Posted on 29 July 2016
Hello again and yes it's been awhile! We've been very busy in the shop with our Summer Sale which is going really well. Plus Daisy, Michael and I have been away on a walking holiday on the beautiful Isle of Skye - the largest and most northerly of the Inner Hebrides islands off the north west coast of Scotland. We're big fans of long-distance trails, having tackled Hadrian's Wall, The Great Glen, The Cleveland Way and the Northumberland Coast. We don't have couriers taking our bags to the next hotel/pub, rather we carry everything we need on our back packs. It can be tough, especially for Michael who has to carry Daisy's dog food! Although we've been to Scotland many times throughout our lives, and we planned two overnight stays on the way up, it is still an awfully long way from Suffolk. In fact, we could have driven to the French Alps quicker than driving to Skye, including the Eurotunnel crossing. Having said it is well worth the journey - Skye is stunning! The Norse referred to the island as Skuy, meaning 'misty isle', and it's easy to see why. High, jagged mountains rise up out of sea and more often than not their peaks extend beyond a thin low cloud line. It gives the place a pre-historic feel, and you half expect a dinosaur to appear at any moment!
In the week before our planned trip we looked at the weather forecast, and, being Scotland in June every day predicted rain. But as it turned out we were very lucky, and yes it did rain, sometimes quite a lot, but we had lovely sunny days too. There are few better feelings than starting off on a day's walk in fantastic scenery, with mountains on one side, and an aqua-blue sea on the other, all in brilliant sunshine. Last year we did the magnificent Cumbrian Way, but the big difference with the Isle of Skye trail this year was that it's not an official footpath. In fact, when you open one of the OS maps of the island and eagerly look for the familiar dotted pink lines, you won't find any! You might find the odd, faint track in amongst the many, many contour lines. So did we ever get lost? I'm afraid we did... There were several unexpected scrabbles down cliff faces, and one day we had a 3 mile trudge across an exposed bog in horizontal rain. The Skye Trail starts in the far north at Rubha Hunish, then sweeps due south to Elgol, then east to Bradford. For our trip, we had to go 'off piste' as we couldn't find accommodation in the south of the island for Daisy (poor thing). So about 3/4 way down the island we turned west at Sligachan, ending up at the picturesque port of Carbost on the west coast. This is the home of the famous Talisker Distillery, which Michael was very keen to visit. We then got a bus and ferry across to Raasay, the small island just off the east coast of Skye, for a couple of days walking. We managed to cover 83 miles in 7 days.
Our top recommendations include the island's capital Portree, which is a true Highlands gem and full of lovely pubs and restaurants. The Old Inn at Carbost is probably the best pub on the island, and it made the recent Times Best Pub guide. Staffin Beach is beautiful, and the home of actual dinosaur prints (though we couldn't find them). The heights of 'The Table', 'The Needle', and 'The Old Man of Storr' offer amazing views and rock formations. Apart from the walking, the other major highlight was the food. We had very high expectations, and we weren't disappointed. It was truly superb, and if you're a 'foodie' with a particular passion for seafood, then a trip to Skye is a must. I recommend the 'seafood platter' at the Flodigarry Hotel, the whole lobster at the Sea Breezes in Portree and, my favourite, the Sea Trout with Mussels at the Raasay Hotel. So, if you are an experienced walker, then Skye certainly gets the thumbs up from us. However if you are tempted to 'dip your toe' in the water of long-distance trails, then I would look elsewhere. It is very challenging with no way marks, and not really for beginners. The Cleveland Way or Northumbrian Coast Path are much better starting points for new walker, and are both fantastic and well signposted long-distance trails.
Recommended guides and maps:
Guide book - Cicerone 'The Skye Trail' by Paul and Helen Webster
Map - Harvey 'Skye Trail XT40'
Website - http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/
There are lots more photos below, and don't forget our Summer Sale ends Saturday 13th August so there's still time to grab a bargain.
See you soon,
Thought I'd end with that glorious whole lobster from the 'Sea Breezes' in Portree - make sure you book well in advance!