A modest grand tour of the Highlands and Islands – Stage 3: Achnasheen to Harris via Skye
The road from Achnasheen to the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh is a stunner. Not fast – it’s single track with passing places in some stretches – but the scenery as you drive alongside the single-track railway line through glens and past lochs is pure Highland magic.
Driving over the Skye Bridge has none of the drama of a ferry crossing and it does mean that Skye is now easily accessible to huge numbers of vehicles, but it is quick and easy. In no time we are enjoying the delights of Sligachan in the pouring rain – great views of the Cuillins!
We stop in Portree and are shocked to find it overrun with tourists. A cruise ship is moored in the bay and a procession of tenders is ferrying the passengers – approximately 1,500 of them – from the ship to the shore. No doubt this delivers a welcome fillip to the local economy but it doesn’t make it a pleasant place to be for any length of time. We buy a bottle of single malt from the Whisky Emporium and escape to peaceful Skeabost where our hotel is. There we find St. Columba’s Isle with its field of gradually disappearing ancient graves. A beautiful and peaceful spot.
The next day we cross by Caledonian Macbrayne ferry from Uig to Tarbert. The sea is flat calm, as I have never know the Minch before, and we sit on deck in the sun. On disembarking, we head straight for the west coast of South Harris and its golden sand beaches. The air is mild and I risk wading in the unusually calm sea. As expected, it is cold! But the beach is awe-inspiringly lovely and after a few minutes we spot porpoises swimming a few yards out. Harris has captivated us again!