It wouldn’t feel that strange to bump into a sprite on the Isle of Skye. With its lush glens and ghostly peaks, this Inner Hebridian island is otherworldly. Arriving is like stepping into the pages of a fantasy novel, except it’s populated by real (and super-friendly) locals, as well as crowds of hikers in the summer months. Not afraid of a little unpredictable weather? Visit off-season to get this amazing place to yourself.
Wild garlic, honey and the freshest mussels, all foraged, farmed and fished on Skye, are on the menu at Edinbane Lodge, a stellar restaurant with a warm vibe in a sixteenth-century hunting lodge. The seven-course tasting menu is ace. Order the vegetarian version for pure plant-based joy.
Take in the technicolour seafront at pretty Portree. The buildings that line the harbour form a rainbow of pastel shades. Stop for fish and chips before exploring the rest of the tiny town, which is the capital of Skye.
The Talisker Distillery, perched on the edge of Loch Harport, is the oldest working whisky distillery on the island. Take a tour of the stills and taste a dram of single malt before striding drunkenly across the sweep of grey sand at nearby Talisker beach.
Drive north, and pass through mind-bogglingly different landscapes: bleak coastlines dotted with Nordic-looking homes; the Quiraing, a landslip on the Trotternish ridge famous for its ruggedly dramatic scenery; and the fantastical Fairy Glen, a world of grassy hills and ponds in miniature that could be home to a Hobbit or Teletubby.
There’s no shortage of opportunities to don your walking boots on Skye, but if you want to avoid other ramblers, climb the less frequented Ben Tianavaig. The coastal hill rewards your efforts with vistas across mirror-still lochs to the islands and mainland Scotland – plus the kind of silence that’ll confuse your city-dwelling ears.
Try a stunning and fairly challening hike that’s famous for its views. You’ll have to pause every few steps on your way ip to the Old Man of Storr – a huge pointed rock on the Trotternish ridge – to gawp at your surroundings. Bonus points if you bring a thermos of tea for a cuppa at the top. You’re a true hiker now.
At the foot of Ben Tianavaig in tiny Camastianavaig, The Crofter’s House is a dreamy place to hole up on Skye. Once a nineteenth-century smallholding, the spot is now a Scandi-chic self-catering cottage for two, complete with cosy nooks, white timber walls and a wood burner. Wake up early to watch the sunrise over Tianavaig Bay and stay up late to spot brilliant constellations in the inky black sky. Life without light pollution is good, it turns out. From £100 a night.