Discover how GetOutside Champion, Eli Bishop, visited the Isle of Skye while being mindful of the negative effects of tourism.
“Come and visit me on Skye, you can stay” Katie Tunn said, in passing when I met her very briefly at the Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champions launch. You never quite know if someone really means it, but when I contacted Katie for advice on accommodation on Skye, as we wanted to have our family holiday there, she came straight back with the exact same offer.
I was beyond excited. It has been a dream of mine to visit the Isle of Skye for many years, hearing tales from fellow outdoor bods about how amazing it is, has kept me tantalised. Also, I had my Mountain Leader Assessment booked so I needed to get up north for some serious Quality Mountain Days.
I can't plan a trip without first looking at a map...
I blame my Dad for this. Hours and hours of pouring over maps as a kid prior to all our holidays.
Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps were swiftly ordered and delivered the next day, so planning could start in earnest.
There has been a great deal of press lately about the Isle of Skye and the effect of tourism on the island, so I decided early on that I wanted us to have as little environmental impact as possible.
This meant avoiding the classic ‘Top Ten Places to Visit on Skye”.
I could soon see on the maps that from the front door of Katie’s Croft we could still access some of these places but without driving, and also over less trodden paths.
Things were looking promising!
Arriving on Skye was magical, it did not disappoint. Driving over the bridge it was like we were entering another world...
The view was spectacular even though the weather was a little claggy. The mountains were imposing yet enticing.
We slowly made our way north to Katie’s Croft, which is the most northerly inhabited house on the island. It was like something out of the 1950’s and perfect in every single way including a welcoming bottle of red wine.
The views from the windows over the bay were intoxicating; we could have literally just sat there all day watching the wildlife and light change in waves over the Quiraing.
Over the next week we walked from the front door as much as possible...
We walked over to the Quiraing where we got a taste of the mayhem caused by thousands upon thousands of people visiting.
We walked along the beach at Staffin Bay and swam in the harbour, getting very strange looks from the local fishermen.
We kayaked in the bay at Kilmaluag, finding more varieties of seaweed than I ever realised existed.
We visited the fabulous Singletrack Café for their legendary hot chocolate (an absolute must).
Even the wildlife was out of this world! We would stand and watch White Tailed Eagles fly lazily over head as the seals swam alongside us as we walked the headlands.
So, my ‘top tips’ if you are going to visit the Isle of Skye?
Firstly, think about your carbon footprint, the environmental impact you are making.
Consider public transport or think about all the things you can do by just walking from your front door.
Although the ‘classics’ such as The Fairy Pools, The Old Man of Storr and Quiraing are sensational consider choosing just one to visit and how you could park some distance away and walk in, rather than choking up the already overfilled car parks and laybys.
Use your Ordnance Survey Maps!
I love looking at the map and finding places with odd names, or little settlements and walking to them. Plan and plot routes using your Digital Subscription and access hundreds of routes which are already there.
But just take a moment when looking at them to consider if you could do something a little different, add something new to your experience and that of others.
Exploring new places should be just that, exploring, and that doesn’t mean arriving somewhere with a tick list of ‘places to see’ it means having an adventure and finding something that is yours.
A new view, a new place to have a picnic.
So go to the Isle of Skye, enjoy its majesty and find something exciting that is yours, just yours.
By Eli Bishop
Eli Bishop is happiest climbing mountains and paddling rivers for mental wellbeing.