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Leisurely trip to Portree offers majestic surroundings

The historic Eilean Donan Castle.
The historic Eilean Donan Castle.

When it comes to visiting Skye, the journey is as important as the destination.

Do yourself a favour and don’t put the foot down with the aim of getting there as quickly as possible.

Allow enough time to make a few pit stops en-route so you can absorb the views, breathe in the clear, fresh air and admire the majestic surroundings.

Our destination was the Rosedale Hotel in Portree, a superb family-run hotel with a first-class eatery which overlooks the picturesque harbour.

But before we reached Portree we stopped off in the village of Dornie, home to spectacular Eilean Donan Castle which sits on a small island at the point where three sea lochs meet.

Regarded as an iconic location, it was, not surprisingly, awash with tourists.

Having taken the obligatory selfie we popped into the visitor centre and restaurant and were impressed by how nice they were.

While here, it’s worth taking the underpass which goes under the main road and leads to Dornie village, which by comparison was surprisingly peaceful and again offered nice views.

Our second stop was Kyle of Lochalsh, an ideal place to stretch the legs and home to a famous railway station that’s even had rail travel guru, Michael Portillo, sing its praises.

Taking a train from here to Inverness is regarded as one of THE great railway journeys, but that’s for another day…

The Skye Bridge is another iconic structure and there’s fantastic views to be enjoyed as you cross it, and for much of the journey as we headed north to Portree.

It’s not until you get there that you fully realise how popular Skye is and we had fun playing “spot the local number plate”.

Given the number of 18-plate hire cars and motorhomes around, they seemed few and far between.

Skye is full of stunning beauty spots, ranging from spectacular waterfalls and the gorgeous fairy pools to the mystical Cuillin mountains and the stone outcrops of the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr. To be honest, as the island was so busy, we were content not to visit them this time, but spend time exploring Portree and other parts of Skye instead.

The Rosedale Hotel, a white-washed large building that was once three fishermen’s cottages, was the ideal base.

Having checked in and been shown to our comfortable bedroom with en-suite and harbour views, the first thing we noticed was the number of people eating fish suppers outside.

Not far from the hotel, The Lower Deck chip shop was doing a roaring trade – and the smell from it was fantastic.

As tempting as it was to make that our first stop, we opted for a leisurely walk round the town, and soon found ourselves down by the shore.

At the end of the shoreline there’s a staircase which leads up to a lovely hilltop area known locally as The Lump, a rather unflattering name for a wonderful spot.

Something of a natural hilltop amphitheatre, it offers stunning views of Portree, the coastline and hills, and Raasay in the distance.

It’s also home to the Apothecary’s Tower which has a spiral metal staircase inside.

Climb to the top and you’re rewarded with even better views.

The strange thing is, hardly anyone knows about it – it’s a genuine hidden gem.

We dined at the Portree Hotel that night on the corner of the square and enjoyed good food in nice surroundings before rounding off the evening with another walk, this time around the bay.

The sight of the sun setting slowly over the Black and Red Cuillins and casting beautiful golden light on the boats bobbing about the harbour was memorable.

The following day, having enjoyed a flavour-packed breakfast, we took a drive to Sligachan, while the weather flipped between brilliantly sunny and thick mist, which added an air of mystery.

We followed the road to Ullinish and discovered a nice coastal path and discovered Talisker Bay is home to a lovely sandy beach as well as a rather famous distillery.

Then it was on to Kyleachin where we caught the glass-bottom boat Seaboard Atlantis, and enjoyed a fantastic sea trip.

Getting a closer look from the glass-bottom boat.

Above deck we enjoyed superb views and experienced sailing under the bridge while below decks we got close up views of jellyfish, hermit crabs and the wreck of HMS Port Naviar.

We were still talking about what a terrific experience it was as we dined in style that night, sampling the Rosedale’s tapas menu, created by chef Daniel Flemming. A star in the making, his Scottish-style tapas was outstanding.

Portree you were wonderful.

Skye… we’ll be back.

The Rosedale Hotel, Beaumont Crescent, Portree, Isle of Skye. Call 01478 613131 or visit