What do Prometheus, Macbeth and a Harry Styles music video all have in common?
Sure, they’re all entertaining – but if you answered “The Isle of Skye” then give yourself a pat on the back. (Actually, it’s been a tough year. Make that two pats on the back. You deserve it.)
Skye, the largest island of the Inner Hebrides, Scotland, has provided the background for numerous Hollywood blockbusters, popular television series and Harry Styles’ Sign of the Times music video. It’s famous for its dramatic scenery, breath-taking views and ever-changing light. For the moment, Skye is best enjoyed on film until Covid restrictions relax, but here are some of Skye’s top ten beauty spots for when travel does resume.
The Old Man of Storr
If you’ve seen Prometheus, you’ll recognise the old man. Standing at around 160ft tall, the distinctive pinnacle can be seen for miles – but he’s even more dramatic if you brave the five-mile walk to get up close and personal.
The name “Quiraing” comes from the Old Norse for “Round Fold” – and, when you look at the area’s distinctive curves and sweeps, you’ll see how it got its name. It’s said the Quiraing’s fold was used to conceal cattle from Viking raiders. Today, it attracts hundreds of visitors to appreciate its impressive beauty.
The Fairy Glen
Think Teletubbies landscape. Think bizarre formations, random mounds, tranquil lochs and a hill named for its turret-like appearance. Known as Castle Ewan, this is arguably the Glen’s most recognisable feature. People say it’s a natural rock formation – but we won’t blame you if you choose to believe it’s the ruins of an ancient fairy castle.
I’d love to paint a picture of tranquil waterfalls, bubbling streams and crystal clear waters – and, if you visit on the right day, you just might find that. Skye, however, isn’t named the Misty Isle for no reason. Think powerful waterfalls, mountains enshrouded in the drizzle and moody skies. One thing is for certain: whatever the weather, the Fairy Pools is a place of immense character and natural beauty.
Neist Point Lighthouse
Neist Point is Skye’s most westerly part and a favourite spot for watching marine life and catching the last rays of the setting sun. It’s also home to one of Scotland’s most photographed lighthouses, which can be viewed from the nearby cliff or visited up-close after a bracing walk.
Multi-coloured houses at the harbour, coastal and forestry walks, a bizarre tower on a hill – Portree has all that and more. I’ve lived in Portree for three years now – I’ve yet to find a place full of such diverse history, colourful characters and community spirit. Pro tip: check out Scorrybreac restaurant. Your taste buds will thank you.
Skye’s distinctive and beautiful mountains are collectively named the Cuillins. You can’t miss them. You’ll see them as soon as you cross the Skye Bridge, but they’re worth so much more than a quick glance through a drizzle-coated car window. Numerous mountain walks will take you deep into the heart of the mountains and, even if you are as unfit as I am, I guarantee you’ll be glad you did it.
This gorgeously-tranquil loch at the base of the Cuillins is best visited by boat from the coastal village of Elgol. Expect scenery reminiscent of Jurassic Park hills, towering mountains and a high probability of seals basking on the rocks.
Rubh an Dunain – The Viking Canal
Pro tip: do not be like me and leave your sandwiches in the car thinking this is “just a wee stroll.” That’s up there with some of my worst life-choices. A packed lunch is a must for this long walk, which takes about four hours in total. As well as boasting beautiful views of the beach, this walk is a must-do for anyone interested in history, as it is believed the ancient canal was used by Vikings to moor longships.
Located in the north of Skye, about a 30-minute drive away from Portree, Coral Beach features a beautiful, curving sweep of pure white “sand”. Unlike the name suggests, Coral Beach is composed of fossilised, sun-bleached algae – and not ideal to walk barefoot on! At low tide, visitors can explore the nearby isle of Lampay – as well as beautiful views out to sea.
Which will be your favourite? Let us know @TheStudentAspect