36 Hours in the Isle of Skye

Olivia Hendren discusses the highlights of a weekend trip to the the Isle of Skye.

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Photo: Olivia Hendren

After spending six hours driving and obnoxiously singing to our old Spotify playlists, my boyfriend Tom and I finally made it to our spontaneous weekend destination on the Isle of Skye. Since I had never ventured farther in Scotland than Glasgow, I was eager for us to make the most of the trip while Tom had his car in St Andrews.

The drive to Skye is arguably just as beautiful as the island itself, and very exciting for me as I was able to see Highland cows for the first time!

Many hours and winding country roads later, we made it to the island just in time for sunset. Since the trip was planned last minute, and most of the hotels were booked, we decided to stay in one of the adorable “glamping” cabins that are scatt ered around the island. The one that we chose was about twenty minutes outside of Portree, the main town and hub for the remote island.

In my opinion, the cabin was perfect for a short weekend away as it provided the feeling of camping outdoors while still having all of the amenities that you would want from a hotel such as heating, a warm shower, and television.

After settling in, we decided to head to Portree for dinner, where we ate at the Cuchullin Restaurant. We landed on this restaurant because it was one of the few that were open during their off season; however, our meal was still delicious. We both ordered the mussels, which were served traditionally – in a white wine and garlic sauce.

On Saturday, our only full day in Skye, we decided to drive north of the island to make the most of the sunshine by going fishing and hiking. After driving around for about an hour, we discovered the perfect hidden beach, sheltered by cliffs and teeming with small tidal pools. Our efforts went unnoticed however, as we didn’t get any bites on the line. While patiently watching our slack fishing line, we enjoyed the scenery and ate our sandwiches and snacks (which we had packed the day before).

After the failed fishing attempt and tasty picnic, we took a detour on our way back to Portree where we stopped to see the famous Old Man of Storr, a unique rock formation that has been a destination for photographers and hikers alike. The hike up to the rock formation was stunning and provided us with a great opportunity to view the scenery from a higher bird’s-eye perspective.

Upon returning to Portree in the evening, we decided to have dinner at a local pub and didn’t realise that the Scotland vs England rugby game was finishing up. We stayed to watch as Scotland won — at which point Tom decided to stay silent for fear of having his English accent heard in this very Scottish pub!

Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to accomplish everything that we had planned while in Skye, as on the Sunday of our weekend, we got a flat tire! If you are visiting the Highlands, make sure that you have a spare tire because one wrong move and a pothole can leave you stranded.

Aside from the minor car troubles, the Sunday of the trip was probably my favourite of our short stay in the Highlands. As we drove back to St Andrews we took a detour through Glen Coe, which was undoubtedly one of the most stunning landscapes I have ever experienced. The drive through the valley is unlike any other and left me utterly speechless.

The old saying “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” was realised during our drive through Glen Coe as we stopped to take in the surroundings. Rolling hills, remote villages, and snow-topped mountains quickly transport you to another world when entering the Scottish Highlands and whether you spend a month, a week, or just 48 hours, the trip is entirely worth every second. We often get swept up by the stresses and troubles of our daily lives, especially at university, and forget to take a moment to breathe. If the opportunity to take someone that you love on a Highlands road trip, even for just a short weekend, presents itself, you won’t regret it.

The spontaneous mountain hikes, failed but scenic fishing attempts, and lack of cell service gave me the freedom to stop and appreciate the people and opportunities that I have and the stunning country that I have the privilege of studying in.

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