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The Isle of Skye – Scotland

isle of skye scotland
Source by User:Colin on Flickr – Under Creative Commons license

The Isle of Skye is a composition of lakes all around reflecting the greyish blue sky on their surfaces while a mix of soft, sharp and ragged slopes and peaks surround them creating a sea of big green and brown waves around the lakes that remain smooth and flat. Skye is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago of Scotland. Its backdrop is mainly focused on the staggering Cuillin Hills, which are jagged dark mountains that stand out from the scene, being visible from almost every point in the island, and offer an exciting climb to every type of mountaineer, no matter their level of skill.

The Cuillin Hills

According to the type of rock they are made from, the Cuillin range can be split into two groups which makes it easier to identify them. The Red Cuillin are made from red granite which gives them a faint reddish glow in certain lightings. You can easily find them if you look for low rounded hills. The Black Cuillin are made from basalt and gabbro, making them look dark, sharp and far more intimidating than their softer counterparts thanks to their jagged and steep peaks. In this last group, you will also find the highest point on Skye: the 992-meter high summit of Sgùrr Alasdair.

However, there is plenty more to see in the Isle of Skye than just the impressive Cuillin. The island’s entire coastline will stun you with towering cliffs overlooking the sea and wavy green farmland that slowly becomes pebble beaches. What’s more, the white and yellow Neist Point Lighthouse on the most western point of Skye will stand out among the meadows and wildflowers that surround it due to its vibrant colors, creating an attractive contrast between the grey sky filled with seabirds and the dark hills on the background.

On the Trotternish Peninsula, you will find a rocky hill called the Storr. This symbolic place is known for the group of volcanic plugs that are weirdly shaped like sharp pinnacles at the base of its abrupt cliff front. The Old Men of Storr is the most famous one.

Skye’s wildlife will amaze you just as much as its scenery. You will realize that what are rare sights in other places of the world are actually common things here, such as contemplating the unique white-tailed sea and golden eagles in the Cuillin Hills. You will even find animals that you wouldn’t immediately picture in this environment. For example, if you visit during the summer, you will encounter minke whales, dolphins and even basking sharks in the island’s inlets and lochs; while otters show up in every season. You can also get the chance to see a stunning red deer on land.

If you pay enough attention, you will notice that the Isle of Skye is filled with history. The Romans knew about the island, and it was even recorded by Ptomely, a Greek geographer from the 2nd-century. Cairns and standing-stone circles from Neolithic times are present, just like you can find dinosaur footprints at Staffin Bay, and the island’s name supposedly comes from Old Norse, which also hints at direct contact with the Vikings.

Even though Skye’s latitude is the same as Moscow’s, the island is situated in the warm Gulf Stream, which makes its weather a lot milder and more unpredictable. One minute you can be trapped in a sudden downpour to then have the sun peak out through the heavy grey clouds the next. However, if it does rain while you’re there, take advantage of your time and visit the Talisker distillery at Carbost, the only single-malt distillery on the island.

The Gaelic culture is highly appreciated on Skye, the island gets sometimes called by its Gaelic name: Eilean á Cheò, which means Isle of Mist, and almost half the inhabitants speak the language. Besides, the heritage of folk music is also strong, there is even an annual Isle of Skye Music Festival in June where several famous folk singers perform.

isle of skye sunset
Source by Daniele Oberti on Flickr – Under Creative Commons license 

How can you get there?

You can take your car or a bus from Inverness and Glasglow over the Skye Bridge to then take the train to Mallaig or the Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland. Finally, a ferry will take you to Skye or any of the other surrounding islands. You can get to Inverness and Glasgow from almost every part of the UK.

isle of skye scotland
Source by Bethany Weeks on Flickr – Under Creative Commons license

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