Isle of Skye Camping
When I was planning my Isle of Skye camping trip in Scotland, all I knew about the country was that the search was still on for the mythical loch ness monster, good whiskey is made there, and that they eat a dish made from sheep’s stomach called haggis. All in all, I knew absolutely nothing with no expectations of what this trip was going to be like. I could never have imagined that this was going to be a trip of a life time, one of my favorite countries I’ve ever been to.
Scotland is a country that seems to have more sheep than people, with green lands stretching out for miles without a house in sight, surrounded by rolling hills, misty covered mountains, lochs, steeped in history and a bit mysterious as you begin wandering. My explorations truly began when I decided to try wild camping on the Isle of Skye.
Isle of Skye Driving Itinerary
The drive started from Inverness after finishing up a 4-week house-sitting assignment. Jugo and I really enjoyed driving to Skye which included part of the North Coast 500 route (the Scottish version of America’s Route 66) that has been named one of the top 6 coastal road trips in the world. In case you didn’t already know, Jugo and I love road trips and it’s our favourite way to travel.
One thing I really liked seeing while driving was all the spots where a single house stood amongst the green hills.
If you see a parking spot on the route, make sure to stop and check it out!
You are bound to find beautiful scenic areas hidden amongst the trees that you wouldn’t otherwise catch while driving.
You will also find great places along the way for a scenic picnic lunch or sunset dinner.
We spent the first night on Skye in the Cuilin Hills which is known for its rocky mountains with sharp peaks.
There’s lots of designated parking spaces on the side of the road where you can make camp for the night.
Glen Brittle’s Fairy Pools
Once we packed up camp in the morning, our first stop was to head to Glen Brittle and visit The Fairy Pools. This is a magical spot with crystal clear pools of water where those who are brave enough can jump in for some wild swimming.
After getting soaked from the hike to the fairy pools, it was time to warm up with some good food.
We headed to The Oyster Shed in Carbost where they have their own sustainable oyster farm.
We recommend trying the oysters and mussels which were super fresh and delicious to eat.
- Don’t miss your chance for some scotch tasting and tour in Carbost at Talisker Distillery.
Neist Point Lighthouse
After stuffing ourselves with seafood, it was time to explore some more. Our next destination was to Neist Point Lighthouse. We did get lost driving there but the locals are extraordinarily nice and friendly and are happy to help lots tourists along the way. A couple we asked for directions were even nice enough to provide us with a map!
Getting to the top of Neist Point takes about 20-30 minutes where you are rewarded with some amazing views of the cliffs and sea. Watch out for all the sheep poop!
- Not far from Neist Point is Coral beach which has a beautiful stretch of white sand to relax on, swim, and even wild camp. Unfortunately, we only made it to the parking lot before it started pouring rain and we decided to make a run back for the car.
- Also close to Neist Point in Dunvegan Castle which has been occupied by Clan MacLeod for 800 years. You can also catch a 25-minute boat ride to see a colony of seals.
The Best Wild Camping on Isle of Skye
The day had passed by quickly and it was time for us to find camp. We drove towards Quirang and found the most perfect spot we’d seen for wild camping on Isle of Skye which literally looked like a movie set!
The location is down a small hill which helps to block the wind on one side. A tiny river runs through and a small fence prevents sheep and other animals from getting too close. I couldn’t have imagined having a better spot, it was absolutely amazing!
We woke up early the next morning, packed up camp and headed to Quirang known for its jaw-dropping landscape with jagged peaks and the best Isle of Skye trail we hiked. We were there at 9:00 am with the entire place to ourselves!
The Quirang walk takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour (to one end) depending how often you are taking pictures. Be careful with selfies as the winds blow like crazy here and you don’t want to fall down!
No matter where I looked I was surrounded by epic views which I just couldn’t get enough of!
Our next stop was Kilt Rock which is a 90 meters high sea cliff with great views of Mealt Falls, a waterfall plummeting 328 feet.
Driving to Glasgow
Sadly, it was time for us to leave Skye and make our way to Glasgow where we would be flying out the next day.
Along the driving route though there was still plenty to see like the Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most iconic pictures of Scotland.
We also spotted a pack of wild Scottish goats in the bushes!
I could go on forever talking about the beauty of Skye. For now, I hope that I’ve convinced a few of you that Scotland is definitely a trip worth taking.
Plan Your Trip
Don’t just read about it, get out there for your own wild camping trip. Here’s what you need to know:
Free Camping in Scotland
In Scotland, there is the Right to Roam which allows for free camping all across Scotland and an amazing opportunity to explore the country.
Isle of Skye Weather
It does rain a lot and even in the peak of summer which I was there for, it only got up to 18 degrees. On the plus side, the sun doesn’t set until around 10:00 p.m. so you’ll have a lot of daylight hours for your activities!
If you aren’t bringing your own gear with you, you have two options. Purchase your gear or rent it. I was camping for only three days so renting was the cheaper option but if you are planning to go for a week or more, you can often purchase gear for less than renting it. Also you may get lucky and be able to sell it after to get some money back. Choosing to purchase gear, can easily be done online with free delivery from Argos and Halfords. You can expect to pay between $100-$150 for the basics.
I went with renting through OutdoorHire which was a fair price and easy to do. They offer a camping package which includes the tent, 2 sleeping mats and sleeping bags, a mini stove with 2 pots, 1 pan and a kettle for $115. They can ship the gear to whatever location you like and a courier will pick it up after.
- If sleeping in a tent isn’t your thing, there are a few companies that rent out camper vans or places where you can spend the night in a yurt or cabin.
What to Pack for Scotland
It tends to rain a lot in Scotland so make sure to bring a waterproof jacket with a hood. Although I didn’t have waterproof pants, those would also be great to have if you plan on doing any hiking. Also, a good pair of runners or even better, hiking boots are essential. Finally, make sure to pack some warm clothes. I was wearing 2-3 light sweaters to bed every night because it gets cold.
Getting Around Skye
The three best ways to travel while camping are: car, cycling or walking. Surprisingly we saw many campers who chose the hiking option. We met a couple from Germany whose plan was to explore Skye by foot for 10 days. We also saw many cyclists brave enough to cycle up the tough hills. As it does rain often, traveling by car was the only option for me. I was actually lucky enough that I got my rental for free with my Aeroplan points after years of collecting. Everyone should have points cards because one day, it actually will pay off! If you are still waiting to cash in on your points you can find great deals through Skyscanner.
Things to keep in mind:
- If you are driving in another country you will need an international driving permit. However, if you are a Canadian driving in the UK you will only need a local drivers license.
- Many credit cards often offer car insurance for rentals so check if your’s provides this option to avoid insurance fees at the rental office which can often cost you more than the rental itself!
Flying into Scotland
Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Inverness are all major airports where you can easily fly into to get to Skye. Inverness is the shortest distance being only 2 hours 45 minutes center to center of Portree on Skye.
Want to know more about Scotland?
- Read my posts on ‘Why I loved House-sitting in Scotland’
- Get more info on what to see and do with Visit Scotland.
- Before planning your wild camping trip, get the all the info with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
- For detailed info on hiking check out Walk The Highlands.
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