28 in Best of Portree Scotland

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The Dreamy Coastal Town of Portree on Isle of Skye, Scotland

The sweetest hues of bracing blue, a hint of green, and splash of colours, give such life to my daydreaming. The quintessential dreamy harbour with a generous curve of land, fringed by cliffs with a pier designed by Thomas Telford and boats scattered on its waters is the amazing sight and the best of Portree Scotland, the welcoming gateway to the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides — the land of faeries and dinosaurs.


Portree, is Skye’s capital, the largest and the busiest town built around a colourful harbour where fishing boats still arrive to offload the catch of the day. Awash with seafood restaurants, traditional pubs, hotels and shops, this lively town has something for everyone, including the undeniable most mouthwatering aroma of fish and chips!

Planning a trip to Portree Scotland or wanting to know more about this colourful harbour town?

Perfect! This is the best guide for you — Portree offers so many things to do, from stunning views of natural landscapes to fun activities within the city along with adventures beyond the harbour. In this guide, I give you a little background information for context, best places to stay, where to go for best views of the harbour along with things to do for an amazing unforgettable visit to Portree Scotland. The best of Portree Scotland has everything for a timeless visit to the Highland.


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TOP TIPS FOR BEST OF PORTREE SCOTLAND

1 | Book Hotels and Restaurants in Advance

Portree, as the main town along with the picturesque Isle of Skye is a busy destination for visitors especially during the summer months between June and August. If you want the best places to stay at such as the Cuillin Hills Hotel or the Marmalade (both hotels mentioned below) you must book at least 3 to 6 months earlier. If you wish to dine at the best restaurants with stunning views such as The View Restaurant to make your trip extra special, then I would highly encourage you to book well in advance of your travels to secure your place. You could always cancel if plans change.


2 | Download an Offline Map

It is worth bearing in mind that some parts of the Isle of Skye do not have cell phone coverage especially around the Trotternish Peninsula like Quiraing. It will be best to plan ahead and download an offline version of Google Maps for the entire Isle of Skye to have access to when you navigate the island. Alternatively, you may like a paper or online version by Ordnance Survey, the mapping agency of Great Britain.


3 | Get a ‘midge’ Repellant

Midges are notorious in the Scottish Highland! These infamous flies thrive on swamps, marshy areas and water sources such as lakes and streams. The midge season is between mid-May and the end of September. If you are visiting the Isle of Skye or the Scottish Highlands, pack a midge repellant along. You might want to try ‘Smidge’ which is an effective repellant.


4 | Travel Insurance for Portree / Isle of Skye / Scotland

I am sure you would agree, that having travel insurance gives us peace of mind. We do not expect anything unfortunate to happen when we are on holiday but sometimes mishaps beyond our control may happen. I use World Nomads and highly recommend them. Their prices are affordable, offer great coverage and a reliable 24/7 on call service.


5 | Visit the Tourist Office Portree

Visit the tourist office – Portree iCentre when you arrive. Staff are extremely helpful and you could pick up a local map and printable directions to attractions around the island.


6 | Best explored by Car

Portree and Isle of Skye, and wider Scotland is vast and absolutely stunning and offer so much to be explored. While you can easily connect to major towns by public transportation, not every destination is connected, and the best of hidden gems can only be reached if you drive.



ABOUT PORTREE SCOTLAND

A ‘not to be forgotten’ journey through the land of the faeries will inevitably bring you to the dreamy coastal town of Portree, the capital of the fairytale Isle of Skye. Located on the east side of the Isle of Skye, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, Portree overlooks a sheltered bay.

Portree Scotland is a pretty harbour town, fringed by cliffs and has a pier designed by the famous Scottish civil engineer, Thomas Telford (1757 — 1834)

Surrounded by hills, you shall find Ben Tianavaig (413 metres) to the south, Fingal’s Seat (312 metres) to the west, and Ben Chrachaig (144 metres) to the north.

Heading north towards Staffin, is the spectacular scenery of the Trotternish Ridge, dominated by the astounding pinnacles of Quaraing, the amazing and weird at the same time rock formations of the Old Man of Storr and Kilt Rock. Across the bay to the east is the Island of Raasay.

The bustling port-town is a thriving cultural centre and a perfect base for exploring the best of Portree Scotland .

1 | How old is Portree Scotland?

With an estimated population of 2,310 (mid-2020), Portree has its origin in the beginning of the 19th century, so that makes the city to be about 200 years old. The harbour town was created as a fishing village by the then Lord MacDonald.

The name ‘Portree’ comes from the Gaelic word ‘Port Righ’ which means ‘King’s Port’, and is believed to have emanated from a visit by King James V of Scotland in 1540. However, there are also suggestions that the area was called Portree or Portray way before the king’s visit and the name really comes from the Gaelic word which means ‘Port on the Slope’.


2 | Why is Portree Scotland famous?

Portree is famous because it is a popular tourist destination that serves as an ideal base for exploring the endless scenic natural landscape that surrounds the bustling port and the magical Isle of Skye. The harbour town is a cultural hub, home to the award-winning Aros Centre that runs regular concerts and film screenings, celebrating the Gaelic heritage. There is everything a visitor would need — banks, churches, cafes and restaurants, gifts and bookshops, tourist information centre, fuel filling station and supermarkets.

Portree was also a filming location for some of the famous movies — Prometheus (2012), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), Highlander (1986), Macbeth (2015), The Neolith (2020), just to name a few.

The enchanting harbour town of Portree also hosts annual events that draws visitors and locals such as the popular Skye Highland Games, the Isle of Skye half marathon and the Portree Show.

3 | Portree is the Island’s Transport Hub

Portree is well connected to public transportation both within the island and to the mainland. There are regular bus services connecting Portree Somerled Square to Inverness and Glasgow. You could also catch local services around Skye from Somerled Square.


HOTELS IN PORTREE SCOTLAND WITH GREAT VIEWS

Portree offers many great accommodation choices to suit all budgets ranging from hotels, bed & breakfast and self-catering options. Here are some of the best, selected for best views, and comfortable stays along with good service which you would love to stay at.

1 | Cuillin Hills Hotel

Best of Portree | Portree Scotland | timelesstravelsteps.com

Portree Scotland

Cuillin Hills Hotel is my top recommendation. An award-winning hotel and restaurant, you will experience nothing less than the most high-quality fine dining experience at the Cuillin Hills Hotel while in Portree Scotland. Set within 15 acres of grounds, the accommodation offers spectacular views over Portree Bay to the Cuillin Mountains. Incredibly well-situated and picturesque, the outdoors is perfect for evening drinks and the ambience is definitely one to experience.

Portree Scotland | timelesstravelsteps.com

The restaurant offers a wide range of food selection, from freshly caught salmon, hearty Angus beef to delectable desserts.

The rooms are decorated in soft warm tones, and modern decor without losing the traditional touch. Along with sublime views of the surrounding area, Cuillin Hotel is a must for travellers who want an authentic experience of the enchanting Isle of Skye.

Rated as superb with a 9.8 out of 10 by visitors.

CHECK RATES, AVAILABILITY & BOOK YOUR STAY AT THE CUILLIN HILLS HOTEL

2 | Marmalade, Portree Scotland

GOOD FOR FAMILIES

Marmalade, Portree dates back to 1817 and is located at just 400 yards from the city centre. The hotel offers spacious rooms that overlook the scenic Portree Bay and the captivating Cuillin Moutains in the distance. Family rooms are available and your stay comes with breakfast included, a buffet-style continental and cooked full Scottish option.

Alfresco dining is offered in the landscaped gardens and an intimate heated courtyard as a bar area.

Marmalade is highly popular amongst guests, so an early booking is highly recommended. Rated as 9/10.

CHECK RATES, AVAILABILITY & BOOK YOUR STAY AT MARMALADE, PORTREE

3 | Skeabost House Hotel

PET FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION

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Skeabost House Hotel is a highly rated hotel in the Highlands and is set within private grounds at the edge of Loch Snizort. While some rooms feature a four poster-beds, many of the rooms also offer views over the landscaped grounds, or towards Loch Snizort and its salmon river. The Hotel has its very own 9-hole, 18-tee golf course which provides the perfect challenge for any level of golfer. Alongside these features, Skeabost House Hotel is a licensed wedding venue.

Dining is available, at the a la carte restaurant located in the hotel’s conservatory.

CHECK RATES, AVAILABILITY & BOOK YOUR STAY AT THE SKEABOST HOUSE HOTEL

4 | Royal Hotel Portree

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The Royal Hotel at Portree boasts a rich history, and a long standing reputation for providing high-quality service for visitors as well as several generations of the local community. Conveniently located at Bank Street, most rooms at the hotel offer stunning views over the Portree harbour and the loch. There are two restaurants that are exclusively dedicated to seafood and the bar stocks local whiskies and ales. In the summer, the hotel hosts live music.

CHECK RATES, AVAILABILITY & BOOK YOUR STAY AT THE ROYAL HOTEL PORTREE


28 THINGS TO DO IN BEST OF PORTREE SCOTLAND

1 | Somerled Square, Portree Scotland

Set in the heart of Portree, Somerled Square is the town’s focal point that leads visitors and locals alike to many of the other destinations. Shops line the central square with streets branching off it. Located close to many of the best shops, cinema, cafes and restaurants, you are sure to find a spot to enjoy a fresh brew while either you plan your day ahead or just sitting down to capture your moment to relax your feet. The quaint square is an unmissable spot.


2 | Colour House Viewpoint, Best of Portree Scotland

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Adorning Portree’s shoreline is a stretch of delightful colourful houses and to get the best view of them is from the Colour House Viewpoint. The access point to the Colour House Viewpoint is located next to the Royal Hotel.

This viewpoint gives you the best views of the alluring picture-perfect colourful attraction on the cliff. This easily accessible viewpoint is one of the best experiences in Portree.

Get directions for your 6-minute walk > from Portree to Colour House Viewpoint

Free event.


3 | Go on a splendid tour of Isle of Skye from Portree Scotland

Portree is ideally located to many of the highlights on the Isle of Skye, including Kilt Rock, the Old Man of Storr, Quiraing, Sligachan and Bride Veil Falls, just to name a few. Some of these destinations are hard to reach without a car. If you prefer not to hire a car on your visit, I highly recommend that you join a small tour group.

The best tour group to join is Best of Isle of Skye in One Day, (rated 4.6/5) from Portree. On this tour, you shall explore some of the very best of Isle of Skye such as the Kilt Rock, Fairy Glen, the Old Man of Storr and more.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS FULL DAY TRIP FROM PORTREE & BOOK YOUR SPACE


4 | The Lump, Portree Scotland

Portree Scotland

The Lump, as the name suggests is rounded in shape and sits along the town’s shoreline, dividing Portree into two parts. There are serene walking trails that spiral around the woodlands of The Lump. It is worth trekking to the hilltop as it offers a spectacular panorama of Portree harbour, along with an area for picnics and a variety of interesting sights, one of which is the Apothecary Tower. Follow a forest path from Bayfield Road

Free event.


5 | Apothecary Tower, Portree Scotland

When you arrive at the hilltop of The Lump, look out for a 19th century watchtower. The Apothecary Tower is situated amidst a quiet garden and is of a rugged architectural design. You may want to look deeper at its history, or you may want to climb up the tower for a stunning view of Loch Portree.

Free event.


6 | Boat Trips from Portree Scotland

Hop onto a boat and go on an amazing trip from Portree Harbour that continues on to the Atlantic to see some incredible wildlife of Skye and the Outer Hebrides.

There are several boat trips from Portree harbour offered by various companies and the best one is Stardust. On a boat trip, you may see seals, whales, dolphins, white-tailed eagles, and puffins. You could also explore the Island of Raasay during one of these trips, and enjoy the splendour of the Cuillin Mountains and the Old Man of Storr viewed from the island.

To go on one of these boat trips, head to the official website of Stardust/Skyeboattrips where you could book your trip. Select from either Portree Bay, Sound of Raasay, Sea Eagle Trail or Skye Whale Trail. Depending on which trip you book, each cruise lasts from 2 to 3 hours. Stardust runs regular cruises all year round except during inclement weather.

Charges apply.


7 | Watch a show at the Aros Centre Portree Scotland

One of the main attractions in Portree is the Aros Centre, the community’s cultural hub. The Aros Centre offers theatre, live music, workshops and galleries. There is also a family-friendly restaurant and a play area for children. To experience an authentic Scottish Gaelic culture, the Aros Centre is the place to visit. Free private parking is also available.

Where: Aros Centre, Viewfield Rd, Portree, Isle of Skye IV51 9EU


8 | Hike up Ben Tianavaig when Visiting Portree

Ben Tianavaig sits at 413 metres, dominating the Portree skyline and is one of the most striking views from Portree Harbour. It is one of Scotland’s finest short hillwalks, offering sensational views.

The walk starts at sea level, from the small town of Camustianavaig. The summit offers incredible views overlooking Portree harbour, across to Raasay and up the Sound of Raasay to the Island of Rona. On a clear day you can see for miles. It takes about 2 hours to hike up to the summit of Ben Tianavaig.

The Isle of Skye Walks has rated this hike as ‘Difficult’ because it has a rough start and a steady hike thereafter to the summit.


9 | Hike The Scorrybreac Circuit when Visiting Portree Scotland

The Scorrybreac walk is a 3.1 km loop that takes you along the shores of Portree. There are a few rough sections and it is therefore, considered moderately challenging. It is suggested that the loop takes about 55 minutes to complete. The trail features incredible views and scenery over the harbour, one in best of Portree Scotland.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SCORRYBREAC TRAIL


10 | Visit Skye Batiks at Portree Scotland

Skye Batiks features a blend of Celtic and Indonesian culture. Renowned for its exquisite colours, Skye Batiks are unique, handmade and offer you an opportunity to make a fashion statement. Browse the official website of Skye Batik before your visit.

Where: Skye Batiks, The Green, Portree, Isle of Skye, IV51 9BY


11 | Stroll around Portree Scotland

Before you leave the colourful Portree, make time to stroll around the town and wander to the waterfront and the harbour. The harbour is especially picturesque with the fishing and pleasure boats moor.

Lower Deck Best of Portree Scotland | timelesstravelsteps.com
Lower Deck Fish & Chips Best of Portree Scotland | timelesstravelsteps.com

The waterfront is awash with charming seafood eateries and traditional pubs. The most mouthwatering aroma, that of fish & chips and vinegar just beckons a stop.


12 | Dine at The View Restaurant, Portree Scotland

Portree is home to some amazing restaurants but the absolute must-try is The View Restaurant at the Cuillin Hills Hotel (9.8/10). The views are absolutely spectacular and it is an experience not to miss.

The View Restaurant serves a wide range of dishes, ranging from meat, seafood, vegetarian and vegan. It is a highly popular dining destination, so if you are planning on dining here, best to make a reservation as early as possible.


13 | Enjoy a Pony Ride through Skye’s Countryside when visiting Portree Scotland

There are some exciting activities a visitor to Portree can experience and one of the best ones is a pony ride through Skye’s stunning countryside.

The Isle of Skye Trekking Centre is a family-run business and offers pony therapy that aims to promote the mental well-being of everyone. The Trekking Centre offers three different pony-trekking routes, all taking you through some wondrous country landscape of Skye.

Pony Trekking is available for adults and children over 4 years of age, making this a great activity for all the family. Rides are available hourly throughout the day.

LEARN MORE FROM THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE ISLE OF SKYE TREKKING CENTRE


ADD TO YOUR BEST OF PORTREE SCOTLAND ITINERARY

14 | Hiking the Quiraing – The Top Highlight of Isle of Skye

Hiking the Quiraing is one of your best of Portree Scotland visit, indeed it is the top highlight for most visitors to the Isle of Sky.

The Quiraing is part of the Trotternish ridge and formed by a massive landslip, creating pinnacles, high cliffs and hidden plateaus. There are rock formations with names such as The Needles, The Table and The Prison. With its million shades of green, the Quiraing is a breathtaking spectacle and is one of Skye’s most dramatic landscapes. A hike here offers some postcard-perfect vistas of the island at every turn.

The Quiraing walk is a loop that begins at the car park and returns you to the starting point. It covers a distance of 6.8 km (4.2 miles) with an elevation of 543 m (1,781 ft) and takes about 2 to 4 hours to complete depending on ability and stops. Give yourself as much time as possible to enjoy the views, to take pictures, and to absolutely soak up the views!

The walk is rated as ‘medium’ in length and ‘hard’ for difficulty as there are some narrow cliffsides paths with steep drops.

You do not have to complete the loop if you wish not to. You could go as far as the point where the main path diverge into two separate paths, and these give you incredible views as well.

Top tips when walking the Quiraing:

1 | The car park is located at the summit of the minor road linking to Uig and Staffin. The walk starts on the north side of the road – look out for a footpath sign to Flodigarry.

2 | Be sure to bring suitable hiking boots and warm waterproof clothing. The weather in Skye can change dramatically within minutes and you wouldn’t want to be caught out.

3 | There is no signal here, so you might want to download an offline map or take a compass along with you.

4 | If you are planning on camping overnight, do let someone know of your plans. In case of emergencies, your contact will know where to reach you.


Driving time from Portree to Quiraing is 37 minutes via A855


15 | UIG Pottery, Isle of Skye, from Portree Scotland

Set amidst the dramatic landscape of Uig at just 25.7 kilometres (16 miles) from Portree, UIG Pottery is the home of traditional Scottish pottery. Distinctive stoneware created by hand is brought to life, inspired by the natural beauty of the surroundinng sea and landscape.

Driving time from Portree to UIG Pottery is 24 minutes via A87


16 | Visit the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye when at Portree Scotland

The ‘Old Man‘ is a large pinnacle of rock on the Trotternish Peninsula and is one of Skye’s most famous and busiest walks. An absolute icon of the island.

There are several legends associated with the ‘Old Man’ for example one suggests the rock is the thumb of a giant buried beneath the Storr but the one I like the best is one narrated by a Scotsman and the story goes:

There was once an old man and his wife who used to walk up the Storr every evening to watch the sunset and to look out at the incredibly beautiful views over the ocean. The Old Man’s wife died one day and he was heartbroken. So, he decided to walk up The Storr one last time. While watching the sun set and the beauty of the ocean, he thought of his wife whom he missed very much and remembered how happy they were. This was one place where he could remember his wife and be happy, and so he wished that he could stay there forever.

The faeries saw how sad the Old Man was and how much he wished to stay at The Storr, so they granted him his wish by turning him to stone.

Whichever legend you choose to believe, there is no denying that this part of the Isle of Skye is rather special and makes the best of Portree Scotland.

If you wish to get up close to the Old Man of Storr, you shall find that the walk up Storr uses the same path as you would walk down, and return to the same point, the car park. The Storr Walk covers a distance of 3.8 km (2.36 miles) at an elevation of 288 m (944 ft). You could complete the walk with no stops in 1 hour 15 minutes or do so at leisure to suit. You will want to stop as many times as possible to capture the amazing sceneries that the hike affords. This walk is categorised as ‘medium’ in length and ‘medium’ in difficulty.

Top tip: Ensure comfortable and suitable walking boots and clothing.


Driving time from Portree to Old Man of Storr is 15 minutes via the A855.


17 | Bride’s Veil Falls, Isle of Skye, from Portree Scotland

Nearby the Old Man of Storr, is one of the most popular waterfalls called Bride’s Veil Waterfall. This pretty cascade is reminiscent of a bridal veil, hence the name. It is ideally located just by the road and is worth a photo stop.

Driving time from Portree to Bride’s Veil Falls is 12 minutes via the A855.


18 | Visit Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls from Portree Scotland

Skye is home to an amazing rock formation that looks so much like Scotland’s traditional fashion, the pleated kilt.

Set amidst an extremely picturesque area along the coast of Skye in the north east Trotternish Peninsula, the Kilt Rock is a 60 metre high sea cliff that resemble a kilt, with vertical basalt columns and intruded sills of dolerite forming the pattern. This part of the Isle of Skye was formed over a million years ago.

Alongside Kilt Rock is Mealt Falls, a giant waterfall plummeting down 55 metres from the clifftop into the sea. Utterly spellbinding.

Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. So, don’t be surprised if it is a little crowded during the peak season.

Visiting the Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls Viewpoint on the Isle of Skye is definitely one not to miss when in Portree Scotland.The viewpoint is easy to reach. There is no need for hiking or to walk very far, and makes for a quick visit.

Driving time from Portree to Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls is 28 minutes via the A855.


19 | Explore the beautiful Dunvegan Castle and Gardens when visiting Portree Scotland

Located on the picturesque shores of Loch Dunvegan in the northwestern side of Skye is the beautiful Dunvegan Castle and Gardens. Built in the 9th century for the Clan MacLeod, it has been opened to the public since 1933 and is a popular visitor attraction. The castle is surrounded by three gardens and makes a spectacular sight especially in the spring months.

Dunvegan Castle Isle of Skye | timelesstravelsteps.com

Inside the castle, you shall find beautifully furnished rooms, oil paintings and treasures belonging to the clan. One of the clan treasures is the Faerie Flag, a tattered banner that is said to have been given to the Clan MacLeod by the faeries. It is believed that when the flag is raised in battle, the clan would be ensured of victory.

Before leaving, ensure you head to the Dunvegan Castle Viewpoint to get the best view of the castle as a whole.

Driving time from Portree to Dunvegan Castle is 32 minutes via the A850.


20 | Don’t miss the picturesque Sligachan Bridge

The Sligachan Bridge is undoubtedly one of the most enchanting bridges on the Isle of Skye located in one of the most picturesque parts of the island near the Cuillin Mountains. From the Sligachan Bridge, you can capture perfect views of the Black Cuillin and the River Sligachan. This is one part of Skye that is truly natural and rewards visitors with unspoilt beauty, so ensure you are unhurried when visiting Sligachan from Portree Scotland

Nearby, there is a restaurant inside the famous Sligachan Hotel (9.3/10) which has an award-winning whisky bar. The hotel is pet friendly and highly popular given its history and peaceful settings.

The waters of Sligachan are also associated with a legend that says the waters are enchanted. According to the legend, if you hold your face in the cold running stream for a full 7 seconds, you shall be granted eternal beauty.


Recommended read: The Enchanting Sligachan Bridge and the Magical Waters of Sligachan on Isle of Skye – this post gives you complete information on places to stay, how to get to Sligachan and the legend.


Driving time from Portree to Sligachan Old Bridge is 15 minutes via the A87


21 | Explore the Trail of Dinosaurs when visiting Portree Scotland

Many many millions of years ago, about 170 million years according to geologists, the Isle of Skye was the stomping ground for dinosaurs. Fossilised footprints and dinosaur bone remains belonging to the rare Middle Jurassic were found on the Isle of Skye. With fifteen percent of all Middle Jurassic discoveries worldwide made on Skye, the island is well known as Scotland’s ‘Dinosaur Isle‘. Scotland’s largest dinosaur fossilised prints were found as recent as in 2002. You can still see some of their footprints in some parts of the island especially at Staffin Bay and Brother’s Point where remains of dinosaur bones and fossilised footprints have been discovered.


22 | Dinosaurs at Staffin Bay

One of the places that is open to the public and free to explore is the pretty An Corran Beach at Staffin Bay. Huge footprints can be seen on the sandstone rocks.

The prints are covered during high-tide, and by sand and seaweed that are washed onto the beach. You may want to plan your visit at low tide or after a storm when the sea has swept the sand away.

While this small secluded beach is popular for dinosaur finds, it is also a lovely beach for morning and sunset walks.

Top tip: You can only see the dinosaur’s footprints at low tide. You can check the tide times for Staffin Bay here.


Driving time from Portree to An Corran Beach is 33 minutes.


If you wish to follow the trail of dinosaurs on Skye further, head to Brother’s Point


23 | Brother’s Point Isle of Skye

Brother’s Point, known as Rubha nam Brathairean in Gaelic, is a headland that extends out to the Atlantic Ocean. Once a lesser known hidden gem, Brother’s Point these days has become one of the most exciting places to explore. The dramatic views of the peninsula are stunning, and since 2018, dinosaur tracks have been discovered here.

dinosaur print Isle of Skye | Portree Scotland |

Rubha nam Brathairean is located on the Trotternish Loop, near Culnacnoc and is one of those places that has yet to find its spot as one of the best hikes on the Isle of Skye. Nevertheless, it is a great hike that offers incredible views of the island’s coastline.

The trek begins at Brother’s Point Parking, at Culnarnoc, and is 3.5 km (2.25 miles) with an elevation of 238 m (780 ft). It will take anything from 1 to 2 hours to complete and return to your starting point, but it may take longer for some of us who are unhurried and who completely get lost in the moments of utter serenity.

To get to the shore from the car park, cross the street and walk south along the road for about 60m. Look out for the sign to Rubha nam Brathairean, take a left turn onto a rough trail down a narrow gorge heading towards the coast. You will come to a gate, turn right here and continue down onto a grassy footpath leading to the shoreline. After a short walk, the views open up to a beautiful coastline. The shore, a rocky beach strewn with huge knobbly pebbles is the place where you could explore for signs of the ancient beings. Ensure you are here at low tide, so you could easily notice the prints.

Top tip: Be sure to check Brother’s Point tide times before heading out.

If you wish to hike up, walk along the beach on your right, follow a faint trail and sheep trails. The path becomes clearer the further along you walk. You ascend and the peninsula of Brother’s Point comes into view.  

The trek is easy, although there are some steep, narrow sections along the way. The trek runs along an edge of the cliff towards the end, leading to the peninsula.

Ensure you are using suitable, waterproof boots and windproof clothing.

Driving time from Portree to Brother’s Point is 26 minutes via A855


24 | Staffin Dinosaur Museum

To learn more about dinosaurs on Skye, visit the Staffin Dinosaur Museum where there are fossils and dinosaur prints on display. Located within a short drive from Portree, you shall find fossils and information on Stegosaurus, Megalosaurus, Cetiosaurus, Hadrosaurus, and Ceolophysis that have been identified in the area. The museum is open daily, from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets are £4 for adults, £2 for children and £10 for family.

Driving time from Portree to Staffin Dinosaur Museum is 29 minutes via A855


25 | Visit the Magical Fairy Pools from Portree Scotland

One of the highlights of visiting Isle of Skye is to take a dip (if you can) in the magical Fairy Pools. The Fairy Pools are a series of beautiful crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle fed by the fresh spring waters from the Cuillin Mountains. This place looks absolutely surreal and should firmly secure a place on your best of Portree Scotland itinerary.

The Fairy Pools is a great attraction for some ‘wild swimming’, if you can dare the cold, otherwise these magical pools make great photo spots.

The walk to the Fairy Pools begins at the Fairy Pools Car Park on the road to Glenbrittle and uses the same route there and back. The distance to the first waterfall is 2.4 km (1.5 miles) at an elevation of 100 m (328 ft) and takes about 40 minutes to complete with no stops. However, as with magical places like these, you may find exploring the stunning surroundings and the different pools to be a rewarding experience and time is not of the essence. Perhaps, 2 hours is a better estimate of time for the Fairy Pools.

The walk is rated as ‘Short’ in distance and ‘Medium’ in difficulty.

While this is an easy walk, and the streams are shallow, you still need to ensure that you use suitable waterproof hiking boots because there are several streams and rocks to jump across.

The Fairy Pools is also easily accessible from the nearest village, Carbost on the West of Skye. The best time to visit is either first thing in the morning or later in the day when the crowds are fewer.

Driving time from Portree to Fairy Pools is 35 minutes, via A87 and A863. There is a fee for parking.


26 | Step into a Fantasy around the Mystical Fairy Glen

An easy drive from Portree, on the West side of Trotternish at Balnacnoc and just north of Uig are the mystical, towering cone-shaped peaks and rolling hills of the Fairy Glen, a place that is straight out of a fairytale storybook. The landscape of this geological wonder is truly unique, with a basalt outcrop of rock, towering over the glen. It’s likeness to that of a castle ruin, and has been named (mysteriously) ‘Castle Ewan’. Castle Ewan along with all the mounds offer some of the best vantage points for some great views and photos over the splendid landscape.

While the Isle of Skye has a long history involving the faeries, the Fairy Glen has no stories or legends of faeries related to it. The area is named Fairy Glen for the simple reason that it is a geological wonder that has resulted in an unusual landscape.

Parking for Fairy Glen is limited. You may want to park at Uig and walk up to the Fairy Glen. It takes 30 minutes. Alternatively, check for Fairy Glen Parking before heading out.

Driving time from Portree to Fairy Glen is 25 minutes via A87.


27 | Visit Lealt Falls from Portree Scotland

Penultimate to your visit to Portree, visit Lealt Falls which is worth a stop on any roadtrip around the Isle of Skye’s Trotternish Peninsula. A dramatic waterfall on the River Lealt (AKA Abhainn an Lethuillt in Gaelic), descends a deep narrow gorge, dropping some 90m into the valley floor before emptying into the Sound of Raasay at Invertote. The falls are stunning after a rainfall and often appear orange in colour due to the surrounding peat.

There are two viewing platforms at Lealt Falls. The first, on the northern edge of the parking area, is a trail that leads through a wooden gate, and towards a Viewing Platform extending over the gorge. This viewing area is conveniently accessible and suitable for visitors with mobility issues.

Accessing the second platform is a little tricky but doable. Continue east, along the gorge towards the sea. The path is rough with a steep but short descent and ascent close to the viewpoint. This viewing area offers wonderful views of the sea.

Lealt Falls is easily accessible from Portree via A855 coastal road with ample parking spaces. Park at Lealt Falls Car Park.

Driving distance from Portree to Lealt Falls is 22 minutes via A855


28 | Just drive …..

Just like that, time flies in this magical Isle and if you can manage time wise, hop into your car and drive …. drive around the island as much as you can. More often than not, you will find a lay-by for a quick stop where you can capture magnificent views, really speechless moments for that timeless memories. You will find little spots of white on the meadows or by the lochs happily grazing away, whitewashed houses in the distance with twirls of smoke emanating from its chimney, and the many, many lochs under the misty skies. Yes, it rains every so often but the skies also bloom with rainbows.

In all of its wonderful experiences on this island, there is none quite like meeting the friendly iconic Highland coos. You may find these wonderful coos happily grazing with their family around the A850 between the Fairy Bridge and Dunvegan or around the village of Sconser, located between Broadford (Skye Bridge) to Portree (A87)


HOW TO GET TO PORTREE SCOTLAND

The town of Portree can be reached by car, bus or train and a combination of any of these options. However, driving is the best option to explore the Isle of Skye as public transportation is a challenging option to use to explore all the sites noted in this post.

I use Travel Supermarket as my go to site to hire a car. Travel Supermarket is a price comparison site for various travel related products but I find the tool to compare prices and availability of cars including the type of car is easy to use. In addition, their site offers live updates on prices and availability, therefore it is advantageous to lock-in low prices if booked well in advance.


1 | Driving to Portree Scotland

As a guide, here are the driving times and distances from some main cities in Scotland.

From Aberdeen to Portree: 346 km (215 miles) — 4 hours and 53 minutes;

From Edinburgh to Portree: 379 km (236 miles) — 5 hours and 18 minutes;

From Glasgow to Portree: 336 km (209 miles) — 5 hours and 13 minutes;

From Inverness to Portree: 183 km (114 miles) — 2 hours and 40 minutes;


2 | Can you Get to Isle of Skye by Train?

There are no railways on the Isle of Skye. There are a couple of train stations nearest to the island and it involves taking a bus connection or a ferry to reach Portree. For example:

2.1 | By Train and Ferry

Take the train from Glasgow to Mallaig, then the ferry to Skye.

Recommended read: Mallaig — 12 Very Best Things to do at the Pretty Harbour Town in West Coast of the Highland


2.2 | Train and Bus

Take the train to Inverness, then take a connecting Scotrail to Kyle of Lochalsh. From Kyle, take the bus to Skye.

There are no direct trains or buses from Edinburg to Portree. You could travel from Edinburgh to Inverness by train and then take the buses to reach Portree.


2.3 | Travelling by Bus to Portree/Isle of Skye

2.3.1 | National Bus Service

The National Bus Service is currently provided by the Bus Company ‘City Link’. City Link presently offers coaches from both Glasgow & Inverness to Skye. Full details of these routes including timetable can be found on their official website. In the summer it can be worth booking online to ensure you get a seat.

www.citylink.co.uk

Inverness to Skye Timetable (spring 2022)

Glasgow to Skye Timetable (spring 2022)


2.3.2 | Local Bus Service

The local bus routes on Skye (village to village) are operated by the company Stagecoach. Full timetables can be found on their official website.

www.stagecoachbus.com

Skye Timetable (summer 2022)


finally …

When in Portree, take a few moments to just watch the comings and goings of the harbour. I was totally amazed with how quickly the harbour transforms in a very short space of time by the arrival and departure of boats along with the swing of everyday life of tourists aboard and off boarding.

The harbour town of Portree is a fantastic base for sightseeing the Isle of Skye as it revolves around the scenic untouched landscapes, tales of magical faeries and castles. Alongside these you shall also find world class whisky distilleries and endless unique wildlife species.

If you are planning on visiting Portree, why not visit the Highland also. Inverness is a beautiful town on mainland Scotland to use as a base to explore the wonder of the Highland.

It is impossible to capture all of the experiences in one post, so I shall be writing more on the Isle of Skye. Ensure you subscribe to stay connected.



This is not a sponsored post or any of the activities subsidised in any way. It was fully paid for by myself and I enjoyed every bit of it -:)! My sincere wish is that you have found this guide on the Best of Portree Scotland and the 28 suggestions to be helpful in planning your travel to the Isle of Isle and wider Scotland If so, use the links embedded in this guide and related posts to book your activities, and places to stay. We earn a commission from qualified purchases at zero cost to you. You could support TTS in other ways also. We appreciate your continued support to keep this blog going.


Quiraing Portree Scotland | timelesstravelsteps.com

As a single traveller, it is often difficult to get a photo of myself at places I visit. I travel minimal these days, often without a tripod or my heavy camera equipment. Moreover, the time taken to set up the tripod plus the wind makes it less attractive when hiking! I don’t do well with selfies either -:). Anyways, this is a photo of me at Quiraing, Trotternish Peninsula, Skye, taken by a kind traveller on my first visit to Skye.

Have a splendid time discovering Portree and the Isle of Skye

Georgina xx

VISITING SCOTLAND?

Best Tips: Book tours and tickets beforehand so not to miss:

Our Best Selling Day Trips and Multi Day Trips to undertake when visiting Scotland:

1 | See the best of Scotland in a day — Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Scottish Highland

2 | 3-Day Isle of Skye Highlands Tour with Hogwarts Express

3 | Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle

4 | Alnwick Castle & Holy Island from Edinburgh

5 | 3-day North Coast 500 from Inverness





Don’t fancy a DIY vacation? No worries! These guys are great at organising package holidays/vacations – take a look…

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The Enchanting Sligachan Bridge and the Magical Waters of Sligachan on Isle of Skye

The enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye and the magical waters of Sligachan

Update: May 23, 2022

On the foreground and very much at home below the wild, rugged Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye is a quaint village called Sligachan but truth be told, it is not the village that people come here to see. A few steps away from the village sits an enchantingly picturesque three-arch old stone bridge simply known as the Sligachan Bridge. The area is a little piece of paradise on the wild Scottish Highland.

What to expect from this article on the enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye

This little paradise can be easily missed but it is worth a stop on your itinerary while visiting the Isle of Skye. Keep reading to learn more about the enchanting Sligachan Bridge, the legend of the magical waters of Sligachan and how you can unlock the secret to eternal beauty along with a little background on Sligachan Village. You will also find information about an important monument unveiled recently in 2020 and places to stay nearby. Finally, some information on how to reach this remarkable spot and the best time to visit the enchanting Sligachan Bridge.


This article and related articles are sprinkled with affiliate links. This means that we may earn a commission from qualified purchases and bookings at no additional cost to you. These links have no influence on the editorial content we produce.


Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips:

Book attraction tickets and tours in advance of your travel.

Best Tours:

Best of Isle of Skye in one day

3 Days Isle of Skye, Highlands and Loch Ness Tour

Outer Hebrides and Isle of Skye



The Enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye

The enchanting Sligachan Bridge is special. It is brought to life like many other scenic spots on the Isle of Skye by the stories and legends associated with it.

Many come here to test the spellbinding ancient legend associated with the magical waters of Sligachan that runs under the enchanting Sligachan bridge. The enchanted waters of Sligachan is said to deliver eternal beauty provided the brave souls can submerge and stick to the rules!

As well, people come here to see, capture the views of the mighty mountains that so often graces canvasses and television screens and to experience a slice of the wild Scotland.

When was the enchanting Sligachan Bridge built?

The Enchanting Sligachan Bridge and the legend of magical waters of Sligachan

The legend of magical waters of Sligachan begins with the story of Scotland’s famous warrior woman, Scáthach. She lived around 200 BC in a fortress on the Isle of Skye. A never-ending battle ensued between her and an Irish warrior…

The Warrior Woman

The warrior woman Scáthach, whose name in Gaelic means “Shadowy” is believed to have lived in Dunscaith Castle (known as Dún Scáith in Gaelic, which means “Castle of Shadows”). The Castle was located on the south of the island, in Tokavaig, the ruins of which can still be visited today. Scáthach was the greatest fighter in all of Scotland and news of her greatness travelled far and wide around the globe.

The Competitive Warrior

Soon, an Irish warrior, Cú Chulainn came to know of Scáthach’s might and he hopped across the ocean to Skye to defeat her. According to the legend, Cú Chulainn was half god, super strong and unbeaten. He was not a bad person but just very competitive. His aim was to crush Scáthach and prove his might to everyone in the world.

The Battle

A fierce battle between the two warriors raged for weeks. The warriors were so strong that their battle caused the earth to move and animals to flee Skye. The crushing blows created mountains and valleys. It was the greatest battle the land had ever witnessed. There seemed no end to the battle and only one resolution was inevitable – a battle to the death.

Scáthach’s daughter

Scáthach’s daughter was very upset. She couldn’t take the fighting anymore with the inevitable outcome of death and feared that her mother would lose the battle. She ran to the stream, Sligachan River where she cried and cried and cried…wishing out loud for someone would help stop the battle. Her cries were so passionate and her love for her mother so great that “someone” did hear her from the magical world.

The magical waters of Sligachan was, and still is, believed to be a portal to the faerie world and the faeries heard her heartbreaking cries. The faeries decided to help her and opened the portal. They instructed Scáthach’s daughter to submerge her face in the waters of the stream to discover what she could do to stop the fight. She did as she was told. She emerged from the waters enlightened as the faeries had blessed her with the knowledge of what to do.

The end of the battle

Armed with the knowledge, Scáthach’s daughter went all around Skye, gathering herbs, meats, nuts and everything delicious that Skye produced. She brought them home, and stewed them up into a hearty broth one could ever imagine. She fanned the smoke so it could fill the valleys. The scent of the broth was intensely incredible and travelled far across the Isle of Skye.

The fighting warriors smelt it. They continued the battle but could not go on for much longer. They had not eaten for several weeks and they were starved! Both warriors agreed to take a break to enjoy a feast. They made their way to Scáthach’s home where her daughter greeted them. They feasted together and ate as they have never eaten before.

It was this feast that would mark the end of the battle. By eating in Scáthach’s home, Cú Chulainn became a guest. As such, both warriors cannot hurt each other any more – you can’t really hurt someone who has hosted you right? The battle was over with neither losing to the other.

In pursuit of Eternal Beauty

Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye

Legend has it that the portal to the faeries world was forever ‘disturbed’ when they decided to help Scáthach’s daughter. Her passionate tears of love and her beauty opened the portal to the magical world and if anyone should be so brave as to submerge their face on the icy cold water of the magical stream, the faeries would grant them eternal beauty. The waters near to and under the Sligachan Bridge is said to be the portal to the other world.

However, seeking eternal beauty at the enchanting Sligachan Bridge is not really pleasant or a comfortable thing to do!

Unlocking the secret to eternal beauty at Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye

In accordance with the legend, and to unlock the secret to eternal beauty at the enchanting Sligachan Bridge, you need to observe some rules 🙂

1 | You need to dip your face in the cold magical icy waters of Sligachan;

2 | Must keep your face submerged for a whole 7 seconds;

3 | You can’t stop half way or submerge half a face – if you do, your efforts will be worthless;

4 | You can’t bring the water to your face – it has to be a full face dip;

5 | After your 7 seconds dip, you need to let your face dry naturally.

For the faerie magic to work and for eternal beauty to take hold, you must follow the rules above. This means you may need to get to your hands and knees on the rocks, so your face can touch the magical waters of Sligachan.

You might want to consider bringing a large towel along so you could lay it on the rocks to protect your clothes from getting stained or wet. It might be a good idea to do this on a sunny day so the waters will dry off quickly. As for the icy waters of Sligachan itself, well…this is Scotland after all and I don’t think it will ever be warm!

Safety tips: Just be aware that the river might flow very fast in bad weather and the rocks might be slippery. Please take care when exploring.

Explore the surrounds of Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye

When visiting the enchanting Sligachan Bridge, you may want to explore more of the picturesque area. You could stop by at Sligachan Village, a few steps away from the bridge and visit the monument dedicated to the Cuillin mountaineers.

About Sligachan Village

Sligachan Village is a small settlement on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The Village takes its name from the Gaelic word, ‘Sligeachan’ which means “shelly place”, after the shells found at River Sligachan.

This quaint village is located close to the Red and Black Cuillin Mountains with the Sligachan Glen between them. The Village and the old enchanting Sligachan Bridge which we had already visited above provides sweeping views of the Cuillin Mountains and the wild Scottish countryside. The scenery from the old enchanting Sligachan Bridge is amazing. There is also a path that leads to hiking the Cuillins.

A haven for mountaineers and hikers of Cuillin Mountains

Sligachan Village has long been a haven for mountaineers, ever since the 1800s when it was discovered that this part of Scotland had mountains with menacing crags and pinnacles draped in unnatural wisps of cloud. It conjured up the mysteries and excitements, alluring climbers to Skye.

You can find a monument dedicated to the renowned mountaineers of the Cuillin Mountains nearby.

Monument to Skye climbing pioneers of Cuillin Mountains

In Septembeer 2020, a long-awaited tribute to two pioneering climbers of the Cuillin Mountains was unveiled. John Mackenzie and Norman Collie formed a partnership lasting fifty years during which time they climbed, mapped and named many of the Cuillin peaks as is known today.

This fitting tribute have the men gazing at their beloved mountains for all time.

South Skye and Cuillin Hills

The Cuillin, Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye Pathfinder

Skye Walks & Scrambles

North Skye Map

Skye Pocket Map

Recommended read: The Unique Collie-Mackenzie Monument at Skye’s Celebrated Cuillin Mountains


Where to Stay near the enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye

Sligachan Village is an ideal base for mountaineers as well as for anyone who do not wish to climb the mountains. Explore the picturesque surrounds of the enchanting Sligachan Bridge and the unbeaten path of Skye at your own pace while enjoying the hospitality bestowed upon visitors to this village. Sligachan Village has accommodations for all budgets and suits families, couples, groups and climbers.

There is a campsite at the head of Loch Sligachan, within easy walk of the Sligachan Village. The Village offers a bunkhouse that sleeps 8 with self-catering facilities, ideal for shoestring travellers. There are two cottages that sleeps up to 8 each and a house sleeping up to 14. If you want to experience a little luxury, stay at the Sligachan Hotel.

The Sligachan Hotel was built in 1830 and is a classic Scottish hotel. It comes complete with a good restaurant, lounge and a very popular bar. The restaurant is well-known for its “hearty-meals” while the Seumas’ bar at the hotel boasts an impressive collection of over 400 malts!

Accommodations close to the enchanting Sligachan Bridge – Portree

Sligachan is en-route to Portree, the main city on the Isle of Skye at just 15 minutes journey time. Portree is a popular destination for visitors as it is an ideal base to spend a few days while you explore Skye. Portree offers a wide range of accommodations to suit all budgets along with eateries and bars. Below are some suggestions for a stay at this beautiful harbour town fringed by cliffs and lovely coloured houses.

1 | The Royal Hotel

The Royal Hotel offers stunning views over Portree Harbour with a number of rooms offering sea views. The restaurants specialises in local seafood and continental breakfast is served each day

2 | Skeabost House Hotel

Located in magnificent grounds with its own 9-hole golf course, the Skeabost is perfectly located for exploring the Isle of Skye as well as the Scottish Highlands. Some rooms offer views towards Loch Snizort and its salmon river, on which the hotel has seasonal fishing rights.

For more choices >> places to stay at Portree

Where is the enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye

The enchanting Sligachan Bridge is located along the A87, that links Broadford to Portree. There is a small car park for visitors to Collie-Mackenzie monument and several lay-bys where you could park safely.

Parking is available at Sligachan Hotel but this is strictly limited to guests only. Perhaps, you could stop by at the bar for a taste of one of their 400 malts after exploring Sligachan Bridge?

Best time to Visit the enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye

The enchanting Sligachan Bridge and the surrounding areas, are popular spots. Even more so now with the incredible monument dedicated to the mountaineers. As such, nearly all of the Isle of Skye tour groups stop here. Therefore, expect a crowd around mid-morning and late afternoons. If you want to beat the crowds, try visiting early in the morning, before 9:30 a.m. or at dusk. You may catch the sun setting over the Cuillins on a non-rainy day which is said to be a spectacular sight!

Note: If you decide to join a group tour, please ensure with the tour operators that they do stop at the enchanting Sligachan Bridge. Drivers have the flexibility to adjust their itinerary to suit and they may decide not to stop here if they are running late for their next destination on the itinerary. Having said that, many tour groups do stop here.

A word of caution though, as early mornings and dusk comes with other impediments too. The dreaded Scottish midge are generally found in swamps and marshy areas. They bite unsuspecting passers-by. The midge season is from mid-May to end of September. If you are worried about these insects affecting you, try Smidge, a midge repellent to keep them away.

Do you believe in faeries?

I do love a good story, be it legends or myths. Although there are a couple of versions to the enchanting Sligachan Bridge and the enchanted waters of Sligachan story, I like this one, related by a Scotsman and also because a little good magic never hurts anyone.

As well, it goes without saying that as with any legends, and Skye has many, that one should take it with a generous pinch of salt. While I was totally enchanted with the legend of the magical waters that run under the enchanting Sligachan Bridge, I did not dip my face in the icy cold waters of the stream. I did not, only because I did not want my clothes to be dirtied on the day. Hence, my suggestion above to bring a towel along to protect your clothing. I hope to do so on my next trip to Sligachan.

In the alternative, you may want to consider a large bin liner instead.

(Note: If you decide on the bin liner, please ensure to dispose it off responsibly after your trip)

Whether you believe in legends or not, the enchanting Sligachan Bridge is a good view point for the wild Scottish countryside and the captivating Cuillin Mountains.


Will you be giving it a go at unlocking the secret to eternal beauty at the enchanting Sligachan Bridge? Do let me know in comments.


Group Tours to consider when visiting the Isle of Skye

If you choose to experience a group tour to the Isle of Skye, perhaps the following suggestions may assist in your decision-making.

Tours to the Isle of Skye


On a final note

There is always something magical about the Isle of Skye…awe-inspiring landscapes, grey skies, and cotton clouds that follows you wherever you are on Skye! What adds to the magical Skye are the stories. Stories of faeries. Some are true, they say and some are myths and legends that fits the landscape. Somehow, these stories bring to life the scenic beauty of Skye and makes a perfect backdrop to places visited.

I have so much more to share with you about my trips to Scotland. Be sure to subscribe to stay connected and not miss out on valuable travel guides.

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Have a splendid time exploring Sligachan.

Georgina xoxo

Quick facts on Scotland

__________

Population: Over 5.4 million (2020)

Common Language: English. Gaelic is spoken by 1.3% of the population mostly in the west and in the Highlands.

Currency: £ – Pound (GBP)

Capital City: Edinburgh. Home to the first fire brigade in the world, and is the second largest city in Scotland. The largest metropolis in Scotland is Glasgow.

High season: Summer (July – August)

Religion: Christianity – 40% Church of Scotland. 15% Roman Catholic and 6% other Christian denominations. Minorities include Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh with a quarter of the population has been recorded as having no religion.

Social courtesies: Handshaking is customary when introduced to someone for the first time. When visiting someone’s home, a small gift such as flowers or a box of chocolates is appreciated.

Scotland: Travel and Transport

Scotland: International Travel

UK Government: Foreign Travel Advice

UK Government: UK nationals travelling abroad

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The Unique Collie-Mackenzie Monument at Skye’s Celebrated Cuillin Mountains

The unique Collie-Mackenzie Monument at Skye’s celebrated Cuillin Mountains

Updated: May 23, 2022

Over a century ago, two men went on an adventure to reveal the thrills and exhilarations of the Black Cuillin Mountains in Scotland. They climbed, discovered and mapped their routes on one of the most challenging mountains in Britain, bringing the Cuillin within reach of the many mountaineers who followed in their footsteps. The Cuillin Mountains were climbed before but not most of the treacherous Black Cuillin. Its dark coarse, knife-sharp pinnacles were largely unknown territory until these were explored by the two renowned British mountaineers, Collie and Mackenzie. Today, there is a fitting tribute to these two remarkable men. The unmissable unique Collie-Mackenzie monument sits at the foot of Skye’s celebrated Cuillin Mountains in Sligachan.

About this post

This post gives an overview of the two remarkable mountaineers, and the alliance they formed to achieve many of the climbs at the Cuillin range. A fitting tribute to their courageous accomplishments is now placed in an area they both loved at Sligachan, Isle of Skye.


This article and related articles are sprinkled with affiliate links. This means that we may earn a commission from qualified purchases and bookings at no additional cost to you. These links have no influence on the editorial content we produce.


Visiting Scotland?

Best Tips: Book tours and tickets beforehand so not to miss:

Our Best Selling Day Trips and Multi Day Trips to undertake when visiting Scotland:

1 | See the best of Scotland in a day — Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Scottish Highland

2 | 2-Day Highlands Tour with Hogwarts Express

3 | Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle



About John Mackenzie and Norman Collie | The Collie-Mackenzie Monument

John Morton Mackenzie (1856 – 1933)

John Morton Mackenzie was born in 1856 in Sconser, Isle of Skye. He began climbing at a young age. He conquered Sgurr nan Gillean when he was just 10 years old. In his teens, he worked at the Sligachan Hotel as a pony man.

At the age of 14, Mackenzie was part of the ascent to the Cuillin’s 973 metres (3,192ft) peak Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh.  Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh is the highest summit on the northern half of the Black Cuillin ridge. At 18, Mackenzie accompanied another climber for the first ascent to Sgurr Dubh Mor, which is 944 metres (3,097ft). In 1887, he tackled the first ascent of Am Basteir at 934 metres (3064ft). There were a few more remarkable achievements by this intrepid explorer who went on to become the first professional mountain guide.

John Norman Collie (1859 – 1942)

John Norman Collie was born in Alderley Edge, Cheshire on September 10, 1859. He was commonly known as Norman Collie and by profession, was a scientist specialising in chemistry. Collie went on to embrace exploring and mountaineering.

In 1886, Collie and his brother were on a fishing trip to the Isle of Skye. The brothers stayed at the Sligachan Hotel and were inspired to climb the Cuillin Mountains. They were partly inspired by the views of men climbing the Cuillins observed from the windows of the hotel. The two brothers made an ascent of Sgùrr nan Gillean twice and were unsuccessful on both occasions. Afterwards, they enlisted the advice of John Mackenzie, who was a professional mountaineering guide by now. Mackenzie gave them the guide on the route for a successful climb.


The Collie — Mackenzie alliance

Collie returned to Skye regularly and climbed the Cuillin Mountains with Mackenzie. Both forged a remarkable friendship while exploring the range. Together they made many first ascents, overcoming some of the toughest climbing challenges.

During the course of their adventures, Collie sought to produce much better maps of the Cuillin Mountains while Mackenzie struck up new routes. They also named some of the mountains and rocks. The Sgurr Mhic Choinnich is named after Mackenzie.

Both Collie and Mackenzie are regarded as the greatest mountaineers of their time. They ventured into tough, uncharted territory with basic clothing, boots and rope in circumstances of no chance of rescue if they encountered difficulty.

Mackenzie died in 1933. He was a mountain guide for fifty years.

Collie retired in 1929 and spent most of his summers in Skye. During his final years, he became a permanent resident of the Sligachan Hotel. He often sat at a window with views of the Cuillin Mountains. That room is named after him and is known as Collie Lounge.

Collie passed away in Sligachan, on November 1, 1942, from pneumonia. In accordance with his wishes, he is buried next to his friend, John Mackenzie in an old graveyard at Struan, Loch Harport within sight of the Cuillin Mountains.

The Cuillin Mountain range | The Collie-Mackenzie Monument

The Cuillin Mountain range is one of the world’s most famous landscapes and has attracted geologists from around the world. The range can be categorised into two groups. The jagged ridges of the Black Cuillin contrasts sharply with the smooth red hills, known as the Red Cuillin. Both were formed deep in a volcano about 60 million years ago. The mountains seen today were gradually exposed both by geological uplift and intense weathering and erosion from above.

The exposed rocks of the Cuillin were sculpted by glaciers over the last million years or so, forming sharp ridges and U-shaped valleys that is seen today. The glaciers also moved huge blocks of rocks and these juts out from the mountain!

At 992 metres (3255 ft), Sgùrr Alasdair is the highest peak of the Cuillin Mountains as well as the highest peak on the Isle of Skye. The Cuillin has 12 Munros (mountains of more than 3000ft). With narrow ridges, pinnacles and rock buttresses, these Munros are acknowledged as the hardest to climb. In addition, the long scrambles over loose rocks before reaching an ascent has proven to be equally challenging.

One of the most challenging climb is the Inaccessible Pinnacle, commonly known as Pinn. The Pinn is a large rock of about 50 metres at the longest edge and sits atop Sgùrr Dearg. It is well-known as the most notorious of munros to climb at the Cuillin, a challenge that requires determination and a strong nerve.

The Collie-Mackenzie Monument

Both Professor Norman Collie and John Mackenzie were instrumental in exploring and mapping the Black Cuillin. Their pioneering climbs has set a route for others to follow and used by climbers today. To celebrate the men’s achievements as well as their friendship, a unique memorial to the two mountaineers was unveiled in September 2020 at Sligachan.

This unique artwork sits at the picturesque location that marks the route into Glen Sligachan, a path that was familiar to Mackenzie when he worked as a pony boy and later, as a professional mountain guide. The bronze sculpture of both men sits high on rocks, with Mackenzie sitting and Collie standing. The men gaze at their beloved Cuillin Mountains for all time.


How to visit the Collie-Mackenzie Monument at Sligachan, Isle of Skye

The Sligachan area on Isle of Skye is a popular destination. Almost all tour groups stop here briefly en-route to Portree.

Sligachan is located along the A87, that links Broadford to Portree. There is a small car park for Collie-Mackenzie monument visitors and several lay-bys where you could park safely.

Parking is also available at the nearby Sligachan Hotel but this is strictly limited to guests only. Perhaps, you could stop by at Collie Lounge, sit by the window with views of the Cuillins just as Norman Collie did many years ago while sipping one of their 400 malts after exploring the monument and surrounds?

Alternatively, there are a number of group tours that might be of interest to you. One thing you may want to ensure is that the tour group you join will stop at Sligachan.


Add to Collie-Mackenzie Monument Itinerary

1 | The Old Man of Storr

The landscape on the north east of Skye is dominated by a large 200 foot pillar of rock with a legend, known as the Old Man of Storr. The magical landscape of twisted rocks, and swirling mist is one not to miss. Walking up to the rocks is not a difficult climb and offers some amazing views over Skye’s landscape.

2 | Explore Quiraing.

The Quiraing is a landslip located on the north of Skye in Trotternish. It is the largest landslip in Europe. It is a place like no other. The Quiraing walk is a loop that covers approximately 6.8 kilometres. The average time taken to complete the loop is between 2 to 2.5 hours. The car park at the summit between Staffin and Uig is the starting point of this walk and the loop returns you to the car park. Initially, the path is good, though rough under foot. The path gets steep and ‘difficult’ after about 15 minutes. The loop is rated as ‘hard’ for difficulty. The Quiraing is an essential destination in Skye for photographers. The views are immensely beautiful.

3 | Neist Point Lighthouse.

Located on the most westerly point of Skye, in an area known as Durinish, near Glendale. Neist Point is one of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland. The walk to Neist Point is via one safe route, used both ways and covers 2.2 kilometres. It takes about an hour to complete the walk, not including a visit to the lighthouse. The walk is rated as ‘medium’ for difficulty. The walk offer spectacular views and is a photographer’s paradise. Sunset views are spectacular.

Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips:

1 | For an all round best of Skye in one day, you may find joining a small group tour, departing from Portree, to be of value and rewarding. Learn more about the highlights of the Isle of Skye and check availability on Best of Skye in One Day.

2 | Embark on a 3-day Isle of Skye and Highlands tour from Edinburgh. Experience the magnificent Glenfinnan Viaduct and the sublime Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands.

Related nearby attraction

Sligachan Bridge

sligachan bridge isle of skye
The Old Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye Scotland

Just a few steps from the Collie-Mackenzie monument is the Old Sligachan Bridge. An enchanting bridge from medieval times is brought to life by the legends it holds. Read all about the Sligachan Bridge and the Magical Waters before you go.

On a final note…

The Collie-Mackenzie monument marks a new tourist attraction amidst a splendid natural setting on the wild countryside of The Highland, Scotland. Regarded as the island of the faeries, the Isle of Skye boasts many myths and legends. Old bridges, castle ruins and waterfalls has a story that will captivate your imagination , right from the moment you cross into Skye. There is much to see, and experience here.

There is a dedicated page on Scotland where you will find all articles written on this beautiful country.

I look forward to sharing more with you. Stay connected with Timeless Travel Steps for stories on travel, culture and history. You may also receive exclusive readership offers to plan your travels ahead of time.

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Have a splendid time visiting the Collie-Mackenzie monument on Isle of Skye.

Georgina xoxo


Facts on Scotland

__________

Population: Over 5.4 million (2020)

Common Language: English. Gaelic is spoken by 1.3% of the population mostly in the west and in the Highlands.

Currency: £ – Pound (GBP)

Capital City: Edinburgh. Home to the first fire brigade in the world, and is the second largest city in Scotland. The largest metropolis in Scotland is Glasgow.

High season: Summer (July – August)

Religion: Christianity – 40% Church of Scotland. 15% Roman Catholic and 6% other Christian denominations. Minorities include Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh with a quarter of the population has been recorded as having no religion.

Social courtesies: Handshaking is customary when introduced to someone for the first time. When visiting someone’s home, a small gift such as flowers or a box of chocolates is appreciated.

Scotland: Travel and Transport

Scotland: International Travel

UK Government: Foreign Travel Advice

UK Government: UK nationals travelling abroad

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Collie-Mackenzie monument | timelesstravelsteps.com
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The unique Collie-Mackenzie Monument at Skye’s celebrated Cuillin Mountains first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly edited and updated. Last update: May 23, 2022


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