If you long for an escape from the hubbub of 21st century life, then the remoteness and dramatic scenery of Glenbrittle could be just the thing you’re looking for. With Skye as popular as it is as a travel destination, it is a wonder that such a spot still exists.
Glenbrittle Youth Hostel is one of the few standing signs of human life in the area and is a cosy and practical hub for visiting lovers of the outdoors. With friendly and helpful staff as well as all of the self-catering facilities required to rough it in the great outdoors with style, there is no better base. With fully equipped kitchens (though best to bring plenty of food with you) and abundant common space for chatter, it makes for another very sociable and welcoming SYHA experience.
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It’s all about the outdoors and with Skye abundant in natural wonders, the choices in all corners of the island are numerous. The area is becoming increasingly legendary for the Fairy Pools, this is the one spot at Glenbrittle that still brings in the droves and is amongst the most beautiful on Skye. Steal a march and get there early and you’ll be treated to mystical tranquillity by some of clearest water you’ll ever see, tucked away thoughtfully underneath the magnificent backdrop of the Cuillin mountains.
The Fairy Pools
While most will spend precious little time in the south of Skye and will quickly make tracks for Trotternish, I find this neck of the woods equally beautiful. The Cuillins offer no end of hiking options for differing abilities. Be sure to ask at the youth hostel for the most up-to-date weather forecasts and route information, there is no shortage of guidance available and preparation is everything for these mountains. The likes of Coire Lagan present a rewarding option to your average walker – taking around 4 hours round trip and for the most part it’s on a pretty straightforward path. On a clear and sunny day (granted Skye does not get a surplus of them) the landscapes are almost volcanic in their appearance and scale.
Another popular spot to make for is Loch Coruisk which is a highly challenging walk but is much more leisurely when approached by boat. For this comes another one of those end-of-the-road drives around the island and down into the village of Elgol. Skye does this - lots of little fingers branching off of the main route and they tend to be one way in, one way out. The Broadford to Elgol road is a case in point. Miles of scenic and uninhabited landscapes cease at the coastal village where the views over to the entirety of the Cuillin range make for a superb and iconic image.
Boat trip options are numerous but the most popular involve jaunts over to Loch Coruisk to the moody, rocky landscapes under the Cuillins and also to The Small Isles off of Skye. For the former a 45 minute boat ride delivers visitors to the loch for a 90 minute wander and the chance to have a chat with the local seal colony. For the super wildlife-loving travellers out there this can be extended with a speedboat trip out to The Small Isles of Canna, Eigg and more to see the likes of puffins, minke whales, basking sharks and dolphins. We were lucky enough to have the dolphins dancing around the boat, eager to say hi. It makes for the ultimate Scottish safari experience.
While the drive to Elgol from Glenbrittle is around 90 minutes, there will be numerous stops along the way. None more important than to pay due respects to the home of one of our single malt powerhouses, Talisker. The only one from Skye, it is not just a fine dram but a great distillery to visit and immerse yourself in. Tours are scheduled regularly throughout the day and provide an informative insight into what differentiates Talisker from the other island malts, specifically our heavily-peated friends down in Islay. Located within a quarter of an hour of the hostel, nipping in here is a fine reward to a busy day in the outdoors.
I save the best hidden secret for last. While Glenbrittle has its own lovely beach within walking distance of the youth hostel, an even greater gem lies slightly inland. Listed on the OS Map as Eas Mor (meaning Big Waterfall, I’m not entirely sure a huge amount of thought went into naming it you know) you will find one of Scotland’s most impressive waterfalls. While Kilt Rock further north generates a merited amount of attention, this place is even more magnificent. It was a super tip from the SYHA staff – the kind that makes local knowledge invaluable – and I had the whole thing completely to myself. The Scottish Isles at their very best.
Biography for Neil Robertson
Neil Robertson is a travel writer, blogger and itinerary planner specialising in his home country of Scotland. Continuously working with some of the top brands in the Scottish tourism industry he is also a member of the Scotlanders blogging collaboration that tour the country picking out the best bits for our visitors. Follow his Scotland travel blog - locomotionscotland.co.uk - and join him on social media to keep up with his travels.