In Photos: The Isle of Skye

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Once upon a time, in the Scottish village of Kyleakin, there lived a Norwegian princess. This princess was not a Cinderella or a Sleeping Beauty, though. Nor was she a Belle or a Snow White. In fact, Walt Disney would not have wanted to associate with this princess at all…

This Norwegian princess one day decided she would start charging ships a toll to cross the narrow channel that led into the Strait of Kyle Akin. A great heavy chain was laid out from her castle on the hill across the strait, and no shipping vessel could pass safely without first paying the princess a toll. Once the toll was paid, the princess would let the ship pass. And then she would flash the sailors her boobs.

*     *     *

This is the tale of “Saucy Mary,” a local legend on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. This amusing tale is a perfect example of the types of stories the Scots seem to like best — based in fact (there WAS at one point a Norwegian princess on the Isle of Skye, and the ruins of Castle Moil are still there in Kyleakin) but peppered with bawdy humor.

It's one of the things I like best about Scotland.

Another of things I like best about Scotland is the Isle of Skye.

Quiraing, Isle of Skye

Located off the west coast of mainland Scotland, Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides islands, and can be accessed by a road bridge that connects the mainland to the (real) village of Kyleakin.

Once you cross that bridge, you'll quickly realize that the Isle of Skye is worlds away from the rest of Scotland. With a population of less than 10,000 and the Scottish Gaelic language still prevalent, in Skye it becomes apparent that this is still “wild” Scotland. “Raw” Scotland. “Natural” Scotland.

Isle of Skye

If you're only going to visit one part of Scotland (though, why would you do that?! the whole country rocks!), my advice would be to make that one part the Isle of Skye.

And here's why:

Quiraing, Isle of Skye

Views like this, which you can get from the Quiraing, on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish Ridge.


Isle of Skye

And this (also from the Quiraing), with Staffin Bay in the distance.



Pretty Scottish thistle — the national symbol of Scotland.


Isle of Skye

Sites like this stone bridge at Sligachan, where it's said that if you stick your face into the water for 7 seconds, you will enjoy eternal youth.


Lealt Falls, Isle of Skye

Waterfalls! This one is Lealt Falls, which can be viewed from atop a cliff (where this photo was snapped), or from up close via a very steep hike.


Isle of Skye

More waterfalls! This one has a great view of the Old Man of Storr (a rock formation which I unfortunately don't have a photo of because of the fog/clouds that day).


Isle of Skye

Kissing gates in the most remote places (we turned this one into a “hugging gate”).


Isle of Skye

Green, green, and more green.


Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle (which isn't technically on the Isle of Skye, but you have to pass it on your way to the road bridge). It's so pretty that it deserves a mention here.


Eilean Donan Castle


Over the past 6 months, I've had the opportunity to experience a lot in Scotland — from exploring Edinburgh during festival season to hunting for Nessie in the Highlands to ringing in the New Year at Hogmanay. But the highlight of Scotland for me still remains the day I spent on the Isle of Skye.

And I'm sure these photos explain why.


Is the Isle of Skye on YOUR travel wishlist?


*Note: I visited the Isle of Skye as part of a complimentary 5-day Highland Fling tour with Haggis Adventures in August 2012. Yes the tour was complimentary, but my opinions about Scotland are entirely my own!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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41 Comments on “In Photos: The Isle of Skye

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  1. Oh, you got great pics of Skye too Amanda! For a minute I was trying to remember if I’d fallen asleep and missed these scenes before I realised you weren’t with us for Skye :/ Glad you got to see it tho – and that is a great Scottish tale, of princesses, tolls, and boobs. 😛

      Haha, yeah, I wasn’t on the cool kids’ trip through the Highlands… but I still got to see it all! Skye is amazing.

      And yes, how awesome is the tale of Saucy Mary? You gotta love a boob-flashing princess.

    Beautiful, Skye is high on my places to visit in Scotland, love all the folklore and legends up there

      It’s SO pretty, even when it’s not sunny (which it often isn’t in Scotland…).

    This area looks insanely pretty! It reminds me of some of the more rural parts of North Wales that we visited – I love the mossy green colours, and all the interesting peaks and valleys in the landscape. It wasn’t on my wishlist before, but it is now after seeing these pictures!

      Great to hear that it’s on your wishlist now! I agree that it looks a lot like northern Wales. The UK is so much prettier than people usually give it credit for!

    Did you see the old man of Storr? Sacha and I used to spend xmas in beautiful cottages in the isle of skye before we moved to thailand. These pics have brought back memories.

      We caught fleeting glimpses of the Old Man of Storr. Unfortunately it was quite cloudy/foggy/misty that morning! I imagine it would be amazing to rent a little cottage up there for a while, though.

    I just LOVE the Isle of Skye and you have captured some amazing photos!! Thanks for sharing with us!

      It’s such a gorgeous place! Crazy to think that most people have never even heard of it!

    I had not head this legend, but it’s a classic.

    The pictures are amazing, as usual- everything is so verdant!

      Definitely one of my favorite legends from Scotland. 😉

      And yes, Scotland sure is one green country!

    Haha, awesome story of Saucy Mary – hadn’t heard that one before!

    Isle of Skye is beautiful, and peppered with so many curious stories and legends – I remember dipping my face in the river under that bridge. I don’t think it’s working.

      Haha, did you make sure to hold your head in for the full 7 seconds?? 😉

    The Isle of Skye is definitely on my travel wishlist! In fact, the whole of Scotland is.
    I think the only reason I haven’t been yet is that when I travel, I like to get away from the sucky Belgian weather. For that, Scotland isn’t an ideal destination:-)

      Ah, yeah, Scotland definitely is not somewhere you go for the weather… but, honestly, don’t let that keep you away for much longer! The country rocks, even if it does rain a lot.

    The Isle of Skye is stunning! So much green, and that castle is amazing just sitting in the middle if nowhere. Inspires thought of medieval life bustling in the area once upon a time. Did you end up dunking your head into the water?! Awesome pictures Amanda!

      I did not actually dunk my head in the water… I already look so much younger than I am, I figured I didn’t need it! 😉

    My boyfriend and me travelled to Scotland last year and visited the Isle of Skye – such a magical place, we really fell in love! We actually had one of our most memorable experience on the Ouiraing – it included trying to hike with backpacks, sudden turns of the weather, missed busses, one freaked out traveler and the sweetest Scottish couple that came to our rescue. I’ve meant to blog about this story and your post just reminded me to! 🙂 Skye should be on anyone’s travel wish list!


      Glad I could bring back some good (and it sounds like interesting!) travel memories. I agree that Skye should be on every travel wishlist!

    Great photos. We went to Skye for my birthday a few years ago and actually got really lucky with the weather. I’d love to go back and explore further.

      Lucky you! I didn’t really get much sun on Skye at all, but it was still gorgeous. I’d definitely love to go back and explore more, too!

    Ever since I watched Braveheart I felt in love with Scotland and their weather (yes, I love that). The isle of skye is beautiful!
    The photos are also amazing!

      Haha. Hate to break it to you, but most of “Braveheart” was filmed in Ireland!! 😉 But the landscapes of Scotland in Ireland ARE quite similar!

    Seriously, these photos are so gorgeous! I’d love to go to Scotland one of these days, though I think I’ll try to go at a warmer time of year.

      Haha, these photos were all actually taken in August!! 😉 No snow, but it was still chilly some days! Highly recommended any time of year, though.

    Hey Amanda, awesome photos!! I’ve been longing to go to the Isle of Skye when I visit Ireland in May, but am unsure if my mate will be keen. I’d love to know a little more about your trip, ie. Did you stay on the island, go alone, drive/ tour etc? The idea of going there alone is a little off putting to me, and I don’t know how good an experience I would have jumping on an organised tour from Inverness.

      Hey Bec! I actually visited as part of a tour of the Scottish Highlands with Haggis Adventures. It was a ton of fun, and included a day and a half on the Isle of Skye. I think the ideal way to visit would be with a car of your own so you could stop and see more, but there are plenty of tour options, too. (The tour I went on actually started in Edinburgh.)

    I’ve always wanted to visit the Isle of Skye, among other Scottish places. I just can’t get over how many shades of green there are in the Quiraing, and how it just speaks to my soul. The beauty of that places beckons to me and someday I shall visit it and revel in all it’s beauty. You’re photos are quite beautiful and inspire me every time I see them. By reading your blog and see more of these beautiful places I have added even more places to visit someday, hopefully lol Thank you for sharing all the beauty around the world =)

      The Isle of Skye really is a magical place. I’ve been there twice now, and there’s just something about it that I love SO much.

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