Eilean Donan Castle

There is so much to do both on the mainland and on Skye that it can be hard to decide where to start.  At the end of this post are a few ideas for a full day out starting at Varis.

Car free or low car options

Train from Kyle of Lochalsh to Attadale atation and visit Attadale Gardens. 

You’ll experience part of one of the most scenic railway lines in the world, partly built over the sea and the rare request stop at Attadale.  With Scotrial planning upgrades, you might want to take the opportunity now.  Attadale Gardens are a delight as a destination.  Hill paths meander through 20 acres of conifers and rhododendrons. Waterfalls, a Monet bridge, Meconopsis, bamboo and candelabra primulas are reflected through the water garden and sculptures lurk in unexpected places. Attadale offers many different gardens to enjoy including a glorious vegetable garden, fern garden and Japanese garden.

Boat trips

Seaprobe Atlantis , a glass bottomed boat operates from Kyle of Lochalsh and gives a unique view of this very special environment.  

At Plockton, Calums Seal Trips offers a free trip of you dont spot seals.  I doubt he’s ever had to refund as seals are to be found on the skerries between Plockton and Kyle.  But you might be fortunate and see other wildlife best viewed from a boat.  

And Wild Spirit Boat Trips use a rib to venture further afield from Kyeakin pier.

Walks

Direct from the garden is a path to Kirkton.  This will be the historic route for the Balmacara residents to access the Kirk.  In the other direction you reach Balmacara Square where the galleries usually has an interesting art exhbition.  you can walk all he way to Kyle. 

Up and over the hills, take you to Plockton.  Its a 15km walk which might be too much but most of it is manageable on a mountain bike using forestry track.  You can always catch a taxi home.

The Plock at Kyle has been taken over by the Community Trust and is developing into a delightful place to spend a happy few hours.  Look out for events.

More ideas from WalkHighlands here –  Kyle of Lochalsh and Plockton walks

Wildlife

There is a wealth of wildlife on land, sea and sky.  Great information is available from http://www.slef.org.uk and we have printed off some off their information and left it in the house.  They have a very useful list of Field Guides available to print off.

If you want guided tours to wildlife try:

• Isle of Skye Wildlife Tours skyewildlife.com
• Wild About Skye www.wildaboutskye.co.uk

or see the Boat trips listed below.

Walking

WalkHighlands is a fantastic resource. They list walks for all abilities and give grading for difficulty, lengths, details of elevation changes and even a Bog rating as well as detailed descriptions. You’ll find a selection of their local walks on laminated sheets in the house along with local maps and guides.

• WalkHighland: Kintail and Lochalsh www.walkhighlands.co.uk(kintail)
• WalkHighland: Skye www.walkhighlands.co.uk(skye)

Above Varis rises Sgurr Mor and beyond that Auchtertyre Hill. It’s not on WalkHighland but there is a cracking blog post about this hill which gives great panoramic views – to the east the Five Sisters of Kintail, to the north and Torridon, and to Skye in the west . The picture on the right is of Kintail from Auchtertyre.

Kayaking/Watersports

This is our first love outdoor activity (which explains the generous drying space at Varis). There is some of the best sea kayaking in the world on the doorstep and a number of local providers. A taste of what is on offer is in this sample. You’ll find some more information in the house.

Local providers include

Sea Kayak Plockton
Sea to Skye Experience

Boat trips

These vary from fairly sedate trips suitable for everyone to more exciting (and wetter) trips. Getting onto the sea is one of the best ways to see wildlife, including the local White Tailed Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles as well as seals and if you are lucky dolphins, whales and basking sharks.
Sea Probe Atlantis, Kyle of Lochalsh, glass bottomed boat
Wild Spirit, Kyle of Lochalsh,
Bella Jane, Elgol
Misty Isle, Elgol
AquaExplore, Elgol, rib
Diver’s Eye, Stein
Seal Trips, Portree,
Spindrift, Portree,
Brigadoon Boat Trips, Portree

Castles, Museums, and Archaeology

The big names are of course Eilean Donan Castle, Dunvegan Castle and the Clan Donald Centre. But don’t miss the smaller castles or the archaeological sites.

The whole area is rich in archaeology and you’ll find a folder with details of a 1996 survey of sites in the house.

We rather like Brochs and there are two fine examples by Glen Elg.

Dark Skies

Much of Skye and Lochalsh is great for sky watching. Outside the main settlements, there are few street lights and therefore star gazing is possible from plenty of places. We provide some information on the stars in the house and binoculars and a telescope – and those all important fleecy wraps for colder nights. Short summer nights aren’t great for star watching but it’s a great activity through the autumn, winter and spring.

In addition, Varis is far enough north for the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) to be visible. The house faces south, but it’s worth looking for forecasts of activity and heading to a better viewpoint when activity is likely. You won’t regret the effort to see great swathes of light emblazon the sky as shimmering luminescence ripples across the horizon.

A selection of ideas

  • Walks with Dogs

    One of the delights of holidays with your dogs is the chance to explore new places. Good your your head and good for your dogs nose. But Skye and Lochalsh can be a challenge. We’ve free ranging sheep and cattle on common grazings related to crofting and lots of people keep chickens, and these might…

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  • Cycling

    we welcome cyclists here and with a garage with power and light our guests have secure storage and a space to make any adjustments needed. You don’t even need to take batteries out to recharge your e-bike as there are 13amp sockets available. The woodland at the back of the house is used by off…

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  • Glen Elg circuit

    Balmacara – Sheil Bridge – Glen Elg – Brochs – Sandaig Islands – Glen Elg Ferry –Kylerhea Otter Haven – Skye Bridge Sometimes, the lack of roads in the Highland means you have to follow the same route there and back.  That’s usually not a problem – the scenery is worth a second look –…

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  • Wild Swimming

    There are plenty of wild swimming opportunities around Skye and Lochalsh. Hardy swimmers will go for a dip all year : be careful if you aren’t used to cold water swimming. . We’ve produced a Google Map of some selected spots https://www.google.com/maps/placelists/list/E3CQkkkZR3eeo3i_x2clUwa

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  • Trotternish

    For a lot of day tripper tomSkye, most of what they see is a quick photo stop around The Storr, Kilt, Rock, Quirang, Fairy Glen – and then a dash to the Fairy Pools. This peninsula is so much more. There is too much for one day so you are going to have to be…

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  • Applecross via the Bealach na Ba

    Applecross retains a sense of being apart and remote. The gaelic name A’Chomraich – the Sanctuary testifies to early Christianity with the Irish Monk Maelrubha founding this Christian settlement in 673 AD settlement on the land between the river and Beinn A’Chlachain. The Bealach Na Ba (Way of the Cattle) is perhaps the best known…

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