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A Foggy Hike at the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye

Hiking The Quiraing On The Isle of Skye, Scotland

If it were up to me, the weather when we were traveling would always be sunny with a scattering of puffy clouds here and there, a temperature of at least 75° F, and maybe a light breeze if it started creeping up much higher than that. In over 100 days of travel during the past three years, we have been blessed with that level of perfection less times than I can count on both hands. Those aren’t great odds, but it’s what we have learned to expect while traveling through Europe and the UK, two regions of the world well-known for inclement and unpredictable weather. I’d be lying if I told you I had learned to embrace this sort of weather with open-armed enthusiasm, but I have reached a general level of (grudging) acceptance that these are the terms for traveling in Europe – sometimes you get lucky, but more often than not you get rain.

Such was the case when we visited the Quiraing in Scotland, one of the most highly recommended areas on the Isle of Skye for those looking to do a little bit of hiking, which we were. We sat in the car while rain beat down on the windows, trying not to let the weather get us down. (An itinerary based entirely outdoors did not allow room for all-day rainstorms!) Luckily, just like heavy rainstorms in London, this one passed quickly, leaving a cold drizzle and a light fog in its wake. Or so we thought.

By the time we got out of the car, consulted the map, and began walking up the path from the car park, the Quiraing that I’d been admiring on Instagram and online for months in preparation for our trip had become almost completely concealed by fog. And the longer we deliberated on whether to continue with our hike, the denser it got. In the end, we decided to give it a try, despite the fact that we wouldn’t actually see the scenery that brought us out here in the first place. We had our fingers crossed the fog would pass as quickly as the storm had, though.

Except it didn’t. We made it less than a mile into the 3-mile route that would have taken us around the Quiraing before not only could we not clearly see the scenery around us, but in some places it was even difficult to see the path we were supposed to be on. Unwilling to risk a fall, we decided to turn around and head back to the starting point. I was disappointed we didn’t get to complete the hike as planned, but as someone who enjoys taking pictures regardless of weather conditions, there was a silver lining. The fog allowed me to capture Scotland as I’ve always seen it in my head – kind of dark, broody, and mysterious. Also, did you know in Scotland they call this kind of fog, haar? That’s fun to say.

Hiking The Quiraing On The Isle of Skye, Scotland

Hiking The Quiraing On The Isle of Skye, Scotland

Hiking The Quiraing On The Isle of Skye, Scotland

Hiking The Quiraing On The Isle of Skye, Scotland

Hiking The Quiraing On The Isle of Skye, Scotland

Hiking The Quiraing On The Isle of Skye, Scotland

Hiking The Quiraing On The Isle of Skye, Scotland

That last photo there is one of my favorites from the trip. I mean, how much more Scottish can you get? Dramatic landscape, check. Misty fog, check. Man in kilt, check. I kind of love the juxtaposition of his Adidas backpack and hoodie with the traditional Scottish kilt. He’s all average, everyday hiker on top, proud Scotsman on the bottom. I dig it.

And because I wanted his picture, but there was no possible way I could get it without him noticing the strange female laying on the ground behind him, I awkwardly asked him if I could take his photo (I am so weird about that) and afterwards we got to talking. Turns out, this man was born on the Isle of Skye and lived his entire life here. You guys, Skye is tiny – I just can’t even imagine. There is so much beauty here, and a true nature-lover would certainly feel at home among the hills and mountains and lochs, but still. I haven’t been anywhere yet that I’d be comfortable to settle down in for more than a couple years, much less put down roots and never leave. That sort of love and commitment blows my mind.

Anyway, in case you’re interested in the hike we tried to take, that info is here. Note that bypassing the summit of the Quiraing will make the route a little quicker and easier without sacrificing too much of the scenery. We, unfortunately, didn’t get the chance to return to the Quiraing and try this hike again before it was time to head back to London, but we did get to go on some of the other popular hikes on the Isle of Skye and had much better luck with the weather for those!

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Hiking The Quiraing On The Isle of Skye, Scotland

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  • Jessi @2feet1world
    March 28, 2016 at 9:47 AM

    I agree, that shot of the man in the kilt is incredible. I can’t wait to visit Skye one day soon – even with this kind of weather!

  • Emmymom
    March 14, 2016 at 4:28 PM

    That is so awesome you asked him to take his picture! Good job, and totally worth it as that picture is awesome and perfect.

  • JasminCharlotte
    March 13, 2016 at 10:56 AM

    Ah I love the Isle of Skye! It was the same when we were there, we hiked to the Old Man of Storr and for most of the hike we couldn’t even see it but by the time we got to the top, the fog finally lifted and we got some amazing views! I can’t wait to go back!

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 14, 2016 at 1:39 PM

      I just wrote about our hike to the Old Man of Storr today! I loved that one so much, too! We were lucky to get beautiful weather, even though it was just an hour or two after this hike. It’s so funny how Scotland’s weather can change so rapidly!

  • Melanie Fontaine
    March 11, 2016 at 7:22 AM

    The Quiraing really does look so quintessentially Scottish! I really hope I can go back to the Isle of Skye one day and experience it again – my first visit was such a comedy of errors! We also had terrible weather and ended up missing our last bus connection, because we got lost somewhere on the hike (we may not have had a map…). Thankfully the friendliest Scottish couple took pity on us and drove us all across the island to our hostel – but next time I’m bring a car myself! ;) Welcome back in the blogosphere, by the way – I’m so glad that you have decided to give it a go again, despite of everything that is going on, and I’m really looking forward to catching up on all your travels from the past year. As cheesy as it sounds, your posts always bring a smile to my face! :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 11, 2016 at 1:03 PM

      Oh man, I really can’t imagine seeing the Scottish Highlands without a car. That would be really difficult, but kudos to you for trying. That is so cool that someone was kind enough to take you where you needed to go! We experienced that same sort of kindness in Ireland, too. It definitely leaves an impression.

      And thank you for the warm welcome back to blogging. I’m thrilled I can make you smile! :)

      • Melanie Fontaine
        March 11, 2016 at 1:33 PM

        Traveling around Scotland with Public Transport was absolutely fine and convenient for the most part, but the Isle of Skye was a notable exception – there seemed to be a lot less connections! That being said, I think we were there over the weekend, when Public Transport always slows down, so that may have been the reason. But, anyway, it makes for a good story! ;)

  • rorybore
    March 11, 2016 at 4:05 AM

    I am beginning to think I could stay there forever – fog or no fog! :)
    And I rather like the foggy photos; it’s exactly as you say: that’s the Scotland my mind conjures up, complete with kilt wearing man. All we need now is some bagpipes!

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 11, 2016 at 1:01 PM

      You’re right, the scene wasn’t complete without bagpipes. Darn it!

  • Jordan Beck Wagner
    March 10, 2016 at 1:44 PM

    I’m currently based in Edinburgh but can’t wait to go to the Isle of Skye later this spring/summer! Amazing pictures :) xo

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 10, 2016 at 2:06 PM

      I’ve been trying to get to Edinburgh for three years now – ha! I hope you enjoy the Isle of Skye as much as we did. That was a seriously phenomenal trip. Hopefully it’ll be a little warmer for you than it was for us. :)

  • Selena Jones
    March 10, 2016 at 5:52 PM

    Sarah, I’m so glad that you are blogging again!! I love that you really take the time with your words and photographs. It shows. Gorgeous pictures as always. I hope you are feeling better every day!! xo

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 11, 2016 at 1:00 PM

      Thank you so much, Selena. I do take a great deal of time to carefully choose my words and photos for each post, and it means a whole lot that you could recognize that! :)

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    March 10, 2016 at 2:03 PM

    I only wish we had more time in Highlands to take in some of the hikes we could see!

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 10, 2016 at 2:07 PM

      We didn’t have enough time to do everything we wanted to either. I really underestimated how much time we’d need just for the Isle of Skye!