One visit to the Isle of Skye is never enough. Boasting a vibrant and diverse heritage of wildlife, sport, art and events, there is so much to see and do. 2011 is the Year Of Island Cultures, a celebration of Scottish islands’ dynamic cultures, breathtaking environment and quality produce. Skye is in the spotlight, with Lonely Planet calling it one of the best regions in the world for tourism.
Clan Donald Skye visitor centre
Visit the 40-acre, historical Clan Donald Skye visitor centre set in a stunning Highland estate on Sleat, at the island’s southern tip. Here you’ll find magical gardens skirting the imposing ruins of Armadale Castle and you can discover Skye’s often unsettled and rebellious history.
Book a tour of the Scottish highlands / Destination guide: Scotland
There are working studios and galleries around every corner of the island, with demonstrations including the tanning of skins, spinning and weaving of local wool. Watch potters, stone carvers, bladesmiths, jewellers and knitters all harness and develop techniques and traditions from the past. Skye is Scotland’s ‘Dinosaur Isle’ – one of the few places in the world where Middle Jurassic dinosaurs can be found. Head to the Skye Serpentarium to get up close and personal with a host of reptiles – from white tree frogs to large green iguanas.
Sea Eagles of Skye
The majestic Sea Eagles of Skye feature in a unique exhibition at the Aros centre in Portree, while the otter hides at Kylerhea provide a viewing of these playful creatures.
Head to a sheepdog demonstration, which shows the remarkable partnership between man and dog.
In the misty mountains of Glen Brittle are gloriously clear plunge pools, known as Faerie Pools, perfect for a refreshing swim. The temperature is around 8C so brave these if you dare.
The Talisker Distillery
Visit the Talisker Distillery for a ‘wee dram’, or have a pint at the first micro-brewery at Sligachan. A must for all connoisseurs of the finer things in life.
Feast on fresh shellfish as the island boasts a strong fishing tradition. There’s also a wide variety of delicious traditional cheeses and marinated oak-smoked salmon.
Camping pods are the latest way to glamp and can be found on the shore of Loch Greshornish, within easy reach of the Black and Red Cullin mountain ranges that offer top hiking opportunities.
Costing from £37 per night, each cosy wooden pod sleeps up to four people. See campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campingpods.
When to go: Anytime, the Isle of Skye is picturesque all year round, although expect stormy and frosty weather in the winter months.
Getting there: Take a train to Inverness or Fort William, then take a coach to the Isle of Skye. A ferry runs from Glenelg and Kylerhea on Skye during the summer months.
Getting around: Locals buses operate within the area. Alternatively hire a car or take a tour. If you like flying, book a helicopter trip for a chance to witness some gorgeous views.
Get more info: skye.co.uk