Jason and I made the most of a rare shared weekend off to go adventuring to the Isle of Skye in Nessa the van earlier in July. Read on to hear how we woke up under misty mountains, played carpool car-a-oke, visited a teeny-tiny delicious coffee shop and ceilidh danced the proper way!
On Saturday 9th July we packed up early and headed off to the magical land of Skye. Having only been to one other isle, Arran (read all about our adventure there right here), I didn’t know what to expect from one so far away. But after two solid days of driving around, exploring all the tourist spots and making some hotspots of our own, I now clearly see the magical appeal that this rugged, stunning place has.
It took us about 5 and a half hours to drive up there from Glasgow, which could be a sticking point for most people but as the van is so comfy – seriously, the front seats are comfier than any armchair I’ve ever sat on (huzzah!) – this was no bother for either of us. I’ve got to admit that I felt weirdly nervous about not having a place to stay booked as usually I’m the most unbelievably organised person, but I guess I’m just not yet used to the freedom of rocking up with your house on the very wheels that are transporting you!
About halfway through our journey, we realised that all of the ooohing and aaahing at the stunning scenery in Glen Coe had made us starving so we rocked up to a little town to get fish and chips (shut up, we were on holiday) when another campervan pulled up next to us. As per the motorhome code of practice, we had a chat about where they’d just been and they’d come from Skye and recommended an ‘amazing little campsite with an incredible whisky bar’. We said we’d look out for it, but didn’t actually expect to find it pretty much as soon as we arrived (after a quick stop at the incrediblely dramatic Eilean Dornan castle, which felt so magical.) After a long drive, the campsite setting – under a misty mountain, next to a glen and views over the sea – looked beyond perfect and we clocked their whisky bar, too, which actually turned out to be the award-winning whisky bar of the year 2016 called Seamus’ Bar within the Slighachan hotel.
Once we’d parked up and gloated for a solid 5 minutes about the joy of just having to park and that’s all, not faff around with setting tents up, we toddled across to the pub and were delighted that as well as an amazing whisky list with over 200 types and old whisky bottles as décor hanging coolly from the ceiling, they had a very decadent menu so we treated ourselves to a hearty highland munch and a good few drinks. The pub was packed with walkers and other campers, but as the night went on it was getting busier and busier with local people and had such a lively atmosphere. There were posters all over the place about a live band playing that night so, a few more pints in and onto the whisky for Jason and Baileys for me, we decided to stay and see what the tunes were like.
It turned out to be totally traditional folk and ceilidh music and dancing which was so ridiculously Scottish, it was great for the tourists. However, the mix of young people there, out to get drunk on a Saturday night and going hell for leather on the ceilidh dancing was so silly and so much fun we decided to join in. We just couldn’t stop giggling at how much all these young, dressed-up people were into it – but we forgot that this is basically all there is to their Saturday night, so they’ve gotta make the most of it – island life is still very much alive and well! A good few drinks in, we cast our tumblers aside and confidently (and in fits of giggles) strutted up to the dancefloor, showing everyone, including all the locals, that we were the masters at the gay gordons before stumbling back to the campsite, full, happy and tipsy, and into the gigantic camper bed.
The next day we drove round to Portree. Driving about on Skye takes so long because everywhere you turn there’s another beautiful mountain or waterfall to see, but we eventually got there and pottered around the picturesque town for the afternoon, stopping for ice cream. We didn’t stop for proper food as we had plenty of supplies in the van, but we did stick our heads into Café Arriba which had a really relaxed vibe, a nice wine list and was packed, and spotted the Scorrybreac restaurant which has a Michelin star and the menu looked outstanding. We also visited the market in the twee village hall which was full of cute trinkets and crochet and even a cute coffee van, although it was closed so we sadly didn’t get to sample any.
We then decided to go for an evening drive to Trotternish, the north of the island where the Old Man of Storr and some beautiful beaches are. We stopped at the Isle of Skye Brewery to pick up some beers for later on that night and a little island map and magazine from the Uig ferry port, and then set off. It was quite a long drive, so we had to keep ourselves entertained with some carpool car-a-oke…
Neither of us knew what to expect of this side of the island, especially when it became clear that the single-track roads weren’t designed with motorhomes in mind, but the scenery we found was out of this world. Such incredibly dramatic cliff faces and rocks, with sprawling stones all the way down to the sea – it felt like we’d just gone back to the jurassic age, which was a theme that continued when we made our way round to Staffin beach.
We parked the van up a track and walked down towards the beach across countryside fields, full of sheep and not much else – looking out over the curve of the island was amazing, it’s so rare to find a place you can see the sea against such a mountainous backdrop. We even saw some wild campers down there in big billowing tents, and with such amazing views, we totally understood why. We made it down to the beach after about 15 minutes of walking and discovered that the sand had some blackness to it, like volcanic sand, which was stunning to find in Scotland. We then spotted a sign that said they’d found dinosaur footprint fossils here after a storm in recent years, and you can still see them on the beach! Sadly, we couldn’t find them but I took the opportunity to run around the pretty stretch and take some photos.
That evening, continuing the drive around the island, we came to the Old Man of Storr. This was truly a ‘holy shit!’ moment for me, and not just because the scenery was amazing. We arrived to this historic site, where there are very convenient laybys all around for people to stop and head up a small track to the viewpoint, and many other tourists around us were getting out of their cramped cars with their cameras and making their way up to take a look. But we’d parked in a layby and had a misty, but visible, view of the spectacle. So rather than hike some more – all that exploring gets tiring, you know – we took in the magnificent view by sitting on our super comfy sofa, with a cup of freshly brewed tea in hand. That was when it hit me – this is MY van! I can do this whenever I want! All these suckers are having to hike and I can sit on the comfiest chair ever with a lovely fresh cup of tea that I’ve made, right here! What an amazing feeling. So we celebrated by having a big pasta dinner right there, too!
Our final day was spent exploring the fairy pools. Some people I know have been to Skye and described it as way over-subscribed, and although it was busy, it was for good reason – the location and the water itself was stunning, so of course people want to come and see it! The incredible peaks in the background were covered in cloud which just added to the historic mystery and we spotted a sign that gave details of the walking route to Slighachan glen, next to the campsite we’d been at, so we realised we could have taken a decent hike there which if we didn’t have the van, and hadn’t needed to go home later that day, we definitely would have done. The fairy pools were gorgeous and a great walk, and it felt lovely for us both to just stand, breathe and appreciate the view in front of us – taking 5 minutes to realise how incredible what’s in front of you is, is really important.
Hungry for cake and coffee, we consulted the magazine and map we’d got the day before and realised that the actual Cuillin Coffee café rather than the little van we’d seen the day before was close by with their own delicious roast that operated out of a stunning campsite not far from the fairy pools, so we headed down there. No disrespect to the campsite we’d been at, but oh god – we wished we’d stayed at this one, called Glenbrittle, soooo much! It was right on the beach and so quiet, down a tiny bumpy track that followed a river, and with a mountain even closer to the one we’d been under. It was beyond beautiful. We went for a potter on their stretch of beach before hitting up the ‘café ‘ which actually turned out to be a coffee stand in the campsite shop, so was super tiny, but none the less delicious. We fuelled up on too many cakes and a black americano each (our standard drink) from Cuillin’s own roast. It tasted like bakewell tart – om nom nom – so no complaints from either of us, and after arguing with ourselves for a while whether we reaaaaally needed to go back to our work and boring day-to-day lives, we hit the road for home, back through the beauty of the highlands and Glen Coe.
I’d recommend Skye to anyone, not just the place but the journey up there, too (*insert cheesey quote on life being about the journey, not just the destination here*) as it’s so brilliant. We can’t wait to make our next escape.
Great for: those wanting to get away from it all and see Scotland at it’s finest – even if that includes no phone signal, no standard entertainment, no big buildings or rushed life.
Not so hot for: people with walking difficulties, those who hate driving for too long, those who get nervous on small roads.
- Bring a picnic EVERYWHERE – with no phone signal it’s tough to know where the next rest-stop is.
- Don’t forget to look around you – taking photos of all the stunning places might be amazing but get off the screen and love it with your own eyes!
- Stay at Glenbrittle campsite. It is beyond beautiful.