As soon as we started planning our time in Scotland, I had one thing on my mind: exploring Isle of Skye. I had seen photos of this magical place for over a decade and it looked like our own personal heaven. Waterfalls, lush hikes, and possible fairy sightings? We couldn’t get there soon enough!
This led to our first visit being a hectic day trip from Inverness with the three dogs we were watching. Because we just couldn’t wait another day to see this place, and they were seasoned road trippers! But with stops every hour for stretch-our-legs walks and potty breaks, bad weather, and road detours (we had to wait an hour for a train, then were led over the tracks!), we only got to see a portion of this majestic place.
However, we did get to see a lot of truly beautiful places during our three(ish) hours on Isle of Skye. And getting to experience it with this hilarious crew made it all the more memorable!
(Almost) Seeing Old Man of Storr
Top of our list was seeing Old Man of Storr. I had read it was a short hike, but failed to realize it was almost all uphill. Oh well, up we go! Even though it was cold and windy, the pups had no complaints (other than having to stay on their leads) and loved the exercise!
However, we decided to turn back before getting to the epic spires because it became abundantly clear that we weren’t going to see the views we were hoping for. One lady even showed me the fog-filled view on her phone as proof.
There was also a slick-looking set of steep, switch-backing stairs we would need to climb, and we thought that may be a little too much for our old lady. She was okay going slow and steady on the gradual climb, but we didn’t want to overdo it. So, we waved bye through the dense fog and headed back to the car.
While I’d be lying if I said we weren’t disappointed, the views from the trail were still well worth the effort and we loved seeing the dogs enjoy the wind in their fur. Plus, the rest of our trip more than made up for missing this iconic spot.
Kilt Rock & Mealt Waterfall
Not wanting to unload everyone right after getting back in the car, we took turns at this quick viewpoint for these falls. Buddy went first and went about five minutes in the wrong direction. Then he turned back just in time to see a tour bus unload with cameras aimed at the waterfall. Classic oblivious husband move, amiright?
While busy, this was worth the stop. However, we definitely liked the solitude we found driving the rest of the northern peninsula loop, away from the more common must-see places. It was just us and a bunch of sheep the boys begged to chase.
It had been a long day with the pups and we were getting tired by the end of our loop, but there was one last stop we couldn’t miss – the Fairy Glen. If a local wonder has the word ‘fairy’ in it, you should definitely make a point to see it. Just trust us on this.
Part of me struggles to even post photos of this gem of a place. They just don’t do it justice. There is this peaceful presence there that makes you believe anything is possible. The fact that places like this still exist – where time stands still and you are enveloped by nature – it makes me hopeful and filled to the brim with joy.
After pulling ourselves from the Fairy Glen, we drove the three hours back home with tired dogs and hundreds of photos to go through. While Inverness is gorgeous, this was the Scotland we had been imagining. What a place!
While it was an amazing day – made even more special with our furry friends, we just didn’t feel like we saw everything we wanted to. So, we decided to plan one more trip after our housesit ended, in hopes of better weather and more time to hike.
We were already renting a car one way from Inverness to Edinburgh. Why not make a few-hour detour to taste that magic again? A decision we’ll be thankful we made for years to come.
Eilean Donan Castle
First up on our list was the iconic Eilean Donan Castle. Since we couldn’t wander these historic halls with the pups on our first trip, we made sure to go inside for round two. While beautiful and fun to wander the narrow halls, the outside views with the epic backdrop are what we enjoyed most. No wonder it is the most photographed in Scotland!
After our first visit, these pools were what we were most bummed to have missed. And, while not our initial plan, we ended up spending our entire second visit to the Isle here. It is that wonderful. Again, don’t miss the fairy things!
My eyes well up with happy tears even thinking about this place. The photos overwhelm me. We were there. I had the opportunity to experience this stunning landscape with the love of my life. And it filled our hearts with more joy than we ever thought possible.
While we weren’t alone, it certainly felt that way. The further we walked, the fewer people we saw. And everyone seemed to seek out their own place to enjoy the stunning scenery.
The rain and gloom clouds that kept passing through probably helped keep the crowds at bay. But, we didn’t mind the weather. We strolled along with painfully big smiles and stopped to take photos every 3.5 seconds. The spell had been cast. We stayed for hours longer than we needed to – until the sun was on the verge of setting. Because we just couldn’t let the feeling go.
While we did take ALL the photos, we also made sure to stop often to just be present and take it all in. The air felt different. The cold mist that would usually make us uncomfortable, seemed to kiss our cheeks and add to the other-worldly atmosphere. I’ll never forget it.
Where We Stayed
As we drove away from Isle of Skye with the sun slowly dimming, we realized we had never booked that hotel we meant to. With the sun fading fast, we tried to pull up options on our phones with no luck. Even when we did have signal, the places we found had already closed for the night. Then finally, we drove by Corriegour Lodge. Its well-lit dining room shined like a welcome beacon and we knew this was the spot.
Staying in this cozy, family-owned B&B was exactly what we needed after a long day of exploring. The owner’s nephew who greeted us was lovely and got us all set with a room and drinks from the bar. And the breakfast the next morning was wonderful. But the biggest treat was the views we didn’t even know we had until we saw the property in the daylight. A true hidden gem, that allowed for quiet reflection of all the wonders of Scotland we had experienced (so far).
Read our other articles about our Scotland explorations here! And to learn how we traveled in Europe for five months on a budget by house sitting, read this guide.