Isle of Skye

Liz Schaffer
Photos: Angela Terrell

December 06 2015

There is a mysticism to Scotland. Sublimely beautiful, it has enticed everyone from ancient kings to the idealistic Romantics. However, to experience true Caledonian charm you must journey to a relatively-small wing-shaped island framed by the deliciously named Little Minch and Sea of the Hebrides. 

The Isle of Skye has long called to travellers, its craggy peaks, castles and penchant for mist making it all the more enticing. It bears the marks of Vikings (who were here from 700 AD until 1263) and settlers who had stoicism flowing through their veins. Skye played a starring role in the Jacobite Rebellion, headed by the now mythic Bonnie Prince Charlie who was fighting – unsuccessfully as it would turn out – to return the English crown to the house of Stuart. Aided by local lass Flora MacDonald, he fled to the Isle of Skye dressed as a milk maid. Oh the horrors battle forces one to commit! 

Today adventure lies just off almost any of the livestock-dotted roads. Above Portree, with is vibrant waterfront houses and cray-pot adorned harbour, is the Old Man of Storr – a rocky pinnacle calling to walkers prepared, more often than not, to be greeted with a spot of rain – in this part of the world though rain does have its appeal; bracing more than anything else. Or there’s the iconic Black Cuillin with its abundance of walking trails and panoramic views. Watch were you trek though as your odds of encountering a seemingly serene herd of Highland cattle are rather high. 

Ruins abound – old houses are now nothing more than grassy mounds while some drystone walls that are more moss than anything else. There are the remains of Duntulm Castle, where Bonnie Price Charlie’s spent his first night on the island, and the more intact Dunvegan Castle. The seat of Clan MacLeod, its biggest attraction is not its seal-filled harbour but the Fairy Flag, gifted to a Clan Chief by a fairy queen forced to leave her lover and return to fairy land. Or so the legend goes. Said to give all those who possessed it protection, photographs of it were carried by First World War pilots from the island. 

From here you can venture north to Claigan where a short amble will lead you to a pink coral beach with turquoise waters, unsurprising when you recall you’re in Scotland. Or head south to The Three Chimneys – one of Skype culinary icons (the others, without a doubt, being Kinloch Lodge and Scorrybreac). 

But its not just the food and charm you venture here for. In fact, it’s not even just the wild. It is the blissful sense of calm that envelops the island. The feeling that time here means very little, conversations are savoured and that history is all around. Travel for the sentiment, stay for the wonder. 

Liz Schaffer is a Sydney native and the London-based editor of Lodestars Anthology. Follow her on Instagram at @lodestarsanthology