After our amazing experience at the Fairy Pools, we headed north toward the Talisker Distillery and Dunvegan Castle. Although Talisker is only five miles away, the drive offers plenty of the scenic beauty and contented herds that are guaranteed in Skye.
The drive also took longer than you might expect of five miles–thanks to those wonderfully awkward single-track roads!–so we were a bit hungry and in need of lunch. Luckily, the Old Inn is just a few minutes walk from the distillery, so we were able to squeeze in a quick lunch before our tour. The Old Inn is both a pub and a bunkhouse, so if you are looking to stay near Talisker, this may be the place for you. But the warm, inviting dining room and good, filling meals make the Old Inn the perfect stop for a quick meal as well.
Refueled and ready to take on the afternoon, we stepped out of the Inn to walk to Talisker. And would you believe it? The clouds had parted and the sun was shining! I made sure to get some proof.
So I believe I have already established that I am not a whisky girl, and sadly Talisker’s rich and smoky whisky proved no different than any other. But the tour was interesting, and most everyone else seemed to enjoy tasting Skye’s own well-loved spirit.
Talisker’s walls are covered with pictures and information paying tribute to the Isle of Skye. This was my favorite, although I am afraid it may be trying to tell me that I would not cut it as a resident of Skye…
Another 40 minutes north brought us to Dunvegan Castle, the ancestral home of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod. By the time we arrived, we had only about an hour until closing, so we hurried over to squeeze in a full viewing of the castle and grounds. We walked the tree-lined path from the ticket booth, catching glimpses of the castle through the trees.
Likely due to our late arrival, there were not many people around when we arrived at the castle–I suppose being tardy has its advantages. We even got a picture without any other tourists around.
The castle is filled with paintings and heirlooms, giving visitors a glimpse of the Clan MacLeod’s rich history. I loved the occasional creaking underfoot as we walked through the halls, a reminder of the estate’s 800-year tenure.
My favorite room was the dining room. I wonder if I could teach my kids some table manners if we had a dining room like this. Yeah, probably not.
Stepping outside, we were treated to views of the loch and the surrounding countryside. And rain–we were also treated to a nice little drizzle.
After touring the first floor, we headed downstairs to see the servants’ quarters and the dungeon. No up close or personal look at the dungeon for me, but it was interesting to see some of the behind-the-scenes bits of the castle. I especially appreciate the kindly servant (below, right) who is perpetually bringing down a tray of food. Just about scared the daylights out of us. Well done mannequin lady.
When we finished touring the estate, we headed out into the rain for a quick walk around the gardens. Rushed by the rain and fast approaching closing time, we were unable to see the majority of the gardens, but our short tour was beautiful just the same. I imagine one could dedicate a couple of hours to the gardens on a nice, dry day. You can see more of the gardens on Dunvegan’s website. Or better yet, go in person.
Neist Point Lighthouse
After Dunvegan Castle, we had planned to make the drive to Neist Point Lighthouse for stunning views from the westernmost point of Skye. Unfortunately, we had a dinner reservation on the other side of the isle, and time was not on our side. So we missed the iconic lighthouse this time, but it is definitely on the itinerary for our next trip to Skye. For now, here is a peak at what we missed:
Tips and Lessons Learned:
- I have probably said this before, but do not over-plan your days in Skye. Drive time always takes longer than anticipated, and each beautiful site deserves enough time to thoroughly look around and appreciate the history and beauty. Less is more!
- If you have more time to spend in Dunvegan, think about booking a loch cruise or seal trip. And definitely plan some extra time to enjoy the expansive gardens.
- I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: be sure to have a rain jacket or an umbrella handy when you are visiting Skye. It’s nice to stay somewhat dry when the weather suddenly takes a turn.
Exploring Skye: The Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing