‘We’re going to Brexit Britain’s very own Iceland.’ One of my Christmas presents from Jonny came in an A4 envelope. It was his handmade infopack for a holiday to the Isle of Skye. He’d booked it over Easter and in the chaos of mortgages and house buying it came at just the right time.
With the total journey being a nine-hour drive (ten from Jonny) we decided to stop off in Glasgow on the way there and Edinburgh on the way back to break the journey up. We didn’t get much time to explore either city as we spent most of the day travelling but we made time for a museum and a pizza in Glasgow, and a stroll around the city (and another pizza) in Edinburgh. I’d been to Edinburgh a few times before, but Glasgow was a first for both of us.
Glasgow was our first stop on Thursday and after unloading our bags and relocating rooms in the hotel, we headed out to the Gallery of Modern Art. We spent around an hour in the museum before closing but it probably needs a little more time to explore in properly. The gallery is on four floors with quite a lot of interesting work to cover. There’s also a café, a shop and a library.
From the museum, we headed over to Pizza Punks which had come recommended by my friend Emma. We are both in agreement that it was one of the best parts of the trip and 100% the best pizza we’ve ever had. Pizza Punks has a massive menu, with plenty of allergy friendly, gluten free and vegan options to choose from. And it’s delicious. We both opted for the ‘make your own’ pizza, where you can choose from different bases, sauces, cheeses and toppings. The pizzas are then cooked in an open kitchen within the restaurant. Do you ever get too old to appreciate that?
Jonny went for a sour dough base with meaty toppings and I went for a vegan pizza with all of my favourite things as well as vegan haggis. It was a milestone for me. I’m not supposed to eat dairy (but I do pick at it occasionally) and I have built up an aversion to vegan cheese after some nasty super market experiences, but the vegan cheese at Pizza Punks was to die for. I took most of my pizza away to graze on and it was all I could think about for the rest of the holiday. I would return to Glasgow for the pizza alone. Thanks for the recommendation, Emma!
McLay’s Guest House
We stayed in the McLays Guest House hotel whilst in Glasgow, and we accidentally booked a room with a shared bathroom, which was no good for me. Fortunately, there was an ensuite room available and they were able to move us across. The hotel was cheap and cheerful; the bathroom was falling apart a little bit, but the staff were lovely and helpful and it was absolutely fine for the night we were staying. They offered breakfast the next morning for an additional charge, but we had plenty of pizza left to be getting on with and hit the road to Skye nice and early.
Jonny did all of the driving, which made it extremely chill for me. The drive down to Skye was exclusively A-roads and absolutely stunning. We drove through valleys of beautiful clear Scottish lochs overlooked by rocky, snow-topped mountains. The weather wasn’t great whilst we were down in Skye, but it pulled out the stops for both our drive down and back. The roads in the north of Scotland are littered with laybys with accompanying viewpoints. The drive was an attraction in itself and reminded us of a much brighter Icelandic Golden Circle.
Jonny had booked us the cosiest pod to stay in for the next 3 nights. The pod was on a farm. Out the front was an enormous field of sheep – there were baby lambs right on our doorstep! There are a lot of sheep in Skye – in fields, up mountains and wondering around the roadside. There were also chickens, a few cows and some gorgeous sheep dog on the farm. Beyond the field was a beautiful sea view. There were only two glamping pods, situated down the bottom of the farm driveway. The owners were really helpful and personable and pulled out all the stops when our shower broke. The location was absolutely beautiful. Even on a grey day, sitting out having breakfast and a morning tea on the porch looking out to sea was perfect.
The inside of our pod was extremely cosy with heated walls and floors. We had a bed, sofa, dining table, smart TV (with Netflix), hob, microwave, kettle, kitchen sink, fridge and freezer. All in our compact little pod. The beds were extremely comfortable and after long days walking in the fresh air, coming back to our cosy little pod was a dream.
Four days of bliss
So that’s what we did – lots of walks in the fresh air and lots of cosying up in our little pod. We stayed in Flodigarry which was an isolated area on the very north of the island. The nearest almost-amenities were a 15-minute drive away in Staffin which comprised of a community dining hall (recommended – we went for grub on our first night), a small convenience store and a beach. That was it until our nearest town – Portree – which was a 40-minute drive away.
There was so much natural beauty between Flodigarry and Portree. It was fresh and quiet with sea smells and polite bird sounds. When we arrived, the weather was turning but I was desperate to get to the beach. Staffin beach was accessed via a narrow slip road, with two car parking points. If you’re a good climber, you might be able to access the main beach (on the other side of a rock wall) but it was a bit too advanced for us. We managed a paddle in the sea, a boulder on some tamer rocks and a climb up one of the cliffs. I was really pleased with myself for getting further than a toddler we met on our way up.
From then on, I didn’t take my walking boots off. Despite the lack of amenities, we found it quite busy with walkers and tourists all around. I’ve never been somewhere so isolated with so many tourists. We travelled into Portree on our second day – a small harbour town with lots of lovely craft and outdoor shops and plenty of hostels too.
After grabbing coffee and cake in the town, we walked down to Scorrybreac Trail walk, a short walk (approx. 40minutes – 1 hour) along the coast. The views were spectacular. I was amazed how clear and blue the water was around the rocks. We also spotted some fish farms that looked like space ships from the land. There were points on the walk that made me feel shakey due to the height and we also tackled a considerable hill climb – slowly but surely taking time to sit down and hyperventilate every 60 seconds. Once back on level ground, the walk took us through some moors and back into Portree where we stopped for a well-earned chippy at the very popular Lower Deck Seafood Restaurant. I had the most delicious tomato soup I have ever tasted.
Oldman of Storr
The highlight of our trip to Skye was our climb up the Oldman of Storr, later that afternoon. We later found out that Storr is classified as a mountain under UK standards and have been feeling very proud of ourselves ever since. Storr was one of the most challenging walks I have ever attempted. Not long after setting off, Jonny took to reassurance tactics with ‘it levels off just around that corner’. Friends, it did not level off just around that corner. It was incredibly steep, but with baby steps and sit downs we made it to the top! The downside to Storr is the gradient is absolutely relentless all the way up. It’s soul destroying seeing the length and height of the path in front of you and the climbers so far above you. The flipside is there are plenty of opportunities to sit down on the rocks (the ones, that you are climbing). The feeling when you get to the top is incredible. The sense of achievement is immense. The views are awesome. As it was so overcast, we couldn’t see the top from the bottom as it was covered by clouds. Setting off, we had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for. But it was worth it.
We went easy on ourselves the next day and opted for a run out to Dunvegan Castle and gardens (not even vegan!). Dunvegan Castle was an extremely hairy one-hour drive from Flodigarry. When I say hairy, I mean sedate yourself if you don’t like precarious single-track roads up the side of a mountain. I’m not good with heights and it was a white-knuckle experience for me. Thank God I wasn’t driving!
Despite the drizzly day, Dunvegan Castle was another island beauty. The gardens were full of pretty flowers, woodlands and waterfalls. You could also set off from the castle out on a seal trip (if you’re ok with choppy Scottish waters and dinghies). Inside the castle was full of history and you could even experience the dark, cramped dungeon. After we’d been through the castle, we browsed the shop (all of the highland cow merch!) and went to the café for some lunch before heading back to Flodigarry.
Flodigarry Fossil Walk
Our final walk came recommended from the folder in our pod. We decided to try it on our final day as it was very close by to where we were staying. It was called the ‘Flodigarry Fossil Trail’ and was definitely made up. The walk begins by parking down the bottom of someone’s drive, walking round the side of their house, across some quick-mud and out to the beach. Again – gorgeous views heading out to the beach which was the only saving grace of this walk. We then scrambled down some rocks and along said rocks for an unspecified amount of time. I honestly thought we’d get washed out to sea and never found.
At the (eventual) end of these rocks we came to a derelict old house and were instructed to enter the field through the kissing gate. The kissing gate was, at this point in time, guarded by some quite large, territorial looking cows. Jonny tested the waters, but they did not look happy, so I climbed over a fence and had to jump across a stream to join him. I am a vegetarian and did not want to be eaten by cows. The walk concluded by entering through someone’s back garden gate and walking past their kitchen window (where they were stood washing up). I would just like to use my experience to discourage anyone from taking the so called Flodigarry Fossil Trail. It is a lie. There were no fossils.
The sun showed up again for our final day in Skye and our drive back to Edinburgh. As Jonny had been doing a lot of driving on our holiday, we made compulsory stops at viewpoints every hour and called in some stunning locations from Lochside to mountainside. My favourite stop off was definitely Fort William where we looked out over the beautiful snow-topped Ben Nevis.
We stayed at The Haymarket Hotel in Edinburgh, a short walk from the city centre. After a perfect, but exhausting 4 days, we sat in the beautiful park for most of the afternoon before heading to Pizza Express for our last meal in Scotland.
Take me back!
Thanks to my excellent boyfriend for an excellent Christmas present – it was absolutely perfect. I highly recommend Skye (and definitely the Flodigarry pods) for anyone in need of a refreshing and destressing break away. It’s a beautiful Island with beautiful views, towns and walks. I would definitely go back – you don’t have to ask me twice, just take me back!