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Issue 82 - Destination of the Year

Scotland Magazine Issue 82
August 2015

 

This article is 2 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Destination of the Year

Scottish Hebrides

Scotland Magazine's chosen Destination of the Year for 2015 is the Scottish Hebrides. In each edition this year we are featuring one or more of the jewels of this magical 130 mile archipelago of west coast islands.

Steeped in history from the Mesolithic age, and subject to a clash of Pictish, Celtic, Gaelic and Norse cultures, these fiercely individual havens of tranquillity are divided into the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the former embracing Islay and Jura and Colonsay, Mull, Skye and the Small Isles; the latter incorporating Benbecula, Barra, and Harris and Lewis and the Uists.

Dominated for generations by the all powerful Lords of the Isles, these islands, set in a restless, silver sea under a big sky continue to capture the imagination of writers, painters and poets alike.

Isle of Skye

The largest and most northerly of the Inner Hebrides, Sky resonates with its romantic history, largely centred on the Jacobite Risings of the 18th Century. However, the island, dominated in the north by the Cuillin mountains, has been occupied since the Mesolithic age, subsequently ruled by the Norse and latterly dominated by Clan MacLeod and Clan Donald. Inevitably impacted upon by the Clearances of the 19th Century, the late 20th Century and early 21st , have witnessed a resurgence of the Gaelic language. Since 1992, a thriving tourist industry has been greatly influenced by the building of the Skye Bridge on the A87 between Kyleakin on the island's east coast and Kyle of Lochalsh on the Mainland.

The island's largest settlement is Portree, with an attractive harbour, at the base of Trotternish, the island's northernmost peninsula. To the north west is the Waternish peninsula. The north of the island is dominated by the dramatic Cuillin hills. The Black Cuillin, made up of basalt and Gabbro, includes twelve Munros (mountains over 3,000 ft). To the south east is the village of Broadford where there is a small airstrip.

How to get there

By Road
It is 216 miles from Glasgow to Portree on Skye, and the journey will normally take 5 – 6 hours. From Inverness to Portree on Skye is 112 miles and will take approximately 2 hours 30 minutes on a quiet day.

By Train
There are rail services from Glasgow to Mallaig on the mainland, and from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland. www.scotrail.co.uk

Bus
City Links operate coaches from Glasgow and Inverness; also, a bus service from Fort William to Portree which takes approximately 2 hours 30 minutes. www.citylink.co.uk

Ferries
Caledonian MacBrayne ferries sail from Mallaig on the mainland to Armadale on the Sleat peninsula . Vehicle reservations are recommended. CalMac also operates ferry services to and from Uig on the west coast of Skye to Lochmaddy on Uist and Tarbert on the Island of Harris. In addition, there is a service between Sconser on Skye and the island of Raasay.
www.calmac.co.uk

Where to Stay

Duisdale Country House Hotel
by Isle of Ornsay, Sleat IV43 8QW
Tel: +44 (0)1471 833 202
www.duisdale.com


SHA Informal Dining Hotel of the Year (Islands) 2015, this stunning luxury country house hotel not only boasts award winning food but also offers day sailing experiences aboard the 50ft yacht
Solus a Chuain. Guests can experience the stunning views and delightful sailing waters around Skye from just £145 ($220) per person.

Kinloch Lodge
Sleat IV43 8QY
Tel: +44 (0) 1471 833 333
www.kinloch-lodge.co.uk


SHA Luxury Hotel of the Year (Island) 2015 and Breakfast of the Year (Island) 2015.

The Flodigarry Hotel
Staffin IV51 9HZ
Tel: +44 (0) 1470 552 203
www.flodigary.co.uk


Places to Visit

Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan, Isle of Skye IV55 8WF

Ancestral seat of the Clan MacLeod and home of the legendary Fairy Flag which, unfurled in battle, guarantees victory to the MacLeods. With its magnificent setting on an inlet of Loch Dunvegan, the castle is open to the public throughout the year.
Tel: +44 (0) 1470 521 206
www.dunvegancastle.com


Clan Donald Centre Skye Visitor Centre
Armadale, Isle of Skye IV45 8RS

Set within 20,000 acres and owned by the Clan Donald Lands Trust since 1971, part of 17th Century Armadale Castle has been restored and the Museum of the Isles was opened in 2002.
Tel: +44 (0) 1471 844 305
www.clandonald.com


Sabal Mòr Ostaig
Sleat, Isle of Skye IV44 8RQ
Scotland's only college of further and higher education providing courses in Scottish Gaelic. It was founded by local businessman Sir Iain Noble in 1973.
Tel: +44 (0) 1471 888 000
www.smo.uji.ac.uk


Talisker Distillery
Carbost, Isle of Skye IV47 8SR
Situated on the shores of Loch Harport in sight of the Cuillins, there are guided tours and a shop.
Tel: +44 (0) 1478 614 308

Raasay
Separated from Skye by the Sound of Raasay and a narrow channel known as the Kyle of Rona separates the North of the island from the Isle of Rona. Raasay is probably best known as the birthplace of the poet Sorley Maclean, an important Scottish literary renaissance figure. The last Macleod of Raasay, heavily in debt, emigrated to Tasmania in 1843. The island was sold to the Highlands & Islands Development Board in 1979.
www.raasay.com

The Small Isles
This is an archipelago set in the Inner Hebrides, south of Skye and north of Mull and the Ardnamurchan peninsula, the most westerly point of mainland Scotland. It comprises the islands of Eigg, Rùm, Canna and Muck. Situated at the junction of the Sound of Sleat, each of these islands is distinct and eclectic in ownership.


Isle of Eigg
Dominated by the Sgurr mountain in the south of the island, the Eigg Heritage Trust was set up in 1977 after several of the inhabitants managed to fund a controversial ownership buy out.
The Cleadale Crofting Museum with funding from the Pilgrim Trust Comun Eachdraidh Eige's Tigh Iain Dhonnchaidh at Croft no 6. Housed in a blackhouse, the story of crofting is told in all its simplicity.
www.spanglefish.com

What’s on

Isle of Skye Highland Games – 5 August
The Meall, Portree
Heavy field events and sailing race. Traditional Scottish Gathering. Piping competitions on Tuesday, the day before the games.
www.skye-highland-games.co.uk

PBFA- Skye Antiquarian Book Festival –3-5 September
An original and charming event that concentrates on Gaelic literature, Scottish authors and literature about Scotland.
Aros Centre, Viewfield Road, Portree IV51 9EU.
Tel: +44(0)1478 613 649.
www.pbfa.org