John O’Groats to Land’s End in a week? In other words, traversing the length of Great Britain in 7 days. Not quite, but we were pretty close. Over the past week our little family has covered some serious ground from one end of the British Isles to the other. From our little home in Bristol, to Inverness in the Scottish Highlands then on, past ancient castles, glittering lochs and snow-dusted mountains to the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides, Skye. But we didn’t stop there, no! From Skye, the South coast of Cornwall called, a tiny little village on the banks of a river estuary near Falmouth.
As a result my SD cards are now positively bursting with stunning landscapes, so photogenic that a quick browse through the holiday snaps makes it hard to believe we were ever there. Now home, I am bombarded by pangs for the sea, wide open spaces, beautiful scenery, eerie rock formations and fresh seafood.
There isn’t a huge amount of ready-made kiddy entertainment on the remote Isle of Skye and it does take a while to get from A to B on the island so its worth coinciding car-time with naps. But our 16-month old delighted in splashing in waves and fairy pools, hiking past waterfalls, resting on mossy ledges, spotting animals and playing on the beach.
If you’re planning a trip to this stunning Scottish Island, here are five highlights for outdoorsy activities with toddlers on the Isle of Skye. Worth noting we left the buggy behind and sling/backpacked it for the entire time.
1. Visit the Fairy Pools
Just the name of this place excites my make-believe, Tinkerbell-loving self. While there isn’t a fairy in sight, this is a lovely gentle walk alongside the River Brittle which trickles down from the Black Cuillin mountains morphing into a waterfalls, a babbling stream or crystal clear pools. The shallower bits are perfect for splashing in wellies and there are a couple of picnic benches next to the car park, complete with BBQ hot plates.
2. Talisker Bay
A gentle stroll alongside hills that erupt from the sea, waterfalls cascade from the cliff-sides into the saltwater. Perfect terrain for little legs. The beach is slightly trickier for mini humans – swooshed with shingle, silvery black sand and large, smooth stones. Sheep dot the hillsides and an ethereal mist transforms the landscape as it shifts throughout the day, draping the mountains in fog one minute, igniting the hillsides burnt orange the next.
3. Animal spotting
“All I can see are sheep’s faces”, announced my dad on his telescope findings. I think he’d had a couple of Easter beers… it’s true there are a lot of sheep on Skye, we even encountered a few dead ones, but there’s plenty more besides. Highland cattle, Golden Eagles, a Serpentarium, cows and a Glass Bottom boat for watching sea-life all cater for young animal and bird-enthusiasts.
4. Find a park
They are few and far between but the bonus is they are often empty and the setting is stunning. If you’re a whisky fan there’s a lovely little play area just down the road from the Talisker Distillery, so you can send your other half off for an hour and let the little’un wear themselves out at the park.
5. The Fairy Glen
There be magic in these parts. Home to the fairies, these green cone-shaped hills are enough to convince anyone that fairies do in fact live here. Gorgeous. NB. this place is not sign-posted from the road.