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“To visit Skye is to make a progress into the dark backward and abysm of time. You turn your back on the present, and walk into antiquity. You see everything in the light of ossian, as in the light of a mournful sunset.” –Alexander Smith, A Summer in Skye (1865)
A summer trip to Skye does wonders for the soul, drawing one into a state of meditative awe at the vast expanse of uninhabited land and transporting one into a strangely fascinating, other-worldly realm that seems to exist outside of time.
Siloed from the world by limited technology, you become unaware of – and uninterested in – anything but the magnificent display of nature’s grandeur unfolding before you: sheep-dotted hills, jagged peaks, “velvet moors, sparkling lochs and towering sea cliffs” cast their spell, suspending you in a timeless wonder.
Renowned worldwide for its enchanting landscapes and geological marvels (Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, and the Cuillin Ridge, to name a few), Skye has been named the 4th best island destination in the world by National Geographic Traveler and is the largest and northernmost of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland – an archipelago off the west coast of the mainland. It is the country’s second biggest tourist destination after Edinburgh, and boasts some of the most photographed landscapes in the world.
Home to two Michelin-starred restaurants – Three Chimneys and Kinloch Lodge – the Talisker Whisky Distillery, hidden Fairy Pools, and Dunvegan Castle (the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland), Skye offers endless opportunities to explore and hike, eat and tour, or simply stand in awe at stunning peaks that pierce the skyline. Its capital, Portree, is situated on a beautiful bay surrounded by hills and is a haven to those in need of a break from the island’s remote feel, offering shops, bars, restaurants, B&Bs, supermarkets and more.
Truly, from the moment you cross the Skye Bridge over Loch Alsh to the moment you arrive back on mainland, you are immersed in beauty – magical, luminous, mysterious beauty – that captivates your very being.
As Alain de Botton says in The Art of Travel,
“A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is to wish to hold on to it, to possess it and give it weight in one’s life. There is an urge to say, ‘I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.’”
Along with hiking Old Man of Storr, the Neist Point Lighthouse – the most westerly point of the Isle of Skye – is a beautiful climb and is regarded as the best place on Skye to see whales, dolphins, and porpoises.