ROAD TRIP: The Isle of Skye, the Land of Fairies of Scotland
All Photos by Kay Dulay
How to drive from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye
Want to go for a ride and watch a breath-taking scenery? The Isle of Skye is definitely go-to! And the best way to experience its vast oceans, green mountains, waterfalls, sea cliffs, and cold breeze is through a road trip.
The road trip from the Highlands to the Isle of Skye offers a raw picture of what a perfect scenery looks like. It’s definitely recommended for people who love to take photographs or for those who want to have soul searching. So if you are planning to have a trip here, get ready to pack your bags for I am here to help and guide you on your road trip to the Isle of Skye!
There are buses in Scotland but it is difficult to catch a ride. Scotland is very held up with the schedule. To add, the connectivity is also not that good. So, I suggest that you rent a car. But first thing’s first, you have to remember that their cars there are right-hand drive.
If you are planning a short vacation, you can spend half a day on a road trip to the Isle of Skye! But if you want to stop by from time to time to get a better feel of the scenery, I suggest that you allot three whole days of your vacation for the place. Don’t forget to add an additional half day of going back to the Fort William or a day if you are heading back to Edinburgh or Glasgow. In our case, we stayed for 5 days.
The best time to go to the Isle of Skye is during summer where there is a better probability of a dry weather. It is best to go there between April and June. But you have to take note that summer is a high-season so expect crowded roads. Accommodations are also hard to find so it is best to book your accommodation as early as you can.
The car rental prices are reasonable. The rates start from $26 USD per day. This is if you rent an economy rental from the Glasgow Airport. But the thing is that, Glasgow cause a lot of people to start and end in Glasgow or Edinburgh.
In our case, we rented a car from the enterprise because it is the most accessible and it requires only a few requirements. We only provided license and tickets. Kindly take note that you have to bring a license with you because you cannot rent a car if you do not have one. They will not also allow you to leave without an insurance.
In addition, it is better to book ahead of time online to get discounts. You get to choose what car to drive, either automatic or manual. The manual car is relatively cheaper (around half the price of automatic car rental) but also consider that you will be driving a lot on this road trip.
The rental at the airport has a premium charge. We got and returned our rental car from the city branch and it cost us way less. We even got a refund of 58 pounds when we decided to drop by in the city branch in Inverness rather than the airport.
GAS OR PETROL
Since the island is small, you can fit your full tank of gas for a two-day road trip from Fort William to the Isle of Skye. There are 4 gas stations in the place but the cheapest was the gas station in Broadford.
FOOD OR GROCERIES
There are plenty of pubs and cafes around the main town. There are also a lot of places to eat in Portree, especially in the bigger cities of Scotland. But since you are going on a road trip, buy enough snacks or sandwiches in their local grocery stores. You have to prepare enough food because Isle of Skye has an erratic weather. You will never know when you will get held up due to the bad weather so better get prepared. We bought our snacks and groceries in the COOP because it is cheaper there and there are a lot of food to choose from. Locals say that their best-seller snack there is the sausage roll.
If you are planning to go there in winter, you have to buy more food. Most of the establishments are closed during this season.
ROAD TRIP PROPER
You can try using your handy Google Maps but it is expected that the driving duration is not always true. Since the signal there is weak, it is recommended to download offline google maps ahead of time. The drive can take twice or thrice longer than the expected duration. For starters, you will have a lot of stops for picture taking purposes. Another factor is that the road is a single track. You will need to be patient and you will be stopping a lot especially if you happen to be there during the busy season.
The Isle of Skye has an erratic weather, you do not know when it is going to rain. So try to secure in your car the following items: jacket, pants, or any waterproof gear. If you are planning to stay there and camp for a night or two, bring with you a tent and any clothing that will protect you from the cold breeze at night.
HOW TO DRIVE ON SINGLE TRACK ROADS?
- There are posts or signs that indicate passing places. Follow those signs.
- Always keep left. But if the passing place is on the right, wait opposite keeping to the left.
- Allow cars behind you to overtake. If you allow cars to pass, it maintains the traffic flow and avoids convoy.
- Practice safe driving. Drive at your comfortable speed
- Do not park in passing places.
- Be prepared to reverse especially if you are near to the passing place.
- Don’t force your way through or expect others to go off the road.
- Lastly, have a safe and fun trip!
Now, you are halfway ready in your road trip to the Isle of Skye. Pack your bags and be prepared for a relaxing getaway at the Scotland’s Land of Fairies, the Isle of Skye!
For those looking to travel to the Isle of Skye, there are many routes that can be taken. But Kay and I drove from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye.This is the road we took and hopefully, it becomes of use to you as well. This route I took wasn’t a straightforward route but it is a route that also passes through places that are breathtaking and educating. It makes the trip even before getting to the destination enjoyable and fun. A.K.A the scenic route.
Drive from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye
1. From getting a car at Edinburgh, we passed along M9, and this is where we also saw the Kelpie Horse. These famous Kelpies are horse-head structures that serve as a monument to the horse-powered heritage all across Scotland. It definitely is a magnificent work of art. But it does cause a bit of traffic since many stops and stare at it even when they are driving.
2. The next scenic spot we passed was Loch Lomond. This loch is a famous destination for many tourists and locals. This loch gives you a view like no other and the diversity of species present here are simply astounding.
3. For grocery shopping, we went to Tyndrum Greenwilly. It really is advisable to buy food just in case in one of your road trips you don’t find a restaurant to eat in, especially on the Isle of Skye, or you know you can never go wrong with having a lot of food to munch on. And we also tried out the dishes at Real Food café on the a82 North. The food was delicious!
4. On to Rannoch Moor, a beautiful expanse of 50 square miles of moorland. The wide space and the hills is a site to see but many drivers just pass by here without appreciating its beauty. As we drove by, I couldn’t put down my camera. I was in love with the scenery. Kay, who was driving, would also take a moment to stop to take in the surrounding.
5. We also stopped by at Glencoe. Glencoe is a glen of volcanic origins. This place happens to be considered by many locals as one of the most spectacular places in the country. We decided to visit the NTS Glencoe Visitor Centre — a place where you can learn about the massacre and the history of the clans. You can also find a small café here where you can buy coffee or snack just to take a break from all that driving. Or if you’d already like to buy your souvenirs, a gift shop is available as well.
6. Then at the roundabout take the first exit towards Commando Monument, this is after the Spean Bridge, turn left A82 and enjoy views from the car park. Just a trivia, the Commando Memorial, where many monuments are found, is considered to have the best-known monuments in the United Kingdom. Another place with a view to enjoy and a history to learn.
7. Next place you’ll pass through is Fort Williams going to Invergarry. This place is the largest town in the highland of Scotland which makes it quite busy town during its peak season, so this part of the drive going to the Isle of Skye isn’t super enjoyable.
8. Once you reach Invergarry, turn left on A87. If you would like to explore this village a bit more, there are a lot of natural attractions you will find and enjoy.
9. Another place that I just can’t help but pass by is the breathtaking Glen Shiel. Its magnificent mountains are those any local and tourist would want to take a picture of.
10. So once you pass by the Shiel Bridge, hold your breath once again for yet another famous landmark which is the Eileen Donan Castle. Seeing this castle will give you a feeling that you are traveling back through time. Other than its beautiful architecture, what makes it even more scenic is how it is where the three lochs meet.
Tip: If you want to take a picture of the castle, the best view can be taken past the bridge then turn left at the end of Bridge over loch long. +it looks spectacular during sunset
11. From the Eilean Donan Castle, the Skye Bridge isn’t too far. The houses look fantastic from the bridge.
Once again, this route I took is not the only route that can be taken from mainland Scotland to the Isle of Skye. For those of you who wish to take a route that makes you discover Scotland even more, then I am sure you will love this route as much as I did.