From the wind-whipped north coast to the softer loch dotted south, Skye’s a fantastic option for a low-key eco-friendly holiday. Here’s why you should make a bee-line for the island this summer.
Go on an oyster safari
The Oyster Shed has been one of the island’s must-visits for years. Oysterman Paul McGlynn has built up a local sustainable business selling oysters for £1 at his BYOB laidback shack overlooking Loch Harport. This year he’ll be taking bookings for small group safaris (up to four) to his oyster beds and will talk through everything oyster. There’ll be oyster sampling done on the shore and maybe even a splash of bubbly.
Discover Dunvegan Castle
Skye’s nothing if not an ancient land, unspoilt by modern life. There have been people on Skye from 6,500 BC and its Viking heritage is still evident. In the Middle Ages two clans fought for dominance, the MacDonalds and the MacLeods. Dunvegan Castle has been the seat of the MacLeods for the last 800 years, and the current MacLeod generation are overseeing a real push to running the estate sustainably. It’s home to the island’s first wind farm and the estate also has an award-winning campsite at Glenbrittle.
Splash in the Fairy Pools
One of the island’s most popular (and most gentle) walks, the Fairy Pools near Carbost can be ticked off in just under an hour if you don’t stop to jump in (but where’s the fun in that?). The series of crystal clear pools stagger themselves down the lower reaches of the Black Cuilllins and the coloured rock and strange greens and blues of the water suggest a magical rather than mundane history. We’ll leave it up to you to conjure up the fairies.
Sample a Skye pale ale
Isle of Skye Brewing, based in Uig at the northern tip of the island, is Skye’s award winning craft brewery – their IPAs and other ales are in almost every pub on the island. Skye has a long history brewing ales and the brewery revel in the island’s natural ingredients – which are handpicked to create bespoke brews. They even mill their own grains.
Indulge at Kinloch Lodge
For a remote island Skye punches way above its weight when it comes to fine dining and luxury hotels. Michelin starred Kinloch Lodge sits on a quiet loch and is backed by moody pine forests, in the sparse south west of the island. The modest white gabled house hides a cosy sitting room with roaring fire, wellies line the lobby and the MacDonald family treat every guest like a long lost friend. The restaurant’s tasting menus are a smorgasbord of what the Scottish highlands has to offer, with local shellfish and venison as stand out stars. New for this year is a series of self guided foodie tours. Pick a direction to head in, the hotel has worked out four half-day looped drives and exclusive experiences with some of the most knowledgeable foodies on the island.
Have a salty affair
We don’t mean of the ‘oooh matron’ kind. The Isle of Skye Sea Salt company has brought back an industry that hasn’t been seen on Skye since the 1700s. It’s committed to producing salt sustainably and uses a solar evaporation method which won it a Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Award in 2015. Aside from being able to buy it in almost every deli on the island, if you head out on a self-guided foodie tour through Kinloch Lodge, you’ll be able to meet the producers and be shown how it’s made.
Hike the Quiraing
It looks and sounds like something out of Game of Thrones. The northern section of this dramatic island is called the Quiraing. Essentially it’s a huge landslide, Jurassic in size and age and the two kilometre slip is still moving. It’s one of the most iconic hikes on the island and a 7km circuit takes in the lower and higher slopes which rise up to just over 500m above the thrashing Atlantic. You’ll go past the Needle, the Prison and the Table – ancient rock formations where myths swirl between them like the fog trails every morning.
It would be a damn shame to leave Skye without a meal at Scorrybreac. This tiny restaurant sits on the harbour in Skye’s main town Portree and serves up a daily changing menu of Skye’s meat, fish and shellfish. There’s a French influence on this cosy fine dining room but you’ll find none of that old world pretension. Think savoury creme brulees, fish so fresh it’s almost flapping and Skye whiskey-infused chocolate delights. Island living never tasted so good.
Take afternoon tea on a working farm
Waternish Farm on the west side of the island is open to visitors who want to learn about conservation under way on the island. Farm owner Lucy Montgomery holds daily walks, talks and tea in the afternoon and fills guests in on tree planting, shoreline management and how she and her husband operate the small sustainably minded farm. In the winter the walks are ditched for a roaring fire but in summer, her peaceful farm is everything an island smallholding should be.