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9 Beautiful Hikes and Landscapes on the Isle of Skye

Our time on the Isle of Skye was relatively short, only two full days and part of a couple others, but I feel quite proud of everything we were able to see and accomplish in that amount of time. We hiked, we drove along scenic roads winding through the mountains, and we stopped about every 12 seconds to take another photo. It was an unforgettable experience. An experience that deserves way more than the over-used “list post”, but unfortunately that’s all I’ve got for you today. My apologies. But hopefully this will still give you a little taste of what the Isle of Skye has to offer.

Two days on the island certainly didn’t make me an expert, so these are by no means the “best” hikes and landscapes on the Isle of Skye, but they are ones I carefully chose for our trip after many, many hours of online research. And it was worth it. Every trail we hiked and every place we made a point to stop at just blew me away. I can only imagine how beautiful the parts of the island are that we didn’t have time to make it to. I hope to go back in the future and see more, but for now, read on to hear how we kept ourselves busy for two outstanding days on the Isle of Skye.

9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

Fairy Glen

The Fairy Glen was the first stop of our first full day on the Isle of Skye, and what a way to kick off a vacation. This natural wonder is a perfect spot for easy hiking – only a small bit of effort is necessary for climbing to the top of the hills and you’ll be rewarded with one magnificent view! No fairy sightings when we visited, though, I’m afraid. Perhaps I was too distracted by the brilliant scenery to notice them moving about in the trees and moss in the valleys of the glen.

9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

Rha Waterfall

Located in Uig, the same town as the Fairy Glen, is this hidden treasure. A bit difficult to find, but worth the effort once you get there, Rha Waterfall is not so much a hike as a short walk. From the road, we descended the wooden/natural steps provided on the path and a few minutes later, bam! There she was! Down here in the valley, you can hear nothing but the sound of the falls. Surrounded by farms and off the beaten path for most visitors, it’s a quiet, peaceful sort of spot.

A bonus for us, as we were descending the stairs, we came across a cow that had just given birth to the most adorable baby calf minutes before we passed. It was a really special moment watching the farmer help her stand for the first time. Cows and waterfalls – I might as well have been in Tennessee!

9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

The Quiraing

A little further north in Trotternish is the Quiraing, an area of sloping landscapes and rugged cliffs with both challenging and gentler terrain for all levels of hikers. I also hear there are some pretty impressive views to be seen here, but thanks to a heavy fog that rolled in as soon as we arrived, I could only see about as far ahead as my hand could reach.

We had intended on hiking the 3-mile path that goes around the Quiraing, but not being able to see sort of hindered that plan. Instead, we just walked less than a mile across the hillside where it was still level and laughed at how ever-changing Scotland’s weather is. (Can you believe this photo was taken just hours after the photo at Fairy Glen? Scotland’s weather is bizarre!)

9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

Staffin Beach

There are many places on Skye where remnants of the dinosaurs and the era they lived in are still apparent in the landscape, and the beach at An Corran in Staffin is one of these. A beautiful area with pretty walks along the rocky beach, our real reason for coming was to seek out the dinosaur footprints left here by a family of ornithopods a bajillion years ago. (Scientifically and mathematically speaking, of course.)

To see the footprints, it must be low tide with very little sand on the beach. Even in those conditions, you could still spend a good hour searching for the correct footprint in the rocks. (Trust me, after a while every little fissure in the rock looks like a footprint!) Luckily, after we’d been searching for a good while, someone else called out that they’d found it. I compared it to the picture I’d printed out and voila! I can say I’ve walked in the footsteps of the dinosaurs now! (That’s my mom’s foot there for size reference in case you decide to go looking for them on your own.)

9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

Mealt Waterfall & Kilt Rock

There is a lookout point between Staffin and Portree where you can get a glorious view of Skye’s famous Mealt Waterfall with Kilt Rock behind it in the distance. The falls flow from the top of the cliff, 200 feet high, into the Sound of Raasay below. It’s an impressive sight, but the sort of place you probably won’t spend a lot of time at. There is only one spot to get a good shot of the falls and then it’s back to the car park and onto the next sight!

9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

The Storr

To end our first day on Skye, we decided to stop and hike at the Storr since our hike at the Quiraing had been cut a little short. Everywhere we’d been on the Isle of Skye so far had been relatively free of other people, until we got to the Storr. Throngs of people were making their way up and down the path to the Old Man of Storr, the pointy spot on the right in the picture. It’s an easy walk, half of the path is laid in gravel, the other half is made of rocky steps on a well-worn dirt path. The only thing we struggled with was the wind.

In one day we’d gone from beautiful sunny skies to dense fog to some of the strongest winds I’ve ever been outside in. That certainly made the hike more challenging, but I had my happiest moment of the day when I reached the Old Man of Storr after having to crawl on all fours to keep from being blown down the cliff, and then turned around and saw the view. From here, you can see all the way to the Scottish mainland with the sparkling sea and the islands of Raasay and Rona in between.

9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

Portree Harbor

Chances are, if you’re in the Isle of Skye overnight, you’re probably going to be staying in Portree. It’s conveniently located for checking out the whole of Skye and it has more B&B’s and restaurants than anywhere else on the island combined. So while you’re there, make sure you take a walk down to the harbor. This was my favorite spot in town, and it’s beautiful both by day and night. The cliffs emerging from the sea make a gorgeous backdrop to the collection of colorful boats bobbing in the harbor. And at night, when the restaurants along the water turn on their lights, their reflections dance over the glassy sea making for some pretty spectacular long exposure shots (if you’re into the whole photography thing).

9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

Ben Tianavaig

For a great vantage point of Portree and the bay, climbing Ben Tianavaig is a must. This was how we started our second day on Skye and it ended up being my favorite hike on the trip. We didn’t quite reach the top, but we got close. Close enough that this was our view out over the bay to the mountains beyond. I’m a sucker for water and mountains and an open sky, so this hike had everything going for it from the start. The path wasn’t always easy to find, and we accidentally detoured off of it for awhile, finding ourselves climbing sideways and gripping on to prickly brambles to keep from falling, but hey, we still made it! And if we ever make it back to the Isle of Skye, I’m doing it again, hopefully without another brambles incident.

9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

Fairy Pools

The majority of our time on the Isle of Skye was spent north of Portree. Only on our second day did we drive south and see what was down there. Our destination – the famous Fairy Pools. Now, we went in April on a cold and windy day, all bundled up in our coats and scarves, but in the summertime, I hear this place is hopping with hikers and picnickers and people wanting to swim in the chilly, magical waters of the fairy pools.

It’s a pretty good hike to the pools from the parking lot, but it’s over even ground, so not particularly difficult, and it’s worth it, of course, to see this unique natural wonder at the base of the Cuillins. The waters glow blue and green (from the magic of the fairies, of course!), but pretty as they were, there was no way I was going to take off my coat, much less jump in and experience the certain hypothermic shock that would have followed. (This coming from the girl who once broke the ice off the top of a lake so she could jump in! Getting old sucks sometimes.) If I’m ever back here in the summer, though, it’s on!

Feel free to leave a comment with suggestions for your own favorite hikes and landscapes on the Isle of Skye! I’d love to get some ideas for next time! Happy hiking!

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9 Beautiful Hikes And Landscapes On The Isle Of Skye

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  • Marilyn Baptist
    October 17, 2017 at 8:42 AM

    this is a great find – I’m planning a Skye trip (from Canada) in mid-May 2018. You did good both on the trip and writing about it

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 17, 2017 at 5:38 PM

      Thank you so much! I hope you have a wonderful time on Skye. It really is an extraordinary place! :)

  • Rafael Huertas - Bariri
    November 23, 2016 at 2:51 PM

    Hi Sarah ! Beautiful scenery and very useful advice and comments. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

    I am going to visit Isle of Skye and stay in Portree for two days in January 2017. I was wondering if you have any suggestion to go for a hiking at this time of year or hiking group around as I don’t have a car I am might be traveling alone. I have years of experience in hiking and I would love to visit Skye not just for sightseeing but try go for a hiking ! Any suggestion and ideas are very appreciated !

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 30, 2016 at 10:19 AM

      Hi Rafael! So sorry for the delayed response. I haven’t updated this blog since June and only just checked it today and saw your comment! Since I haven’t visited in January, I’m really not sure what the weather will be like and what affect that may have on hiking conditions in various locations. If it’s safe to do so, I’d highly recommend the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr, but as you’re a more experienced hiker, the Cuillins might be a good option, too. When I was planning our hikes for Skye, I used this website: http://www.theskyeguide.com/ I think it might be very useful for you as well! A friend of mine recently went to Skye without a car and had no trouble getting around by public bus, so you should be fine in that area!

      • Rafael Huertas - Bariri
        November 30, 2016 at 11:16 AM

        thanks so much for such fabulous website Sarah ! it definitely will help me to find a suitable place for my case. By the way, is there any chance I contact your friend or you ask him which bus or places I have to go in Portree town to go for a hike in some of these spots. Even a moderate walks in case I wouldn’t be able to go to further places. Very appreciated it ! =)

        • Sarah Shumate
          December 5, 2016 at 7:28 AM

          Hi Rafael! I will pass your email along to her and ask her to contact you about the buses and getting around on Skye!

          • Rafael Huertas - Bariri
            December 5, 2016 at 3:11 PM

            thank you so much for that Sarah ! Looking forward to hear advice and suggestions from her ! =)

  • Sand in my Suitcase
    June 1, 2015 at 2:53 AM

    You can imagine fairies flying around the Fairy Glen, can’t you – the scenery looks so magical! And how much fun that must be to walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs :-). We knew very little about Skye before, but we love hiking, and your post has intrigued us…

    • Sarah Shumate
      June 2, 2015 at 3:36 PM

      I knew nothing about Skye until we started researching places in Scotland. As soon as we landed on it, I knew that was exactly where I wanted to go. :) The scenery there is just phenomenal! And if you love hiking (we do, too!) you will have endless possibilities on Skye and the surrounding Highlands! I hope you’ll get to go!

      • Hannelore Schurgers
        May 31, 2016 at 5:28 PM

        Hi Sarah, I was wondering… is it possible to discover the isle of skye by bike/foot in summer? :)

  • MissLilly
    May 30, 2015 at 11:53 AM

    really beautiful!!! Looking forward to go

  • Kim
    May 29, 2015 at 1:15 AM

    Ohhhh those waterfalls make me want to pack my bags and fly to the Isle of Skye! Beautiful scenery and I love the whimsical name of the “Fairy Pools” as well! Lovely!

  • rorybore
    May 18, 2015 at 4:31 AM

    It seems so magical… with all that misty blanket cover rolling in. like another era. another world almost. your photography is just Spot On in this place. just amazing shots.

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 20, 2015 at 9:58 AM

      Thank you!! These are the kinds of places I enjoy visiting/being in the most, so maybe that comes through in my photography? :)

      • rorybore
        May 20, 2015 at 4:41 PM

        Yes — it definitely does. they’re like little visual love notes. :)

  • Corinne Vail
    May 15, 2015 at 2:20 PM

    Wow! Those views are amazing. We’re heading to Scotland this summer…but Isle of Skye…don’t know. I want to!

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 20, 2015 at 9:57 AM

      Hi Corinne! How exciting that you’re headed to Scotland soon! Any idea yet where you’ll be going? Even if you can’t make it to Skye, I bet you’d enjoy seeing other parts of the Highlands, too. It’s SO beautiful up there.

  • Jessi @2feet1world
    May 15, 2015 at 11:41 AM

    Oooh I haven’t been but I’m not sure I could pick a favourite – it all looks so magical and absolutely stunning.

  • Robert
    May 14, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    WOW! Every one of these is stunning!! It’s a tough decision to make but I think Fairy Glen is my favourite, it really does look magical (and therefore appropriately named.) I love your photo of Rha Waterfall though. That’s a great shot :)

  • Emmymom
    May 13, 2015 at 8:27 PM

    That first waterfall shot is perfect! Love that you captured it with the water motion. As I was looking at these pictures it made me realize how dry and barren it is where I live!

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    May 13, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    Oh, those waterfalls and fairy pools and that harbor! So lovely!! Well, all of it is, of course!! =)

  • Nicole @ Treasure Tromp
    May 12, 2015 at 5:39 PM

    whoa! so beautiful!!

  • Katrin
    May 12, 2015 at 2:52 PM

    Oh wow, I have a speak spot for waterfalls, cows and dinosaurs so this sounds perfect. The nature! i just want to be there right now!

  • Jacintha | Urban Pixxels
    May 12, 2015 at 6:53 AM

    Gorgeous photos! I’ve never been to the Isle of Skye but it’s now high on my list.

  • Alexandra @ Team Starnes
    May 11, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    Yes Yes Yes to ALL of them!

  • Margo @ The Overseas Escape
    May 11, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    Oh wowwzas! Beautiful! I love the Mealt Waterfall most but the Fairy Pools also look enchanting.. maybe the name is playing a factor into that perception? I also LOVE that there are dinosaur footprints at Staffin Beach. I have a thing for Jurassic Park, ha.