The Western Side of Skye.. Part Three of the Inaugural #VanTrails Trip

Isle of Skye is 50 miles long and 25 miles wide, but with the ragged coastline and multiple sea lochs, the coast of Skye includes over 400 miles of beautiful scenery. These crazy sea lochs led our second loop of Skye to be not a loop at all, but rather a crazy, squiggly line down the western side of the island.


The western side of Skye is scattered with castles, romantic buildings, and beautiful scenery. It’s hard to see it all. In fact, we would argue you could spend a week alone on just this side of Skye. This time around, we didn’t have a week, we only had a few days, and while we didn’t see everything, we sure did see a lot!


Heading south on A87, we took A85 northwest (check out the map above to get an idea of this) to make our way over to Dunvegan Castle. We had enough daylight left to go and explore the castle and find a nice spot to camp for the night. Arriving at the castle, we learned it had closed just 15 minutes before we got there. We tossed around the possibility of camping near the castle and seeing it in the morning, but upon reading the entrance fee we decided to pass that up. It was going to be £12 per person to get into the castle--people that’s more than 17 USD. Nooo thank you. There are far better things to spend money on, and many more free castles to explore.


{Traveler’s Tip.. While Dunvegan Castle is on the must see list for Skye, do remember that there are many, many free castles to see!}


So on the road again we were. This time, we were simply driving until we found a place to park it for the night. After checking out a few places and deciding they were no goes for stealth camping, we landed a place in a small trailhead parking area.


{Traveler’s Tip.. Trailheads are the best camping areas, usually really quiet, and you wake up to a perfect hike!}


In the morning, we decided to see what exactly the trailhead was for. There was a sign that said “Dun Beag Broch”, but what in the world is that? It was about 100 meters up through another pasture- no surprise there- when we arrived at the ruins of the old broch. A broch is a building that is made of an inner and outer wall containing stairways and multiple levels of rooms between the two walls. To learn more you can click here. The Dun Beag Broch is quite run down, but it was great to image what it once was.


{Traveler’s Tip.. If you’re not looking for this, you may just drive right by it. The sign for this archeological site is quite small. The parking area is on the coast side of A85 and the trailhead is opposite the parking. It’s just north of Struan, you can check the map above for the exact location.}



Talisker Distillery was the next place we wanted to visit. What would a Scottish road trip be without a distillery tour involved? We arrived at the distillery and booked our tour. We had two hours to kill before the tour started, so we decided to head down to the beach at the end of the road. This is where Heather found the one thing she has been looking for the entire trip - A red phone booth in the middle of the highlands. Now, we had seen multiple red phone booths scattered around, but the backdrop to them all always seemed to have a rubbish bin or a big telephone pole next to them. But this one was perfect!! The trip could now be complete 😉


Neither of us know much about whiskey, or whisky as they spell it here, so the distillery tour was quite interesting learning all about the distilling process. Photography wasn’t allowed on the majority of the tour, so the few pictures snapped at the end are all we have to share. At the end of the tour, we found out about the “The Friends of the Classic Malts” membership where you can do tours for free! Hello new club members! Anyone want to come visit now?!


{Traveler’s Tip.. Join the distillery club! It’s free to join, and then you get to go on this tour, as well as 11 other distillery tours, for free!! They give you this awesome whisky passport, and once you get the stamps to each of the twelve distilleries you get a gift! All you do is fill out your name and email address on pamphlet and then you’re in!}


Upon leaving the distillery, Isobel decided to give us a little sass. Her radiator fluid/coolant light was on. We went to check under her hood, and found that the lever to release the hood was broke. After messing with it for a while, we were able to pop her open only to find no fluid in the radiator. In the small town, there was nowhere to get radiator fluid, so we topped it off with water, and hit the road again. (Thanks to our old car Zippy, we knew this little water trick!)


We had a break in the weather and had partly cloudy skies, with no rain, so we were stoked for the next part of our trip, Fairy Pools!! This was one place we were really looking forward to. It’s very much talked about when discussing Skye, and the pictures we have seen have been lovely. A photo says a million words with this place, so we will let the pictures do the talking!


{Traveler’s Tip… you must go here! It’s stunning! There is quite a large parking area, and it’s a decent path to the pools. Around the pools, it’s quite muddy, and there are a few creeks to pass over, but it’s just unbelievable! (Check out the map about for exact location of this awesome place)}


We camped a bit up the road from the pools and had sheep surrounding us the entire night. We enjoyed the sunset on the beautiful mountainous backdrop and had a lovely Northern Lights show to end the evening. Talk about a great last night on Skye!


In the morning, we needed to fill up our water container, so we made our way down to Glenbrittle Campground. This campground was great, right on the beach with gorgeous 360-degree views! We chatted with the workers there for a bit, before making our way to Eas Mor Waterfall.


{Traveler’s Tip... If you’re up for camping, definitely check out Glenbrittle Campground. It’s at a lovely location with a rad spring water set-up for showers and fresh water! A bit on the expensive side at £9 per person and £6 for electricity, but still worth checking into! If you’re not so much into camping, still check them out.. They have a small shop with fresh coffee and treats, along with maps, food, and loads of information about the area!}


{Traveler’s Tip.. Eas Mor Waterfall is a sight to see. The waterfall is amazing, with the scenery around just as spectacular. There isn’t a marked trail, but there is a small parking area on the left when you get into Glen Brittle, and you park there then head up a creek bed to the falls. Check the map above for the exact spot!!}


At this point in our trip, we had a few other places to see, but we needed to get back to the mainland to set ourselves up for an early Sunday morning arrival back to Aberdeen. So we skipped a bit from here down to the far peninsula of Skye where we went castle hunting. Our first stop was at Knock (Cnoc) Castle. Driving to this castle we had no idea what to look for, or even if we were in the right place. It wasn’t until an old man came and tapped on our window, scaring us a wee bit, that we knew we were there.


We literally drove down this dirt “road” which was actually a driveway, and were stopped in the front of Willie’s house, when he told us to just leave the car there and go explore! Willie, the man that lives right next to the castle, is so sweet and funny. He chatted our ears off, made sure that we were well prepared for the weather coming in, and reminded us that, “Even if you can’t see the fairies, the fairies are watching you”. After viewing the castle he even offered us to come in and join him for tea. How sweet could he be?


From there, we went and saw two more castle ruins, the first of which down the most beautiful road that we were on the entire trip. We couldn’t stop ooing and awing the entire drive! Definitely a road on our lists of places to go back and drive at a different time of the year! The second castle ruins, Castle Moil, is found in the first little town right over the bridge in Skye. The town is so quaint and cute, and the little castle on the harbor just adds to it! It was getting quite late at this point, so we made our way to Eilean Donan Castle to shoot some night photography and set up camp for the evening.



Read about the trip up to this point -->> The Northern Loop of Skye <<--



Interested in the trip back to Aberdeen?  -->> Skye to Aberdeen <<--



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