Isle of SkyeScotland – Reach for the Skye
You know Scotland for its bucket list golf courses, well-trod whiskey trail and, of course, party central Edinburgh, where any given Tuesday is a good enough excuse to throw a festival. But what if you want to experience the Braveheart-style solace of the unspoiled terrain? Turns out, that’s pretty awesome too. In the westernmost reaches of Scotland (aka the ends of the Earth), let us introduce you to the Isle of Skye. Rugged mountains to rappel? Check. Viking ring forts to retrace? Check. One of the most remote yet best gourmet restaurants in the world at the Three Chimneys? Check. And whiskey? You bet – this is Scotland after all.
What you’ll also find is legendary Scottish warmth in the form of Kinloch Lodge proprietor Claire Macdonald – Scotland’s Julia Child – who’s bringing civility back to canapé hour, at her five-star Michelin-starred establishment. There are fairytale castles aplenty like Dunvegan which will have you tracing your family tree to prove you’re a teensy bit MacLeod. If you’re after some adventure, you can get a real lay of the land with mountain climbing, hiking and biking, or what we like to think of as rough-and-tumble highlander activities. Or, like us, just do a bit of everything. After all, in the wise words of William Wallace,“every man dies, but not every man really lives.”
Why now? The Three Chimneys is approaching its big three-zero, including having had three AA red rosettes for the latter 15. And Skye is the perfect follow-up to the more visible attractions that are shaking up the mainland this year. The Commonwealth Games are in the midst of electrifying Glasgow, and the Ryder Cup returns to its roots this September at Gleneagles, where it began 93 years ago. All eyes really are on Scotland: The country is even just months away from voting on independence.
Good for: Singles, friends, couples and family trips where you’re looking for Scottish ancestry.
- Helicoptering in, as the wise know to do. Beautiful up close, those world-famous ridges and snaking coastlines look positively magical shrouded in the fog you see from above.
- Staying at Kinloch Lodge. Almost unparalleled in the hospitality industry, the lodge is managed by a superstar in the culinary scene: Claire MacDonald, OBE, has furnished the Kinloch guestrooms’ superking-sized beds with tartan throws and lambswool blankets, set up a private cooking school and recruited Midlander reflexologist Anita Myatt to develop Skye Spa’s holistic body treatment. But it’s MacDonald’s gastronomic virtuosity that earned her the Damehood and Kinloch its Michelin star, and it won’t get more comfortable than her own kitchen table. Expect the most local ingredients prepared in the most thoughtful ways, from Mallaig cod with caper pesto and Drumfearn mussels to Achmore dairy crème fraiche with home-stewed prunes and dried apricots.
- Visiting Talisker. When in Scotland, you drink Scotch. Talisker is the only distillery native to Skye, and it embraces that heritage proudly. Touring the Copper Pot Stills and Warehouse and tasting a 10-year-old single-malt Scotch is even more exquisite when you have the panoramic backdrop of the Black Cuillin mountains.
- Sampling the superlative cuisine of The Three Chimneys. A love letter to Scotland, the signature seafood platter features prawns from Loch Dunvegan and scallops from Sconser, and it’s brilliant as it is diverse. But whether you opt for the seafood, the Black Isle beef with tattie scones or any of the other celebrated dishes, your meal will be one of the most mind-blowing in your lifetime. Full stop.