The Isle of Skye which is located on the North West coast of Scotland is a mysterious and fascinating place. For many years it has topped my list of must see destinations. Not only because of its beauty and dramatic landscapes but because of its fabulous hikes and walks.
I love spending time outdoors and Skye is the perfect outdoor playground for anyone with adventure in their soul. So if like me, you have limited time on the Island and want to experience in that short time some of the best hikes and walks, then read on so you do not miss out on what I would consider five of the best hikes in Skye.
1. The Fairy Pools
The hike starts at the foot of the Black Cullins near Glenbrittle. It is not a difficult hike to do if you have good weather conditions. However, rain can make crossing some of the rivers quite difficult. I have even been told by the locals that some people have been stuck because the water can build pretty quickly. So just proceed with caution if weather conditions are not favorable.
As you walk stop often and take a look around, you might get the feeling that you have walked into a fairies secret garden. As you follow the path towards the mountains you will find clear blue pools of water. These pools are fed by stunning waterfalls and surrounded by rocky cliffs and green foliage. And if you are brave enough you can even go for a wee swim, but be warned the water is cold even on hot days.
Level of Difficulty – Easy and appropriate for the entire family.
Distance and time needed – The route back to the car park is the same as going to the pools and the total distance is about 2.5 km. The hike can be completed in 40 min to 1 hr. although I would recommend at least 1 ½ hrs so you can make some stops to enjoy the scenery and take some pictures.
TIP – Arrive early as the car park is small and fills up quickly.
2. Old Man Storr
The Storr is one of the most photographed landscapes in Scotland and I would venture to say that this is probably one of the busiest hikes on Skye. It is a popular spot for good reason and you should not miss the opportunity to see this beautiful landscape for yourself.
This is one place where I experienced Scotland’s ever-changing weather. When we started our ascent we could not see but a few feet in front of us as the entire place was covered in very thick fog. However by the time we were on our way down the sun had come out, the fog had lifted, and we could see the Storr standing proud and tall right above us. And when we looked back I was surprised to see the beautiful lake that was previously hidden by the fog. It was quite incredible to witness this rapid change in climate.
Level of difficulty – Medium and appropriate for anyone who is relatively fit. This hike has some pretty steep climbs and if it is raining it can get quite muddy but both my children had no issues and they were 8 and 11 at the time we climbed.
Distance and time needed – The round trip rout is about 4.5km and can take anywhere between 1 and 2 hrs to complete.
3. Neist Point Lighthouse
Neist Point Lighthouse is a pretty easy hike. You will find that most of the way is paved ground and steps. However be warned this does not mean the entire hike is easy. On the contrary certain parts are very steep with handrails to assist you in your descent or ascent. Also beware that the wind can be quite fierce at times so be prepared with a wind breaker or rain jacket and layers of clothing.
The lighthouse was built in the 1900’s and it is not open for visitors to go inside. But don’t worry even without going up into the lighthouse you will still enjoy beautiful views of the outer Hebrides as well as many sheep roaming along the green grass. So bring a drink and maybe a blanket to sit on and enjoy the sunset and the views provided from the westernmost point on Skye.
Level of difficulty – Easy to moderate because it has steep incline but should be appropriate for all family members.
Distance and time needed – The hike is only about 3km and should take 45 min to 1 1/2 to complete. I would recommend coming right before sunset and enjoy some beautiful views as the sun sets over the horizon.
4. The Quiraing
The Quiraing has in my opinion some of the most outstanding views in all of Skye. Here you can really appreciate the varied landscape with its dips and peaks with rugged cliffs and sparkling pools of water. It is simply magnificent and we were blessed with a clear day to take it all in.
As far as the hiking conditions go, I consider this a medium difficulty hike and it will not be suitable for everyone. There is definitely some challenging areas to cross and the path can get very narrow. I must confess that at times I was nervous about my 2 girls (8 and 11). I found myself constantly reminding them to watch their footing on the narrow paths and had to assist them in crossing some of the more difficult areas. Luckily we had no issues but the young ones did get tired and we did not complete the full circuit.
Level of difficulty – Moderate not because it is very steep but because it is narrow and has some difficult areas to cross especially for young family members.
Distance and time needed – The full circuit is about 6.8 km and should take between 3 hrs and 4 hrs to complete.
5. The Fairy Glen
A little forewarning – finding this magical place is not very easy, you would think the fairies were using their powers to keep their mounds hidden. But in reality the only issue is there are no signs to follow. Armed with local knowledge and directions we drove towards Uig on A87 and right before the Uig Hotel we took the road up and into the magical Fairy Glen. We then parked by other cars along the road and walked into the fairy glen.
The fairy glen is a perfect spot for easy hiking as very little effort is needed to enjoy the magnificent views. It only gets a bit difficult if you climb up to the rocky tower (also known as Castle Ewen). To get to the top of the tower you need to walk a narrow path and then push your way up a gap between the rock to get to the top.
The glen itself is a magical place with grassy mounds and strange stone circles designed on the ground. And while seeing fairies is not guaranteed the fairy glen still is on of the most enchanting and memorable places to see in Skye.
Level of difficulty – Easy and appropriate for the entire family with the exception of climbing up the rocky tower.
Distance and time needed – I would allow about 1 hr to explore the glen.
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If you love the outdoors then I suggest you put Scotland and the Isle of Skye on your list of places to visit. And if these beautiful hikes on Skye are not reason enough to visit Scotland then you can read about my top 10 reasons to visit Scotland here and find out more about the best Scotland has to offer (post coming soon).
For a full itinerary and more ideas and inspiration check out my Epic Scotland Road trip part one and part two.
For more great hikes in Skye I highly recommend the Walkinghighlands as a resource to plan your hikes.