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Your guide to Skye
All About Skye
Skye is an island on Scotland’s northwest coast whose history dates back to prehistoric times. It’s home to seven medieval castles, some of which are ruins that have succumbed to years of weathering and battles, while others, like the Armadale Castle, remain more intact. The island’s Dunvegan Castle is still inhabited today.
The Black Cuillin Hills mountain range is the dominating landscape on Skye, named for its dark-colored basalt and gabbro rocks. The steep, grass- and moss-covered mountains make for challenging hikes like the Quiraing Walk, a path that is constantly shifting due to massive landslides. The 1.4-mile Old Man of Storr hike is another of the most iconic trails on the island, where you can see this 160-foot, speared rock formation surrounded by untamed, bright green moss. All across the island, overflowing lochs create dozens of waterfalls, ranging from the towering 131-foot Eas Mor Waterfall to a series of small, grouped cascades like the Falls of Rha.
As you explore Skye’s rugged terrain surrounding your Skye rental accommodations, you can look for some of Scotland’s native highland cows and red deer. Along the coast, rare grey seals make appearances near Skye’s rocky beach shores.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Skye
Skye sees rain year-round, but summers are warm and see a bit more sunshine than other seasons. This time of year, you can visit the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland, the Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, open to visitors all summer before closing in early fall. Fall’s cooler temperatures make it an ideal time to hike through Skye’s lush, grassy mountains.
Spring is cool and less rainy than autumn, and purple orchids sprout up across Skye’s highlands. These beautiful flowers dot the path along the Fairy Pools hike in spring, ending at a series of small waterfalls. Winters are cold but not extreme, and it seldom snows. On a cold day, you can explore indoor attractions such as the Skye Museum of Island Life, featuring 100-year-old cottages with relics inside them showing what life in Skye was like for villagers at the time.
Top things to do in Skye
The 180-foot, pleated Kilt Rock formation resembles the garment of the same name. An elevated lookout point near the cliffs offers a sweeping view of Kilt Rock and the dramatic Mealt Falls waterfall. The falls are nearly as tall as Kilt Rock, flowing from the nearby Loch Mealt and cascading over the basalt cliff face into the Atlantic Ocean. The combination of wind and water flow is known to make a mystical, calming sound as you take it in.
The small fishing village of Elgol sits at the junction of the seascape and the Black Cuillin Hills mountain range. It’s home to Elgol Beach, accessible by a short, steep walk from Elgol. Black rocks covering the shore date back nearly 200 million years, meeting the deep blue Loch Scavaig waters. The grassy Black Cuillin Hills create a dramatic backdrop behind the beach, with honeycomb rock formations lining the shore. You can swim in the loch waters, but they will be chilly throughout the year.
The Dunscaith Castle, built sometime during the 13th or 14th century, sits on an elevated rock over Loch Eishort. It’s one of the few castle ruins in Skye that you can walk through on your own, exploring the standing remains of staircases, overland bridges, and supports connecting an overwater drawbridge leading to the castle. Many Gaelic legends refer to this castle and its centuries-long history of sieges between rival clans.