NEIST POINT LIGHTHOUSE, ISLE OF SKYE

Over the last ten years or so, it’s been a tradition of mine to spend my birthday abroad, most recently on either a Spanish island (Ibiza) or a Greek island (Crete). However, when my 41st birthday rolled around last October, while covid cases were starting to worryingly rise again, the only question I had (apart from “how the hell am I 41 already?!”, obviously) was which island I was going to spend it on this time when I didn’t particularly feel safe to fly. So we opted for Skye for a week instead, which turned out to be a great decision!


Now, I have loads of recommendations for places to visit in Skye, and so there will probably be a good few posts about it, but my favourite day of the trip was probably the day after my birthday. It was Monday 5th October, it was sunny and probably teetering towards 20 degrees, and it actually felt like we were abroad for a good few hours.


We decided to visit Neist Point Lighthouse and we couldn’t have chosen a better day for it to be honest. Because it was October, the tourist numbers were starting to drop, but the weather conditions were just perfect for a bit of a walk!


Neist Point is one of the most westernly points of Skye and it is, in my opinion, one of the absolute best attractions not just on the island of Skye, but also in the whole of Scotland.


I’d visited Neist Point before, back in 2015 on our first trip to Skye, but that visit was definitely conducted in  more of my stereotypical “lazy gal” style . . . get out the car, have a look at the view, realise it’s a longer walk than I anticipated and that I’m feeling pretty cold, get back in the car. Which is a shame, as it’s a bit of a drive to it, and if you’re going to make the effort to go there, you may as well undertake the walk to the lighthouse, right!?


So this time, we actually decided to do the walk part.  And it was actually great . . . she says reluctantly.


I’m not going to lie, I was complaining A LOT. Because although I could see most of the path in front of me, it was quite a bit less straightforward than I anticipated. You go down a path with a series of steps, and then once you get to the bottom, you have to go uphill again . . . now this was the point where I stupidly thought I would be nearly at the lighthouse. But no.


Because when I got to the top of that hill, I realised I had to go downhill again . . . and then uphill again! I was knackered, it was so warm, and my shoes were leaking, and there was sheep poo all over the place . . . but the views were just incredible. It’s definitely worth the visit. And the walk.


But the return walk . . . goodness, that was quite exhausting because, remember, I don’t really do hills. I was pulling myself up the last steps using the handrail (and I’ve generally tried to avoid touching anything outside since covid became a thing but I needed the support desperately). I was so relieved when I got back to the car in one piece, but I was glad I’d actually done it!


So the verdict? It’s a tough walk in my opinion, but absolutely fine if you’re used to hills, and if you’re a bit unfit like me it’s still do-able (complaining is optional!). If you take the straightforward walk and don’t veer off the path to a cliff edge I wouldn’t say it’s particularly dangerous, but I would definitely recommend you choose a nice day for it – I don’t think I would be recommending it had I tried to do it in rainy or windy conditions . . . or ice and snow!


Oh, and I had to bin the shoes afterwards.

GLASGOW MURALS

Growing up a little south of Glasgow, I always told myself I would move to the city at some point and for the last 17 years or so I’ve called it my home.

“Are Ye Dancing?”

I can’t lie though, since the pandemic started I have started to resent my surroundings and felt like Glasgow is a wee bit of a prison. It feels like there’s nowhere to go – we’re told to stay within our council areas but the Glasgow council area is actually pretty tiny when you compare it to other areas.  My mum unsympathetically  said to me at Christmas when I bemoaned this fact “well, you did want to live in the big smoke!”

The Hurcheon”

Although there are some lovely parks to visit, more often than not you get there to discover that they’re full of loads of other folk who also are stuck in Glasgow. And given we’re meant to be avoiding other folk and socially distancing (the concept of which I am finding a lot of people still don’t understand) it makes it difficult to actually find places to travel. And, in the last few years since I realised just how bloody amazing Scotland is, I’ve went from someone who could quite happily hibernate on weekends  and not leave the flat between Friday night and Monday morning, to someone who needs to get out and about (in my own lazy way obviously).

“Honey, I Shrunk The Kids”

But one thing we eventually realised during this most recent lockdown is that the least busy part of the Glasgow council area actually tends to be . . . the city centre! Talk about missing the obvious, eh? And one of the coolest parts of the city centre, in my opinion, is the amazing street art.

So without the distractions of a pub calling my name and tempting me with a cold glass of chenin or twelve, or a lot of other people hanging about right where a lot of the art is situated (sadly a common issue during non-lockdown times) we decided to revisit some of the Glasgow mural trail.

“The World’s Most Economical Taxi”

You’ll find murals all over the city centre, in places such as down random lanes, on university building walls, or covering gable ends. They cover a whole host of subjects, including Glasgow’s favourite comedian Billy Connolly, who actually effectively received a hat-trick of murals for his 75th birthday a couple of years back.

One of the Billy Connolly murals

My personal favourite is just off Argyle Street, opposite the staff entrance to House of Fraser and it’s called The World’s Most Economical Taxi. Not only is it extremely aesthetically pleasing, featuring a taxi floating in the air attached to balloons, it is an Instagrammers dream as you can pop into the photo and pretend to be reaching for one of the fly away balloons, or hailing the cab.

Equally instagrammable, and just a matter of metres up the street from the taxi, is the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” mural, where a girl appears to be trying to pluck something off the street – it could be you, if you choose to pose for a picture there!

“The Musician”

If you pop over to Renfield Lane, near Glasgow Central Station, you’ll find “Bubbles”, featuring two girls blowing bubbles on one side of the street, and a slightly confuddled looking dog on the other – this is another favourite of mine. And in the Merchant City you’ll find an absolutely massive piece of art called “Fellow Glasgow Residents” which showcases all of the lovely wildlife we humans share space with in the city! That one is almost impossible to capture in one photo.

Bubbles”

The thing about the mural trail is that it’s ever changing – sadly, a lot of the murals ultimately end up being knocked down due to the temporary nature of their location but, on the upside, there are always new ones appearing. So while I can refer you to the mural trail’s own website for more information, please be aware that some of the murals mentioned may no longer be there.

“Fellow Glasgow Residents”

Finding the murals is a fun way to while away some time if you’re also stuck in the city centre during lockdown . . . we spread it out over a couple of Sundays because we’re at that stage of lockdown where we are having to try and space visits to Glasgow attractions out (sob – it’s a hard time right now!)

BUT it will also be a good excuse once everything opens back up again to come in “to town” for a wee wander around the murals . . . . followed of course by a wee drink! (It has to be done!)

ISLE OF SKYE – BEST ATTRACTIONS

The Isle of Skye is obviously one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland, probably even the whole of the UK. The fact it’s an island which is also accessible by bridge probably contributes to its appeal but largely its appeal is that it is an absolute beauty of a place to visit. It’s full of amazing attractions, but sometimes it does seem that tourists seem to gravitate towards the same ones and so they end up way too busy – in my case this seems to be the Old Man of Storr, and the Fairy Pools.

So if you think Skye might be on your agenda at some point once lockdown ends and we’re allowed to travel again, I wanted to suggest some other places to visit on the island!

Elgol

ELGOL – the road to Elgol is very dramatic and once you reach Elgol itself, the views of the mountains across the loch on a clear day are absolutely stunning (it did take us three different attempts on trips to Skye to see the views on a clear day, admittedly, but it’s worth the journey just for the road.

Duntulm Castle

DUNTULM CASTLE – sadly you can no longer access the ruins of the castle itself, but it’s a small easy walk and the views over to Lewis and Harris are amazing

Glenbrittle Beach
The mountains viewed from Glenbrittle Beach

GLENBRITTLE BEACH – if the Fairy Pools seem really busy and, like us, you are trying to avoid too many other people in the wake of a pandemic, you may wish to continue on this road along to this beautiful beach, which also has a great view of the mountains from it.

Fairy Bridge
Trumpan Church

WATERNISH PENINSULA – one of the many peninsulas in Skye, the Waternish peninsula starts with the magical little Fairy Bridge, and then you can drive on until you reach the ruins of Trumpan Church, ruins with a tragic history. The road itself has amazing views too.

Coral Beach
Coral Beach – both of these photos were taken within minutes of each other!

CORAL BEACH – a wee bit of walk from the car park but worth it . . . just make sure you keep walking after you reach the first small beach as we only realised five years after our first visit that there’s more to it than the first beach – and it’s honestly absolutely stunning!

Dunscaith Castle

DUNCSCAITH CASTLE – more ruins to explore on the south of the island. It’s a relatively short (but boggy) walk and the sheep have pretty much taken it over but they largely just stare while you explore. 

The Quiraing

THE QUIRAING – this landslip doesn’t seem to be quite as popular as its neighbouring Old Man of Storr  but there’s plenty of (payable) parking and it’s one of my favourite places as you don’t have to walk far for unspeakably dramatic scenery. (You can also walk much further if you want, but my nerves weren’t really up to it given some of the drops to the side of the path)

Neist Point

NEIST POINT – I’ve got a whole separate post about Neist Point so feel free to check it out here. The walk down to the lighthouse is definitely worth a visit.

Torabhaig Distillery

TORABHAIG DISTILLERY – not only is it a highly instagrammable little building on the south of the island, the tour is inexpensive and informative, and there’s another bonus castle ruin a short walk away. We were lucky that it was actually only about a twenty minute walk from the place we stayed last time we were there, so we didn’t even need to drive there!

Hopefully this has given you some Skye inspiration – if it is your first time there though (and this stands for anywhere in the north of Scotland really) make sure that 1) you’re familiar with passing places and how they work as you’ll find a lot of single track roads 2) don’t park like a knob and 3) remember it’s Scotland and, even in the height of summer, the weather here can be completely unpredictable!

Do you have a favourite attraction in Skye?