Breakish and the Isle of Skye
There is plenty to see and do on and near Skye...
Just a few minutes walk from Oystercatcher's cottage is Ashaig Beach - a beautiful expanse of sand and shallow water on the edge of Breakish, where the tidal inlet joins the sea.
It can be reached from the Commitee Road by crossing the cattle bridge into Ashaig and climbing over the style at the bottom of the track leading down to the shore. You can also reach Ashaig by walking along Breakish shore to the East of the cottage.
Please note: Ashaig beach is very wide and flat, and some parts are cut off when the tide comes in, so if you're not careful you might need to wade back to dry land.
Ardnish is the peninsula immediately opposite the cottage, on the other side of Breakish inlet. A new bridge has recently been built at the western end of Lower Breakish, and a path has also been made so that it's now a fairly easy walk down to the water, across the bridge, and all the way to Waterloo road which connects with Broadford and the A87.
It's an amazing place to spot wildlife, being a regular landing point for migrating flocks, and is often frequented by otters and seals. Ardnish is also a popular destination for fossil hunters, as the bedrock is home to devils toenails, bivalves and even huge ammonites. For more information go to https://ukfossils.co.uk/2011/09/15/ardnish-peninsula/
Broadford is the second largest settlement on Skye after Portree.. At 5 minutes' drive, 20 minutes bicycle ride or a stiff walk from Oystercatchers, it has a 24 hour petrol station that sells fuel for the wood burner and several shops. You will find the full range of shops, hotels, cafes, including an excellent large Co-op, Post Office, Chemists, Bank, Cottage Hospital, Tourist shops, churches and restaurants. Further information may be found at Undiscovered Scotland. The buses to Portree, Kyle and Armadale all stop off here.
Recommended for meals out/take aways are:
- The Red Skye Restaurant - Upper Breakish - varied menu with local specialities. For details: https://www.redskyerestaurant.co.uk/
- Café Sia in Broadford itself - good for both coffees and evening meals, including own pizzas; now has a takeaway facility and runs the fish and chip shop. For details go to: https://www.cafesia.co.uk/
- Creelers - Broadford - up market specialising in seafood. For menu details and bookings: https://newcreelers.scot/
To get to Elgol you take the B8083 single track road that heads south west from Broadford. You can drive this yourself or take the bus. The road leads you through Strath Suardal and past the ruined Cill Chriosd (Christ's Church) and its fascinating and superbly located graveyard, which contains several Commonwealth War Graves. Well worth a stop to look around
As the road approaches Loch Slapin it passes through the village of Torrin. Amy's Place is an excellent café serving wonderful homemade cakes here with a spectacular view of the Cuillin. It is not open every day so check if you do not want to be disappointed. Information on opening times can be found on their Facebook page here or via Twitter.
You will probably meet some of the local Highland cattle on the road – they are not in a hurry, and are very photogenic. The increasing number of large motorhomes travelling the very narrow road at least give you practice in getting out of the way of the Elgol bus! The approach to Elgol itself is steep – there is limited parking at the harbour from where you can take boat trips across to Loch Coruisk or further afield to the Small Isles – plenty of wildlife to be seen here. Contact Bella Jane Boat Trips or Misty Isle Boat Trips for further information. There is some further parking by the village shop, where you can get excellent cakes and coffee, along with some souvenirs. Please be considerate in your parking – this is a popular village for tourists, but its location means parking is of necessity limited so be sure not to damage the verges or block access for those going about their business
Then just take some time to look at the wonderful sandstone cliffs and capture some photographs of the Cuillin in the near distance.
For those interested in Wildlife:
Kyleakin, Kylerhea, Kyle of Lochalsh and all things Otter
At approximately 15 minutes from Oystercatchers Kyleakin is home to the Bright Water Visitor Centre where you can learn about the local and natural history of Kyleakin and Eilean Ban, the island in the middle of the Skye Bridge, where Gavin Maxwell, author of "Ring of Bright Water" spent his last years. Run by volunteers, the Visitor centre is small, but informative and provides a range of gifts. You can also visit Gavin Maxwell's house on Eilean Ban either by boat or as you cross the bridge. Go to the Eilean Bàn Trust website for more details
This area is renowned for its otters, so you might be lucky and catch a glimpse of one. If not, you could do worse than take the road to Kylerhea and approximately 20 minutes from Oystercatchers you will find a signed turning to the Kylerhea Otter Haven. There is a hide about ¾ of a mile from the car park, where you can watch for otters, seals, birdlife and sometimes whales. Bring your own binoculars!
You could then go down to Kylerhea itself and take the small (Summer only) ferry across to the mainland, turning right if you want to go to Sandaig Bay (the "Camusfearna" of Gavin Maxwell's otter books), or turning left to take a picturesque route back to the main road, before returning via Kyle of Lochalsh. Here you can find a variety of small shops, cafes and restaurants or catch the train for a stunning trip to Inverness, or take a glass bottomed boat trip round the local coastal area. Seaprobe Atlantis is Scotland's only semi-submersible glass bottom boat and was voted 'Best Wildlife Watching Experience in the UK' Daily Telegraph 2010. It is then only a 10 minute run back to Oystercatchers.
Otters are also occasionally seen near Oystercatchers. I have watched them from the bottom of the garden and they are often seen by boat off Ardnish. They seem to like Christmas as we have seen them on the road at the top of the garden and watched one for over 45 minutes on Christmas Day 2019 from the garden. Click on Christmas Otter to see a short unedited video, and this is a link to a video our next door neighbours took: Otters Video »
Armadale and the Mallaig Ferry
Armadale is only 20 minutes away. From here you can catch a ferry to Mallaig, visits its shops and cafes, watch the (Harry Potter) Steam Train coming into the station (or go to Fort William by train yourself), take a short trip to Morar to see the Silver Sands or just a little further to Camusdarach where Local Hero, and Highlander filmed several scenes. Go to Undiscovered Scotland for more information
Plockton and Applecross Peninsula
Clearly visible from Oystercatchers garden and upstairs windows, the Applecross Peninsula is truly spectacular. Plockton is only about half an hour away and is a really pretty village they used to film the TV version of Hamish MacBeth. There are regular boat trips from here to view seals and other wildlife. There is a spectacular, breath-taking road further along to Applecross (with its famous eating hostelry). The views here are fantastic, but allow at least an hour and a half to get there - not due to traffic! Good wee site at www.plockton.com
The Island capital is about 40 minutes' drive from Oystercatchers. Plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants here if you're feeling the need for a bit of civilisation. there are boat trips from the harbour - taking in views of the local wildlife. Portree Stables are a friendly riding establishment offering lessons and trekking for all standards. Just outside the town itself is the Aros Centre, which runs regular theatre, concerts and film screenings. The centre also has regular exhibitions - recent ones have included Sa Eagles, St Kilda and currently (2019) Skye Story - a brand new film depicting the history of the island
Trotternish is the northernmost peninsula of the Isle of Skye. Its most northerly point, Rubha Hùinis, is the most northerly point of Skye. It is the strongest Gaelic-speaking area of Skye, and there is a museum depicting old Skye life, close to which you can visit Flora MacDonald's grave. for more information on the Museum please look at this site
One of the peninsula's better-known features is the Trotternish landslip, a massive landslide that runs almost the full length of the peninsula (some 30 km – 19 miles). The landslip contains two of Skye's most famous landmarks: the Old Man of Storr, an isolated rocky pinnacle, and the Quiraing, an area of dramatic and unusual rock formations. The summit of the Storr, on whose slopes the Old Man of Storr is located, is the highest point of the peninsula. The north-eastern part of the peninsula around Quiraing is designated as a National Scenic Area, with spectacular waterfalls from the cliffs to the sea, as at Kilt Rock, and the entire landslip is a Special Area of Conservation – so again, please only park in designated areas.
Dinosaur footprints have been found near Staffin on the beach. There is a fair cluster of footprints on a bed of sandstone on the beach. The prints are covered by the sea at high tide, and are often covered by sand in the summer. The best time to see them is after a winter storm, when the sea has swept the sand away, but it's worth a look at any time
A good hour's drive from Oystercatchers, Uig is the ferry terminal for the Outer Hebridean Isles of Harris and Lewis. You can also take a trip to the World heritage site of St Kilda if you have time to allow. Here you will also find Uig Pottery, which is open all year round and sells pottery hand made on the premises in Uig. You can see the potters at work as well as browse a wide selection of pots for sale. During the summer months the Uig Pottery Experience is open as well and here you can experience throwing a pot yourself or painting one in your own design.
Great website at www.uig-isleofskye.com
The Black Cuillin
Obviously Skye is world renowned for its mountaineering and rock climbing. For those experienced enough to feel comfortable and secure on steep rock in exposed places it is only 30 minutes to Sligachan where you can start accessing these remarkable mountains, and should you wish to approach from the Glen Brittle end, that would only be another 30 minutes. While inexperienced walkers should not even think about venturing onto the Cuillin Ridge, there are plenty of lower level walks for those who are fit enough - not for the faint-hearted. For further info see walkhighlands or "The Isle of Skye: over 80 walks and scrambles" by Terry Marsh (Cicerone Press 1996) a copy of which is in Oystercatchers.
Glen Shiel and the Five Sisters of Kintail
With 21 Munros accessible from the A87, it is no wonder that Glen Shiel is popular with hill walkers. 12 Munroes are to be found on the northern side of the A87 - The Five Sisters of Kintail form the southern part of this northern ridge and are stunningly beautiful, although only 3 of them are actual Munros. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the southern tip of this ridge - and then a fantaastic day's walking opens up for you. Routes and details can be found at walkhighlands
Nearest skiing is only 90 minutes away at the Nevis Range based at Aonach Mor, just outside Fort William. Everything you need can be hired on the spot.
In the Summer this is a Centre for Mountain biking, with a World Cup course and access to the upper levels by Gondola - unless the winds are too high.