Isle of Skye (Part 2) – the Quiraing, Culnacnoc & Portree

The view from the Quiraing walk, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Colbost to Culnacnoc

After another restful night’s sleep and a superbly cooked breakfast at Hillstone Lodge in Colbost, we said goodbye to our kind hosts and headed off on the next stage of our tour of the Isle of Skye. Our relatively early start was in the hope of getting to the other side of the island while the sun was still shining – our goal, the Quiraing walk.

We did make it, although we did have a false start. John smacked himself in the face with his camera and split his lip open, which took a while to stop bleeding. Then when we actually began the walk it started raining heavily, so we decided to call it quits. In going back to the car, our instinct said to wait a bit before driving on, and so we did.

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After a spell in the car, the rain stopped, the clouds cleared and we set off on one of the Isle of Skye’s most famous trails – the Quiraing. This is an extraordinary bit of geography, and it was both exhilarating and a little intimidating doing the walk. We didn’t do the full round trip, because climbing to the very top just felt too hard. And we were really glad we didn’t – the walk to the end and back was enough of a challenge, and it was clearly the better scenery experience. Even got to clamber across a few streams. The track, for the most part, is basically a narrow ledge walk, clinging to the side of the plateau, so there were a few moments where focus in foot placement was key.

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This exhilarating and picturesque walk certainly roused an appetite in us both, so we headed to the renowned Skye Pie Café with its delicious freshly made pies, courtesy of chef, Simon ‘the pie man’. And the convenience of our B&B, The Glenview, being just upstairs in the same cottage as the café was certainly an advantage when we were so impressed with the fair created by the chef!

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The Glenview is a very unique guesthouse. The philosophy of the owners, Simon & Kristy, is a very green one – not only do they cater to seasonal and local produce where they can, everything in the property is retro and secondhand – the range is from 50s to 70s, and it is so effective (obviously the TVs in the rooms and the wifi are exceptions!). Our bed is white cast iron that creaks a little, but is comfortable. White cane chairs sit near the traditional window that peaks out from the roof of the old building. There are retro lamps and a wonderful ‘Bush’ brand of 50s radio (that still works). Everyone on deck here is so friendly and positive, and the food is delectable – the pies are the best we’ve ever eaten. At our first lunch we had the vegetable pie (curried lentils, sweet potato, lime pickle & spinach), vegan pie (grilled polenta topped with sweet peppers & almond pesto), and a trio of salad (1. Celeriac, green apple, spring cabbage coleslaw, 2. Brown rice & almond salad, w parsley & preserved lemon, 3. Green leaf & herb salad, w balsamic & avocado). Accompanied this with a shared bottle of the Skye gold beer (500ml). It doesn’t get much better than that!

Portree and around

For the remainder of the afternoon we drove the 14 miles to Portree to explore the biggest town on the Isle of Skye. Portree is a delightful little harbour (apparently one of the prettiest in Scotland). We found it so, even in the rain. We weren’t able to capture some of those classic colourful tourist shots, but John still did an admirable job.

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The next morning at The Glenview we discovered that the pie man’s expertise was not limited to pies and original salads. Breakfast, courtesy of Aussie Simon, was full on and magnificent. It began with individual homemade granola pots with yoghurt and stewed fruit (also with accompanying mixed fruits), then brown toast (his own homemade bread with his own preserves), and then ginger, plum and ricotta muffins – I have never tasted such delicacies before. We both could’ve stopped there, but kept going because not only was it delicious, but it had been ordered the night before! Our cooked option was scrambled eggs, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and potatoes. They are clearly used to clientele that appreciate a full belly, fuelled for a day of strenuous hiking in all manner of weather. We, on the other hand, took one look at the wild, windy early morning, and were not hopeful of a walk at all in the day.

But we were still well-fuelled for whatever we planned, and in this case it was a drive! We drove through the persistent rain to Portree and the Aros Centre. We expected this place to be more than it was, but it was underwhelming – a big gift shop and ‘family restaurant’ with a cinema attached, when it purports to be a “community cultural centre”. To be fair, there was an area that is used as an exhibition space, but it was empty. After using the loos, we discovered that the rain had stopped, so we put our ample breakfast to good use and did a short forest walk. It was very eerie when we got to the top of the hill and began to climb out of the forest into the area that has already been harvested – the wind was making the timber creak and it was like some space ship had flattened the area when landing.

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We managed to get an hour in before our walk was cut short by the rain returning in earnest. Back to the car for another drive, this time north to Flodigarry. We had originally intended to stay at this spot before settling on The Glenview in Culnacnoc. There was pretty much nothing there, just like most of the gorgeous little ‘villages’ dotted about the island, which really just seem to be names of areas where houses are clumped together (not even large enough for stores or businesses, except B&Bs and restaurants).

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As the rain had clearly set in for the day, we headed back to our darling Skye Pie Café for our late lunch. Knowing how quickly the place fills for lunch, we booked our spot before we left that morning. When we arrived at the café, another couple were entering at the same time, and there were no free tables. We offered ours and enjoyed relaxing in our room until we were called to down for our meal. Everyone was happy with that outcome! We had another vegetarian pie and a non-sausage roll (with chickpeas, tahini and spices), which we teamed with another of Simon’s fantastic salads. These really are the best salads that I haven’t made myself!

Accommodation: The Glenview, Isle of Skye

Read our full Isle of Skye story here:

Part 1: Dunvegan Castle

Part 2 (current): Quiraing, Culnacnoc & Portree

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About bontaks

Nic is the the 'Bon' part of 'Bontaks.' Together we are Nic and John - two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

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