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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Windisch

Scotland Diaries: Isle of Skye, Part 1

"Portree, a Secret Path, and My Favorite B&B"

Isle of Skye, Scotland. As October rains deluged the Highlands, I found myself with my cheek pressed to the glass as the van crossed the bridge to the mystical isle. Mist shrouded the island, bearing only flashes of jagged peaks and lush green hillsides. A stillness settled over the van as everyone paused to behold the strange scenery unfolding outside the windows.

A moment when the sun came through the clouds transformed the misty landscape with breathtaking color.

I was first surprised to see how large the isle is. I had seen it on a map, yet it was still breathtaking to see how the isle had its own mountains towering high over the ocean lapping at its coast. And that coast was mostly rocky, with huge rocks piled on top of each other in some places and, in other places, steep cliffs rose hundreds of feet above the water. There were still some quiet places where the hills fell softly to meet the water in a soft carpet of green grass. There, the signature white homes of the Isle of Skye marched neatly along the coast, their dominions divided by wooden fences.

We were arriving in the evening and my eyelids were drooping as I fought to stay awake. Viator had prearranged my booking for me in a single with an ensuite at Askvil B&B in Portree, the capital town on the Isle of Skye. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that I not only had my own room but a little bungalow of my own. I took my key from my generous host and opened the door to my home for the next two nights. And, oh, it was beyond cozy! Leaving my boots by the door, I stripped off my windbreaker and sweater and hung them on the conveniently placed rack in the foyer. The walls were a pristine white and the décor a charming mix of blues, blacks, and greys. A hot shower was immediately in order, and I loved having a warm towel courtesy of the heated towel rack. Since we don't have these racks in the States, I always feel my shower is extra luxurious when I get to use one!

Top: the bedroom, living room, and foyer of my cute little bungalow! Bottom: the little breakfast room with great sunrise views every day.

Warm and refreshed, I headed into town with my camera as the sun sank lower into the sky. I had perused my Rick Steves Scotland book in the van and knew of a couple vantage points he recommended. It was a brisk fifteen minute walk into Portree by way of a sidewalk through residential neighborhoods. Passing by the shops and pubs, I headed away from the main street and up a side street to a placed called "The Lump."

The street leading to the Lump is Bank Street.

Top row: sign to the vantage point trail, the Tower, and the view from the Lump

Middle row: interesting trees and a seagull that posed for his picture by the harbor

Bottom: The harbor before sunset, colorful restaurant fronts by the water, and fish & chips

If you visit the Isle of Skye, especially from May to October, be sure to make reservations at least a month ahead of your visit. I visited in October and found that every place was booked for the next month. On the first night, I had already planned to go to a little fish and chips shop I had read about. Harbour Fish & Chips was my pick, though you'll see many a list arguing for different places. It's a really small place and cash only, but it was exactly what I wanted being chilled from my hike. Stepping inside the shop was like a big warm Scottish hug, and the smell of French fries (chips, if you will) and fried fish had my mouth watering. I ordered fish & chips with a side of mashed peas (oh man, do I love my mashed peas) and stepped outside to wait for my food with the locals and other tourists.

When my order was ready, I took my food across the way where there was a heated pavilion with napkins and cutlery. I dug into my chips sitting beside the harbor, watching the sun dip below the horizon as night settled on Portree. When I was done, I stopped by the local convenience store and picked up some chocolate chip cookies and a couple snacks for the next day. Then, with snacks tucked into my bulging jacket pockets, I walked back to my B&B beneath a night sky twinkling with stars. Lit up at night, my B&B looked like a magical fairy wonderland with a glimmering green and blue pool and twinkling lights.

Catch my shadow at the bottom and stars in the upper right corner.

I ended the night watching Highlander on my sofa munching on chocolate chip cookies. A pretty good way to start my Isle of Skye experience, if I do say so myself.

Thanks for reading about my Scotland adventures! Follow me on insta to see more current updates @lizzkay14

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