Day 2 of the 3 Day Isle of Skye MacBackpackers Tour
Day 2 is the big one. The Isle of Skye. The second most popular tourist attraction in all of Scotland, with over 500 000 people visiting the Misty Isle in 2018, Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides and the most northerly. Today we get to see why so many people flock to this isle all year round. Here are some of my highlights:
Leaving Kyleakin behind we slowly meander north up the coast. Soon we pass the small town of Broadford and rising up in front of us we are first introduced to the majestic Cuillin Range. First the rounded Red Cuillins, granite peaks with a reddish tinge that were formed from the fallout of the volcanic eruption that formed this area’s dramatic scenery. But as impressive as these are, they aren’t the main attraction. Soon a dramatic, jagged ridge is spotted. The Black Cuillin Range, or known to mountaineers around the world as The Ridge, is the remnants of the volcanic cone and a true sight to behold. Atop this range lie 7 Munros (3,000-foot peaks) and one of the toughest hikes in the UK (read more about hiking Munros on our earlier piece). But for today we’ll stay at sea level as we follow the one-track road to our next stop: The Fairy Pools.
The Fairy Pools
As the legend goes, the Isle of Skye’s dramatic scenery was formed after an epic battle. One so fierce that the land around was left with scars so deep that the area around it appears to rise up. The battle was so Herculean that the mythical fairies of Skye decided they never wanted it to end. Determined to keep the warriors alive and fighting for their entertainment, they blessed the waters of a group of pools with the gift of eternal youth and beauty. As you pass the many waterfalls of the Fairy Pools, don’t forget to dip your face into the crystal clear water for 8 seconds to be blessed with the same eternal youth and beauty as the warriors who created the area.
Next, we head to the largest settlement on Skye, the King’s Port, Portree. We get to stop for lunch in this charming little town and immediately the group heads to the famous colourful houses on the Portree Harbour. You can get great views from across the harbour on the hillside and we spent a good amount of time snapping pics to make our friends back home jealous. After this, we decided to head into town and grab a coffee and something to eat. For coffee, there’s surely nowhere more scenic than Cafe Arriba whose scenic view is only bettered by their eclectic, bright interior. The coffee was pretty darn good too. For a quick, cheap bite head to MacKenzie’s Bakery where the price and quality haven’t changed in years. Back to the bus now to work off those snacks on the next stop on our trip: The Old Man of Storr.
The Old Man of Storr
As we hug the coast on the way out of Portree it becomes obvious that this area is different to everything we’ve seen so far. The Trotternish Landslip is a 30 km stretch of broken land protruding out of the isle that runs from the northeast coast of the Isle of Skye to near Portree and has created some of the area’s most impressive landmarks. The first we see is the Old Man of Storr, a vertical granite pinnacle below the area’s highest point: The Storr. A funny story of how it was formed gets us all excited to touch the rock ourselves and once we complete the 30-minute hike we are greeted with stunning views over the bay. One of the most popular walks on Skye and when you’re on top it’s easy to see why.
After a few minutes of huffing and puffing everyone is back on the bus and we continue up the coast to our next stop: Lealt Falls. Cutting through the lush surroundings of the Trotternish Peninsula, the Abhainn An Lethuillt River drops into a gorge only 50 metres from the sea. While you can see it from the viewing platform, I would definitely recommend following the guide down the path to its base where you can snap a few great pictures that most tourists won’t ever get a chance to see. From here, we begin our loop back towards Kyleakin via spots like Kilt Rock, Duntulum Castle, Uig (where we stop at Skye’s largest brewery The Isle of Skye Brewing Company) and Portree. After a long day exploring the Isle of Skye, we end the day with a selection of the Isle of Skye beers on Castle Moil while watching the sun go down behind the Skye Bridge. The perfect end to a perfect day.
After doing 3 tours to the Isle of Skye with MacBackpackers, I’d like to say I’ve seen it all. But, as every MacBackpackers tour is different, I’ve had a very different experience on each tour and there’s still so much more to see. MacBackpackers isn’t like other tour companies, there’s no exact schedule and the guides are more than happy to take on suggestions for new things to check out (provided they can fit the bus down the narrow road). It’s well worth doing some research and having a chat with your guide at the start of the trip to see if they can show you something different. If you’d like to book one of their trips head to their website www.macbackpackers.com.