Day two of Skye found us up bright and early, ready to make our way to the Quiraing for a beautiful hike. Prior to the trip, I had pored over any and all information I could find on the otherworldly landscapes of the Quiraing, and after filling up on vivid pictures and detailed descriptions, I was pretty much chomping at the bit to get out there. So after cementing our plans over breakfast, we loaded up the car and set off for the day’s adventures. Now before I go on, I should admit that we were not just headed to the Quiraing. No, no, in my typical fashion–not wanting to miss anything–I packed in as many stops as possible: Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, Quiraing, the Isle of Skye Brewing Company, Fairy Glen, Portree, and back in time to watch the World Cup at the Sligachan Hotel. And with that, off we went!
A Beautiful Day
As much as I had come to appreciate the moody weather of Scotland, I was absolutely giddy to find that the sun was shining and some solid patches of blue were holding their own against the clouds. With the cheery sky brightening up the landscape, I couldn’t help but snap a picture when we made a quick stop for gas.
The Old Man of Storr
The Old Man of Storr is a distinct and unusual rock formation on the Trotternish Ridge. Depending on what you read or who you talk to, the origin of the Storr may vary. Some believe that the pinnacle is the thumb of a giant who was laid to rest. Others say that a brownie (a mythological hobgoblin of sorts) carved the pinnacle as a tribute a friend who died of a broken heart. My favorite is that a landslide created a formation somewhat resembling an old man’s face–I know, I’m boring. But regardless of the origin, the Old Man of Storr is a striking landmark, great for viewing from a distance or up close.
Our original plan was to stop and take a few pictures from the road, but the temptation was too great and we ended up hiking a bit of the trail before hopping back in the car and resuming our journey toward the Quiraing. We agreed on ten minutes, and then my husband and I hustled to get as far up the trail as possible in our little block of time. Interestingly, as we made our way up, we could not see the distinctive pinnacles of the Storr, but the views were wonderful, just the same.
From The Storr, we ventured about 15 minutes north to Kilt Rock, a beautiful cliff overlooking the Sound of Raasay. This popular lookout point is known for the basalt columns that bear a striking resemblance to a kilt, and on the day of our visit, Kilt Rock did not disappoint. Leaning over the fencing and holding onto our cameras for dear life, we saw the beautiful cliff clothed in tartan.
While Kilt Rock was the star of the show here, the views on the other side were not to be ignored. A little less dramatic perhaps, but just as worthy of a few awestruck sighs and a picture or two.
After oohing and awing at Kilt Rock, we made a quick stop to grab a snack and use the bathroom–because who wants to do the potty dance while hiking the beautiful Quiraing, am I right?–and then we were off. As we got closer to our destination, the roads became windier and narrowed to a single track. Having the luxury of enjoying the experience from the backseat, I would say the narrow roads and hairpin turns added to the adventure. I’m not sure our driver would agree, but that’s okay–I had fun. 😛
Having arrived a bit later than planned, we did not beat the masses to the Quiraing, and we most certainly failed to get any kind of prime parking. Thankfully we found a place to ditch the car (past the car park and on the shoulder of the road with all of the other latecomers) and made our way to the trailhead.
The main trail for the Quiraing is a 6.8km circuit that rewards trekkers with spectacular vistas throughout the entire loop. Instead of following the full circuit, we enjoyed walking out a shorter distance and then returning the way we came. With fairly wide paths, heading in and out on the same trail was not a problem, and we were glad to be able to enjoy the Quiraing at a leisurely pace.
While walking the Quiraing, we were not only impressed by the views but also by the incredible winds that blew without ceasing. There were a couple of times when I was pretty sure we would be blown right off the path, but sure enough we kept our footing. And as I did not see any other hikers flying through the air Wizard of Oz-style, I would assume the gusts of wind were less torrential than they seemed. But just a heads up, be prepared for some wind if you decide to visit the Quiraing.
When it was time to leave, we were grateful to find that there was another road out, so we did not have to contend with the cars headed up to the Quiraing. We did have to pull over for a few sheep, but they respectfully made their way off the road. Slowly.
Tips and Lessons Learned:
- Single-track roads are not for the faint of heart, but they are manageable once you get used to the system. Just keep an eye out for oncoming traffic and be ready to yield whenever you see a passing place to your left.
- You might want to plan to head to the Quiraing first thing in the morning. By the time we arrived, the car park was all kinds of full, and parking was a bit of a challenge. I imagine the earlier you arrive, the easier parking would be.
Exploring Skye: The Fairy Glen