Broadford – the second biggest town on Skye after Portree – is often overlooked by travellers to the island, who pass through on their way north. The truth is: with an influx of creative settlers, Broadford has grown into a town with its own, unique personality.
Of course, there exists Skye’s trademark scenery – breathtaking beach walks and forest trails – however there also exists a true sense of a real, functioning town with a population that have worked hard to make Broadford a wonderfully different place to live; with craft shops, laid-back hospitality and a strong focus on community.
Next to the co-op there’s a cluster of brightly painted wooden shacks – each one selling an unusual array of arts, crafts and antiques. On the main street you can find the Skye Candles workshop and shop, as well as the Selkie Collective, a women-led community collective and eco-conscious shop. Just outside of Broadford is artisan coffee spot Lean To, a beautifully modern coffee shack built around some old ruins, slinging homemade focaccia and rotating guest coffee beans from across Scotland. Great coffee can also be found at the well-loved Deli Gasta, a trendy cafe housed in what used to be Skye’s own serpentarium. Don’t worry – the snakes are long gone!
If it’s a munro you seek, Blah Bheinn, an outcrop of the black Cuillin range, is easily accessible from Broadford. Due to its unique location, this handsome peak has some of the best views on Skye from the top: not only out to the wee Hebridean islands of Muck, Rum, Eigg and Canna, but also back across to the sprawling Cuillin range.
View of Broadford from the Irishman’s Point by Shirley Grant
Mountain Biking at Skinidin (Sgianaidin)
Perched right on the ocean, Broadford is beautiful year-round, and is a great place on Skye to try some mountain biking! Trails and paths on Skye tend to be steep, rocky and fairly unpredictable – so it’s harder than you would think to find biking routes (we’re talking average cyclists here – the Danny McCaskills amongst you will be spoiled for choice!). The forestry trails at Skinidin are hilly enough to present a challenge, however the paths are well maintained and weave satisfyingly in and out of patches of dense green forest. The clearings which punctuate these paths give way to spectacular views across the rocky shoreline and out to the mainland – and the downhill stretches are super fun. These trails are great for hiking too, and the forest is home to an array of wildlife – so keep your eyes peeled for otters and deer.
Walk the Rubh an Eireannaich
The Irishman’s Point
This walk is a bit of a local’s secret, so prepare to bump into plenty of friendly dog walkers. The path follows the shoreline the entire route and is flat enough and short enough for most levels of experience. The point takes its name from an 1862 paddle steamer which ran aground whilst making the treacherous journey from Liverpool from Portree to pick up sheep. No lives were lost and a beacon now stands on the skerry to mark the good fortune of this event. The route is dotted with small shingle beaches and the occasional picnic bench, so its a great walk for packing a thermos and some snacks, and taking some time out to enjoy the peacefulness of your surroundings. This is a family-friendly hike that anyone can enjoy, but there are plenty of other hikes in the area if you need something a little more challenging!
As usual, use the brilliant www.walkhighlands.co.uk website for detailed routes and advice.
Rockpooling at Ashaig Beach
Just outside of Broadford lies the magnificent Ashaig Beach, an expansive beach with miles of soft white sand. To get here, follow signs just next to the Breakish horse (a plastic one, occasionally wearing sunglasses, located on the main road between Broadford and the Skye Bridge) and follow the single-track road until you reach an old graveyard by the shore. This beach is great for young families – there are rock pools scattered everywhere just waiting to be explored. Across the ocean, the mountainous mainland creates a spectacular horizon – and in the summer the long sunsets here are magical in hues of pink and purple. Just make sure you time your walk here with the low tide – otherwise you will be hanging around in graveyard with some cows rather than enjoying this beautiful beach!
Sleepover at House of Juniper
There are plenty of places to stay in Broadford, but this town is home to one of the most special hotels on Skye: House of Juniper, a lovingly restored manse house with an emphasis on cleanliness, comfort and calming aesthetics. The building itself houses luxury en-suite bedrooms as well as bespoke spa facilities. Access to the spa is included in the price of a room and so guests are free to wander in and out as much as they please – and ordering cocktails to the sauna is actively encouraged.
Aside from the main house, the property stretches out to include a wee plot of land on which are housed seven bespoke pine cabins. Dog-friendly and thoughtfully filled with every amenity you can think of, these mini homes bridge the gap between camping and hoteling perfectly. With storage and cleaning facilities for all outdoor equipment, a stay at House of Juniper makes it easy to spend the day mountain biking or kayaking around the island, and to relax in style at the end of the day.
The owners of House of Jupiter have gone to enormous efforts to ensure they are using the most planet-friendly suppliers possible and refuse to take shortcuts when it comes to single-use plastics. Their eco-friendly ethos is applied to all areas of the operation – and not just as a marketing gimmick. Rather than using cheap cleaning products, the housekeepers use plastic-free tablets which are dissolved in reusable glass bottles. The menu is extremely vegan friendly – there’s even recycled sachets of oat milk in every room. It’s in these details that House of Juniper show their meaningful and genuine contribution to cutting back on the harmful effects of food waste and single-use plastics, hopefully setting the standard for a new style of Highland hospitality.