants". Even if this estimate is inexact the population of the island's largest settlement has likely increased sixfold since then. During the period the total number of island residents has declined by 50 per cent or more.[53]

Gaelic

Skye has historically been a very strong Gaelic speaking area. Both in the 1901 and 1921 census, all parishes in Skye were reported to be over 75 per cent Gaelic speaking. By 1971, only the Kilmuir parish still had more than 75 per cent Gaelic speakers, the rest of Skye ranged between 50-74 per cent. At the time, this made Kilmuir the only area outside the Western Isles which had more than 75 per cent Gaelic speakers.[54]

By the time of the 2001 census Kilmuir had 47 per cent Gaelic speakers, with Skye overall having an unevenly distributed 31 per cent. The strongest Gaelic speaking areas are located in the north and south-west of the island (Staffin 61 per cent, Tarskavaig and Achnacloich 54 per cent,). The weakest areas are in the west and east (Galtrigill 18 per cent, Luib 23 per cent, Kylerhea 19 per cent). Other areas on Skye range between 48 per cent (Earlish) and 25 per cent (Kyleakin).[54]

Government and politics

In terms of local government, Skye forms part of the Highland Council area (Comhairle na Gàidhealtachd) based in Inverness.[55] From 1975 to 1996, Skye, along with the neighbouring mainland area of Lochalsh, constituted a local government district within the Highland administrative area. In 1996 the district was included into the Highland Unitary Authority, and formed one of the new council's area committees.[56] Following the 2007 elections, Skye now forms a four-member ward called "Eilean a' Cheò"; it is currently represented by two Independents, one Scottish National Party, and one Liberal Democrat councillor.[55]

Skye is in the Highlands electoral region and comprises a part of the Ross, Skye and Inverness West Scottish Parliament constituency, which elects one member under the first past the post basis to represent it. Currently this is John Farquhar Munro for the Liberal Democrats.[57] In addition, Skye forms part of the wider Ross, Skye and Lochaber UK Parliament constituency, which elects one member to the House of Commons. The present Member of Parliament is Charles Kennedy MP for the Liberal Democrats, who is a former leader of the party and has represented the area since the 1983 general election.[58]

Economy

The ruins of an old building sit on top of a prominent hillock that overlooks a pier attended by fishing boats.
Caisteal Maol and Kyleakin harbour

The largest employer on the island and its environs is the public sector, which accounts for about a third of the total workforce, principally in administration, education and health. The second largest employer in the area is the distribution, hotels and restaurants sector, highlighting the importance of tourism. Key attractions include Dunvegan Castle, the Clan Donald Visitor centre, and The Aros Experience in Portree.[59] There are about a dozen large landowners on Skye, the largest again being the public sector, the Department of Agriculture owning most of the northern part of the island. However, small firms dominate employment in the private sector. The Talisker Distillery, which produces a single malt whisky, manufactures beside Loch Harport on the west coast of the island. Three other whiskies - Mac na Mara ("son of the sea"), Tè Bheag nan Eilean ("wee dram of the isles") and Poit Dhubh ("black pot") are produced by blender Pràban na Linne (lit. "a smugglers den by the Sound of Sleat"), based at Eilean Iarmain.[60][61] These are marketed using predominantly Gaelic-language labels.

Crofting is still important, but although there are about 2,000 crofts on Skye only 100 or so are large enough to enable a crofter to earn a livelihood entirely from the land.[62] Cod and herring stocks have declined but commercial fishing remains important, especially fish farming of salmon and shellfish such as scampi.[63] The west coast of Scotland has a considerable renewable energy potential and the Isle of Skye Renewables Co-op has recently bought a stake in the Ben Aketil wind farm near Dunvegan.[64][65] The unemployment rate in the area tends to be higher than that for the Highlands as a whole, and is seasonal in nature. The population is growing and in common with many other scenic rural areas in Scotland, significant increases are expected in the percentage of the population aged 45 to 64 years.[66]

Transport

Skye is linked to the mainland by the Skye Bridge, while ferries sail from Armadale on the island to Mallaig, and from Kylerhea to Glenelg. Ferries also run from Uig to Tarbert on Harris and Lochmaddy on North Uist, and from Sconser to Raasay.[14][67]

 A body of blue water is spanned by a concave bridge of modern design in the middle distance. A small lighthouse can be seen beyond the bridge under its span.
The Skye Bridge that links Kyle of Lochalsh to Skye.

The Skye Bridge, linking Skye with the mainland of Scotland, opened in 1995 under a private finance initiative. The high tolls charged (£5.70 each way for summer visitors) met with widespread opposition, spearheaded by the pressure group SKAT (Skye and Kyle Against Tolls). On 21 December 2004 it was announced that the Scottish Executive had purchased the bridge from its owners and the tolls were immediately removed.[68]

Bus services run to Inverness and Glasgow, and there are local services on the island, mainly starting from Portree or Broadford. Train services run from Kyle of Lochalsh at the mainland end of the Skye Bridge to Inverness, as well as from Glasgow to Mallaig from where the ferry can be caught to Armadale.[69] There is also a small aerodrome at Ashaig near Broadford, which is used exclusively by private aircraft.[70]

The A87 trunk road traverses the island from the Skye Bridge to Uig, linking most of the major settlements. Many of the island's roads have been widened in the past forty years, but there are still substantial sections of single track road.[3][14]

Culture

A modern 3 story building with a prominent frontage of numerous windows and constructed from a white material curves gently away from a green lawn in the foreground. In the background there is a tall white tower of a similar construction.
The new college buildings, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

Students of Scottish Gaelic travel from all over the world to attend Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, a Scottish Gaelic college based in Sleat.[71]

In addition to members of the Church of Scotland and a smaller number of Roman Catholics many residents of Skye belong to the Free Church of Scotland, known for its strict observance of the Sabbath.[72]

Shinty is a highly popular sport played throughout the island and Portree-based Skye Camanachd won the Camanachd Cup in 1990.[73]

Media and the arts

Skye has a strong folk music tradition, although in recent years dance and rock music have been growing in popularity on the island. Gaelic folk rock band Runrig started in Skye and former singer Donnie Munro still works on the island.[74] Runrig's second single and a concert staple is titled "Skye", sung partly in English and partly in Gaelic[75] and they have released other songs such as "Nightfall on Marsco" that were inspired by the island.[76]

Jethro Tull singer Ian Anderson owned an estate at Strathaird on Skye at one time.[77] Several Tull songs are written about Skye, including Dun Ringil, Broadford Bazaar, and Acres Wild (which contains the lines "Come with me to the Winged Isle, / Northern father's western child" as a poetic reference to the island itself).[78] The Isle of Skye Music Festival featured sets from The Fun Lovin' Criminals and Sparks, but collapsed in 2007.[79][80] Electronic musician Mylo was born in Skye and frequently returns there to perform.[81][82]

Tall, rocky mountains tower over a small lake, beyond which a waterfall cascades down from the heights. Brown and black cattle stand by the lakes margins, lit by wan sunlight that streams through the clouds.
Loch Coruisk, Isle of Skye painted in 1874 by Sidney Richard Percy.

The poet Sorley MacLean, a native of the Isle of Raasay which lies off the island's east coast, lived much of his life on Skye.[83] The island has been immortalised in the traditional song The Skye Boat Song and is the notional setting for the novel To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, although the Skye of the novel bears little relation to the real island.[84] John Buchan descriptions of the island, as featured in his Richard Hannay novel Mr Standfast, are more true to life.[85]

Skye has been used as a location for a number of feature films. The Ashaig aerodrome was used for the opening scenes of the 1980 film Flash Gordon.[70][86] Stardust, released in 2007 and starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, featured scenes shot as Eilean Iarmain and the Quiraing.[87][88] Another 2007 film, Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle, was shot almost entirely in various locations on the island.[89]

The West Highland Free Press is published at Broadford. This weekly newspaper takes as its motto "An Tìr, an Cànan 's na Daoine" - "The Land, the Language and the People" which reflects its radical, campaigning priorities. The Free Press was founded in 1972 and circulates in Skye, Wester Ross and the Outer Hebrides.[90]

Wildlife

The Hebrides generally lack biodiversity in comparison to mainland Britain,[91] but like most of the larger islands Skye has much to offer the naturalist. Observing the abdundance of game birds Martin Martin wrote:

There is plenty of land and water fowl in this isle - as hawks, eagles of two kinds (the one grey and of a larger size, the other much less and black, but more destructive to young cattle), black cock, heath-hen, plovers, pigeons, wild geese, ptarmigan, and cranes. Of this latter sort I have seen sixty on the shore in a flock together. The sea fowls are malls of all kinds - coulterneb, guillemot, sea cormorant, &c. The natives observe that the latter, if perfectly black, makes no good broth, nor is its flesh worth eating; but that a cormorant, which hath any white feathers or down, makes good broth, and the flesh of it is good food; and the broth is usually drunk by nurses to increase their milk.
[20]

Similarly, Samuel Johnson noted that:

At the tables where a stranger is received, neither plenty nor delicacy is wanting. A tract of land so thinly inhabited, must have much wild-fowl; and I scarcely remember to have seen a dinner without them. The moor-game is every where to be had. That the sea abounds with fish, needs not be told, for it supplies a great part of Europe. The Isle of Sky has stags and roebucks, but no hares. They sell very numerous droves of oxen yearly to England, and therefore cannot be supposed to want beef at home. Sheep and goats are in great numbers, and they have the common domestic fowls."
[47]
A black sea bird with a black beak, red feet and a prominent white flash on its wing sits on a shaped stone. The stone is partially covered with moss and grass and there is an indistinct outline of a grey stone wall and water body in the background.
The Black Guillemot or Tystie (Cepphus grylle)

In the modern era avian life includes the Corncrake, Red-throated Diver, Rock Dove, Kittiwake, Tystie, Atlantic Puffin, Goldeneye, Golden Eagle and White-tailed Sea Eagle. The Chough last bred on the island in 1900.[92][93] Mountain Hare (apparently absent in the 18th century) and Rabbit are now abundant and predated on by Wild Cat and Pine Marten.[94] The rich fresh water streams contain Brown Trout, Atlantic Salmon and Water Shrew.[95][96] Offshore the Edible Crab and Oyster are also found, the latter especially in the Sound of Scalpay.[97] There are also nationally important Horse Mussel and Brittlestar beds in the sea lochs.[63]

Heather moor containing Ling, Bell Heather, Cross-leaved Heath, Bog Myrtle and Fescues is everywhere abundant. The high Black Cuillins weather too slowly to produce a soil that sustains a rich plant life, but each of the main peninsulas has an individual flora. The basalt underpinnings of Trotternish produce a diversity of Arctic and alpine plants including Alpine Pearlwort and Mossy Cyphal. The low-lying fields of Waternish contain Corn Marigold and Corn Spurrey. The sea cliffs of Duirinish boast Mountain Avens and Fir Clubmoss. Minginish produces Fairy Flax, Cats-ear and Black Bog Rush.[98] There is a fine example of Brachypodium-rich Ash woodland at Tokavaig in Sleat incorporating Silver Birch, Hazel, Bird Cherry, and Hawthorn.[99]

The local Biodiversity Action Plan recommends land management measures to control the spread of Ragwort and Bracken and identifies four non-native, invasive species as threatening native biodiversity: Japanese Knotweed, Rhododendron, New Zealand Flatworm and Mink. It also identifies problems of over-grazing resulting in the impoverishment of moorland and upland habitats and a loss of native woodland, caused by the large numbers of Red Deer and sheep.[63]

A blue body of water sits beneath a blue sky surrounded by green moorland. A road to the left travels along the lake side leading towards a small patch of mist and some low hills in the distance.
Loch Fada, Trotternish, looking towards The Storr

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Murray (1966) p. 146.
  2. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) pp. 502-03. Modified to include bridged islands.
  3. ^ a b "Get-a-map". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  4. ^ a b General Register Office for Scotland (28 Nov 2003) "Occasional Paper No 10: Statistics for Inhabited Islands" Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  5. ^ Infobox reference is Haswell-Smith (2004) pp. 173-79 unless otherwise stated.
  6. ^ a b "Scotland's Island Populations". The Scottish Islands Federation. http://www.scottish-islands-federation.co.uk/population.htm. Retrieved 29 September 2007. 
  7. ^ Last Ferry to Skye - Christopher J. Uncles ISBN 978-1-84033-425-8
  8. ^ "Skye: A historical perspective". Gazetteer for Scotland. http://www.geo.ed.ac.uk/scotgaz/features/featurehistory1620.html. Retrieved 1 June 2008. 
  9. ^ Mac an Tàilleir, Iain (2003) Placenames. (pdf) Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  10. ^ Oftedal, M. (1956) The Gaelic of Leurbost. Olso. Norsk Tidskrift for Sprogvidenskap.
  11. ^ Munro, D. (1818) Description of the Western Isles of Scotland called Hybrides, by Mr. Donald Munro, High Dean of the Isles, who travelled through most of them in the year 1549. Miscellanea Scotica, 2. Quoted in Murray (1966) p. 146. English translation from Lowland Scots: This isle is called Ellan Skiannach in Gaelic, that is to say in English, "The Winged Isle", by reason of its many wings and points that come from it, through dividing of the land by the aforesaid lochs.
  12. ^ "Group 34: islands in the Irish Sea and the Western Isles 1" kmatthews.org.uk. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  13. ^ Strang, Alistair (1997) Explaining Ptolemy's Roman Britain. Britannia. 28 pp. 1-30.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Haswell-Smith (2004) pp. 173-79.
  15. ^ "Haakon Haakonsøns Saga" Norwegian translation by P. A. Munch. saganet.is. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  16. ^ "Magnus Barefoot's Saga". English translation: en.wikisource.org. Retrieved 4 June 2008.
  17. ^ MacLeod, Fiona "The Laughter of Scathach the Queen" (pdf) horrormasters.com. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  18. ^ Tinning, William (1 May, 2007). "Council says Isle of Skye will keep English name". The Herald. http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.1365849.0.0.php. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  19. ^ Slesser (1970) p. 19.
  20. ^ a b Martin, Martin (1703) "A Description of The Isle of Skye".
  21. ^ "Sgurr Dearg and the In Pinn" skyewalk.co.uk. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  22. ^ Wells, Colin (2007) "Running in Heaven". Glasgow. Sunday Herald Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  23. ^ Johnstone et al. (1990) pp. 234-40.
  24. ^ Murray (1966) p. 149
  25. ^ Murray (1966) pp. 156-61
  26. ^ "The locality" Elgol & Torrin Historical Society (Comunn Eachdraidh Ealaghol agus Na Torran) Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  27. ^ Murray (1966) pp. 147 and 165.
  28. ^ a b Cooper, Derek (1983) Skye. Law Book Co of Australasia. ISBN 0-7100-9565-1. pp. 33-5. Averages for rainfall are for 1916-50, temperature 1931-60.
  29. ^ Figures provided for Staffin, only a few miles to the east, average 4.6 °C (40.2 °F) in January and 15.6 °C (60.0 °F) in July at noon. Slesser (1970) pp. 31-3. (20-year averages). See also "Weather Data for Staffin Isle of Skye". carbostweather.co.uk. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
  30. ^ a b Murray (1966) p. 147.
  31. ^ Slesser (1970) pp. 27-30
  32. ^ Murray (1973) p. 79.
  33. ^ "Highland Profile" The Highland Council (2004 estimate). Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  34. ^ "An Corran" Staffin Community Trust (Urras an Taobh Sear) Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  35. ^ Wickham-Jones, C.R. and Hardy, K. "Scotlands First Settlers". History Scotland Magazine. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  36. ^ Aesthetics, morality and bureaucracy: A case study of land reform and perceptions of landscape change in Northwest Scotland (pdf) Centre for International Environment and Development Studies, Noragric. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
  37. ^ "Skye survey" University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  38. ^ Ritchie, Anna and Ritchie, Graham (1998) Scotland: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-288002-0
  39. ^ Life of St Columba, ed. Richard Sharpe, book I, chapter 26, book II, chapter 33 & note 151.
  40. ^ Fraser, Caledonia to Pictland, pp. 204–206, 249 & 252–253.
  41. ^ "The Norse Connection" celtictraditions.com. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  42. ^ Murray (1966) p. 156.
  43. ^ "The Massacre at Trumpan Church and the subsequent Battle of the Spoiled Dyke". The Hendry Family. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  44. ^ "Flora Macdonald's Grave, Kilmuir" Am Baile. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  45. ^ Boswell (1785) pp. 142-3.
  46. ^ Murray (1966) pp. 152-4.
  47. ^ a b Johnson (1775) pp. 73-4.
  48. ^ "Dunvegan Castle" dunvegancastle.com Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  49. ^ "Armadale Castle" Clan Donald Centre. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  50. ^ "The Barony of MacDonald" baronage.co.uk Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  51. ^ "Caisteal Maol" castles.org Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  52. ^ "Battle of the Braes" highlandclearances.info. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
  53. ^ Carruthers was the editor of the National Illustrated Library's 1852 edition of Boswell (1785) who added a footnote to this effect. See p. 141.
  54. ^ a b Mac an Tàilleir, Iain (2004) 1901-2001 Gaelic in the Census (PowerPoint ) Linguae Celticae. Retrieved 1 June 2008.
  55. ^ a b "The Highland Council (Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd)". Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  56. ^ "Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994: Chapter 39". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  57. ^ "Scottish Parliament MSPs". Scottish Parliament. http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msp/index.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-14. 
  58. ^ "Member Profile: Charles Kennedy" United Kingdom Parliament. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  59. ^ "The Aros Experience" Visit Britain. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  60. ^ "Talisker Scotch Whisky Distillery". Scotchwhisky.net. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  61. ^ "Pràban - The Home of fine Scottish Whisky" gaelicwhisky.com. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  62. ^ MacDonald, Jonathan (1988) A Short History of Crofting in Skye. Eidos.
  63. ^ a b c Skye & Lochalsh Biodiversity Action Plan (2003) (pdf) Skye and Lochalsh Biodiversity Group. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
  64. ^ "Welcome" Isle of Skye Renewables Cooperative Ltd. Retrieved 31 March 2008.
  65. ^ Parker, David et al. (April 2008) "Leading by Example" Durham. New Sector: Issue 78.
  66. ^ HIE Skye and Wester Ross (2008) "About our area". Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Inverness. Statistics are not produced for Skye alone, but for the Skye and Wester Ross area, in which the public sector provides 37.1 per cent of the labour force.
  67. ^ Alan Rehfisch (2007). "Ferry Services in Scotland" (pdf). SPICe Briefing. Scottish Parliament Information Centre. http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/research/briefings-07/SB07-56.pdf. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  68. ^ "SKAT: The Drive for Justice" SKAT. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  69. ^ "Getting Here" isleofskye.net. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  70. ^ a b "Finding (on) Ashaig Airstrip" Aerlines. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  71. ^ "Weclome to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig" UHI Millennium Institute. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  72. ^ Pacione, Michael (2005) "The Geography of Religious Affiliation in Scotland". The Professional Geographer 57(2). Oxford. Blackwell. The 2001 census statistics used are based on local authority areas and do not specifically identify Free Church adherents. However the averages for Highland and Eilean Siar, between which the total for Skye is likely to lie are 48-42 per cent Church of Scotland, 7-13 per cent Roman Catholic and 12-28 per cent 'Other Christian', of whom the majority will be Free Church members. The total for all other religions combined is 1 per cent for both areas.
  73. ^ "Club History". Skye Camanachd. http://www.skyecamanachd.com/club-history.html. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  74. ^ "Donnie Munro: Biography" donniemunro.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2007
  75. ^ "Skye" jimwillsher.co.uk. Retrieved 7 September 2009. The song also appears on the 1988 live Once in a Lifetime album.
  76. ^ "Nightfall on Marsco" jimwillsher.co.uk. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  77. ^ Jim Gough (30 May 2004). "Anderson swaps fish for his flute". Sunday Herald. http://web.archive.org/web/20040607035038/http://www.sundayherald.com/42278. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  78. ^ The Annotated Jethro Tull Lyrics Page Cupofwonder.com Retrieved 10 November 2007.
  79. ^ "Isle of Skye Music Festival 07" Skye Music Festival. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  80. ^ "Isle of Skye Music Festival 2006 " efestivals.co.uk. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  81. ^ "Mylo" mylo.tv Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  82. ^ "Mylo - Biography" tiscali.co.uk. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  83. ^ "Sorley Maclean 1911 - 1996" bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  84. ^ Woolf, Virginia (1927) To the Lighthouse. London. Hogarth.
  85. ^ Buchan, John. Mr Standfast. (London: Penguin Books, 1919)
  86. ^ "Scotland's starring role in 100 films" Edinburgh. The Scotsman. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  87. ^ "Stardust" Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  88. ^ "Filming locations for Stardust" Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  89. ^ "Seachd: The Innacessible Pinnacle" seachd.com Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  90. ^ West Highland Free Press. Broadford. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  91. ^ For example, there are only half the number of mammalian species that exist on mainland Britain. See Murray, W.H. (1973) The Islands of Western Scotland. London. Eyre Methuen. p. 72.
  92. ^ Fraser Darling (1969) p. 79.
  93. ^ "Trotternish Wildlife" Duntulm Castle. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  94. ^ Fraser Darling (1969) pp. 71-2.
  95. ^ Fraser Darling (1969) p. 286.
  96. ^ "Trout Fishing in Scotland:Skye" trout-salmon-fishing.com. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
  97. ^ Fraser Darling (1969) p. 84.
  98. ^ Slack, Alf "Flora" in Slesser (1970) pp 45-58.
  99. ^ Fraser Darling (1969) p. 156.

References

External links

Coordinates: 57°18′25″N 6°13′48″W / 57.307°N 6.230°W / 57.307; -6.230


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Skye article)

From Wikitravel

The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye
The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye
Skye (An t-Eilean Sgitheanach in Scottish Gaelic) often referred to as the Isle of Skye, represents the largest and most northerly of the Inner Hebrides located off the west coast of Scotland. The capital and largest town on the island is the picturesque port of Portree.

The island can be seen as a series of peninsulas that radiate from the mountainous centre of the Cuillin hills. Occupied since the Mesolithic era, there are currently about 9,200 people living on the island, although the transient population of tourists swells during the busy summer months. Skye's popularity with tourists is largely due to its remarkable landscape and easy accessibility from the mainland, both by car over the Skye Bridge or by ferry; and by bus and train through adjacent mainland towns.

Skye is part of the Highland Council local government area and is now linked to the mainland by a road bridge. The island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, vibrant culture and heritage, and its abundant wildlife including the Golden Eagle, Red Deer and Salmon. It is also one of the most accessible regions in which to hear Gaelic being spoken, with about thirty percent of the local population being fluent and a sizeable Gaelic college in Sleat.

  • Armadale - linked to Mallaig on the mainland by ferry.
  • Broadford - spreadout town about 15 miles from the Skye Bridge.
  • Carbost - a clue - think of Talisker - also a very good beach.
  • Elgol - small village with a boat service to Loch Coruisk and a walk to the fine beach at Camasunary.
  • Glenbrittle - a good walking and climbing base for the Cuillin, Skye's best known mountains.
  • Kyleakin - pleasant bridgehead, good mooring for boats.
  • Portree - the attractive capital of the island.
  • Uig - the exit route for the Outer Hebrides, great brewery.

Regions

Skye may be understood as a number of distinct peninsulas that extend out from the Cuillin, the mountainous centre of the island. A largely missable central plateau north of the Cuillin separates Portree on the east coast and Dunvegan in the west.

  • In the north (from west to east):
    • Duirnish Peninsula includes Glendale, Colbost and the scenic lighthouse at Neist Point.
    • Waternish Peninsula has some pretty villages, but is otherwise often overlooked by tourists.
    • Trotternish Peninsula is the largest and most frequently visited, thanks in no small part to the stunning rock formations of the Old Man of Storr and the Quirang. The A855 road (and 57A / 57C bus routes) circumnavigate this beautiful part of Skye, with plentiful options for walking and climbing, as well as numerous attractive small settlements for overnight stops or holidays bases.
  • In the west:
    • Minginish Peninsula offers amazing (but cloud dependent!) views south-east towards the Cuillin, as well as a scenic coastline. The Talisker Distillery (see 'Drink' below) is on the tranquil shore of Loch Harport in Colbost.
  • In the south:
    • Sleat is the gently rolling landscape that includes the southernmost tip of Skye and the pier at Armadale for the ferry to and from Mallaig.
The Skye Bridge - linking back to the mainland
The Skye Bridge - linking back to the mainland

By road

There are two main roads to Skye: the A87 and travels west from the A82 [[Fort William - Inverness road at Invergarry (the A887 provides another connection to the A87 further north towards Inverness). The A87 reaches Skye over the bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland to Kyleakin on Skye.

The lesser used but equally scenic route is by the A830 "Road to the Isles" from Fort William to Mallaig and thence by ferry to Armadale (see below).

There is an additional seasonal ferry [1] between Kylerhea and Glenelg, albeit via minor roads.

By ferry

Now that the Skye Bridge is open (and free of charge since 2004), it is no longer essential to travel to Skye by boat, but it is still an enjoyable ride. The main route to the mainland is on the Caledonian Macbrayne (a.k.a. Calmac) [2] ferry between Armadale and Mallaig.

Skyeferry [3] also operates in summer between Glenelg and Kylerhea.

For the Outer Hebrides, Calmac [4] run from Uig in the north of Skye to Tarbert on Harris and Lochmaddy on North Uist. Many travellers bound for the Outer Hebrides will travel through Skye en route to Uig, usually on board the multiple daily Citylink [5] buses from Inverness or Fort William and Glasgow.

A Calmac ferry also operates from Sconser on Skye to Inverarish on Raasay.

By train

There are two railway stations that serve Skye from the mainland, with the terminus of the West Highland Line in Mallaig and the Kyle of Lochalsh Line terminating in its eponymous destination.

From Glasgow and Fort William

Trains travel about three times a day between Fort William and Mallaig, with convenient connections to the Calmac ferry to Armadale. At least one train a day continues to/from Glasgow. During the summer months, a restored vintage steam train hauls a rake of restored carriages on a daily round trip between Fort William and Mallaig. Fares are slightly higher than regular ScotRail services, but offer an additional connection.

From Inverness

Four or five trains operate daily between Kyle of Lochalsh and Inverness, from where there are connections to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth.

From London and the south

Connections with overnight sleeper trains to/from London Euston are possible six nights a week in both Fort William and Inverness, as well as the daily 'Highland Chieftan' intercity train from Inverness to London King's Cross. For train times and fares contact ScotRail [6] or National Rail [7].

By bus

Scottish Citylink [8] operate two routes in and out of Skye:

Limited numbers of discounted advance purchase tickets are available online[9]. It is advisable to reserve a seat during the summer or around holidays.

Local buses 51 & 52 connect Armadale pier (for the ferry to/from Mallaig with Broadford and Portree several times a day (fewer in the winter). Buses 50 & 55 run every 30 minutes over the Skye Bridge between Kyleakin and Kyle of Lochalsh.

Get around

By bus

An excellent rural network of local buses is provided by Stagecoach Highlands [10], who recently acquired the local operator Rapsons. Routes include:

  • 49, 49B Portree / Elgol
  • 50, 55 Portree / Kyle of Lochalsh (for coach and train connections to Inverness, and coach connections to Fort William and Glasgow),
  • 52, 52C Portree / Broadford / Armadale (for ferry connections to/from Mallaig and trains to Fort William and Glasgow)
  • 53, 54 Portree / Carbost (and the Talisker Distillery) / Fiscavaig
  • 56A, 56B Portree / Struan / Dunvegan
  • 56 Portree / Dunvegan / Glendale
  • 57C (clockwise) & 57A (anti-clockwise) Portree / Flodigarry Peninsula (for Old Man of Storr, the Quirang and Uig)
  • 59 Portree / Peinchorran

Fares rise by distance travelled, with a half-hour journey usually costing around £3. In early 2009 a number of fares were increased and the useful three day Rover ticket was discontinued. The only remaining special ticket of interest to tourists is the £6 One Day Rover, which will normally make sense if you are using more than two buses in one day (although drivers will normally advise you if it is cheaper to buy that or singles). Although they are listed alongside local buses in journey planners and at bus stops, passengers should avoid taking Scottish Citylink coaches for journeys wholly within Skye or across the bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh since fares are substantially cheaper on local services.

An area guide for Skye and Lochalsh lists all bus times, and is issued twice annually for winter and summer seasons. It can be downloaded in pdf format from Stagecoach Highlands [11] by clicking on 'Timetables' and then scrolling down to 'Skye and Lochalsh' or picked up in paper form from buses and tourist information centres. It is strongly recommended to check times in advance, paying special attention to any timetable notes relating to days when the bus runs or does not.

By car

Although substantial European and Scottish funding has been made available to improve and widen certain key routes (most recently the southern section of the Armadale to Broadford road), major roads are still quite narrow and can get congested in high season. However in low season driving in Skye is a delight with only the occasional sheep wandering onto the tarmac to concern you. On narrow single track rural roads pay attention to passing places and drive courteously, being ready to pull over to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass.

Car hire is available in Portree and Kyle of Lochalsh, but can be expensive. When travelling to the island in the high season, call ahead for availability.

By bicycle

Many of the roads in Skye are well cyclable, although traffic can be a problem in late summer. If you're cycling, make sure you have good raingear; Skye is wet even by the drizzly standards of Scotland. The ferry from Mallaig accepts bicycles, and the ride from Armadale north to the bridge is pleasant.

Hitching

Hitching is never one hundred percent safe, but residents of Skye are generally very open to giving rides in remoter areas (especially if you've missed the last bus of the day or it's raining).

Castle Moil, Kyleakin
Castle Moil, Kyleakin
  • Old Man of Storr - one of the famous sights.
  • Dunvegan Castle - great castle in the north of the island with singing chief.
  • The Clan Donald Centre [12] at Armadale is set on a large estate and preserves the ancestral home of the MacDonalds at Armadale Castle. Facilities open to the visitor include the castle grounds (attractive gardens), several hiking trails, and a new museum, the Museum of the Isles, covering the history of the area (extending back as much as 1500 years). The grounds and museum are open during the summer 7 days, 9:30-5:30; the grounds are open for outdoor visits year-round, while hours at the museum during the fall are Wednesdays only, 11-3, and it is apparently closed during the winter months. Admission £4.90 for adults, £14.00 for families; admission covers both grounds and museum.
  • There are other castles on the island that are in a state of disrepair, if not outright ruins, but still scenic:
    • Castle Moil (Caisteal Maol) near Kyleakin
    • Dunscaith Castle on the wild west coast of the Trotternish Peninsula
    • Duntulm Castle north of Portree; Duntulm Castle Hotel (see under "Sleep") is nearby
  • Kilt Rock and Waterfall
  • Loch Coruisk to many people the very finest loch in Scotland - surrounded by shapely peaks. Accessible by boat from the village of Elgol or by walks from Sligachan (long but not hard) or from Elgol via Camasunary (but this involves a 'bad step')
  • MacLeod's Maidens - Skye's magnificent coast off the Dunvegan road is often forgotten in the allure of the Cuillin. The UK's highest cliffs are to be found here. The 'Maidens' are very striking sea stacks and give a target for a walk.
  • Learn Scottish Gaelic at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye's famous Gaelic college. Attend one of their short courses or do a full degree. Visit Sabhal Mor Ostaig [13].
  • Go walking in the Cuillin, Skye's most famous group of mountains, or enjoy the coastal treks elsewhere on the island. Visit Isle of Skye walks [14], a free and independent guide to walks on the island.
  • Walk/climb the Quiraing.
  • For the less adventurous, there are boat tours [15] of the Cullins during the summer months leaving from the remote village of Elgol. The views are stunning and you'll get to see some seals too.
  • The Isle of Skye Music Festival [16] is a mid-June event featuring popular music with both regional and international entries. This year's edition is on June 16-17 at a semi-abandoned airfield site near Broadford.
  • Go to the Skye Silver shop in the north.
  • Woolen goods are a noted product of Skye. Look for them at the gift shop at the Clan Donald Centre (above) or in Portree or Armadale.
  • Self catering Most of the larger villages on Skye have some kind of small shop, but don't expect a broad range or supermarket prices. If basing yourself in Portree you will have a choice of local shops and supermarkets, including:
    • Co-Operative Woodlands Road (on the A87 out of Skye towards Uig) tel: 01478 612483. Portree's only large supermarket is - luckily - one of this large chain with a wide range, including excellent organic, fairtrade and ethically sourced produce.
    • Somerfield Bank Street, tel: 01478 612855. Centrally located small supermarket; more convenient than the Co-Operative but noticeably more expensive on many items. Note that Co-Operative acquired the Somerfield chain in 2009, and it's possible that this will close or change hands in the near future.
    • Portree Butchers Wentworth Street, tel: 01478 612551.
  • Café Arriba Quay Brae, Portree (overlooking the harbour). Tel: 01478 611830 [17] A must for any visit to Portree. Broad and constantly changing menu of Mediterranean style snacks and meals, with good coffee and plentiful vegetarian choices. Also the perfect spot to sit out a rain shower, with views over the harbour.
  • Lower Deck Restaurant on the harbour in Portree, tel:01478-613611 specialises in simple, fresh seafood dishes, e.g. fish and chips £7.50.
  • The Old Inn Carbost. tel 01478 640205. [18] Adjacent to the bunkhouse and B&B of the same name, take caution from guidebooks that report superb meals and snacks: the professional chef is only employed during the summer season so expect pretty average pub grub between autumn and Easter.
  • Flodigarry Country House Hotel tel:01470-552203 [19] was apparently once very good, but now past it: food is unimaginative, overcooked, and poor value at £36/head for three courses and coffee.
  • Loch Bay Seafood Restaurant Stein (at the end of the loch front road in the village) tel.01470-592235 [20]
  • The Old School House Dunvegan, tel. 01470 521421. Perhaps the greatest surprise to be found in Dunvegan: behind a modest facade sits one of Skye's finest restaurants, with a small but confident and ever changing menu of superb dishes. Much of the meat and fish is locally sourced, although vegetarians should expect no more than one or two main courses to choose from. Mains from £9 - £20.
  • The Three Chimneys Colbost, Dunvegan, tel: 01470 511258 fax: 01470 511358 email:eatandstay@threechimneys.co.uk [21] was voted one of the 50 Top World Restaurants by "Restaurant" magazine. Book well ahead!
  • Cuillin Brewery tel: 01478 650204 [22] Easily found adjacent to the Sligachan Hotel & Restaurant, at the junction of the A87 Broadford - Portree Road and the A863 to Dunvegan. Micro-brewery that also offers tours.
  • Isle of Skye Brewing Company in Uig tel: 01470 542477 [23] Brewery tours and a shop open from Easter to mid-October. The breweries most popular bottled beers Black Cuillin (a dark porter), Red Cuillin (an amber) and Hebridean Gold (a golden ale) are available in most pubs throughout the island.
  • Talisker Distillery tel: 01478 614300‎ [24] On the shores of Loch Harport in Carbost, on the west coast of Skye (and not in the village of Talisker itself) Talisker is Skye's only distillery. Producing a hefty, aromatic and distinctly peaty whisky that is similar to those from Islay. Tours of the distillery are offered at intervals throughout the day by friendly and informative guides. Reservations recommended, especially during the summer. Tickets £5 with including a £3 discount in the shop at the end of the tour.

Note that Isle of Skye [25] is a blended whisky produced near Edinburgh, with no extant connection to the island.

  • Basement Bar beneath the Dunvegan Hotel, Dunvegan. tel: 01470 521497 [26] A spacious pub with several pool tables and views across the water to Macleod's Tables, usually quite spectacular at sunset. Note also the more refined surroundings of the lounge bar in the hotel upstairs.
  • The Old Inn Carbost. tel 01478 640205. [27] Note the words of caution with regard to the menu above, but this is a friendly and cosy pub that - while busy with tourists during the summer - is a charming local during the winter with a stunning view along Loch Harport from the patio.
  • Pier Hotel Portree Harbour 01478 612094‎. A haven from the tourist crowds, the tiny bar of the Pier Hotel is predominantly frequented by locals. Visitors should expect to be part of the conversation the moment they enter the bar.

Sleep

Skye's busiest tourist season is from Easter until the end of September, when accommodation usually requires reservations and when some prices rise. Some places close during the winter.

  • Portree Independent Hostel, 01478 613737 [28] is where you're most likely to end up staying if on a budget in Portree. Formerly the town's post office, the unmissable bright yellow building is just off the town's main square (where all local and long distance buses stop). Small lounge, drying room and large well equipped kitchen / dining room. £12.50 - £14 per person per night.
  • Sabhal Mor Ostaig Halls of Residence, 01471 888000 near Armadale in Sleat. Stay at Skye's famous Gaelic College, Sabhal Mor Ostaig. Bed and breakfast; individual en-suite rooms and good breakfast. Book the penthouse in the tower for the most spectacular views. Evening meals available too (check serving times) Visit Sabhal Mor Ostaig [29].
  • Scottish Youth Hostels Association have three hostels on Skye and one on Raasay. They are a cheap alternative to expensive hotels or B&B's. They are very busy during the summer and some can be closed or only available to groups during the winter. Call ahead or check online for details. They are:
    • Broadford Hostel 01471 822442 or 08701 553255. Perhaps Skye's least attractive hostel, but conveniently located in this practical town, an ideal base for exploring.
    • Glenbrittle Hostel 01478 640278 or 08701 553255. The remotest of Skye's hostels, some distance from the nearest bus but accessible on foot, bicycle or by car.
    • Uig Hostel 01478 542746 or 08701 553255. Convenient not only for the north of Skye but also ferries to the Outer Hebredes. The daily Glasgow - Uig bus stops near-by.
    • Raasay Hostel 01478 660240 or 08701 553255. Open from May to September.
  • Camping is very popular with visitors to Skye, and there are numerous campsites dotted around the island, some in extremely picturesque settings.
  • Dunvegan Hotel Bunkhouse, 01470 521497 [30] Two small rooms with bunks adjacent to the Dunvegan Hotel (see below). Linen provided, small bathroom but no kitchen facilities. £12.50 per person per night.
  • The Old Inn Carbost, 01478 640205 [31] Five multiple occupancy bunk rooms in this excellent hostel, recently built overlooking Loch Harport in the small town that is also home to the Talisker Distillery. Large kitchen / lounge upstairs with balcony and views up and down the loch. Adjacent to the Old Inn for food and drinks. £14 / £16 en suite. Bed & breakfast accommodation (£37 / £42) and self catering family chalet (£110 per night) also available.
  • Flora Macdonald Hostel 01471 844272 [32] Located a couple of miles from the pier at Armadale (with a free pick-up from the ferry available with advance notice) this modest hostel has a number of self catering rooms in its main building and newer lodge. Tranquil setting but with no local amenities accessible on foot, so bring supplies. £15 per person per night.
  • Kinloch Lodge Located at Sleat, tel: 01471 833214 [33] cozy, seven room lodge for when you need to get away from it all.
  • Clan Donald Centre includes a limited number of cottages; see link above under "See".
  • Self Catering Cottages are available at various locations over the island - e.g. Staffin Bay Cottages [34].
  • Glenview Hotel, 01470 562248 [35] offers comfortable accommodation just ten minutes from the Old Man of Storr.
  • Dunvegan Hotel, 01470 521497 [36] Small family run hotel in the quiet town of Dunvegan. Lounge bar and restaurant and pub downstairs. Stunning views (especially at sunset) west towards the Macleod Tables. £80 / £90 a night (more expensive with a view).
  • Sligachan Hotel, 01478 650204 [37] is a famous gathering place for climbers and walkers. Pricey (£90 and up for twin room with breakfast, at least during peak season), but you can't beat the location. There is also a bunkhouse.
  • Duntulm Castle Hotel, 01470 552213 [38] is near the ruins of Castle Duntulm north of Portree. A 19th-century shooting lodge in an attractive setting.
  • The four Small Isles of Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna are accessible by Calmac [39] ferry from Mallaig on the mainland, although note that during the winter service is limited and that throughout the year the daily timetable changes, so overnight trips are often necessary.
  • A great deal of beautiful and historic country is on the Scottish "mainland" side of the Skye Bridge, beyond Kyle of Lochalsh. Eilean Donan Castle is near the tiny village of Dornie not far beyond Kyle of Lochalsh and is well worth a visit.
  • Calmac [40] ferries connect Skye to points in the Outer Hebrides, notably Harris (via Uig). See Get in for more information.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Simple English

Isle of Skye is an island in the Inner Hebrides in Scotland. More than 9000 people live there, and half of the people there speak Gaelic. The biggest city is Portree.



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