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The Isle of Skye has long held a place in my imagination. Off the west coast, it’s been known as one of the most beautiful places in all of Scotland. It’s home to countless legends. My cousin, who adores Scotland, even dreams of getting married on Skye!
So you can understand that I had high expectations for the island — perhaps Skye High expectations, you could say?
I wasn’t disappointed. This island was so incredibly beautiful.
One of the advantages of visiting Scotland in the winter is that you can see the sunrise without rising at an ungodly hour. We captured this beautiful pink sunrise off a lake just outside our base of Fort Augustus at about 9:00 AM.
Eilean Donan Castle
On the way to Skye, we stopped at Eilean Donan Castle — one of Scotland’s most beautiful (and most photographed!) castles. Our group of travel bloggers gawked at its quintessential Scottish beauty and immediately set out to photograph it from as many angles as possible.
Chances are you recognize it from a film — Eilean Donan was the castle featured in Highlander, served as Sean Connery’s home in Entrapment, and was the Scottish Headquarters of MI6 in The World Is Not Enough.
After crossing the bridge to Skye, our first stop (and my favorite stop on the island) was Sligachan — a tiny village home to magical healing waters.
Highlanders say that if you immerse your head in the freezing water of Sligachan for seven seconds, you’ll be blessed with the gift of eternal youth.
Peter went hardcore, dipping his full head in while leaning off the edge. Nadine, however wasn’t so lucky — she fell right in!
Does it work? Well, let’s just say that a perpetually youthful friend of mine once dipped his face in the river. I just gently sprinkled the water on my face, paying close attention to the regions most likely to wrinkle.
This is one of my favorite photos ever of Scotland — the water of Sligachan in the foreground, the Black Cuillin mountains in the background. It almost looks like it could be in Alaska or New Zealand!
With Sligachan being one of the popular tour spots in the Scottish Highlands, our guide Kay once hosted a BBC TV crew here. What she didn’t expect was to have a major wardrobe function in the process. The story is hilarious — check it out on Someone Once Told Me!
Kilt Rock and Waterfall
See that cliff in the background? That’s Kilt Rock. It’s named that because it’s folded like the pleats of a kilt.
Our guide Chris told us the legend of Kilt Rock in his trademark storytelling style — dramatic, lilting, profane, and very Scottish. I recommend that you find the nearest Scot and have him or her tell you all about the giant Finn MacCool — yes, the Irish Finn MacCool — and how he was duped by a cunning woman on the Isle of Skye.
Along the way, we stopped to see some stone cairns along the coast — a common site throughout the Highlands — and I captured this perfectly balanced stone.
Our final stop on Skye was Kilmuir Cemetery — home to the grave of folk hero Flora McDonald. And, with my family roots pointing back to Skye, there’s a good chance that one or more of my ancestors was buried here. Just like the difficult sites of the Scottish Highlands, I felt a deep connection as I walked among the graves.
As I headed back to the bus, I crossed paths with Kay. “Alexander McQueen’s grave is here, if you want to see it,” she told me.
I stopped in my tracks. “THE Alexander McQueen?”
“Yes! His grave is back there.”
Alexander McQueen, my favorite designer, committed suicide in 2010 at the age of 40. I was incredibly surprised that such a famous person would be buried in a tiny, nondescript graveyard on a misty, rainy Scottish island. But at the same time, I couldn’t imagine a better headstone for McQueen. This is perfect — it’s quietly avant-garde.
After doing some research, I learned that McQueen technically isn’t buried here — his ashes were scattered off the Skye coast. This headstone was designed by sculptor Andrew Tansor with the cooperation of his family.
Though it seems like we got to see so much of Skye, this was only the briefest taste of the island’s north coast. There is so much more to see — more landscapes, more natural wonders, more towns. Chris pointed out that a day tour of Skye from our departure point of Fort Augustus is good but not ideal — you should try to spend much more time on Skye if you can.
I’d love to come back for more.
Essential Info: Our trip to Skye was the second day of Haggis Adventures‘ three-day Skye High tour. Rates start at £119 ($192) for adults and £115 ($185) for students and include guides and transport but not accommodation or food.
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