Adventures on Skye - West Coast Scotland
January 1, 1970
I don’t want much out of life, I only ask for paradise. So I travelled. I headed north with a backpack and a tent and I told my family I’d be back in 4 days.
But once you arrive on this island and you see its incredible beauty, time doesn’t seem to mean anything. It slips away, the universe opens up to you and possibilities are endless. I ended up staying for 3 months, arriving in later summer and leaving as winters first frost arose.
There’s no denying the magic of Skye. Driving along any road you are delighted by mountains, mountains everywhere. The mountains stand tall and fierce and urge you to be just as bold as they are. They entice you into taking paths less travelled and beg you to come and play in their magical playground. And it is magical, truly.
Exploring the Island
There are so many places to discover on the Isle of Skye and the best way to do it is to just head out on the road and see where you end up. No matter what corner you end up you won’t be disappointed. One of my favorite journeys was taking the road from Broadford to Elgol on the back of a 1990 vintage motorbike. I didn’t actually do any research on Elgol when I ended up there and I didn’t know what I would discover. The whole journey follows winding roads, passes tiny little communities and follows a breathtaking landscape. The rugged landscape of Elgol is a perfect place to spend a few hours or you can take a boat trip to the mountains and lochs that you see on the horizon and even wild camp there overnight or go for a hike and catch a return boat later in the day.
One Day in Skye
If you only have one day you can also follow the tourist trail. The Fairy Pools are a definite must and although you won’t exactly be in the wilderness on your own when you start walking the trail you are met by a wonderland. Some say you have to be brave to go for a swim in the pools but once you immerse yourself into the water you won’t be disappointed. The freezing cold actually becomes very refreshing and healing and you may discover a love for wild bathing in Scotland.
Isle of Skye for the Bohemian Backpacker
This is an island that welcomes all but it is especially appealing to the Jack Kerouac esk backpacker with very little money in their back pocket. It is a perfect island to travel if you wish to find wealth and richness in all things that are true.
Here is how to travel very cheaply in Skye:
- Wild camp. Wild camping is legal in Scotland and it is a perfect place to do it. Go and pitch a tent near the mountains or by a beach, go for a swim as the sun is setting and dry off by the campfire.
- Hitchhike! Hitchking is very common on Skye due to the public transport being irregular. It is also very easy to do and you never usually have to wait long.
- Volunteer in a hostel. Many hostels on Skye allow you to volunteer for a few hours in exchange for a dorm bed and it’s a great place to meet other travellers.
- Bin Dive. If you really have no money or you are taking a political stand against food wastage and capitalism, bin diving at the local supermarket is also quite common and there is an abundance of free, good quality food. This can also be a place to meet other travellers.
Live Simple and True
The Isle of Skye sings to me with soulful melodies and tells me secrets unheard. Does paradise exist? I believe it does in many forms. When you travel you realise there’s two worlds; the inner world and the outer world. The trick is to travel to both and find it in both. Meditate upon the mountains, swim in the cold waters and touch the earth with your bare feet.
People love Skye for its rawness and realness. It is honest. The landscape is rugged, the weather is unpredictable and nature is all feeling. You can live simply here with all the falseness of society stripped away.
A Magical Trip
In my search for freedom I found it upon occasions. These were when I was riding on the back of the motorbike across Skye and seeing the mountains for the very first time. I’d never seen mountains so big and bold. Camping tent-less on a beach, drinking whisky, spilling whiskey and drinking whiskey. The rain poured down that night and we only had a bivvy bag as shelter but that was all that was needed. Listening to Bob Dylan every morning. Collecting fire wood. Sleeping in a hammock. Hitchhiked and saw the kindness of strangers. Lived in the moment and had a passion to live.
How To Get There
If you’re travelling by public transport I recommend taking the 5 hour train journey from Glasgow to Mallaig. This is one of the best train journeys in the world and it is quite reasonably priced for just a standard ticket, though you can get the whole journey for £5 advanced. Then take a ferry from Mallaig to Armadale, in which is described as the garden of Skye.
Or you can arrive by driving over the Skye Bridge in which connects the island to mainland Scotland.