Even a short trip to the misty isle provides a lesson in history, good food and scenic grandeur.
PORTREE, Scotland— My visit to Scotland’s Isle of Skye was hurried. But, luckily, even a short stay is long enough to glimpse why the misty isle is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions.
Here are a few reasons.
Rain or shine, most likely both in the same day, Skye is a stunner, from the stark grandeur of the Black Cuillin, the jagged mountain range looming over the island, to the cheerfully pastel houses of Portree harbor.
You can take in the views by driving Skye’s winding roads, get out for a shoreline amble or, if you’ve got the skills, go mountaineering. Guides can be hired for more challenging itineraries; a good option is Sky Guides.
Recommended spots include the Trotternish ridge, known for rock formations like the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing pinnacles. Also a must-see: the Fairy Pools, a series of crystal clear and flowing pools on the River Brittle.
If you’re a fan of the Starz TV series “Outlander,” you are already familiar with the beauty of the Highlands, which are the setting for that time-traveling drama.
Season 2 ended just as the Battle of Culloden started, and if you’re headed into the Highlands by way of Inverness, you’re close to the Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Center, which does a good job of explaining the rise and fall of the doomed campaign.
You can’t go far in Scotland without finding a castle, and Skye’s Dunvegan Castle is billed as the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, home to the chiefs of Clan MacLeod for eight centuries.
For more island history, visit the Skye Museum of Island Life in Kilmuir, which features a recreation of a Highland village.
DINING & DRAMS
Think Scottish cuisine begins and ends with broth and haggis? You’re in for a surprise (not that there’s anything wrong with broth and haggis).
Skye boasts a variety of dining choices, including the Michelin-starred Kinloch Lodge and The Three Chimneys, which lost its Michelin star after a change in chefs in 2015 but continues to put out excellent food. If you’re there for lunch, look for the Crispy Croft Egg starter — a perfect mix of rich, dense egg and crisp crust.
On the drinks side, Skye has one whisky distillery, Talisker in Carbost. And it’s the home of another Scots libation, Drambuie, now made in Glasgow, but first developed and served at Skye’s Broadford Hotel in the 1870s. The liqueur— a blend of aged scotch, spices, heather honey and herbs — is said to be based on a recipe of the bonny prince himself, who gave islanders the secret to his private elixir in gratitude for their help.