Over the Sea to Skye
This statue of Flora MacDonald at Inverness Castle rises above the River Ness like a guardian of the land. Flora is honored for famously aiding the escape of Prince Charles Stuart after the Jacobite cause was lost at Culloden Moor. History tells us that she disguised the Prince as her maid servant, Betty Burke. She and “Betty” were rowed to Skye by a crew of six boatmen. Once on Skye they boarded another boat from Portree to the island of Raasay. Bonnie Prince Charlie was then escorted back to France, never to return to Scotland again.
As we traveled over the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh, my dear husband blasted the theme song to Outlander. Yes, folks, I love The Skye Boat Song. To be there, actually crossing to Skye after learning the history and hearing the stories, was an experience I’ll never forget. Our first stop was lunch at The Claymore Restaurant in Broadford for fresh seafood and local ale from Isle of Skye Brewing Co. From there we headed to Portree where we had booked an overnight stay at Isles Inn.
Isles Inn ended up being the perfect place for our stay in Skye. “Ended up” because at check-in I had my doubts. As I entered the dimly-lit building, the smell of a dive bar wafted around me and an older, toothless man joked “no room here!” Was this real or do they just do this for the tourists? I timidly approached the bartender, the one person who looked in charge. Check-in was literally at the bar. She crossed our names off a list, gave us a key to our room, and said only “through the back stairs, up 2 flights, room 7.” My nerves were calmed as soon I saw our room - a completely lovely space with a great view. The food I had at the pub that night was one of the best meals I ate in Scotland. Well played, Isles Inn!
We drove up the eastern coast of Trotternish, stopping along the way for coastal views and ending at Duntulm. The rain was heavy and it was a muddy walk to the ruins of Duntulm Castle. True to Scottish summer weather, it wasn’t long before the sun came out and rainbows painted the sky. On our way back to Portree, I climbed as far as my tennis shoes would take me to pay a visit to Old Man Storr.
Back at Isles Inn, we ate hearty fish pies, drank a few too many ales, and clapped along to a lively accordion band. I can still hear the sound of the music gliding into our room from below as we capped the night with a deoch an doruis.
The next day we were up early and off to find some magic. This time we drove up the western coast of Trotternish, looking for Standing Stones and The Faerie Glen. We ended at a much sunnier Duntulm, enjoying the landscape without a soul but the sheep.
Our final destination, before heading down to the lowlands of Invergarry, was Dunvegan Castle, seat of Clan MacLeod. We stopped at Lochside Crafts for coffee and muffins on our way. The staff was exceptionally kind and friendly. So much so that we came back for lunch after our castle tour. They served mouth-watering paninis, shared stories about real life on Skye, and even gave recommendations for best versions of Loch Lomond (according to our server, this version by Runrig takes the cake).
At Dunvegan, we were pleasantly surprised to encounter Flora MacDonald and artifacts from Bonnie Prince Charlie once again. It was here that Flora’s daughter Anne lived with her husband, Major General Alexander MacLeod. Flora came to live with Anne at Dunvegan after her time in the American Colonies. A beautiful castle with even more beautiful grounds, this was the perfect place to end our stay on Skye.