When one dreams of holidaying in the Scottish highlands during winter one may conjure up a multitude of romantic images: hiding out, playing board games in a stone-walled cottage atop a weather beaten croft, leisurely walks on grey-pebble beaches, dazzled by the low winter sun – or perhaps long, arduous days spent ice-climbing against the backdrop of the formidable black Cuillins.
Regardless the levels of laziness or bravado, there is always one one constant embedded somewhere in these fantasies: a great pub. It is within these walls that lies the safe, reliable magic of a winter getaway. The crackle of an open fire, diluted by the sounds of storytelling and laughter. Steaming hot meals and cold beer, served amongst maps, guide books and board games. No matter where you are, how brutal the weather is, the warm respite of highland hospitality will almost always be available.
Attached to the Sligachan Hotel, Seumas’ is smack bang in the centre of Skye and just off the main road – so very accessible even in the most wintery weather conditions. After November, the river that runs outside the pub and under the photogenic ‘Old Bridge’ creeps up with the extra rainfall and becomes wild – it is fantastic fun to watch the currents toss and turn from the safety of the warm bar.
The Cuillins are visible from here too, and under the wooden fairy light-lit arches of the main entrance one can enjoy a view of the famous red and black mountains – softened under a blanket of white snow. Every winter Seumas’ hosts a long list of events to keep the locals and holidaymakers well entertained through the dark nights – think Christmas markets, drive-in cinema nights, intimate gigs and hectic ceilidhs. Keep an eye on their social media for updated info!
A dedicated whisky bar with an impressive array of single malts, nestled in the walls of the Cuillin Hills Hotel. Panoramic views across the Portree harbour and rich, decadent decor make this winter stop feel like a real treat. There are shelves upon shelves of books to peruse and a huge selection of cocktails to meander your way through in the luxurious comfort of this five-star hotel. The windows display scenes of brave little fishing boats, dotted in the expanse of water that sits between the hotel and the town of Portree.
It would very easy indeed to while away winter afternoons here, reading from dusty books, sipping on a peppery Old Fashioned made from local Talisker whisky, watching the world go by.
Am Praban Bar
A cosy wee bar in medieval surroundings, the Bar Am Praban is a welcoming, bustling melting pot of hikers, Eilean Iarmain hotel guests and locals. As the only bar in the very south of Skye to boast live traditional music all through winter, the weekends here can get fairly busy as the locals pour in after work on a Friday night and settle in for a weekend of sing-a-long traditional songs, ceilidh music, swapping stories and cracking jokes over home-made bar snacks and pints of local ale.
The whisky is important to mention too, as next door sits Praban na Linne (literally, the illicit still) – where the Gaelic Whiskies are made, crafted in the style of the tax-evading crofters living on Skye centuries ago. These whiskies are all available to try in the bar, and it’s guaranteed to be a fun evening making your way through them!